Fix Manufacturing Websites Mistakes

Here are recommended fixes for the most most common website mistakes that are seen with manufacturing companies.

Assessment components are from the manufacturing websites marketing study (click for study).

Start your improvement work with the components where your website has the greatest need or risk.  If you are developing a website for the first time or doing a total redesign, this information can serve as a checklist of items to complete before the website goes live.

1. Use of <H1> Headings Format

Recommended fix: Go through the website and define a heading for each page.

Potential benefits: Several experts consider this the most important search engine optimization component for getting your website listed in search engines.

Potential risk without change: Limited visibility online

2. Meta Theme Use

Recommended fix: Select a page, possibly a popular product, and optimize it so that the keyword phrase, <H1> heading, content, page title, and picture alt tags are all aligned to a single meta theme.  For each element, the keyword phrase should be a part of the text.  Also, select a keyword that fits your product and is actively searched for in search engines.

Potential benefits: This single improvement method is difficult, but can lead to the most significant results – possibly even a page 1 search result on some search engines.

Potential risk without change: Continued online obscurity.

3. CSS Formatting Use

Recommended fix: In most cases, if you do not already have Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as part of your website design, a total redesign is recommended.  The total redesign can produce better results than simple corrections and should take less time.

Potential benefits: Easier to update entire website, faster download times, and more consistent formatting.  CSS may even improve how well search engines can see your website.

Potential risk without change:  Visitors may be disappointed with usability problems and stop using the website.  A website that does not use CSS takes much longer to update, takes longer to download to a visitor’s computer, and will have formatting variations that damage user experience.

4. Effective Keyword Use

Recommended fix: Get online keyword recommendations with Nichebot Classic (http://nichebotclassic.com/), customer surveys, and Google Analytics to determine what keywords potential customers are using to search for your product.  Start by developing 1 to 3 keyword phrases for a single page and optimize that page to match the keyword phrase.

Potential benefits: Improved ranking position in search results that may lead to more visitors.

Potential risk without change: Lack of visibility online.

5. Pages Indexed By Google

Recommended fix: Setup a SITEMAP.XML file through http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/, copy the file to your website, and then use Google Webmaster Central at http://www.google.com/webmasters/ to validate the file.  Also add a ROBOTS.TXT file to your website while you are there.

Potential benefits: Improved indexation by Google.

Potential risk without change: Low index levels and no visitors.

6. Pages Indexed By Yahoo

Recommended fix: Setup a SITEMAP.XML file through http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/, copy the file to your website, and then use Yahoo Sitemaster at http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com to validate the file. Also add a ROBOTS.TXT file to your website while you are there.

Potential benefits: Improved indexation by Yahoo.

Potential risk without change: Low index levels and no visitors.

7. Pages Indexed By MSN

Recommended fix: Setup a SITEMAP.XML file through http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/, copy the file to your website, and then use Live.com (MSN) Webmaster Center at http://webmaster.live.com to validate the file. Also add a ROBOTS.TXT file to your website while you are there, which may be even more important for LIVE than Google or Yahoo.  NOTE: Live.com Webmaster Center is in beta at the time this study was published.

Potential benefits: Improved indexation by MSN.

Potential risk without change: Low index levels and no visitors.

8. ROBOTS.TXT File Present

Recommended fix: Create a ROBOTS.TXT file and copy it to your website.  See http://www.robotstxt.org/ for advice on creation and other options.

Potential benefits: Improved indexation by multiple search engines.

Potential risk without change: Some search engines will not look at your website without the presence of the file.

9. SITEMAP.XML File Present

Recommended fix: Setup a SITEMAP.XML file through http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/, copy the file to your website, and then submit it to the major search engines.  See items 5, 6, and 7 above for specific website links.

Potential benefits: Improved indexation.

Potential risk without change: Low index levels and no visitors.

10.  Inbound Links

Recommended fix: Begin an inbound link campaign.  Start by submitting the page to search engines and website directories.  Ask others to add a link to your page on their website.  This is the most difficult thing to do in website marketing but is also critically important.  Inbound links define Google Page Rank which dramatically affects where your website shows up in search results.

Potential benefits: More visitors coming through the inbound links and more visitors from improved position on the search engines.

Potential risk without change: Invisible online.

11.  Effective Navigation

Recommended fix: Total website redesign.

Potential benefits: User experience is improved and search engines can more easily see what pages exist on your website.  Some companies that used Microsoft Publisher to develop their website (not recommended) did not appear in any search engines.

Potential risk without change: Traffic can drop dramatically or even cease.

12.  Significant Amount of User Readable Text Present

Recommended fix: Start with one page and write engaging text that is customer focused.  If you do not have a writer, hire one who understands manufacturing and has experience with website business writing.

Potential benefits: Visitors stay on your website longer, tend to trust your company more, and are more likely to buy from you.

Potential risk without change: Limited online visibility.

13.  Text is Used Instead of Flash

Recommended fix: If your website is all Flash based, a total redesign is necessary.  Note that some Flash, used properly, can be effective.

Potential benefits: Search engine visibility jumps dramatically, pages load faster, and the design focuses more on the needs of customers instead of just being attractive.

Potential risk without change: Bad user experience and problems with search engines finding information on the Flash based website.

14.  Contact Forms Present

Recommended fix: Work with your developer to create a Contact Us form and a Request a Quote form.  The forms should not require much information, but should try to prequalify sales leads.  Many experts recommend a maximum of three required fields: Name, e-mail (or phone), and comment (or question).

Potential benefits: Better communication with customers and more sales leads.

Potential risk without change: Limited communication with customers.

15.  Products or Services Described

Recommended fix: Write a description of products and services that emphasize benefits more than features.  Try to write the initial information for an uninformed potential customer.  Deeper information can be made available later or through additional links.

Potential benefits: Improved understanding of what you offer, more visitors through search engines, and an increase in customer satisfaction.

Potential risk without change: No creation of new customers.

16.  Large Amount of PDF Use (negative)

Recommended fix: Convert PDF files to web pages and make the PDF available as a free download at the bottom of the web page.

Potential benefits: Greatly reduces frustration of users that have to wait for Adobe Reader to load instead of the web page that they expected.

Potential risk without change: User experience issues will tend to reduce the number of visitors and how long visitors stay on your website.

17.  Internal Focus (negative)

Recommended fix: Replace vision and mission statements on the home page with a description of benefits to the customer.  Internal information can be placed on the About Us page and has some value for some of your visitors.  Most people, however, care more about how well you meet their needs instead of how you manage your company.

Potential benefits: Increased customer satisfaction, reduced bounce rate (people leaving your website), and increased sales.

Potential risk without change: Declining visits to the website to a point that it is no longer used.

18.  Use of Frames (negative)

Recommended fix: Total website redesign.

Potential benefits: Dramatically improved user experience and search engine visibility.

Potential risk without change: Declining visits and a perception that your company is out of touch with website standards.

19.  Website is FrontPage Based (negative)

Recommended fix: Total website redesign.  Some companies move to Expression Web.  The new website should not be an import of existing FrontPage material.  A lot of companies are looking at Content Management System (CMS) software which makes website edits quick and fairly easy.  Some popular CMSs are WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal.

Potential benefits: Improved perception of a modern website, improved search engine results, and faster edits.

Potential risk without change: Forms may cease to function, navigation may crash, and easy uploads may no longer work.  Microsoft no longer supports FrontPage and multiple companies have had troubles with websites losing functionality early this year.

20.  Calls to Action Present

Recommended fix: Add calls to action at the top right portion of pages.  Examples include: Call now to order, Click here for a free quote, Download our new product catalog, and Send us a question about one of our products.  The Live Assistant you see on some websites is also a strong call to action technique.  Lack of a good call to action is the single biggest problem seen on manufacturing websites with the biggest potential for improvement with minimal effort.

Potential benefits: Increase sales with minimal effort.

Potential risk without change: Slow or declining online sales leads.

21.  Overt Benefit Described

Recommended fix: Try to determine what your overt benefit is in terms of what a customer thinks.  Look at the  Eureka! Winning Ways website to learn more about over benefits.

Potential benefits: Improved sales.

Potential risk without change: Limited sales growth.

22.  Contact Information at the Top

Recommended fix: Have your developer add text based contact information that includes company name, physical address, and phone number.  You may also want to have a picture of the primary e-mail address that is linked to your Contact Us form.

Potential benefits: Improved trust in your website and company.  Improved sales conversions tied to having information immediately available no matter where a person is at on your website.

Potential risk without change: Limited visitor trust and sales

23.  Google Analytics Present

Recommended fix: Note that you will need to be able to edit files or settings on your website to make this work.  Signup for a Gmail account at http://gmail.com for free – a Gmail account is no longer required to use Google Analytics, but can be helpful for rapid website project rollout.  Setup your Gmail account as “yourcompanyname”@gmail.com.”  Go to Google Analytics at http://google.com/analytics/ and follow the instructions to setup your analytics account.  It will take about 2 days before you start to see data.

Potential benefits: Marketing intelligence that guides you to make decisions that are based on actual data.

Potential risk without change: Lack of understanding of what happens on the website.  This leads to uninformed decisions and costly mistakes.  One company eliminated an $8000 per year industrial directory cost when Google Analytics showed that none of their leads came from the industrial directory.

Need help implementing these fixes?  Contact us to discuss how we can help.

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