Whenever you try something new, it’s a process of trial and error. The same goes for creating websites. Whether it’s your first attempt at building a website or your hundredth there’s a good chance you’re making or have made avoidable website mistakes. The best way to learn anything is from watching other people’s mistakes. Failure is a part of the process, we are all going to fall on our faces a few times so it’s nice to dodge a few website mistakes where you can. We work closely with our clients and we see what they go through, sometimes we even experience it first-hand so we’ve created this guide of 5 website mistakes to avoid.
1. Forgetting to add privacy protection
The other day in our office chat, Cory our domain support specialist, told us about how he forgot to add Whois privacy protection on a domain name he just bought for his girlfriend as a surprise. Common and easily avoidable website mistakes happen to the best of us (us included). The biggest surprise ended up being how many unsolicited emails and phone calls his girlfriend received the day after he registered the name without privacy protection. Yikes!
2. Not opting for an SSL certificate
There are a few security features we recommend to all of our clients, one of them being SSL Certificates. An SSL Certificate ensures that any sensitive information being passed along on your website is secured, including password and username data and methods of payment like credit and debit card numbers. SSL certificates are essential for e-commerce, but they also effect essentially any website on the Internet. Search engines like Google label websites that do not have SSL certificates as non-secure in an attempt to divert users from visiting those websites until they meet the advised online security HTTPS standard with an SSL Certificate.
Switching to from HTTP to HTTPS (secure) is a really great step in the right direction, however many website administrators forget an important final step which is to verify your website with Google Search Console. Every domain, subdomain, and protocol must be registered separately on Google Search Console. This way you can closely track your migration to HTTPS and be alerted by Google’s ability to crawl and index your site.
3. Changing URLs without using 301 redirects
I can openly admit that I am guilty of this. I often like to revisit past blog posts and optimize them for SEO. Sometimes I change the targeted keywords on the page and in turn change the blog post URL to accurately represent the new keyword. In the past, I have been known to forget which URLs I changed so future me is unable to later set up 301 redirects for them. This practice is really harmful to your link authority, relevance, trust, history, and all that jazz search engines know about your content. Changing the URL without using a 301 to tie the old URL to the new one, disrupts the ability of search engines to associate your content with those important performance attributes. In addition to search engines being unable to find you, anywhere your URL has been linked to on the Internet like in social media, will bring users to a broken page. If you change any URLs be sure to set up a 301 redirect so your visitors will be able to find the content they seek, but if you find yourself in a similar situation there are a ton of great WordPress plugins that audit your content and make sure you don’t have any broken links that need 301 redirects.
4. Neglecting to research a domain’s history
Google says there is no way to restore a domain or completely wipe a domain’s history. When you purchase a domain name for your website there’s a chance that someone owned it before you and let it go. Just like any other product you would buy secondhand, you want to research domain names to ensure the domain hadn’t been publishing spammy content. A great tool to use in your domain research is the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, which shows snapshots of a website’s content throughout a domain’s history. If your domain has a history of spam you may want to reconsider your domain name choice, although any domain can recover with time, do you really want your brand’s SEO presence to start off behind?
5. Launching an advertising campaign with a microsite
Let’s say you have a new advertising campaign in the works, fully-fledged with an email campaign, print, social media – the works. Creating a microsite might seem like a great option because it’s fun and memorable and focuses all of the attention on a single subject, but in reality, they are costly to organic search. Microsites compete with your main domain by taking away mentions and link authority that could potentially boost your main site’s performance. Instead of a microsite, we recommend forwarding a new domain ending to a landing page on your website. This way you can still use a unique and memorable domain for your campaign and it won’t take away from your main domain.
For example, we used the new domain www.swolepatrol.fitness at the Arnold Classic for t-shirts and flyers that redirects to our .fitness product page.