One of the last impressions you want to give a potential customer on your website is that you may have gone out of business. So how can you avoid it on your website?
During January I was researching for a solution to a technical requirement and also catching up on some personal admin, and twice I came across a website that made me think that the company had gone out of business.
Here are seven things to check to ensure you do not give this impression on your website.
1. Product and service pages with ancient published dates
It is typical for a blog post to have a published date. It’s useful to know when reading a post when it was published as it helps you identify if the information is likely to still be correct. But when the date is published on a product or service page it can give the wrong impression. The webpage I was looking at was selling a plugin I was interested in, but it had a published date of 2015 so it made me wonder if this plugin was still actively developed and/or supported.
How can you avoid this? Well if you’ve used a post to write about your product or service and you’ve added the post to your menu so it looks like it should be a page, then either:
- remove the date from being displayed on the front end,
- whenever you update the post, change the published date,
- copy the post content to a page which doesn’t show the date.
2. Social media links to non-existent profiles
On the same website, I also checked out their social media links, which they proudly displayed on all pages. Four of the five social media links went to non-existent profile pages. I don’t know if they used to exist and they deleted them, or whether they never opened social media accounts on those platforms. Either way, it was causing further doubt in my mind.
Here are some of the reasons why the social media links on a website are no longer correct:
- Sometimes when a site is set up the developer will add links to the social media home page, to simply display the social media icons. The intention is that these links will be updated with your profile links but it is easily forgotten.
- They may have changed their social media account name and just haven’t updated the link on the website.
- They may have started with good intentions of being on lots of social media platforms, but their interest waned and they closed their account.
So please go and check on your website – do all your social media links go to your profiles? If not delete or update them.
3. Social media links to profiles with no new content
The fifth social media icon did take me to the profile page for this company, but no new content had been posted in 18 months. Now I really did think this company was no longer active!
I know sometimes you are just too busy to post on your social media channels but please never leave it so long that it gives this impression. Alternatively remove the link from your website, even close the account down if you know you’ll never use it again.
4. A blog with no new content
I’ll hold my hands up, we can be accused of this one too! I get it, you get busy and the blog gets neglected and before you know it it’s six months since your last post.
How can you avoid this? Well first don’t set the bar too high. Be realistic, are you really going to write a new blog post each week? Could you manage one post a month?
When you get an idea for a blog post but you don’t have time to write it, log into your website anyway and create a new post. Add a working title, jot down a few notes and save it as a draft. You can come back to it later when you have more time but you won’t have lost the initial idea.
There are lots of tips on generating ideas for blog posts here are a few to get you started:
- 50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics
- 103 Blog Post Ideas That You Can Write About Today
- The Ultimate List of 95 Blogpost Ideas for Creating Craveable Content to Share on Social
5. No reply to your contact form
I was really interested in one of the plugins, so I was pretty tenacious. After checking the social media profiles I decided to hit up the contact form and send a brief message. Fortunately for me, I got a reply within 24 hours which was very reassuring. But what if the notification that I had sent a message didn’t reach that website owner? Maybe they’ve changed their email address, or there is an issue with the contact form and it is not sending the notifications? How often do you test your contact form to check you do receive the notifications? Do it now!
6 Incorrect telephone number
Likewise, give a quick double-check that your phone number is correct on your website. Anyone who gets “number unavailable” will definitely think you’ve gone out of business.
7. Website no longer available
There’s nothing more panic-inducing than visiting the website of a trusted supplier to find that the website is no longer available! This happened to me last week. I had emailed my contact a couple of times since Christmas and hadn’t had a reply. So I had gone to their website to look up their phone number and instead of their website, I got a web host’s holding page. At this point, I was really worried and tried other methods to try and find their phone number. I couldn’t find it on any business listings which came up when I googled their business name, and it wasn’t on any of the recent email addresses. Eventually, I found it on one of our early emails some five years ago and I gave them a call. They had no idea their website was down.
First of all, you can avoid this by checking your website on a regular basis. Secondly don’t make it difficult for people to find your telephone number if your website is down, include it in your email signature and make sure it is added to any directory listing available to you.
Have you ever wondered whether a business is closed after looking at its website? What made you think that and were you correct?
Edit: I initially downloaded an image for this post of a “closed” sign and then realised that potential customers visiting our website may think it’s a post announcing our closure! Don’t do that…