We all make mistakes. We should learn from them. Learn from mistakes others have made before.
- A sloppy/cheap/cheesy website:
While beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, a professional look & feel is one of the most important factors. It's the first impression a user gets, and you do not get a second chance.
If your site looks like a high-school project, they will look elsewhere.
- Thinking a cool website equals success:
Style does not trump substance.
The other extreme: an ultra-cool website. Unfortunately designers don't know anything about marketing.
If the CEO, the president or the VP of sales likes how the site looks it does not mean the users will.
- Make users wait:
Internet users have no patience, they want to get it done and move on.
Don't make your users wait until the fancy flash animation is done loading. Instead, use it as an alternative. Let your users choose, give them the feeling of control.
Check the file size of your graphics and the connection to the database server, as well as your server response times. If your page just won't load, the user is gone and you should consider elimintaing every bit that may cause it — including your hosting company.
One of the most annoying "features". Almost all modern browsers have integrated pop-up blockers, so the days of endless popups are mostly over.
Unless you want to give users the opportunity to open a secondary window for an enlarged view or a custom preview, there is absolutely NO excuse for pop-ups.
- Disorganization or unstructured content:
Don't try to distract your users. Cordially invite them in instead. Don't yell at them with huge letters, neon colors and blinking banners where they are expecting to find information.
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to find what they are looking for. Don't switch the position of your navigation around, because someone told you it's cool.
- No "Call to Action":
What do you want your users to do? Tell them. Click here. Sign up there. Buy now. Don't pull, but gently lead by the hand.
- Poor quality content:
Especially deadly in conjunction with pay-per-click ads, since every visitor costs you money. Make sure what you're saying is correct and effective. Don't disconnect from your ad copy. Spell-check. Avoid tech-talk as much as possible (unless it's a tech-specific page). Be honest and precise. Spell-check. Give as much information as needed. Spell-check. Tell them what you can do for them and not what you would like to read about yourself. Did we mention Spell-check?
- Outdated content:
Stay current! It's your website, for crying out loud. If something changes — your phone number, your address, your products — update it! You don't have to wait until the next version is published, it's not a phonebook. You can change it at any time. Remove that 4th of July special on the 5th. Nobody wants to read about it on Thanksgiving.
- Not optimizing for search engines:
Everything on your page needs to be search-engine friendly. The content, the layout, the code. Search engine robots are not human, they don't care if your site looks cool or what your designer's intentions are. They need text.
- Thinking the META tags is the Holy Grail:
Search engines dropped the relevance of META tags a while back. Before there was natural search, we had to spoon-feed the engines with relevant data, but those days are long gone. Use the description tag, but don't overuse it. Use the keywords tag, but very sparingly.
- Thinking PPC can make up for eveything:
A PPC campaign can boost your impressions (if the ads are written properly and you are targeting the right keywords), but if your website does not live to the user's expectations you are wasting a lot of money.
Pause your campaign and save the money while you are optimizing and reorganizing your site. Remember: only 25% of all traffic is being generated though PPC ads, the other 75% come from *organic* search results. Track your campaign results.
- Mistaking traffic for success:
Traffic/page impressions/hits does not mean conversions. You need to attract qualified traffic to turn those visitors into customers.
- Not measuring every bit of data:
Your visitor logs can tell you every last bit about your users. Why are most businesses ignoring this enormously importnat source of information? Most VPs are only interested in the *traffic*. Traffic alone does not get you sales. You need to know how and why and when and who. Trends, page views, abandoned sales processes. It's all in there. Just look.
Never, I repeat, NEVER EVER send unsolicited emails. It will hurt you.