Are you disappointed with the performance of your website? Not sure whats wrong or what you can do to improve things? Do a quick self-diagnosis using the website troubleshooting checklist below.
Millions of small business owners around the world have paid good money to have a web designer build them a nice website, hoping it would bring in business, only to see it fail dismally. Even if your website was developed by a professional web designer, there are still many things that could have been overlooked.
If you get hardly any visitors, get no inquiries or make no sales, the checklist below should help you pinpoint whats causing the problems " so you can do something about it.
Website Performance Troubleshooting Checklist
Here are three common website performance problems with possible reasons & solutions:
Problem 1. Invisibility: Nobody can find my website and I hardly get visitors
This is a very serious problem. Heres what could be causing it:
- SEO / keyword use: It sounds like your website hasnt been optimized for search engines. For a quick basic check, see if the Title tags of your web pages contain the search terms your potential customers would use to find the types of products or services you offer. These keywords need to be in your content too. If the Title tag of your homepage says Welcome to our website or Homepage of Yourdomainname.com, youre in serious trouble and need to apply some SEO ASAP.
- SEO / competition: If youre in a very competitive industry, its possible your website itself has in fact been optimized but there are so many other websites targeting the same SEO keywords that your site is only on page 10 or 20 of the search results, where nobody looks. If that is the case, you could try to target more specific and less competitive search phrases or work on getting more incoming links from other websites, which act as votes for your website and help increase your rankings.
- Accessibility / indexing & crawling: Another possible issue is that search engines have trouble accessing your site or seeing the content. Firstly, check that your site has been indexed by doing a search for www.yourdomainname.com or site:yourdomainname.com. Also make sure that the majority of your content is presented in text format and not embedded in graphics or animations, which search engines cant read. Google Webmaster Central gives further guidelines to troubleshoot indexing and crawl errors.
Problem 2: High bounce rate: Visitors leave my website immediately
This usually means something is wrong too. Here are some suggestions:
- Coding or Design: This could be a coding or design problem. Check if your site is compatible with all major operating systems and browsers. And does your site look OK on a variety of different screen resolutions? Older sites may be incompatible with modern browsers. Your website may look fine to you, but could look completely distorted on other systems. Could there be anything in the design thats turning visitors away? Perhaps your designer has used all colors of the rainbow, funny animations, or huge images or Flash files that take ages to download. It could be time for a makeover or a new website.
- Content or Writing Style: Could the copy on your website be driving people away? If your content is vague, overly long, boring, or doesnt address your visitors needs, theres a good chance people leave. Most visitors take just a few seconds to decide to stay on a website or click back. If they cant see what theyre looking for right away, theyll leave and try another website from the search results instead. So make sure your content is presented in a way that the purpose of your website is clear and people can quickly scan the page and find what theyre looking for. If you need help with that, you can consider hiring a professional website copywriter to write or rewrite your website content.
- Usability: Is the layout and structure of your website logical? Is your navigation easy to find and use? Website users are mostly lazy creatures and expect to find certain things in certain places. Nobody wants to have to roll their mouse over a dozen different elements on a page to check if it might be clickable. If your website uses a very unconventional structure, layout or navigation, people may get confused, give up and choose an alternative website from the search results thats easier to understand and navigate.
- SEO: A high bounce rate could also be an SEO issue again. If youre not targeting the right keywords with your website, you may be getting visitors who are actually looking for something else. Check that the words you use in your Title tags and your page content are highly descriptive of the exact things you offer. If you only sell orange plastic widgets, for example, dont optimize your website for widgets, or plastic widgets, or orange widgets, but for orange plastic widgets. That will result in more qualified traffic and will lower your bounce rate.
Problem 3: No conversions: Nobody contacts me or buys my products
If you make no sales or get no enquiries through your website, here are some possible causes of that problem:
- Call to Action: Does your website make it really easy for people to take the action you want them to take? Do you have a big, obvious buy now, free download or request a quote button on your page, or even just a descriptive text link to the page you want them to go to next? Every web page needs a strong call to action. Dont just hope people will find your shopping, download or contact page via the navigation menu. You need to guide your visitors to the page you want them to end up on.
- Dead Links: How often do you check the links on your website? Do they all still work correctly? Youd be surprised how many business owners wonder why theyre not getting any sales, oblivious to the fact the link to their payment service is broken. There are free online tools that let you quickly check your site for dead links.
- Shopping Cart Problems: If you sell online, do you use a reliable and user-friendly payment service? Go through all the steps yourself as if you were a customer and check that the payment process is quick, smooth and error-free. There may be a stumbling block somewhere that youre currently unaware of.
- Marketing: The reason youre not selling could also be theres a problem with your approach to marketing, your pricing or your business model. Did you do any market research before starting your business? Is there a real market out there for the product or service youre offering? How do your prices compare with those of your competitors? And do you highlight your USPs (unique selling propositions) on your website? Tell people why they should buy from you or use your services. Know what makes your offering unique and be sure to emphasize that. Again, a professional web copywriter can help you with this.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but its a good start to try to self-diagnose the problems with your website, find out why its not performing and do something about it.
Micky Stuivenberg is an international SEO, copywriter and web content expert, currently based in Australia. She runs her own SEO Content Writer company, helping small businesses worldwide make their websites more successful. Areas of expertise: SEO, web copywriting and website usability & consultancy. Micky also offers professional website evaluations.