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Here are some general tips that will help you improve your website.

Recently I was involved in listing hundreds of guest houses on an online portal. As part of this process, I visited each and every guest house website that was listed, as well as many more that we did not list.  I viewed the sites as a potential client would.

Let me share some common mistakes to avoid on a website.

Your Website Name Matters
You’d think that a shorter website name is better. Not necessarily. The first impression your potential client may get of your company will most likely be your website. If your website name is cnn.com, you are OK as it’s a global brand. However, if you are a small company with perhaps a local footprint, then mbp.com (let’s say the business name is “My Beautiful Product”) is not optimal since the abbreviation “MBP” doesn’t mean anything to the client.

In this case rather pick a longer name i.e. mybeautifulproduct.com. Google also likes this for SEO, so if your company name or product name can be in your website name that’s good for SEO. Also remember there are many new “dot” options to pick from like .capetown, .rocks, .me and hundreds of others. So, be creative and give your website name a personal touch.

Spelling and Grammar
I was surprised at the spelling mistakes on some of the guest house websites. Spelling and grammar mistakes create a negative impression. For example, if you own a guest house, use the word guest house (two words) consistently. Don’t use guest house (two words) and then guesthouse (one word). They are both correct, but be consistent in your use of the word. If you are an English second language speaker like me, watch that your use of is/are, do/does etc. is correct. Always get someone else to read the text on the website.

Have You Tested Your Website Recently?
Make sure that all links on the website work. If there are too many links to check manually, use an online broken link checker. Keep in mind that Google will penalize your Search Engine ranking for this as well.

Professional Photographs
If you own a business where visuals are important, using a professional photographer is a good idea. If you take the photos yourself, make sure to select the best angles to showcase it. Take a photograph early in the morning or just before sunset, to get enough light, but soft light.

Bigger is better! Use big photos to display your guest house, restaurant or organisation optimally. If there is no space on the page, use thumbnails that link to the bigger picture. Remember to optimize the photos.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
Over half of the internet traffic in South Africa comes from cell phones or tablets. This is one reason why Google will check and penalize your site if it’s not mobile friendly. Make sure it’s mobile friendly by visiting the site via your phone as well as Google.

Easy Navigation
Your website must be easy to navigate. The menu on one of my client’s website was split over two rows.  After putting all menu items in one row, it looked and navigated a lot better.

Social Media Rules
Social media links and sharing should be added to your website. Google considers your social media activity when ranking your website.

One Last tip
I suggest that you add a “subscribe to newsletter” button to the site. This is useful for marketing, even if you don’t use it immediately.