FB Pixel

Is your website down? Or does it load slowly? Are you on the first page of Google? Or has your domain name expired?

Because we create and manage hundreds of websites, we hear from lots of clients about their concerns and problems in managing and getting the most value from their websites.

So here are the 25 most common website problems we come across and their solutions.

With over 32,000 words in this troubleshooting guide, you might want to bookmark this so you can come back whenever you need to.

Don't have time to read the whole guide right now?

Let us know where we should send the PDF version and we'll do so immediately.

Table Of Contents

  1. My website is down
  2. My website has been hacked
  3. My website has been suspended
  4. My domain name expired
  5. My website is slow
  6. My website does not appear in Google
  7. My website designer doesn’t pick my calls
  8. My website is not on the first page of Google
  9. I cannot accept international payments
  10. People are not visiting my website
  11. I’m not making enough money from my website
  12. People are not buying from my website
  13. I cannot get Google Adsense on my website
  14. I cannot tell if  my website is doing well
  15. My website says “Not Secure”
  16. My emails keep going into spam folders
  17. I cannot update my website
  18. I want to change the design of my website
  19. I want to get notifications via SMS
  20. I don’t want to pay every year for my website
  21. I want a mobile app for my business
  22. My website doesn’t load well on Opera Mini
  23. I’m getting a lot of spam to my email account
  24. I don’t see my pictures when I share links
  25. I see irrelevant information for my website in Google

1. My website is down

Your website being down is probably the worst of the problems listed that you might encounter. The whole essence of your site is to be accessible 24/7, not taking a break every now and then.

A website that isn’t online is like a ship that isn’t in water.

Sadly though, there’s probably no website in the world that has a 100% uptime record, not even the giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon can claim that.

What’s important is for you to find out as quickly as possible why your website is down, and get it back online with the least amount of fuss.

But where do you start your search from? How do you troubleshoot your website being down? The various factors that will take down a site and keep it down include:

We have that covered completely in our article: My Website Is Down or you can click the specific sections above.

2. My website has been hacked

The saddest reason to have your website offline is due to hacking activity.

If your site has been hacked, you’re probably going to notice something funny or very odd when you visit your domain. It could manifest as a redirect to a different website, or an actual message informing you that you’ve been hacked, or a new tab opening up when you click on certain links, showing unrelated ads, etc.

A hacker infiltrating your website can cause a tremendous amount of havoc on so many levels, it’s something you best want to avoid as much as possible instead of trying to remedy after the damage has been done. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

So before you ever (hopefully never) encounter a hacked website, you should take the needed precautions.

Over 30,000 legitimate, small business websites are hacked every single day.– SOPHOS

Many people wonder, “Why would anyone want to hack my website? I’m not a bank.”

Well, there are actually many reasons:

  • To use your website to send thousands of spam emails around the world
  • To harvest usernames, email addresses and passwords to spam other users or hack into other accounts where they use the same passwords
  • To hold your website hostage and request a payment or ransom in order to release your website.
  • For security purposes, in order to identify vulnerabilities in your system and report them to you (that’s a rare good hacker)
  • To install malware on your website so that all visitors to your website can end up also getting hacked
  • To prevent you from spreading a particular message that they find offensive (usually done by state-sponsored hackers)
  • To steal trade secrets and information that can help the competition get an edge over you.
  • Just for fun or to prove a point that it’s possible. Some hackers hack just because it can be hacked. (Just like the guy who installed Microsoft Windows on a watch just to prove it could be done.)

Windows 95 Hacked Onto Watch

 

If you really want to learn more about why hackers hack and their incentives, you can read Why Do Hackers Hack? – 3 Reasons Explained

Now that you know there doesn’t even need to be an incentive to be targeted by a hacker, let’s look at a few scenarios and solutions.

Compromised login details

The easiest way for a hacker to take down a website is to have administrative access to that site, usually via the site’s login details.

Anyone who has that level of access can do as they please with your website. To avoid this situation, you have to ensure that people who don’t need to access your website aren’t able to, that they don’t have more permission than they require, and that any usernames and passwords you provide them are promptly changed once their job is done.

Someone you may have given your login details to for them to make a quick change on your website or to solve some problem for you, might still have those details later and that’s a security risk.

One of the easiest ways to get hacked is to log into your website in a cafe or on public WiFi.

Both cafes and public WiFi are used by hundreds and even thousands of people. And by using various techniques including packet sniffing, man-in-the-middle attacks and keyloggers, a hacker can secure the username and password to your website.

Don’t log in to password-protected websites that contain sensitive information when using a public WiFi connection — for example, banking and social networking sites, or even email– NORTON

A minor concession is to ensure that you have Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) enabled for any account you log into publicly.

Two-Factor Authentication is where after entering your username and password (first factor), you are also required to enter a one-time password sent to your phone via SMS (second factor) or some other method.

2-step authentication

With Two-Factor Authentication, even if someone succeeds at stealing your password, they won’t be able to log into your account because they won’t have your phone to complete the second step in the process.

You can learn more on Two-Factor Authentication here: Cybersecurity 101: Two-factor authentication can save you from hackers.

Using stolen or nulled themes or plugins

The Bible says that the workman is worth his wages. What that basically means is that someone who works is entitled to be paid for the work he does.

Let’s consider the life of a typical developer. He has an idea for an amazing new and impressive plugin or theme that will make websites around the world more beautiful and functional.

He invests weeks and even months into learning some of the latest technologies that have been launched and starts working on his new idea. He encounters issues that have him scratching his head.

But he perseveres.

Finally, after ironing out all the bugs in his brand new creation, he opens it up to the world and sells it for $99. It’s his product, he sets the price and decides that that’s what his time and energy and skills are worth for his product.

Sadly, some people including website designers and freelancers may say to themselves,

“Why should I pay $99 to this guy when I can get it for free?”

And off they go to scour the web to find some shady corner where they can download someone’s precious product free of charge.

But that’s only half the story. Just as they say that not all that glitters is gold, the same way not everyone who is generous to you is genuinely being generous.

People who distribute free (or nulled) themes and plugins have usually compromised the product they are distributing for free. They will add their own malicious code in a corner and obfuscate it.

And whilst it will operate beautifully and normally, it holds a serious kicker. Every single person visiting your website could now be compromised by malware. Or your site would now be vulnerable to the hacker who gave away someone else’s product for free and that can end up giving you problems upon problems.

The solution to ensuring that you are not hacked because of stolen plugins or themes is to actively be involved in ensuring that all the themes and plugins you use for your website are purchased from a reputable or the original source.

Vulnerable or un-updated platform, plugins or themes

The world of technology moves really, really fast. Did you know that your smartphone is more powerful than the computer that sent astronauts to the moon?

Your smartphone is millions of times more powerful than the NASA computers that put man on the moon.– ZME SCIENCE

Whenever something is changed and improved, you need to update at your end to get the latest and greatest. This happens with your website as well.

If you have a WordPress site, you probably have new updates to install every single week. One week, it’s a WordPress platform update, the next is a theme update, and almost every other day, some plugin has an update.

As much as these updates can be a bit annoying and even disruptive, they are usually very important.

Just as technology is advancing, hackers are advancing also. What they couldn’t break a little while back, give them a few weeks and they’ll have found a way to break it.

And so because of that, updates come to nullify those threats, tighten other security issues, and the cycle starts all over again.

According to a survey by Wordfence, plugin vulnerabilities represented 55.9% of the known entry points reported by respondents.– Wordfence

The risk of your website being hacked increases every time you leave a plugin, theme or WordPress itself un-updated.

WordPress plugins to update

If your website designer provides some technical maintenance including updates, that’s great and you won’t have to worry your head over that.

If not, you can sign up for a maintenance package or you can run the updates yourself. You can actually even have some of these updates automated by editing some code on your site or signing up with some special services.

Disclaimer:
We won’t lie to you though, the quickest way to break something on your website is also to update it. 😀 You update a plugin here only to find out it’s not compatible with some other plugin elsewhere and the two conspire to take down your site.

We strongly recommend that you take a backup of your website before you make updates and do ensure that you know a sufficient amount of what you’re doing so you can resolve arising conflicts, or are able to revert your site to its working condition until you can successfully update your site.

Sharing a server with other sites that might be hacked

It just so happens that probably the saddest way to be hacked is when you’ve done absolutely everything right, yet you still get hacked.

“How can this be?” you say.

Well, one of the flaws of shared hosting in particular is that your website is situated on a server with hundreds, and even thousands of other sites.

Over 1000 websites on one server

A hacker who is at the top of his game won’t need to hack you with your strong security. All he has to do is find the weakest link.

By hacking a single website on the server (probably even just a test site that someone abandoned months ago) and depending on the level of security at the server level, he can move sideways and continue to take down all the sites on that server.

Avoiding this comes down to going with a hosting company which has the highest security available for shared hosting, or simply moving up to more secure hosting like VPS, Dedicated or Cloud hosting.

Not implementing best security practices for your website

Driving is generally speaking, a risk. To reduce the risks involved in driving, there are a lot of best practices.

  • Wearing a seat-belt
  • Passing the licencing exam
  • Driving below the speed limit
  • Understanding and obeying road signs and signals
  • Regular car maintenance
  • Having a driver’s licence
  • Having insurance
  • Not driving when you’re tired or sleepy, and so on.

All these things and more contribute to ensuring that as many passengers and drivers reach their destinations safely.

It’s quite similar with websites. A hacker may want to attack your website just because it’s out there, but that doesn’t mean you should make it easy for them.

There are so many best practices you or your developer should consider to give hackers a really tough time if they choose you as a target. You should make it so hard for them that the next time they see your site, they’ll just leave you alone and go some place else.

About 30,000 websites are infected with some type of malware daily.– BIG DROP INC.

  • Make sure you use strong passwords. p@ssw0rd is not a strong password. That can be broken in a matter of minutes. You can rather use a password generator to generate complex passwords (which you should remember to store securely).
    Password Generator
  • Make sure you keep all your themes, plugins and platform updated to the latest available version.
  • Make sure you limit login attempts. Don’t give a hacker the chance to try a billion different passwords until they’re successful. Lock them out after two or three wrong attempts.
  • Make sure you are regularly backing up your website. Always prepare for the worst, just in case it happens.
  • Make sure you’ve installed and are using a firewall or security plugin. This helps scan, detect, block and also neutralize a host of malicious attempts on your site.
    Sucuri Website Scan
  • Make sure your site is on https and is always secure.
  • Make sure you never use and disable the username ‘admin’. It’s the default username and usually the first guess when hacking a website.
  • Make sure you’ve hardened your website and locked down its security settings. You can learn a lot more about hardening your WordPress to secure your site.
  • Make sure you’ve disabled file editing. File editing enabled just makes it all the more easy for someone to do damage to your website if they succeed in getting in.
  • Make sure you regularly check your website and server logs to uncover any patterns that might point to malicious activity.

If you want more information on the in-depth security practices for your website, you should read: The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step by Step.

Not password-protecting your laptop or phone

It is fully understandable that some people choose not to put a password on their laptop or on their phones.

“I have nothing to hide!”

is usually the answer, or

“It’s just more convenient than having to type a password all the time.”

And whilst that is true, the problem isn’t about the people around you who you trust, it’s about that rare possibility that you leave your phone in a taxi by accident, or someone makes off with your laptop.

One laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.– GARTNER

Thieves and hackers certainly know the value of data, and so when they get a hold of a non-passworded device, they’re going to look through anything and everything they can find for value. Be it images to blackmail you with, email accounts, card details and much more.

If your browser stores your passwords so you can automatically login into various sites easily, then it’s important you have a password on the device itself just in case it falls into the hands of the wrong person.

Not using a good anti-virus program on your computer

A thief having physical access to your computer is bad, but him having virtual access is almost as bad.

Viruses, malware, Trojans, spyware, keyloggers and a host of malicious programs have become easier than ever to transmit nowadays.

Just by visiting an infected or compromised site, malware can be downloaded to your site, allowing someone halfway across the world to do literally anything they want with your computer.

Alternatively, having a good and up-to-date anti-virus program dramatically reduces the risk of that happening. They will even abort a connection to a website if they detect a problem with the website.

Avast threat secured by aborting connection

We do recommend having good anti-virus/malware software that regularly scans and blocks malicious programs from ever getting to be installed on your computer or phone. You’ll find a few to consider below.

Anti-virus programs

A note on backups

Just as an extra caution though, we want to remind you that there is no substitute for an excellent backup program. You can end up doing every single thing right, but still have your website down or hacked.

And that’s why you need to take your own backups and save them somewhere else, far from your hosting account, because if the very worst happens, you can always just take your backups and move to a different hosting provider and get your website back online.

Many people believe it is the responsibility of the hosting company to take backups but it actually isn’t. If you read their terms and conditions, all of them will tell you they do this only as a courtesy and cannot be held liable if they can’t retrieve a backup for you.

Here’s an example from Hostgator’s Terms of Service:

Hostgator Terms of Service on Backups

A terrific hosting company A2 Hosting was hacked quite recently. It was one of the most catastrophic hacks of a reputable hosting company that we’ve witnessed in recent times.

It started looking like just a little down time for a few sites. That little down time eventually translated into servers being down for months! Even their backups were compromised and they couldn’t get their clients back online.

Many clients who were paying big bucks had years worth of information literally wiped out.

That’s why you should consider having backups both offline and online. Offline, maybe stored on your computer or harddrive, and online in a cloud storage service like Google Drive, DropBox, etc

CloudStorage Services

Your web hosting control panel will usually have an option for you to take a backup of your website, files and databases.

cPanel Backups

But besides that, we also recommend using a plugin for taking backups as well.

WordPress Backup Plugins

Just make sure you are taking regular updates of your website and keeping them in multiple safe locations

3. My website has been suspended

Account suspended

One reason why your website might inaccessible may be the result of a suspension. If you breech the terms and conditions of your hosting provider, your site or entire hosting account can be suspended and your website taken offline.

Some of the reasons why your hosting provider might suspend your website include:

Unpaid bill or invoice

This is the most common. If you haven’t paid your hosting bill in a while, your website will be offline, usually in less than 5 days of missing your payment.

You probably should look into this one quickly because having a suspended site for a sufficient period of time might lead to it being deleted entirely. (Hopefully if you have a website backup, you will at least not lose all your hard work.)

Whilst most hosting providers alert you in advance of a bill payment, this is a courtesy they are doing and won’t make any difference if you forget to pay your bill and miss your payment.

Email alerts can fall in spam boxes, text alerts can be mis-routed by your network, so always know when your hosting bill is due and ideally make sure you pay that well in advance of the due date.

Excessive server resource usage

CPU

Many hosting companies may promise you unlimited storage, unlimited domains, unlimited bandwidth, etc. But one thing they’ll never promise you is unlimited server resources or CPU.

Server resource usage is something highly elusive because many hosting providers don’t give you a way to track or measure that if you’re on a shared hosting package.

And without warning, you get an email from your hosting provider that your site has been throttled or suspended for exceeding server resources for too long.

Abusing CPU Resources

If you only experienced a throttling, it means your hosting provider is being nice and they’ve artificially slowed down access to your site in order to limit it’s server usage.

In such a case, this gives you the opportunity to make adjustments to your site to lessen its resource usage. One of the most effective ways of doing that is enabling caching systems. Another is to disable high intensive plugins like live chats, audio and video streaming, etc.

On the other hand, if you aren’t able to make adjustments, this can lead to an outright suspension meaning you’re going to require an upgrade of your package before your website will come online.

Copyright infringement complaint, illegal activity, etc

Another time when your hosting company might suspend your website without even providing you a warning is when you host content on your website that is forbidden by them.

For example, the vast majority of hosting companies do not allow you to have content or information on your website that is prohibited by law. Having content on your site on how to hack into the CIA or FBI is something your host would quickly suspend you for.

On the other hand, seemingly innocent pictures of a product or brand can also get your website suspended. If your site sells replicas (or even originals) of brands like Gucci, Versace, Louis Vuitton or any other registered trademark without needed permission, those companies who own the trademarks can file a complaint with your hosting company and your site will be taken offline.

Website Suspension Due to Trademark Infringement

If you are blessed, your site can come back on by simply removing the infringing content. But if things get really serious, your host may not accept you back and you’ll have to find a new location to host your website.

4. My domain name expired and I cannot get it back

Losing a domain name is not too big of a deal for some people. This is probably because their website was never a valuable asset to them.

However if your domain name is worth $872 million like cars.com is, that’s going to be a really hard loss to recover from.

The reason why a domain name expires is because they are never owned outright. They are actually only ‘rented’ to you exclusively for a year’s duration. You can however ‘rent’ your domain for up to 10 years in advance.

If you forget to make a payment for your domain name, you are likely to come across a message on your website informing you that the domain name has expired. You’ll sometimes even find instructions on what to do to renew it.

Expired Domain names

If that’s the case and you have access to your domain name management console, simply move as fast as you can to log in and renew it. If your domain name is managed by your website designer, then it’ll be a matter of alerting him/her and making a payment for its renewal, if required.

Once your domain is renewed, there may be some DNS resolution time and your site will be back up in just a few hours.

There are instances though when you can’t do any of the above and your domain name isn’t yet recoverable. Let’s take a look at those scenarios.

Domain is in redemption phase

When a domain name expires, it usually enters a short ‘grace period’. Within this period, the original registrar of the domain (that would be you or your website designer) has the exclusive rights to renew the domain name.

This grace period is usually about 28 days long although the length is at the sole discretion of the registry for your domain.

GoDaddy for example provides only an 18 day grace period. (Registrars may have it in their terms and conditions that a grace period is not even guaranteed and they can terminate that grace period at any time they choose to for whatever reason.)

If you still do not renew your domain name after the grace period, it then goes into a new phase called redemption. In redemption, which can last about 3 weeks, you usually still have the exclusive right to renew your domain name, but with an added penalty or fee.

The redemption fees can range from between $80 to over $300, sometimes exclusive of the cost of the domain itself.

Domains in redemption

If your domain name has landed itself in the redemption phase, you now have to consider how much it’s worth to you and whether you’re willing to pay the penalties to get it back.

Two things can happen if you choose not to pay the redemption fee. In the first scenario, nothing bad happens. No one buys your domain, it exits the redemption phase and is put back on the market to be purchased at the normal domain name pricing.

In the second scenario, the domain exits the redemption phase, but is withheld by the registry. And that brings us to the next point.

Domain has been withheld by registry

An $80 penalty to purchase your domain out of redemption might seem steep, but what you’ll have to pay to recover your domain if it is withheld by your registry will dwarf that amount easily.

Registries usually check the amount of traffic to a website before it expires, or the value of the name itself to consider whether to withhold the domain name or not. If they do, they then may classify it as a premium domain.

An example is birthdaymagic.com. You’ll notice if you visit the site that it’s been taken over by hugedomains.com. If you want to purchase birthdaymagic.com, their asking price is $8,195 and not a penny less.

Birthdaymagic

So whilst there’s the possibility your domain name will be released free into the market for you to repurchase without having to pay an $80 penalty, just remember that the reverse can happen and you might end up having to either cough up $8,000 in this case, or you start looking for a new name for your website.

Someone else has purchased your domain

If the domain name you owned has been purchased by someone else, there is more than a 99.9% chance that you will never get that domain name back. It might be time to start thinking of a new domain for your website.

Some people wonder how on earth someone else can buy their name or domain. Well, as mentioned before, it’s because even you cannot technically buy your domain. It’s only rented.

In 2014, it was revealed that Jumia bought up 10 of their rival Konga’s domains to prevent them from expanding their business into other countries.– Vanguard

So you rented your domain for a year, and for whatever reason, you didn’t renew it for another year. The international registrars no longer have a contract with you and can go ahead and rent out your name to anyone else who wants it.

If you want to make sure no one can ‘steal’ your domain, you must make sure you never allow it to expire and ideally renew it for years in advance.

There might be 2 paths you can take to get your domain name back, although both are slim and not without expense.

In the first instance, if you have a registered trademark for your name, you might be able to sue in court to have the domain name turned over to you. If you’re up for a legal battle and have your lawyers at the ready, this is something you can consider.

The second option is to contact the new owner and request to purchase the domain name from them. You should note though that generally speaking, the new owner is under no obligation to sell you the domain and hasn’t broken any laws so the use of threats may rather work against your objectives.

Website designer refuses to renew domain

Whilst this is rare, we do want to mention that he who registers your domain name has tremendous power over that name and can abuse that position of trust.

We have had quite a few clients who were burned by a previous firm or designer in regards to their domain name. The issue at hand is that he who registers the domain has 100% control of the domain management console and can do with it as he pleases.

If the relationship between you and your web designer turns sour with no hope of it being healed and he has control of your domain name, it is not impossible for him to ignore your calls, pleas and threats and have your domain expire just to spite you.

Or maybe he’ll renew it but refuse to allow you to transfer it to a different registrar or provider. The more classic instance is where your domain is ransomed by him until you pay quite a hefty price to have it transferred.

We can only suggest you tread cautiously because there is very, very little you can do to pry your domain from his hands without his consent.

5. My website is slow

Nobody likes a slow website. Not you, not Google and definitely not your customers. Customers LOVE when a website is fast. How fast? As fast as possible. They will even reward you by staying longer and spending more money on your site.

Walmart saw a 1% increase in revenue for every 100ms they shaved off their page load time.– FORBES

But the reverse is also true. If your website is slow, your customers will buy less from you and will probably not even come back.

Google knows this fact and that’s why they have been doing everything in their power to push all of us to a faster web, especially on mobile. Google pioneered what is now HTTP/2 which is an upgrade of the old standard which allows browsing to be faster.

79% of online shoppers that experienced trouble with site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again.– Google

Some people didn’t get the hint, so Google introduced AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) as a way to massively enhance website performance on mobile devices. AMP does this by cutting out almost everything that could slow a website down (unnecessary javascript, CSS and large images, etc). It also helps that Google gives AMP a speed boost by caching and preloading such pages.

And then Google finally brought out the big guns and said that website loading speed is now a ranking factor in their search engine results. What that means is that if your website is slow, your competitor is going to outrank you and get all the customers who should be coming to you.

So let’s dive into the things that cause your website to be slow and what you can do about them. We don’t want you losing money.

Poor network

The first thing you want to confirm if your website is loading slowly is whether it’s actually a problem with your website, or just an issue with your Internet Service Provider.

If your Internet is slow, your website will load slowly. For example if you’re browsing from your phone and you’re on a 2G connection, your site (with all other sites) will surely load slowly.

On the other hand, if every site you browse loads quickly except yours, then it is likely that your website is the one loading slowly.

Web server location

The Internet is basically a really huge interconnection of computers and servers. There are millions of servers all around the world in every continent. And some of these servers are owned by your hosting provider.

The problem though is that the distance between where you are and where your website is located can have a significant delay on the speed of your website.

For example, have you ever been on a long distance call before? Maybe you called a relative in the United States or China or elsewhere?

What happens is that there’s a delay whenever you speak. You say something, it takes them about 2 or 3 seconds longer to hear what you said, then they respond, and by the time you respond, there’s been a delay at their end also.

That’s what it’s like when your website is located on a server far away from you. It’s the difference between making a local call within your city and a long distance call thousands of miles away.

A lot of the Internet that comes to Ghana comes from Europe via many submarine cables, MainOne, Sat 3, Glo-1, etc.

Africa Undersea Cables
So if your servers are located in Europe (which is closer to Africa), your website will almost always load faster than if your website is hosted in America or India. That’s because the information has to travel 3 or 4 times further to get to you, increasing the latency.

By simply relocating your website to a server that’s located closer to your target audience, you’ll be quite amazed at how much faster your website can load.

And if relocating your website isn’t an option, what you can do is to employ a CDN (Content Distribution Network). A CDN has servers all over the globe and they distribute a majority of your website’s content to these various servers.

How CDNs Work

So no matter the location a visitor to your website comes from, the closest server to them immediately responds and starts sending your website’s information to their browser and that makes your website load so much faster.

Site performance and architecture

Looking at your website itself can help identify bottlenecks that are slowing it down. There are some great testing tools which can help with that including:

  • Pingdom Tools
  • GT Metrix
  • Google Page Speed Insights
  • Webpage Test
  • Google Lighthouse Performance Audits
  • Dareboost

Pingdom Tools Test

When using a website testing tool, you do have to take note of a few things. For example, some tools allow you to select where the test should be run from. If you run your test from Australia for example, unless you’re in Australia, the test results will show your website as being slower than it actually is.

Similarly, some tests allow you to select the type of device or even the Internet connection speed that’ll be used in the test.

Google Page Speed Insights are one of the most widely used testing tools but you should keep in mind that their default settings are on a mobile device at limited 3G Internet speeds. They do however provide great insights.

Just by running your website through these tests, you’ll immediately get some feedback on what is wrong or right with your website.

Pingdom Tools Recommendations For Improvement

Recommendations like:

  • Minify CSS
  • Minify javascript
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Optimize Images
  • Minify HTML
  • Enable compression
  • Avoid landing page redirects
  • Make fewer HTTP requests
  • Eliminate render blocking resources
  • Reduce DNS lookups, etc.

Whilst it’s not always possible or realistic to aim to score 100 in the tests (those that give such a score), we do recommend improving on as many points as you can.

Outside of these, if a plugin or theme is poorly coded, that too could hamper your website loading times. One place to look is in the waterfall charts that show how your website loaded in sequence.

Waterfall of WopeDigital Speed Test

You might be able to identify that a resource was loaded from a website that isn’t needed, or there were a lot of requests or heavy files from a particular theme or plugin, or that some file that was requested timed out.

Studying the load sequence of your site can reveal a lot of what is going on behind the scenes and help you optimize your website to run much faster.

No caching systems

In 2 previous points under your website being down, we discussed the importance of having website caching and even server side caching.

You can revisit those sections on Website Caching and Server Side Caching.

We very strongly recommend you have excellent caching systems in place for your website. Caching can be the difference between your website loading in 12 seconds, versus it loading in less than 1 second.

Most times when a website is slow, the likeliness that improved caching will help solve the issue is very, very high. So do consider implementing:

  • Browser caching
  • Page caching
  • Database caching
  • Object caching
  • CDN caching
  • Reverse proxy caching

Excessive traffic

As mentioned in our first point on your website being offline, a spike in popularity, or excessive traffic can crash your server, taking your website offline completely. If it doesn’t succeed in taking you offline, it can reduce your website to a crawl.

You can click to read the section on a Spike in popularity.

One thing not covered entirely in that point (was probably covered more in our DDoS section) is the fact that not all the traffic you get might be just because you’re popular with people.

So you would have to take a look at your server logs and analytics to identify whether you’re just getting a little too much bot traffic that is putting pressure on your server and causing your website to be slow.

Low quality hosting

The possibility of upgrading your hosting was also mentioned previously.

What would be the definition of low quality hosting? Well technically, any hosting that can’t keep up with your needs would be insufficient or of low quality.

A lot of the times, people get onto the Internet with their first website on shared hosting. But not all shared hosting and hosting companies are alike.

This is because to increase profits, some squeeze too many clients together on a single server. Others cut down on features and security which could have sped up your website’s loading time. Yet still, because of the number of clients, they tend to disable particular things that would much improve your website’s loading speed.

Another critical thing to look at is something called TTFB or Time To First Byte. This is a measure of how quickly your server responds when your website is requested.

Whilst it depends on quite a few factors (including the use of a CDN and the proximity of the server to your location), one of the major influencers of Time To First Byte is the quality of your hosting provider and how busy the server you have been placed on already is.

Google recommends that your server respond in less than 200ms whenever it receives a request.

Server misconfigurations

There might not be anything wrong with your Internet or with your website’s architecture, but there might be an issue somewhere on your server.

It could be something mild like a simple misconfiguration or omission that isn’t too difficult to fix. A few you can consider checking on are:

  • Enabling GZip compression
  • Enabling HSTS (if your website has an SSL)
  • Ensuring Opcache is working
  • Raising needed PHP execution and memory limits

Or it could be something much deeper which would require a developer to take a look at like:

  • MySQL bottlenecks that require tuning
  • Corrupted databases
  • Harddisk or other hardware failure
  • Underpowered server
  • Limited server memory
  • Outdated software components

Huge images and videos added to website

One thing that slows down a website’s loading speed is the size of the website itself. If your website is 1MB in size and your Internet speed can download 1MB/s, your site would load in 1 second (there are other factors, but that’s a general idea.)

So if you’ve placed lots and lots of images and videos on your website to the tune of about 50MB, all other things being equal, your website would load in 50 seconds, and that’s a really long time to wait for a website to load.

The average website loads in 3.21 seconds on desktop.– Pingdom

Uploading images and videos from your smartphone directly to your website is usually one of the culprits. Today’s phones have 10 megapixel cameras, taking pictures that are 4mb in size and more. Placing a single image like that on your site will quickly contribute to your site loading slowly.

The reason is because people viewing a website on a laptop or desktop usually don’t have a screen that is wider than 1366px. Few people have screens that are 1600px wide or higher. And even with that, unless it’s a background or hero image, it may never have to be that wide.

An image straight from a phone or camera is probably going to be 2 or 3 times wider than necessary. And let’s not even mention that for mobile devices, you’re talking about a maximum width of about 360px (or twice that with a Retina display)

Here’s an image of a lady having major problems with her website. 😀

By resizing the image and also compressing it, we’ve reduced the size by 99.2% (from 8.3MB down to 60.6KB) and yet the difference between the two images is almost imperceptible.

Resize and compress images

Here are a few tips to ensure your images and videos do not slow down your website’s loading time:

  • Resize all images to their appropriate sizes before uploading them to your website. You don’t need an image that is 1200px by 1200px if it’s only for a small square that is 200px by 200x.
  • Appropriately compress all your images to a manageable level. A .jpg image at 100% (meaning no compression) can be compressed to around 82% and that can save you over 50% of the size of the image.
  • Use lighter image formats or even next generation image formats. Instead of uploading heavy .pngs, convert those to .jpgs. Alternatively, you can go further and rather convert all images to webp format which is usually 25% smaller than .jpgs.
  • Consider implementing responsive images using the “srcset” attribute. This will ensure that small devices get a smaller file and large files are only delivered to larger devices that need them.
  • Implement lazy loading of assets. By doing this, your website only loads images that need to be seen when they are called for. If an image is way down the page and hasn’t yet been requested, then the image won’t be called, taking up data and bandwidth.
  • Host videos from a video platform like YouTube or Vimeo. When you host videos on these platforms, not only do they deliver the videos from their own CDNs located around the world, but they’re also able to serve the best size of the video depending on the device, and the video won’t instantly download until the play button is hit.

Outdated technology and software

The technologies that run the Internet are always being improved. One of the major improvements always achieved is speed, so whenever there’s an update to the underlying technology, you should ensure to upgrade.

For example, if your server is still running on PHP 5.6, upgrading it to PHP 7.3 alone will contribute a speed boost because PHP 7.3 is 3 times faster than PHP 5.6.

PHP Benchmarks

Source: Kinsta

And upgrading your database server from MySQL 5.6 to 5.7 (or even 8.0) will also contribute a speed boost because MySQL 5.7 is (also) 3 times faster than MySQL 5.6.

Similarly, upgrading your hosting or server to run HTTP/2 will increase the speed of your site over using HTTP/1.

It’s useful (and safer) to always have your website running on the latest technology where possible because they have usually been improved and optimized to make your website faster.

6. My website does not appear in Google

Well then, that’s quite a big problem you have on your hands.

Google is the number one search engine in the world with a market share of over 92%.

Google 92 percent market share worldwide

The majority of visits to websites starts from a search, so if your website isn’t anywhere to be found in Google, you are surely missing out on a lot of potential visitors and clients.

But just to make sure your diagnosis is correct, we recommend you try this.

Go to Google.com and enter your full domain name, preceded by site: as you’ll see in the picture below:

Google

If something comes up, it means that your website actually is appearing in Google, so that’s good news. It’s just not appearing for the terms and phrases that you want it to.

In that case, check out our point on My website is not on the first page of Google rather.

If nothing came up in Google when you searched, placing site: before your domain name, then it’s confirmed that you have absolutely no pages indexed by Google, and that’s a problem we have to clear up ASAP.

Site not yet crawled by Google

Google has these things called spiders or crawlers. What they do is they run around all over the Internet looking for pages, sites and links. They follow every single link they can in order to bring you the latest and newest information out there.

It’s possible that since your website launched until now, Google hasn’t heard of you yet. They might not have found a single link out there that brought them to your site in order to discover your lovely content.

And so if that’s the case and Google hasn’t yet come to you, it’s probably time for you to go to Google.

With the Google Search Console, you can sign up in order to manage quite a few things about your website and how Google interacts with it.

Google Search Console

Once you have an account with Google Search Console and have added and verified your ownership of your website, you’d then be able to submit a sitemap of your website.

Your sitemap is just as the name sounds, a map of your site. It’s supposed to be a document listing every single page and corner of your website.

It can usually be found by adding /sitemap.xml to your domain name although this isn’t always the case. Our sitemap can be found at wopedigital.com/sitemap.xml

WopeDigital's Sitemap

One way to create a sitemap for your website is by listing all your website’s urls in a .xml file. But alternatively you can have a plugin generate your sitemap for you, like we do.

Once you give Google your sitemap, they are now guaranteed to pass by and take a look at every single page you’ve listed and that’s what leads to them adding your website and its content to their index, enabling people find you.

Sitemap Submission To Google

Google indexing isn’t instant though, so once you’ve submitted your sitemap and waited a while (from hours to a few days), another search using the site: operator should show you the various pages of your site that Google has now added to their search engine.

Noindex meta tag blocking google

Another reason why your website might not appear at all in Google is that your site has a particular piece of code explicitly warning Google to dare not add any of your pages to their search engine.

That’s the ‘noindex’ meta tag.

When used correctly, the noindex meta tag is terrific. A perfect use case is when you’re working on your website but you haven’t yet launched it. You might still have a lot of information on your website that isn’t ready to go live.

You’re still proof reading, or replacing some demo content and lorem ipsum text, etc. Whilst that’s happening, you can just tell Google via the noindex meta tag to not add anything it may chance upon to their search engine.

This is what the noindex meta tag looks like when Google crawls your website.

Meta tag noindex

As you can see though, misusing the noindex meta tag can be catastrophic to your presence in Google. If your site is built with WordPress, you can go to Settings > Reading and scroll to the bottom to uncheck the box (if checked) that says search engines shouldn’t be allowed to index your site.

Uncheck Search Engine Visibility in WordPress

Alternatively, you might have an SEO plugin like Yoast which also has options to prevent Google from indexing your website. You’d have to check on those settings as well.

Robots.txt file blocking Google

Besides the noindex meta tag which tells Google that whilst they can see your site, they do not have permission to add it  to their search engine, there’s another way that you may inadvertently be blocking Google.

That’s by using a Robots.txt file.

This file is situated at the root (or highest) level of your domain. It’s main function is to tell automated scripts (or robots) what they can and cannot do when they visit your website.

For example, some people’s sites are on very, very limited hosting and having Google and other robots frequently visiting them just ends up spiking their resource usage and getting them in trouble with their hosts, exceeding their bandwidth, etc.

The Robots.txt file can be used to inform these robots (the ones that are respectful) to be gentle on your website and crawl it more slowly or less frequently to limit the amount of pressure they put on your website.

You can even tell a robot to turn back and go home without even taking a peek at any of your pages. You might be doing that to Google.

A robots.txt file that contains something like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

would be telling every single robot (characterised by the wild card – *) to crawl absolutely nothing on your site.

And if Google doesn’t get to crawl your website, it won’t be able to index any of your pages.

You can learn more here on Robot.txt files and how to set them up correctly, if they are the cause of your Google woes.

301 redirect

FYI, Google doesn’t index redirects. So if your website or domain simply serves to send people to a different website, your website won’t be indexed by Google.

Hacked website

Another reason to guard the security of your site carefully is the fact that if your website is hacked, Google can drop you out of their index in seconds.

Of course, it depends on when Google detects the hack. If their crawlers pass by and find that your site has been hacked, some malware is running amok, injecting ads everywhere, they will take action against you website and completely de-index it.

If that happens, you’ll be getting a total of zero visits from Google’s search engine. (One reason why you should always try to diversify the sources of your visitors.)

To identify if Google has intentionally penalised you, you need to have a Google Search Console account with your website active and verified.

You can then navigate to the Manual Actions section under Security and Manual Actions to see if you’ve been penalised.

Google Search Console Manual Actions

If you do, there’ll be a more specific message there regarding the type of penalty you’ve received and what you can do to clear that up.

Google Search Console Manual Actions No Issues Detected

Google will only consider re-indexing your website if you completely clean it up of every single trace of whatever the hackers did. (This is where backups start to come in very, very handy).

Once your site is cleaned up and you’ve beefed up your security even more, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google who’ll then check out your site to confirm it’s clean, and get you back in their index.

Sadly, whilst being de-indexed can happen lightening fast, getting re-indexed may not happen as quickly. So as previously mentioned, prevention now is much more desirable than having to find a cure later.

Google penalty

Besides being de-indexed for having a hacked website, Google actually has a list of other infractions that can also get you penalised. These include:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Participating in link schemes
  • Creating pages with little or no original content
  • Cloaking
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Hidden text or links
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraped content
  • Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
  • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
  • Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, Trojans, or other badware
  • Abusing rich snippets markup
  • Sending automated queries to Google

You can find a more in depth explanation of each here on the 16 ways to get de-indexed by Google

7. My website designer doesn’t respond to my calls

Phone call

This is a problem we hear all too often from some of the new clients who come to us.

They might have had a website done for them by a website designer but it reaches a point where they start being avoided like the plague.

They call, it goes unanswered. They send a text, no reply. They send an email, no response. They search for the designer’s website, offline!

That will fast lead to the derailing of any website project that you have, depending on how much access you have to your own website and whether you can transfer to a new designer if necessary.

Of course, if you’re a DIYer (that is you Do-It-Yourself), then you probably won’t have to worry about not being able to contact yourself. 😀

Here are a few things to consider:

Communication channel issues

The first instance requires you trying every channel you can to reconnect to your website designer. Calling, texting, emailing, WhatsApping and even leaving a message through their website or Facebook page.

Who knows, there might be a genuine reason why you haven’t been able to get through to your website guy. He may be completely incapacitated or might have sadly passed on.

Ideally, there should be necessary contingency plans in place on both you and your designer’s part to help you navigate his or her unavailability.

And there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re covered, even in such a worst-case scenario and you have to find a new designer.

Do note that the only way you’ll be able to smoothly move to a new website designer is if you have all the login details for your website. So make sure you have the following details:

  • To your domain management console
  • To your hosting platform if available
  • To your website platform or CMS (like WordPress)
  • To your database

Each of these details will make it easier in the event that you have to transfer the handling of your website to a new person or firm.

Project related dispute

The most likely scenario though is usually along the lines of highly unprofessional conduct where some type of dispute has led to your website guy actively ignoring you.

It could be that:

  • Your project is more complex than he can deliver on and has now decided to avoid you in order not to have to deal with the situation.
  • He’s supposed to have met a particular milestone by now and hasn’t so must start playing hide and seek.
  • You have a bill to pay that you have been putting off for a really long time and so there’s a bit of bitterness in there.
  • He feels like he’s doing much more work than was agreed on or paid for.

We understand project related disputes and know that you require a terrific job done. We’ve got a lot of information that might help ensure that you’re able to avoid such project related disputes in the case that your website designer decides to behave unprofessionally.

8. My website is not on the first page of Google

Web searches are the leading source of traffic to websites worldwide. The great thing about getting the majority of your traffic from Google and other search engines is the fact that it’s free.

51% of website traffic comes from organic search results.– BrightEdge

Just imagine if you could get the equivalent of $1,000/month in free advertising from Facebook or Instagram. Well, you can with Google.

Just to show you how important and valuable it is to rank well in search, SEMRush estimates that myjoyonline.com receives the equivalent of $94,600/month in free website traffic from Google, and that’s just from Ghana alone.

MyJoyOnline Traffic Estimates Ghana from SEMRush

And if you think that’s high, Ghanaweb.com’s estimate is much higher than that at $574,700/month.

GhanaWeb Traffic Estimates Ghana from SEMRush

So what would happen to your business if you could just get a fraction of that amount of free advertising for your business? I bet your revenues would skyrocket.

There’s just one tiny problem. Out of the billions and billions of results, Google can only show a few at a time. Basically, they show 10 results for every search, and if you aren’t in those top 10 searches, no free traffic for you.

The first page of Google receives over 87% of all the traffic.– Advanced Web Ranking

Your aim with your website, aside getting a lovely one that represents your business and functions as it should, is to get onto the first page of Google, and even into the first 3 results where possible.

Top 3 Google Searches Receive 75.1% of all clicks
Source: Backlinko

But Google doesn’t necessarily make this easy. Or let me say your competitors aren’t going to make it easy. You want $5,000/month in free advertising? Great! Your competitors also want that same free advertising for themselves.

Even as you read this, a competitor of yours is also busily studying on how they too can rise up the Google search result pages in order to overtake you or claim the top spots for themselves.

And that is what is referred to as SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

So let’s find out what might be stopping you from fulfilling your full potential in search engine results.

Searching with the wrong keywords

The first thing to check on has to do with the keywords or phrases you are searching for in Google. If you’re a fashion designer for women and you search for “Clothing” in Google and can’t find yourself, that might not be the end of the world.

Searching for “Women’s Fashion” might be the particular phrase that shows you right on the first page of Google.

This would mean that Google has gone over your website and based on all the information it’s gathered, your site represents “Women’s Fashion” more than it represents “Clothing”.

One might say,

“But women’s fashion is a subset of clothing”

and you would be right.

However Google doesn’t want to get into trouble with its customers. People searching for clothing could very well be searching for kids clothing, men’s clothing, pet clothing, winter clothing and so many other clothing categories.

Clothing and Sub-categories Screenshot from Walmart

So returning a site that is more specific to women’s fashion might not be the right answer a customer is looking for.

But you can always try and inform Google that you believe your website should rank for a particular keyword that it’s not already ranking for. And that’s a whole long process which we’ll be touching on below.

To find the keywords and phrases your website is already ranking for, one way is to check the Performance Reports in GSC (Google Search Console). If you haven’t already connected your site there, make sure to do so.

Another way is to have a report generated for you by an SEO agency or tool that you work with to optimize your website.

Website too new/young

Right off the bat, the first thing to consider when not finding your website on the first page of Google is the fact that it actually takes some time for Google to get enough information on you to rank you favourably in their search results when you’re new.

This is because when Google puts your website on the first page, they are telling their customers and searchers to trust you. But because Google doesn’t know a thing about you, they’d rather not take that risk.

So within the first few months of the existence of your website, you might experience a bit of a ‘sandbox’ effect, where no matter the great content or optimizations you put in place, you just won’t rank well for high-volume keywords.

Besides that though is the sheer amount of competition that exists for first page rankings. Whilst your website might have the answer to a question someone is asking, many other websites might have that same answer and they’ve been around for 2 or more years, so Google trusts those sites more.

Number of days it takes to rank on the first page of Google

One exception though is if your site ‘goes viral’. If there are just a huge ton of people searching for your website constantly, you can break free much quicker because Google sees that a lot of people are looking for you and you just might be a trustworthy brand to recommend.

But outside of that, you’re going to have to keep working behind the scenes without getting discouraged as you wait for Google to start trusting you more.

Only 5.7% of pages ranked in the Top 10 search results within 1 year for at least 1 keyword.– Ahrefs

Technical SEO problems

A Technical SEO problem basically refers to an actual issue with your website and how Google is able to access it. Obviously, if Google isn’t able to access your website properly, they’re not going to rank you properly either.

For example, some people decide to upgrade their websites from HTTP to HTTPS since it’s more secure and the whole world has gone in that direction. But without putting the needed 301 redirects in place, Google may end up seeing duplicate content or missing pages.

Also, without a 301 redirect, any backlinks you’ve already built up which pointed to the HTTP version are no longer going to benefit your site since it’s now on HTTPS. And that’s going to hurt your rankings.

Your sitemap.xml file might also be a source of problems for you. It might list pages of your site that are no longer relevant, or might omit pages that are absolutely critical that Google find an index.

Or consider this scenario. Google has moved to a mobile-first index. Meaning that they now rank search engine results based on the mobile version of your website, not the desktop version.

If Google deems your website not mobile friendly, that means Google is either having a hard time understanding the mobile version of your website, or they are going to penalize your rankings because they cannot send their users to a page that will be difficult and even frustrating for them to use.

Page isn't mobile friendly

To check on the mobile-friendliness of your website, Google has a free testing tool you can use.

Mobile Friendly test site

There are a lot of other technical SEO issues that you should find and rectify as quickly as possible. Whether it’s malware or spammy links on your website, a series of unnecessary redirects which Google detests, misconfiguration of AMP or a Google penalty for one reason or another, these can all keep you out of the first page rankings.

On-page SEO issues

If you’ve got all your technical SEO issues sorted out, the next to consider are On-page SEO issues.

Your website might be lovely, Google might be able to crawl and access it just fine but if you keep telling Google you sell milk instead of coconut oil, don’t be surprised when you don’t rank for coconut oil.

Let me give you a typical example. Google uses hundreds and hundreds of factors in ranking a website and its content. But to do so, it has to understand the content it’s coming across. One of the tools it uses to do so is the Title tag.

The Title tag is the first place Google looks to in order to understand what your page is about and that’s actually what the Title tag is for. But despite this being a pretty important factor to help you rank, many websites make lots of mistakes with it.

You might have multiple pages on your website with the exact same title tag like 35% of websites do. That’s like giving 3 of your children the same name. 😀

So when you call, “John!” are you looking for John number 1, John number 2 or John number 3?

Title Tag Issues
Or Heading tags. These are the second most likely source Google uses to understand what your page is about. A heading tag is usually used to highlight an important topic for a website page.

There are actually 6 hierarchical levels of Heading tags; H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6, ordered from most to least important. A useful rule is to only have one H1 tag on your website.

Sadly though, a lot of theme and website designers forget or completely don’t know about the SEO ramifications and simply use Heading tags as styling elements, going as far as to use multiple H1 tags on a single page. They want big text, they select H1. They want smaller text, they select H4 and so on.

H1 Tag Issues

Whilst your site might come out looking beautiful, Google sees you highlighting milk everywhere instead of coconut oil. That leads Google to say, “Hmmmmmm!! I think these guys sell milk!”

And there are a whole lot more on-page SEO issues you have to look at, from missing alt attributes and broken links to missing meta descriptions and duplicate content.

the most common SEO issue affecting websites is duplicate content, which we found on 50 percent of the sites we analyzed.– SEMRush

A complete website audit can help you find all the issues affecting your website.

Off-page SEO issues

Everything we’ve mentioned so far regarding SEO issues has been largely within your ability to alter. But with regards to Off-page SEO, it’s largely outside of your control.

When you tell people, “I’m awesome!”, it doesn’t really have too much of an impact.

But when the president of a country somewhere says, “This gal is awesome!”, that carries a lot of weight.

And the same applies with Google. When you say on your website: “We are the best smartphone repairers in the world,” everyone has to take that with a grain of salt.

But the moment Apple, Samsung, Huawei and LG also start saying, “These guys are the best smartphone repairers in world,” Google and everyone else takes notice.

Up to date, one of the most important factors required if you want your website to rank very high in Google, is backlinks. A backlink is whenever another website somewhere on the Internet links to your website.

Now of course, not all backlinks are created equal. A link from one of your websites to one of your other websites will carry a bit of weight. But a backlink from a very prominent and highly trafficked website carries so much more weight.

The same way if smartphone manufacturers are linking to your smartphone repair website, that is mightily relevant. Unlike getting your aunt who has a cake bakery to link to your smartphone repair site.

An interesting thing to note though is just as good links can raise your ranking in Google, bad links can quickly lower your ranking in Google too. A bad link being a link from a shady, spammy, malicious or questionable website out there.

That’s why it’s actually important for you to be able to monitor the people who are linking to your website and why they’re linking. If you do find links to your website that are bad for you, you need to disavow them and tell Google you have nothing to do with those links or those sites.

Disavow Links In Google

Another off-page SEO factor has to do with social shares and signals. Again, Google wants to make their users happy by providing them with the best answers and content possible.

If an article on “smartphone repair” is being shared all over on social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, etc, Google is going to increase the ranking of that article because of how much attention and interaction it’s getting.

That’s why it’s very useful to have social media pages and share your content on them regularly.

You can learn more here about various off-page SEO techniques.

Content problems

I’m sure you’ve already heard the statement, “Content is king!”

Content is certainly the foundation of everything we’re talking about here because if there was no content, what would people have to search for?

But because there’s an abundance of content, we need search engines to find us the best content they can on a topic in order to satisfy us.

And when I talk about an abundance of content, I mean an overwhelming abundance of content!

If you search for “How to bake a cake” in Google, you’ll come up with over 182 MILLION results!!!

182 million results for how to bake a cake

And considering that the vast majority of people never even consider going to the second page of Google, that means most of those 182 million results will never, ever, ever be seen.

As at October 2019, over 6 million blog posts are published each day.– Worldometers

Whilst that’s a tad discouraging, don’t let it get you down. Remember the rewards if you are on that first page of Google and it could all be worth it.

Having said that, it should be quite clear to you that there’s no easy way to rank in the top 10 of Google results if you aren’t producing the absolute best content that you possibly can. Content isn’t everything, but it’s important.

People have created amazing content, but because they didn’t take care of their technical, off-page or on-page SEO, they end up a part of the results that’ll never be seen.

But don’t let that be you. You need to create content better than your competitors if you want to rank better than them.

What constitutes better content? Here are a few things to consider in that quest:

  • Is your content original? Or did you just lift it from someone else’s site?
  • Is your content engaging? Do people want to read more after they see your headline? Do they want to share your content with their friends?
  • Does your content actually answer their questions? People ask questions because they want answers. Do you have the answers they want?
  • Is your content reliable, accurate and true? Do you just make things up or do you do your research, citing sources and ensuring your information is correct?
  • Is your content just text, text, text? Or are there images and videos to switch things up and keep things interesting?
  • Is your content old and outdated? Or have you kept it updated with the latest information and changes?
  • Is your content more in depth than others? If your competitors just scratch the surface of the topic, are you diving in deeply? Or also just scratching the surface an inch deeper?

Google just wants the best content it can find. If you can give them that (along with ensuring there aren’t other issues), you’ll generally rank on the first page for various keyword phrases.

User experience

A final point we’d like to mention on how to rank on the first page of Google for your chosen keywords and phrases is to consider the user experience.

That simply refers to whether visitors to your website are satisfied with what they found and the process of finding it.

Google has stated that besides backlinks and content, their third most important signal is something called RankBrain.

This is a machine learning or artificial intelligence program, that uses many various inputs to identify whether a user is satisfied and happy with the results they found in search.

Consider the example of Click-Through-Rates (CTR). If Google keeps showing your website as a result on its first page for a particular query, but very, very few people click on your website, Google’s RankBrain is going to say,

“People don’t seem to like this result very much. Let’s give them a different one.”

And just like that, your ranking will be demoted because users did not like clicking on your website, for whatever reasons they might have had.

Another example is Dwell Time. If someone clicks on your link from a Google search results page and finds your content to be lovely and engaging, they are likely to spend a lot more time on your page (and site), reading what you have to say.

On the other hand, if someone lands on your page and can’t find the information they want, they aren’t going to stay there for long and will probably bounce off really quickly.

Google’s RankBrain algorithm is measuring all that and using it to raise or drop your website. Why? Because Google wants its users to find the answers they need and be satisfied with those answers.

So you’ve got to take the user experience into consideration and find out if you are actually giving searchers the information they’re looking for. If you are, Google will reward you for that.

Don't have time to read the whole guide right now?

Let us know where we should send the PDF version and we'll do so immediately.

9. I cannot accept international payments on my website

Visa cards

We’ve all been told that the world is now a global village. One click of a mouse and you can be doing business with someone in Japan. One tap on your phone and you’re speaking with someone in Alaska.

There are millions of stories around the world of how someone decided to open an online shop, started selling something they thought was insignificant, but before you know it, they had orders from all around the world and it grew to become a multi-million dollar venture.

Many people opening a website want the maximum possibility of success, and being able to fulfill orders around the world can be a requirement for that dream.

But before that can be fulfilled, you would need to successfully accept payments from people all around the world.

Locally, there might be a payment method that dominates to a degree, like Mobile Money payments, etc, but when you go global, you need to be able to accept debit and credit cards transactions.

Between 45 and 81% of all online ecommerce transactions worldwide were linked to a debit or credit card.– Statista

Debit and credit cards are usually at the foundation of the largest payment systems and ewallets online today, whether you’re talking about PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Alipay, Venmo, Braintree, WorldPay or any other international payment system.

Payment processors
So if you can’t accept debit or credit cards (at least the two most popular ones being Visa and MasterCard), you probably won’t be able to easily accept payments from abroad.

Payment processor doesn’t process international currencies or cards

Depending on the country you’re in and the payment processor you use, there is a possibility that you won’t be able to accept international payments.

For example, Ghanaian payment processors are only allowed to process payments in Ghana Cedis. You can get around this slightly, if your website shows a foreign currency like US Dollars but converts at checkout to Ghana Cedis.

But if you skip the first hurdle, you’ll encounter a second. Most Ghanaian payment processors do not even allow payments from non-Ghanaian Visa and MasterCards.

A lot of this comes down to an excessively high level of fraud. Many Ghanaian payment processors who’ve tried to be nice in the past by allowing their customers to accept card payments from anywhere around the world had to backtrack and lock it down because of excessive fraudulent payments through their system.

Some Ghanaian payment processors, trying to find middle ground, require the card owner abroad to jump through a series of verification hoops in order to ensure that the payment is a genuine one. Be that showing proof of card ownership, ID, etc.

Sadly, the more friction there is in a process, the more likely that process will not be completed and so there are very high abandon rates due to such extraneous verification processes.

If your payment processor doesn’t process international payments, you may have to consider a different payment processor. Some banking institutions will provide you with the processing you need, but they will have far more stringent requirements and fees to consider.

Payment processor has restrictions on your country

Your payment processor may certainly process international payments in different currencies and you know this as a fact. But they may have specific restrictions on your country.

Remember I mentioned how there was an exceedingly high prevalence of fraudulent transactions in the previous point? This led PayPal to blacklist Ghana entirely (along with some other sub-Saharan countries).

The blacklist is so “complete” that Ghana isn’t even an option in the drop down menu when you try to make a payment with or sign up for PayPal.

PayPal doesn't even show Ghana in their country selection

It goes further, if you’re visiting Ghana and you log into your PayPal account, you may have your account limited by PayPal for unusual activity.

Nigeria got off the PayPal blacklist in 2014 along with many other countries in Africa. Sadly thought, they can only make payments on PayPal but they can’t receive payments.

That’s a severe restriction that immediately renders PayPal useless to people in those countries. You simply won’t be able to use PayPal as your payment provider because of this.

Other payment platforms have varying restrictions depending on your country including many which won’t even allow you to sign up, like 2CheckOut, Stripe, Braintree, Venmo, Square and most others.

Two ways to get around these restrictions are to either have someone in a non-restricted country run your payment account for you (not just setting up the account but running it as well), or you look into any payment providers who meet your requirements without the restrictions.

Rave by Flutterwave, Direct Pay and Paystack are payment providers open (or opening) to Ghanaians with varying degrees of success regarding the acceptance of international debit and credit cards. You might want to check them out.

Payments Processors Africa1

Fraud detection issues

A final point regarding accepting payments from abroad that you should consider has to do with fraud detection.

When you’re dealing with companies that accept payments for a living, moving billions of dollars per day, you can bet the shirt off your back that they are going to be aggressive with policing their platform and detecting fraudulent payments as quickly as possible.

You might have successfully set up your website with a payment processor that accepts payments from abroad, but yet international payments are still not going through.

They may be detecting that the payments being attempted on your website are fraudulent. Whether the name on the card and the name on the order don’t match, or the shipping address doesn’t match the one on the card, or the IP address of the order is a totally different country from where the card was issued, those payment processors are going to be all over that data.

If you do think the transaction is being flagged wrongly, then you’ll have to contact your payment processor and see what can be done about that.

10. People are not visiting my website

A website without visitors is like a party without people. The whole reason why almost anyone creates a website is to have people visit that website, whether it’s just to gain information, to contribute information, to be entertained, to make a purchase, or whatever else the site was created to do.

If you’ve got some visitors to your website, that’s great to hear, but like Oliver Twist, you probably want more.

Virtually everyone, including us, wants more people to visit their website, and ideally turn into subscribers and customers. So the first thing you need to tackle when it comes to getting more people to check out your site is to ensure that you’ve got important information to share.

All other things being equal, a beautiful site with great content that loads fast will attract more visitors than another beautiful site with poor content that loads just as fast.

  • Why is Netflix the number one movie streaming service in the world? Because aside everything else, they’ve got the greatest movies available.
  • Why is Amazon the number one online shopping destination in the world? Because they’ve got the widest selection of products sold online.
  • Why is Google the number one search engine in the world? Because they have the best answers to any question you can throw at them.

And because these companies have exactly what some people are looking for, they do not lack visitors and traffic.

There are over 5.4 billion searches conducted on Google each day.– SEO Tribunal

We’re going to go into how you can get more traffic for your website, but an important foundation is to make sure you’re trying your best to make your website the most valuable it possibly can be in your niche or industry.

If you sell hair pieces, make it the best hair piece-selling website in the country. If you’re blogging, make sure your articles are the most unique, intriguing and engaging articles you can find anywhere on your topics of choice. Really put as much effort into that as you can.

Ensure analytics are configured correctly

Now that we’re sure you’ve got great content on your lovely website, the first thing is to make sure that you have accurate data regarding visitors to your website.

This requires diving into your analytics program of choice and retrieving some of your most recent numbers

Google Analytics Data

You might be surprised to find out that your website might already have a sufficient number of visitors. It might just be your conversion rate that needs to be improved.

For example, if your main competitor gets 1,000 visitors a month and you get 700, you can still reap greater rewards by improving your conversion rates to a level higher than your competitors. If they convert at 1% and you can reach a 2% conversion rate, you’ll be getting 40% more new customers.

You can find a lot of ideas here on improving your conversion rates.

Outside of that, once you have the right data regarding the visitors to your website, it’s useful to benchmark that against similar websites in your industry. That gives you an initial and realistic target of what you can aim for.

It can be discouraging to compare yourself to websites in a completely different industry and even country which might have certain things working for them that just might not work for you.

Whilst websites Alexa and Similarweb can be of some assistance in identifying your competitors and the level of traffic they get, you might want to contact your SEO agency which can provide you with a complete analysis of your competitors and their traffic levels compared to yours.

Increase direct traffic

Direct Traffic is any traffic you get because people already know you or are becoming familiar with you. An existing customer who types your website into their browser, or has already bookmarked your website, counts as direct traffic.

Direct traffic generally shows that your brand awareness is on the rise and that’s a very good thing. The more direct traffic you get, the better. (Sometimes, direct traffic is slightly under reported because people instead of visiting your site directly might type your name in Google to actually find your website.)

To increase your direct traffic requires increasing your brand awareness, and making sure that your website’s domain name can be found on all your material, be that a branded coffee mug, bumper sticker, poster, flyer, email signature, etc.

Also, running offline ads helps get you lots of direct traffic. Radio ads, TV, newspaper, billboards, magazines, conferences, tradeshows, sponsorships and others are opportunities for your target audience to hear/see and visit your website.

A minor disclaimer though is that if you take a look in Google Analytics, there is a section called Acquisition Overview that displays the various sources of traffic to your website. One of those is Direct Traffic.

Acquisition Overview Report in Google Analytics

Sadly though, this Direct Traffic report can be slightly inflated because any visit to your website which Google can’t accurately pinpoint is classified as direct traffic. Traffic from many apps, including WhatsApp all show up as Direct Traffic instead of referral or social traffic.

Increase social traffic

Any time a link to your website or an article of yours is shared on a social network, visits from that link fall under Social Traffic.

And considering the sheer volume of people spending hours and hours each day on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc, there’s a whole lot of traffic and visitors to be gained there.

Roughly 45% of the world’s population use social media, with an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes spent per day on social media.– Global Web Index

Whilst all social networks are different, having their advantages and disadvantages, they are also almost universally visual. Terrific imagery and video usually do well when shared on these networks.

So if you haven’t already, open up some accounts on these platforms (after you’ve done your research on which ones would suit you best) and share well crafted and entertaining content there.

A consistent posting strategy is useful in ensuring you can build a loyal audience. You should remember though that social networks are a 2-way affair. It’s not you talking at your audience but talking with them. So engage with your users and reply their comments as they engage with your content.

And don’t forget to have sharing buttons on your website. This makes it easy for people to share the things they find interesting on your website with their own circle of friends.

Increase referral traffic

When someone clicks on a link of yours found anywhere other than on a social network or search engine, that constitutes referral traffic.

One of the beautiful things about information is that it becomes a lot more useful to people when shared. People have been sharing information for thousands of years and on the Internet, one way that’s done is by linking to content elsewhere.

Of course, the only reason why people link to content elsewhere is when that content is valuable to them. (Again, we come back to the point about creating valuable content.)

Valuable content gets linked to a whole lot more than content that isn’t as impressive. News outlets and blogs pick up content which they think their audiences would love to hear.

That’s actually a big deal called Public Relations. If your company has done something noteworthy, like launching, opening a new branch, releasing a new product, breaking a long-standing record, etc, you could have a writeup about that submitted to various online news portals who might run with your story and link back to your website.

Affiliate and referral programs capitalize on this also. One of the things that helped Amazon become the tremendous success that it is was their Amazon Affiliate Program.

They allowed millions of people to sign up and place banners and links on their blogs and websites, which encouraged site visitors to make a purchase of a particular item from Amazon. And when a transaction went through successfully, that person (or site) would get a commission on the sale.

If your business can capitalize on an affiliate program, it’s a terrific way to greatly increase the amount of traffic you get to your website.

Caution:

Having many websites linking to your website is terrific for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because it’s a ranking signal. It tells Google that your site is important because lots of people are linking to it.

However, paying for a link to your website (without a nofollow tag) is prohibited by Google and they will penalize your website if they discover what they consider “unnatural links.”

Increase organic traffic

Organic Traffic refers to visits to your website that originate from a search engine like Google. Organic Traffic is by far the largest source of website traffic in the world. Probably the most important too.

51% of all website traffic comes from organic search.– BrightEdge

If you aren’t getting a sizeable amount of traffic to your site from Google, you need to fix that as quickly as you can. That’s because search traffic has some really great advantages:

  • It’s highly qualified. They found you because they were looking for something that you have.
  • It’s absolutely free. You don’t have to pay Google anything to get this free traffic.
  • It’s scalable. The more people search for what you offer, the more they’ll find you.
  • It’s long term. Work you put into getting organic traffic today can continue earning you organic traffic in 5 years time.
  • It increases your credibility. Who wouldn’t want what you’re offering if Google is vouching that you’re the best?

If you haven’t already, do go through our section on how to get on the first page of Google, we’ve got great tips for you there.

Increase paid traffic

Last but not the least is Paid Traffic. This refers to any traffic you had to pay money to get and basically covers the whole landscape of online advertising and sponsored content.

The great thing about Paid Traffic or online advertising is that you have a huge amount of control over it. Want to get more visitors? Spend more money. Feel like you have enough customers? Simply stop spending.

Not only can you control the flow or volume, but you have control of the framing of your content and its context. You get to paint yourself in the best light possible, unlike if a blunder your company makes becomes headline news and goes viral.

There are lots of ways you can run paid advertising to get visitors to your website. Some of the most popular include:

  • Google Adwords or Search Ads
  • Google Display Ads
  • YouTube Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Ads
  • Pinterest Ads
  • Native Ads (like Taboola and Outbrain), etc.

Because of the cost involved with paid traffic, it’s important that you track it very well and measure the leads and income you gain from your campaigns. This will help you calculate your ROI (Return on Investment) and make sure you’re gaining rather than losing money.

Another thing to take notice of with advertising is that many platforms have made advertising as easy as they possibly can because they want to reduce the barriers between your money and them.

Whilst easy, this means that it’s also easy to blow a lot of your money on ad campaigns that aren’t optimized. You end up having to ‘just trust’ the system selling you the ads and believing that they will be nice and provide you the most value for the very least price.

So do read up on how to ensure your ads perform the best in case your platform of choice isn’t as generous as you might imagine.

11. I’m not making enough money from my website

The amount of money your website generates for you or your business can sometimes be the determining factor in whether it’s worth keeping or shutting down.

Of course, if you’re in a non-profit industry, like a charity or a governmental agency, money generated from the website probably won’t be the most important metric to go by.

And there are many instances where not having a website will cause other expenses to rather escalate. But for now, let’s talk about money generated as a metric.

Wrong monetization strategy

The first factor to consider regarding increasing the amount of money you make from your website has to do with the actual monetization strategy you’re using.

There are many different ways to generate an income online but if you’re using a strategy that isn’t suited to your strengths, or external factors hamper its viability, you’re going to have to reconsider it.

Here are some of the most common methods of monetizing a website:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Pay Per Click Advertising (Google Adsense)
  • Accept Donations from visitors
  • Accept sponsored posts & articles (…but use a nofollow tag)
  • Generate leads for other companies
  • Set up an e-commerce site
  • Flip your websites
  • Membership

Many people who want to earn an income from their site only think about advertising, Google Adsense to be precise. And whilst Google Adsense is a great program, there are other platforms that might provide a better pay out than Google Adsense would, depending on your situation. You might want to consider that.

On the other hand, it’s possible that instead of selling advertising space exclusively, you should rather sign up for a few affiliate programs or actually sell a product through your website.

Nothing actually stops you from using multiple monetization strategies on your website. Just make sure that you’ve researched them well and are implementing them properly.

Lack of traffic

Generally speaking, almost every website that wants to be profitable can benefit from an increase in traffic. But in this case though, I’m focusing more on those monetizing via advertising.

Besides the volume of traffic though is also the quality of traffic. You can easily earn 10 to 20 times what you earn from Google Adsense if the visitors to your site are from developed countries, compared to developing ones.

This is because the majority of visitors and readers of websites in developed countries have a whole lot more disposable income, are willing to click on ads and buy solutions to their problems.

The case in developing countries is much less so.

That aside, advertising is usually a numbers game and the more people who visit your website, the more money you’ll stand to earn. If you’re earning approximately $1 for every 1000 page views, getting your page views to 10,000 would have your income also increase 10 fold.

We’ve seen people try to pay for advertising to drive traffic to their websites in order to earn money from advertising. But that almost never works.

The reason is because you can hardly ever buy traffic (via advertising) at a lower price than what you’ll be earning from those visitors. Rather, you have to find a way to get lots and lots of visitors to your website at as little cost as possible.

So start thinking of ways to promote your website, whether via PR, or publicity stunts, or sponsorships you can set up that won’t cost you much.

You can also focus on spreading your content in all directions, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc in order to increase your online visibility and get people coming back to your website for the great content you’ve got to share.

Build an email list of your readers. Let them sign up to your newsletter or to notifications so that even if they’ve forgotten about you, you can always send them a gentle reminder of some new and amazing content that just landed.

Newsletter

But ultimately, the best place to get free traffic from is from Google via SEO. So take the time to improve your site’s Search Engine Optimization and get your website to rank on the first page. That will surely send you a whole lot of traffic that can be monetized at a tidy profit.

Lack of original content

If you’re trying everything you can, even as we mentioned in the previous point and you aren’t getting the visitors and traffic you desire, it might be time to look at the content you’re putting out.

Everybody is after the latest and greatest content that can be found online. Gossip sites are popular because they’ve got the latest and freshest information out there.

News websites are visited 24/7 every single day because they’ve got the latest news on so many different topics.

The quality of content is what makes billion dollar companies. Just ask Netflix.

Netflix to spend $15 billion on original content in 2019.– Variety

We’ve noticed a lot of bloggers who start a blog only to curate content from every other news website out there. The problem is that you aren’t saying anything new. And unlike the Huffington Post, you may not be adding value to that content in any way, just copying and pasting it.

Why would people visit your website for the stale version, when they know the way to the original source?

And generally speaking, what people don’t like, Google doesn’t like either. Google doesn’t like duplicate content. If you’re copying and pasting some other website’s content, Google is going to actively make sure you don’t rank in their search engine for that.

And if you aren’t ranking well, there goes your opportunity to have people come to your site and monetize them.

So it might be time for you to consider churning out amazingly fresh and original content which your audience will love and be willing to subscribe to your newsletter or blog for even more of your content.

Greater focus

Sometimes, people don’t make as much money as they can in life because they chose to be generalists instead of specialists. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as that’s what you want.

But if what you want is to earn more, being a specialist might be the path for you.

Consider this. You’ve started a blog and you hope to monetize it via advertising, affiliate marketing, selling some products and even a bit of consulting services on the side, great!

And boy do you blog. You write and write and write about everything, from cake recipes to the latest political upheavals in Iraq to advances in nanotechnology to potty training toddlers.

Whilst your content on those particular pieces could be the best anywhere on the Internet, you most likely won’t make a tenth as much as someone who has a great focus.

Here’s why.

Firstly, you won’t have a lock down on an audience because people reading your blog never know what they’re going to get the next time they pass by. If someone loved your cake recipe article, how long are they going to have to wait to get another? And how many nanotechnology articles are they going to have to wade through to get to it?

You have to pick a niche! You have to be known for something! Especially when you’re starting out and nobody knows you. When you are well established, you can write about anything you please, but until then, you need to focus.

Niche

By focusing, people know why they are coming back and they know exactly who else is going to enjoy every single article on your blog. Have you ever had the satisfaction of visiting someone’s site and you ended up opening like 15 tabs of articles just from that one site? Why

Because they had the answers or information you were looking for.

And that’s what your site may need if it’s not yet earning you enough money. Instead of going wide, you rather need to go deep. Find an industry or area of expertise you can focus on, and churn out the greatest content you can.

Secondly, Google is not going to look at you with favour.

Google pays a lot of attention to the quality of websites they allow to rank in their search engine results. This is because the moment the answers they start giving are bad, people are going to switch away from Google to some other search engine.

To ensure they have the highest quality information they can, Google pays attention to E-A-T- Expertise, Authority and Trust. They will rank a nanotechnology article from a scientist and they’ll rank a cake recipe from a baker.

If you’re a baker giving advice on nanotechnology, your article will probably be on page 100.

You need to give Google very good reasons why they should send you lots of traffic and show their best ads on your site, and that happens by convincing them that you are the go to person or website when it comes to a particular industry or topic.

If you can do that, get ready for a lot of lovely free traffic that you can monetize as you please.

Improve conversion rates

This point mainly applies to those who sell a product or service through their website. It’s very possible that you don’t need any more traffic than you’re already getting.

Let’s assume you have 1,000 visitors to your website each month, but only 10 become customers. That’s a conversion rate of 1%. If you were to increase your conversion rate to 3%, you would triple your income!!

So just before you go scouring the ends of the world for new leads and website visitors, there’s a possibility that the ones you already have might be sufficient.

But how can you improve your conversion rates? Lots and lots of ways!

  • Reduce the number of fields clients have to fill to check out
  • Increase trust factors with guarantees and social proof
  • Increase your website’s load speed
  • Reduce the distractions and unneeded flashy things on your site
  • Include multiple CTAs (Call To Action)
  • Improve your copy writing and product descriptions
  • Make sure your products have multiple clear and high quality images from various angles
  • Offer multiple payment options at checkout
  • Ensure you have contact details easily accessible and available
  • Make sure your site has an SSL and is secure
  • Ensure that everything on your site is 100% accurate
  • Make sure advertising and promotional links go straight to what was advertised or promoted
  • Have live chat to alleviate fears and doubts
  • Enable guest checkout instead of mandatory registration

Walmart found that every 1 second improvement in page speed increased conversion rates by 2 percent. For every 100 ms of improvement, they grew incremental revenue by up to 1%.– Webiste Optimization

You can find a lot more information here to help you increase your conversion rates on your site, and effectively increase the income you earn.

12. People are not buying from my website

WhatsApp on phone

If you want to ensure your business runs smoothly, automate processes, receive payments quickly and be able to grow and keep growing, you need people to use your website to its fullest potential.

Every time a customer has to contact you through WhatsApp or FB Messenger or IG comments or DMs in order to purchase from you, that is precious time that you won’t get back.

We’ve come across so many instances of how people are under MAJOR stress, are falling sick, are overwhelmed and are just extremely tired from trying to run their business via the various platforms, typing on WhatsApp one minute, then in FB Messenger the other, then picking a call the next minute, then responding to a DM the next, and it never ends.

The more God blesses you, the more your stress increases.

But that ought not to be the case at all. That’s why there are systems and processes to make things happen more smoothly and easily. Your website is one of those systems.

Here’s a quick list of 21 things your website can help you with if you just fully integrate it into your business life:

  • Customer data
  • Product inventory
  • Product pricing
  • Discounts
  • Promotions
  • Currency conversions
  • Receipts
  • Quotes
  • Client accounts
  • Email notifications
  • SMS notifications
  • Knowledgebase and FAQs
  • Contact forms
  • Announcements
  • Reports
  • Customer orders and customizations
  • Marketing surveys
  • Basic accounting
  • Shipping calculations
  • Tax calculations
  • Payment processing

If your website is helping you at full speed, your business life can get simpler.

  • You want to find the details of that client who placed their order a week ago? It’s on your website.
  • Want to find out how many pairs of that shoe are still available? It’s on your website.
  • A customer wants a receipt issued for their last 3 purchases? Straight from your website.
  • Customers keep asking “How much?” for every product you promote on IG? All prices on your website.
  • Want a report on which of your products are your best sellers and most profitable? Generated right from your website.
  • A customer wants to place their order at 3am in the morning without having to wake you up? Thank God for your website.

People sometimes say, “Oh my customers don’t know how to use a website!”

Whilst we do advocate for a sufficient amount of hand-holding and education, do not underestimate your customers. They are busily shopping happily and comfortably on Amazon and Kikuu.

If they can shop there, they can shop on your website as well.

So the question is, “How do I get my customers to use my website more?”

Here are some of the problem areas to tackle.

Lack of promotion

It’s possible some of your customers don’t make purchases through your website because they have no idea that it even exists. That would point to a lack of promotion and visibility with respect to your website.

You’d probably want to promote your website every opportunity you get. Send emails from your website email addresses. Make sure all your communication and branded material have your website address on them.

Whenever you run ads and promotions, ensure that your website address is visible, and even give your followers a few reasons to visit your site by putting some interesting content on it on a regular basis.

Poor user experience

Almost nobody likes doing something that isn’t fun and enjoyable.

Most people don’t like going to see their doctor unless absolutely unavoidable, because it might end up with some bad news, or a little pain.

Most people don’t like dealing with government agencies because it usually involves long lines, a lack of customer service, convoluted processes that could be done 10 times faster if they were streamlined, and many delays and disappointments.

Just remember the last time you had to get a driver’s licence or a passport or a birth certificate or register for health insurance, etc. Whilst we hope you were one of those to have an amazingly fast experience, the majority usually don’t.

And it’s the same with your customers. If they can call you and get their order taken in 10 minutes, why should they spend 30 minutes fighting with your website?

They click here and the page is missing. They click elsewhere and an invasive ad pops up. They click another link and it takes 45 seconds for the page to load. They click “Add to cart” and nothing happens. They try and checkout, and the checkout form looks like a university application form, with date of birth and everything.

Remove Unneeded Form Fields

Make your website fun for your customers. Make it clean and professional, straight to the point and fast!

Google considers website speed a ranking factor because they know your customers want fast, fast, fast! Everyone’s in a hurry to do everything and so if you slow them down, they’ll look for someone else who won’t.

Since July 2018, Google considers the speed at which your website loads as a ranking factor.– Google

To have your customers use your website, enjoy it and recommend others to also shop your site, you need to optimize it. We gave a few points on that when talking about improving your conversion rates Guess what? They apply here too:

  • Reduce the number of fields clients have to fill to check out
  • Increase trust factors with guarantees and social proof
  • Increase your website’s load speed
  • Reduce the distractions and unneeded flashy things on your site
  • Improve your copy writing and product descriptions
  • Make sure your products have multiple clear and high quality images from various angles
  • Offer multiple payment options at checkout
  • Ensure you have contact details easily accessible and available
  • Make sure your site has an SSL and is secure
  • Ensure that everything on your site is 100% accurate
  • Make sure advertising and promotional links go straight to what was advertised or promoted
  • Have live chat to alleviate fears and doubts
  • Enable guest checkout instead of mandatory registration

Lack of Information

How would you like to visit a website to buy a pair of shoes and when you get there, every shoe you see is titled:

  • Shoe 1
  • Shoe 2
  • Shoe 3
  • Shoe 4

You ignore that and click through to view a pair that you like and for the description, you find the words: “Women’s Shoes” and that’s it.

Shoes

You take a look at the women’s shoes you’re considering purchasing and can’t decipher clearly whether it’s actually a black shoe, or just deep brown. Worse of, you’re not sure if it’s a half shoe or a full one because there’s only a single shot of the shoe and that’s from the front.

I hope you get the picture.

Almost everybody in the world who visits a website today does so to get information. Whether that information is for entertainment, business, education or shopping.

So a potential client on your website wants all the information they can get when it comes to the products you sell.

  • What’s the name of the product?
  • What’s the history of the product?
  • How much does it weigh?
  • Who’s the manufacturer?
  • What’s the country of origin?
  • How should it be cleaned?
  • With what can it be worn?
  • What colours does it come in?
  • What sizes are in stock?
  • What do the soles of the shoes look like?
  • Does the inside look comfy?
  • What would it look like with someone wearing them?
  • What kind of box or wrapping does it come in?
  • How popular are the shoes?
  • How durable are they?
  • Are there any reviews by other purchasers?

And on and on.

Give your clients as much information as you possibly can. Learn from the best. Visit a website like Amazon.com and just see the volume of information that is provided to shoppers.

Product Images and Description providing as much customer information possible

Including customer ratings and reviews.

Customer reviews on products purchased

If a customer knows that 95% of those who bought these shoes have been utterly satisfied by them, that’s going to help seal the deal for you.

Inaccurate information

Whilst a lack of information is a problem, an equally dangerous problem is inaccurate information.

This may have happened to you far more times than you’d like to admit. You visit a website and are doing research on a product or service. You see the pricing, you note it down and you budget for that.

You eventually get in contact with someone at the company and they tell you that what you want is 50% more than what you thought. You exclaim:

“But this is the price on your website!”

and they say:

“Ah yes. Please, ignore the website pricing. This is the real price!”

And just like that, not only do you lose confidence in the business you’re dealing with, but you actually lose just a little bit of faith in every website out there that might also be peddling inaccurate or outdated information.

Don’t let that be you. Let your customers have the most accurate information possible and rather raise their hopes that some business websites can and do work as they should.

It means you’re going to have to take your website seriously, making sure that either you or your website designer is updating it with the latest information.

The easiest way to ensure that your website continues to have accurate information is to make it a very central part of your business flow.

You can ensure that all product information is listed there, or that customer receipts are automatically generated from there or you have inventory managed from your site, all these can help ensure your website stays central to your business activities, and by extension, updated.

Lack of urgency

If you have a website but your customers and clients seem not to want to make a purchase through your website, you should check to make sure you aren’t treating them as second-class citizens.

As human beings, we are wired to always handle things that are urgent above everything else, even above things that are important. Here’s what that looks like.

Someone visits your website, applies ‘great faith’ to trust you, places their order, pays through your online gateway and everything. And now they wait for their order to be fulfilled.

But just before you get to fulfilling their order (assuming you’re a really nice site owner and you ensured that you get alerted ASAP via email and/or SMS), you get a call from someone else who also wants a product you sell.

You’re on the phone with this person for 15 minutes and finally have all the details written down. Before you know it, someone is on WhatsApp also looking to buy what you have and you have to attend to that person too.

Before you know it, the person who gave you their trust and their money without ever seeing, you has now been ignored and pushed to the back of the queue all because urgent phone calls and WhatsApp notifications made you focus on them, instead of this amazing customer of yours.

Do you know the lesson that customer might eventually learn? That the next time they want an order quickly, they should either call you directly or catch you on WhatsApp. And with that lesson learnt, your website will end up a white elephant.

We recommend you flip that completely around. You should try and give the highest priority possible to people placing orders through your website. They’ve taken the time to respectfully believe you, follow your instructions, placed their order and might even have made their payment, all without requiring even 10 seconds of your time.

That should be rewarded, not punished. And if that is rewarded a few times, people will get the message that using your website is a valid and even important method of interacting with your business.

We even recommend you take it to a higher level with our next point.

Lack of incentives

We humans almost always take the path of least resistance. If I can call you and occupy you for 20 minutes, making you explain every single one of your products to me and their differences, instead of having to read that on your website, that’s what I’ll do.

If I can order via WhatsApp or IG DM (Instagram Direct Message), why should I order through your website?

That’s where incentives come in. One mighty incentive we’ve seen used by some of our clients is the use of discount codes and coupons. For example, you simply run a promotion and tell all your followers that this weekend, there’s a 40% sale off all items or a $50 coupon.

 

Coupons

That’s the sweet music every shopper wants to hear, but there’s a catch. They need to use the coupon code: 40OFF at checkout when placing their order on your site, otherwise, they don’t get the discount.

It might surprise you the speed with which people suddenly learn how to use a website when there’s a 40% discount involved.

Was it that they couldn’t use your website before? Nope! It’s just that there never was a valid reason to use your website after all, you’d take their order through WhatsApp and FB and IG.

Alternatively, if you’ve got some really in demand product, you can have that available exclusively through your website and that’s another way to get people using it.

One of the beautiful things is that if you train people to use your website, you are well on your way to earning money whilst you sleep. You wake up in the morning and see 8 new orders with the cash for them already sitting in your bank account.

Wonderful!

Education required

Your customers might already be technologically savvy, shopping online on Amazon, Kikuu and other sites. If that’s the case, great.

On the other hand, you might have customers who are much less in the know when it comes to technology. Some might not even know you have a website and that they can see all your products online and order them from there without hassle.

This means that education on your part is required. Education to let them know the things they can do through your website, and education to help some people who might need a little help shopping your website.

So keep on promoting your website at every turn, whether it’s just a normal announcement, a promotion, sale, etc, let everyone know your website is online, how they can get there and the things they’ll find.

Also put out a video tutorial of the various things people can do on your site, like shopping your products, comparing items, creating a wishlist of products, contacting your team, etc.

The more they hear of your website and what they can do through it, the more they’ll be inclined to try that method soon.

Lack of trust

Probably the number one reason why customers might choose not to buy from your website is basically the lack of trust.

They may not trust that you can deliver the actual product they want, or they may not trust that what you’re selling is authentic, they may not trust that the website they are on is actually your website or they just might not trust the whole process of paying for stuff online without their money being stolen.

It’s a bit understandable though. How would you like to make a purchase online and find yourself in the situations below:

Expectation vs Reality ordering online

or this:

Expectation vs Reality Ordering Online

or this:

Expectation vs Reality Ordering Online

(I’ve got like 30 more but will leave you with just one more.)

Expectation vs Reality Ordering Online

Because no one wants to be in the situation above, they try to touch, taste and feel whatever they buy before making payment.

We can certainly understand how and why this is a problem, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Whilst other countries have been using debit and credit cards for more than half a century now, and mail order even before that, it’s still relatively new to quite a lot of people and not part of their daily routines.

So you’re going to have to work on gaining their trust. Here are a few examples how:

  • Make sure you have a professional and quality looking website. If a website looks scammy, customers will assume that it is scammy.
  • Have contact information visible and available. This helps calm people, knowing that there is someone they can contact in case something goes wrong.
  • Display social proof, reviews and testimonials on your site. People by what other people are buying. So if your customers know that others have bought your product and are satisfied, they’ll be more willing to also buy your product and be satisfied.

    88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations.– Optin Monster

  • Have a strong guarantee or refund policy. Nobody wants to put their trust in you, and then get stuck with no way out. Zappos became a big hit because they provided both shipping and returns for free to customers without the hassle. And they offer a 1 year refund policy!

    Zappos 1 Year Refund policy

  • Increase your online visibility. If no one has ever heard of you, it’s hard to trust you. But if they’ve seen you on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google Search, on TV, in radio adverts, etc, they are going to trust you much more quickly and easily.

Restricted payment options

If you actually have people who visit your website and start down the process of placing orders but do a 180 degree turn somewhere during the checkout process, you might want to take a look at your payment options as well.

Some people assume that if they’re shopping on a website, they’re going to need a Visa or MasterCard to complete their payment. You should try and broaden your payment options a bit more where possible.

If your target audience are primarily mobile money users, make sure they can check out with any of the mobile money networks once they get to checkout.

Disclaimer:
Some site owners find it convenient to provide Cash on Delivery as a payment option at checkout. Whilst this is certainly a choice for you to ultimately consider, we don’t really recommend it.

The order can get cancelled at any time at all, there is no proof the customer was placing a genuine order, the customer can dispute the order and refuse to pay, you may go through the entire process and being unable to deliver the product, you don’t get paid, etc.

Product return rates average 3.47% whereas cash on delivery product returns average 40%– Digital Commerce 360 and YourStory

13. I cannot get Google Adsense on my website

Google adsense

Google Adsense is a program from Google launched in June 2003, that allows you to earn money from your website simply by allowing Google to show ads on your site.

It’s introduction has made many people millionaires and allowed others to quit their day jobs and become full time bloggers and writers. When you read about people planning on making money from their websites, a lot of them have Google Adsense in mind.

As much as it is the most popular advertising program out there, paying out billions of dollars to date, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. From being very restrictive to aggressively enforcing their terms and conditions, it can be a little tricky to navigate.

So whether you’re struggling to be approved or you’ve been banned (hopefully temporarily) from Google Adsense, we hope you’ll find a solution below.

Wrongly integrated code

Google Adsense provides you with a bit of code that is to be inserted in the <head> tag of your website on every page. This is actually a bit technical.

The code will not work by simply copying it at the top of your pages or articles in WordPress, for example. The <head> tag is generated in a different location, far away from the normal writing and content on your website.

You’ll know the code was integrated wrongly if you can see it anywhere on your website. The Google Adsense code would actually be invisible to your users so if you can see the actual code showing, you can be certain it’s been implemented wrongly.

Google Adsense Code Wrongly Integrated

Your theme developer may have put a nice and convenient section in the theme’s settings that allows you to simply copy and paste your Adsense code and once saved, it’ll automatically have that code inserted into the <head> tag of all your pages.

Theme section allowing code in header

If your theme doesn’t have that option, but you are quite tech savvy, you can dive into your server via your server’s hosting panel, cPanel or FTP and edit your theme’s header page. You can also access this via Theme Editor under Appearances if this has not already been disabled.

WordPress Theme Editor Menu

Whilst this may vary from theme to theme, the header template for your theme is likely to be called header.php or something similar. If you can find this and find the appropriate section to embed the Google Adsense tracking code, then you are one-step away from getting approved.

Header File in theme

Disclaimer:
Make sure you always have a recent backup before you edit your website’s files. You never know when something will go wrong and you have to undo your change.

A safer method though is to install a plugin that would help you with your Google Adsense code.

Once your code is successfully inserted, you can inform Google to take a quick look at that.

Complying with their policy

When you apply to have Google Adsense display ads on your website, you get an email either confirming or rejecting your application. Similarly if you have already gotten Google Ads displayed on your website and you violate a policy of theirs, you’ll get an email telling you why.

It’s this email that you have to pay close attention to because whilst sometimes vague, they’ll give you a general idea of what you’ve done wrong and what you can do to remedy the situation.

Adsense rejected insufficient content

Here is Google Adsense’s Program Policies and we strongly recommend you study the whole thing over and over to make sure you’re in their good books. There are horror stories of people who lost lots of money by running afoul of those rules.

Idris Sami, a 24-year-old French-Moroccan entrepreneur lost $46,000 in revenue he had generated via Google Adsense when he ran foul of their rules.– Business Insider

Some of the most common reasons why Google Adsense rejects or suspends accounts include:

  • Your website being too new. You should ideally apply to Google Adsense after 6 months of existence
  • Not publishing a sufficient amount of content for Google to run ads against
  • Publishing content of a sexual nature or containing nudity
  • Publishing content that is shocking, violent, promotes weapons, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, gambling and others
  • Your website doesn’t have a privacy policy page containing information on the Google Adsense program you run
  • Clicking on your own ads or encouraging people to click on your ads to increase your income
  • Modifying the Google Adsense code to behave unexpectedly, including hiding ads,
  • Having your site provide a poor user experience including redirecting users to unwanted websites, initiating downloads, including malware or contain pop-ups or pop-unders that interfere with site navigation, etc.
  • Website going down or site being inaccessible for long periods of time
  • Selling counterfeit goods on your site
  • Already being banned by Google Adsense. They can detect even if you open a new account and will ban you again.

If you’re able to identify the problem causing Google to reject you and rectify it, you’re then able to reapply and hopefully get accepted this time round.

Consider a different program

If you’re unable to solve whatever issue it is that is tripping you up, you might want to consider one of the other available advertising programs out there for a publisher like yourself.

Many of them have more flexible terms and even better payout rates than Google Adsense. Some of them include:

  • Media.net
  • Infolinks
  • Propeller Ads
  • Amazon Native Shopping Ads
  • Adversal
  • Rev Content
  • Ad Recover
  • BuySellAds

and many more. You can read about multiple Google Adsense alternatives here.

Caution:
We recommend you consider multiple methods of monetizing your website to ensure that your financial world doesn’t come crashing down if you are banned by Google for whatever reason.

There are many such experiences on the web and we wouldn’t want that to happen to you so do consider other options we’ve listed to ensure you can earn a stable amount of income with no surprises.

14. I cannot tell whether my website is doing well or not

Everybody who invests time or money in anything at all has to be able to identify whether their investment has been worth it or not.

The same applies to your website. What was the purpose of your website?

  • Was it to promote a single event?
  • Or to help seal a deal or contract?
  • Or to be a marketing tool and attract new customers?
  • Or as a content publishing outlet to gain a following and a readership?
  • Or as a business tool to streamline processes and help you run more efficiently?
  • Or as a branding play to cement your identity?

Generally speaking, the reason why you set up your website will determine whether it’s actually doing well or not based on those metrics.

So if your website was set up to streamline your business’ processes, you might not want to measure its usefulness by how much money it generated from advertising.

A website can be measured by:

  • the number of visitors or traffic
  • the number of leads generated
  • the number of subscribers
  • the number of customers or users
  • the total amount of income generated
  • the total amount of time spent on the site
  • the total amount of advertising revenue generated, etc.

What gets measured, gets managed.– Peter Drucker

The easiest and barest minimum you should be measuring are the number of visitors to your site and where they’re coming from. And from there, you can be as advanced as you desire.

To identify the total number of visitors coming to your website, you need a bit of tracking software. If you have access to your hosting account or cPanel, you might have various programs that help with that, like AWstats or Webalizer under the Metrics section.

Awstats and Webalizer

These programs measure the amount of traffic coming to your website at the server level. They can tell you how many visitors came, where they were from, what the most popular pages they visited were, how much bandwidth was used, and a bit more.

Awstats Visitor Data

Such logs can also be useful in identifying bot and malicious traffic that might need to be blocked outright.

Other service providers have more polished analytics packages that will do far more than just measure the amount of traffic to your website.

Google Analytics is the leading provider of free website analytics software in the world. They track a humunguous amount of data and can even provide you AI (artificial intelligence) powered insights into what’s going on on your website, changes in how visitors are interacting with it and a whole lot more.

Google Analytics Data

As mentioned earlier, Google Analytics has a lot of advanced options that can even help you with tracking important goals on your website, like the number of new leads you’ve received, or how much money you’re earning from visitors who come from a particular channel vs a different channel.

If you’re interesting in learning more on all that you can use Google Analytics for, they provide some excellent training in their Analytics Academy Courses.

You might choose to go with a different analytics software or an additional one, depending on what you want to achieve. You’ll find below a few other options (both free and paid) that might serve you well.

  • Slimstat Analytics
  • Jetpack Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Open Analytics
  • Kissmetrics
  • Woopra
  • Matomo

Once you’re able to track the metric by which you define the success of your website, it’s easier now commit resources to improving that and achieving all the goals you desire.

We’ve seen people become weary of their websites simply because they didn’t actively track what was going on in order to improve it.

We’ve also seen people who thought all their customers were coming from Instagram have an eye-opening experience to learn that Facebook was rather their number one source of customers.

Don’t let that be you. Learn as much as you can about your customers and where they are from so you can serve them better.

15. My website says “Not Secure”

The Internet has undergone a fundamental shift in the past few years. It had become much too easy for governments, hackers, friends, enemies and all sorts of service providers to access a lot of your information online.

This was because the vast majority of information on the Internet was passed on unsecure or unencrypted channels. The default website protocol: HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) is an unsecure channel.

To solve this, many websites, governments, institutions, organizations and companies that care about privacy have moved the world in the direction of using secure and encrypted channels or HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure).

The majority of website browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, now give a warning like, “Not Secure” whenever you browse a website that is not encrypted.

Site not secure

Whilst this comes as just a basic annoyance to some, the consequences of non-encrypted website browsing can be quite severe, and real. They include:

  • Stealing username and passwords
  • Stealing credit card and financial data
  • Capturing any and all information of yours sent on the Internet
  • Infecting your devices with malware and viruses
  • Hijacking your visitors
  • Hacking your website

and all of that can lead to serious data and financial loss.

Let’s take a look at what you can do if your browser says your site is not secure.

Check for an HTTPS version

When you visit your website and your browser says “Not Secure”, try adding an ‘s’ right after the http, making it https and try again.

If your site loads up with a nice https, good for you. It means that you actually have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate which enables the needed encryption for your website to show https.

The only thing you need to do is to ensure that anytime someone tries visiting your http version, they get automatically redirected to the https version.

Whilst that’s easy to say, depending on your level of expertise, it might be hard to implement as this has to be done usually at the server level. You can learn a bit more on redirecting your HTTP website to HTTPS.

You can go one step further though by also implementing HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) which lets browsers know to always only serve your website over HTTPS and never over unencrypted HTTP.

Acquire or renew an SSL

If you tried the point above and got a warning page about the page not being secure, then it means you do not have an SSL for your website or it may have expired.

Google Chrome Not Secure Warning On Mobile

No worries, all you have to do is to have one installed for your website or renewed, depending on the case.

SSLs come in various types and varying pricing from free all the way to hundreds of dollars. You can read a bit more on that in the SSL section of our website pricing and cost article.

Two of the most popular ways to obtain an SSL are Let’s Encrypt and Sectigo (formerly Comodo) which is integrated into many cPanels.

Let's Encrypt and Sectigo (formerly Comodo)

A 3rd way if the first two aren’t available to you is to sign up with Cloudflare. They’re a CDN (Content Distribution Network) company but actually provide many more services.

One of those services is to encrypt your entire website to the outside world for free. They do this because by being a CDN, they are between you (your website actually) and your visitors. And so they take your website information and encrypt it with an SSL before sending it to your visitors.

Cloudflare Flexible SSL Free

16. My website emails keep going into spam folders

Spam mail

It’s a bit ironic that emails sent from your free account are delivered nicely, but those sent from your paid account rather end up in spam folders.

Whilst this is sad and can be catastrophic to a business, it actually happens quite a bit.

The reason is because email is hard business!!

281 billion emails were sent each day in 2018, Of which 52.42% was spam.– Statista

That is simply an insane amount of unwanted, unnecessary and in some cases highly dangerous email flying around the Internet. The companies that are able to combat trillions of spam emails are usually billion dollar companies.

Leading the pack is Google with Gmail, and then there’s Microsoft with Hotmail, Outlook and Live email services. There are also many other players including Yahoo, Rackspace and others.

 

Free Email logos

Your hosting company on the other hand just can’t spend as much money on perfecting their email delivery as the bigger players out there.

Combine that with the fact that malicious people sign up for hosting accounts or hack websites and servers simply to send out billions of spam emails and soon, your business emails are landing in some spam folders.

But you can combat this:

Use a 3rd party email service

The first and best solution is to actually leverage the power of the “Big boys”. For example, you can sign up for Google’s Gsuite and your business emails will be sent with the power of Google, landing effortlessly in people’s inboxes (as long as you aren’t violating their terms of service.)

You will be able to send emails as me@mybusiness.com and not just as me245@gmail.com. That’s Google’s premium service.

Not only that, you would have access to every other Gsuite feature they provide, including online storage, calendars, video chats with your team and a whole lot more.

The downside (possibly) to using a 3rd party email service like Google’s paid email package – G Suite or Rackspace is that there is a cost involved. You are likely to pay about GHc15 to GHc45/month for each email account that you need. But impeccable email delivery is worth it.

Paid emails

Set SPF and DKIM records

A second option is to ensure that your email accounts and server are set up correctly.

There are certain options like SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) that can be set to help increase the deliverability of your emails whilst decreasing the likeliness anyone can impersonate your account or send emails in your name when it isn’t you.

SPF tells the world that “Only server X and server Y are allowed to send emails in my business name. Any email that claims to be from my business but was sent from server Z, kindly reject that email immediately, because I didn’t send it.”

SPF on GoDaddy

So with your Sender Policy Framework defined, it makes it easier for receipients of your email to identify whether your server truly sent the email or not, and thus they can identify fake or spam emails much more quickly.

DKIM on the other hand gives your recepient a way to confirm and guarantee that the email that was sent from your server hasn’t been intercepted or altered in any way.

DKIM on Godaddy

When someone receives an email from you but there’s no way to verify that nothing fishy happened to the email in transit, it can be rejected as spam. But once you have DomainKeys Identified Mail values set, it gets easier to confirm that your emails are genuine.

Here’s a bit more information on how you can implement SPF, DKIM and also DMARC to enhance your email security and deliverability.

Request a change of IP

If you do have SPF and DKIM values set for your domain but your emails are still landing in spam folders, another issue could be with your mail server’s IP address.

Every mail server has a unique IP address. This is what helps emails find their way around the Internet to the right inbox.

And usually, hundreds of different users are assigned to a single mail server. If one of your “neighbours” who you don’t even know exists, starts sending out thousands of emails which are spammy, other email servers around the world will say,

“Hey, this mail server over here is spamming us. Let’s blacklist him.”

When a mail server’s IP address is blacklisted and that list is propagated, your beautifully crafted, business deal-sealing email might never see the light of day because your emails end up landing in spam boxes or blocked outright.

So whilst it’s not always possible, a service provider might be able and willing to move your accounts over to an IP address that has not been blacklisted.

And once that’s done, just like magic, your emails will start going out nicely again.

Ensure your email accounts and domain aren’t sending out spam

No matter which solution you go by, kindly note that no hosting company or 3rd party email service is going to allow you to be sending out tens of thousands of emails per day, spam or not. You will be labelled as the very type of person they are trying to block.

Just to clarify, spam emails are emails that are:

  • sent to people that never requested the information you are sending them or
  • sent to people that may have requested them but contain completely irrelevant or even malicious content

If you do need to send hundreds or thousands of emails with great content to your subscribers who have asked for this content, like an announcement or a newsletter, you will need a different type of email sending service – a newsletter service.

These are set up specifically to do just that and they will gladly send your emails to tens of thousands of your legitimate subscribers or customers, with extremely high delivery rates (as long as you also abide by their terms of service.)

A few of these you may want to consider are: MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse, Constant Contact, SendGrid, SendPulse, DripCampaign, etc.

Mail services

17. I cannot update my website

Unlike most websites 2 decades ago which were static and hardly changed, websites of today are expected to change and be updated on a regular basis.

If you sell products online, you need to update your inventory levels, your prices, your products, discounts, etc.

If you’re a travel agency, you need to show new destinations, promotions, discount fares, travel warnings and more.

If you have a blog or news site, well that might be updated even several times a day with new posts and articles and trending topics.

A website that is not updated with new content and information will suffer in multiple ways.

Firstly, it will start to drop in Google’s search rankings, leading to lower and lower traffic to your site, and in turn, less and less money. This is because Google wants to give its users the most accurate information possible, and in the time you didn’t update your website, someone else did and might now have the most accurate information that a user may need.

Secondly, visitors and customers will stop using your site which will lead to you holding a worthless investment. What good is a compass which doesn’t point north? Or a discount offer that has expired? Or an amazing deal when the product is out of stock? Or the perfect service you need when the company is literally out of business?

That’s what happens to users. They find your website, find the thing they want, place their order or enquiry only to be told,

“Please, the prices on our website are old so kindly disregard them. Here are our current super brand new prices that are 70% higher than what you saw on our website.”

Don’t let that be you. Make your customers happy by keeping your website information fresh, updated and accurate.

So let’s dig deeper into the reasons you might not be able to update your website.

Website designer hasn’t provided the site login details

If your website was designed by someone or a firm, simply ask nicely for your website login details so you can update your website and you should have those in no time.

It will depend though. It is possible that the website package you signed up for does not include the provision of login details. Or maybe your site was coded directly and doesn’t use a content management system for easy updating.

It might be your designer’s choice to rather charge you a fee for every update you want done to the website than to let you do them yourself.

This definitely is something you should consider before you select your website package. We do however recommend that your website be built with a content management system (preferably WordPress) and that you have login details to easily update content on your site.

Cannot understand CMS backend

Let’s say you do have the login details to your website, but you haven’t a clue what to do with them. You log into your site’s backend and you can’t see how to build just a simple page.

Well, it’s time to get learning. Your website designer can point you in the right direction here too. You will most likely need an overview of 3 sets of tutorials:

  • Tutorials about your CMS: if your site is built with WordPress, you would need a little bit of information on how WordPress works.
  • Tutorials about your site’s theme: if your site was built with a theme or template, there’s sometimes a bit of a learning curve there as different themes control site features in different ways, putting those features in many various corners.
  • Tutorials about your site’s builder: A builder is a tool that makes the creation and management of your website much simpler. Some of the most popular WordPress builders in the world are Elementor, WP Bakery Page Builder (formerly Visual Composer), SiteOrigin Page Builder, Divi, Beaver Builder and a whole lot more.

Site Builders

We would have to mention that though your website might be built with a builder or theme does not automatically mean it’s going to be easy to work on or update.

So do make sure you go through any tutorials you’re provided carefully to ensure you’ll understand what you’re doing before you make any changes. (And always have backups before making such changes).

Other technical issues

If you do have the login details to your website and you do know how to update your website but for some reason, your updates are not showing on your site, you might want to contact your website designer.

There might be a technical problem somewhere, or there might be a caching issue that is persisting, showing you an old version of your site instead of the latest version that you just updated.

18. I want to change the design of my website

Your website is an important part of your brand and has an impact on how customers and clients perceive you. If your website looks great, people will trust you more. If it doesn’t, they’ll go elsewhere.

That’s why it’s quite common to actually redesign your website every few years.

Technology is changing rapidly and what might be a beautifully designed website today will honestly be outdated and barely functional in just a few short years.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at what Facebook looked like when they launched in 2004 (it was actually even called Thefacebook).

And if you want to go even earlier in time, this is what Amazon.com looked like when they launched.

Amazon's First Website

To see an amazing evolution of various websites over the past few decades, visit Version Museum. You might end up with a smile on your face.

Bringing it back home though, you don’t want a website that looks like it was designed a decade ago, so you’ve got to upgrade and redesign your website every few years.

The method via which your website was created can determine whether this will be easy and straight forward, or difficult and complex.

Custom coded website

A website that is designed directly in HTML, CSS and/or PHP would basically need a complete redesign, probably from scratch. That’s because custom coding your website that way basically renders it a single use project.

CMS-based website

If your website was created with a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, there is a higher likelihood that redesigning your website will be a bit easier to achieve.

The whole essence of a CMS is to separate the content of your website from its design. This means that even if you decide to go with a new design, your content will all be intact.

This is great however most themes and builders aren’t necessarily compatible. If you built your site with Visual Composer and decide to switch to a design based on Elementor, you’re still literally going to have to redesign your website from the beginning.

These builders each use their own system in laying out and designing the website. So when you choose to just switch your website’s design, a lot of incompatibilities arise, breaking your site entirely. Some builders even leave behind an incomprehensible array of shortcodes.

Changing themes may leave shortcodes behind

But this isn’t limited to these builders though. The same happens outside of WordPress, like with Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. If you decide to change your design, a lot of work has to go into implementing all your content in the new design.

So if you decide on changing or redesigning your website, do understand that it’s most likely going to be a large undertaking, almost as large as creating a brand new website from scratch.

And if your site has already been optimized (for speed, conversions, leads, SEO, etc), all those optimizations will have to be considered and even redone to ensure your new website performs at least as well as your old site.

This might seem like a lot of information and work so if this doesn’t sound like something you’d like to dive into, you’ll probably have to find or contact your website designer so you can get a good roadmap for a redesign.

19. I want to receive website notifications via WhatsApp or SMS

Whilst you’re most likely not always behind your laptop, we’re quite confident that your phone is with you almost everywhere you go.

It’s understandable that you receive a notification on your phone as soon as you get a new order or payment, so that you can follow up on that.

Most ecommerce websites by default only send out email notifications though. The reason being that emails are free to send but SMS and text messages cost money.

And with the establishment of WhatsApp almost as a universal standard, notifications straight to WhatsApp would be even nicer.

The first thing you can consider which has zero cost implications is to actually synchronize your email account with your phone. By doing this, the moment a new order or payment is made on your website, you’ll receive a notification on your phone for that order.

You won’t have to wait and check up on your computer or laptop before you know a new order is in.

If that isn’t an option, or you want to receive order notifications via SMS, it will require two things.

An SMS sending account: Sending text messages comes at a cost and you’ll need an account from a bulk SMS sending service that has what’s called an API (Application Programming Interface) allowing you to connect your website to their platform.

There are a lot of both local and international bulk SMS sending platforms to consider, Twilio, Clickatell, Infobip, to name a few.

SMS Gateways

The majority of SMS sending services can be customized in multiple ways and you should even be able to send messages with a Sender ID. For example, all text messages we send out show our name WopeDigital as the Sender ID.

SMSes with WopeDigital Sender ID

A plugin or some code from a developer: The second thing you’ll need is a plugin or a developer to do some coding work to ensure that your website can communicate with the bulk SMS sending service’s API.

Depending on your website platform and your SMS sending platform, there might be a plugin already created that will work with both, so you can do a bit of research on that before you consider having to pay for one developed from scratch.

By default, our Business and Enterprise clients have SMS notifications sent to them and their customers on all orders placed through their websites.

With regards to WhatsApp though, they introduced their own system somewhere last year that also allows messages like order notifications to be sent to a WhatsApp number.

The program is only open to much larger organizations though and can require quite a bit in setup fees. If you are interested in exploring that as an option, you might want to contact companies like Twilio or InfoBip who should be able to help you with that.

20. I don’t want to pay every year for my website

One of the slightly sad things that happen to some businesses and individuals has to do with a bit of sticker-shock about a year after they get their website online.

Let’s say you paid a lot of money for your lovely website, it’s been up and online and it’s been fantastic.

Your website design guy calls you after 11 months to let you know that you’ll have to renew the website within the next 30 days to ensure the site doesn’t go off.

“And what does that entail?” you ask, only to find out it means you’re going to have to pay more money!

Whilst we strongly recommend you find out well in advance how much it will cost to renew your website every year, we’ve discovered that some clients are very desirous to pay a one-time fee for their websites and never have to pay again.

This can become quite a problem so we’d like to cover all your available options in this scenario.

Misunderstanding how websites work

Generally speaking, you cannot pay a one-time fee for your website. That’s because a website is made up of different parts and many of them are recurring costs.

The 3 main parts of a website usually enumerated are:

  • Domain name
  • Hosting
  • Website design

Out of those 3, only the website design aspect can be paid one-time. The other two components have to be paid year in and year out if you want to keep your website online.

If you purchased both your domain name and your hosting package yourself, then you can most certainly pay your website designer a one-time fee for the design of your website and you won’t have to pay him anything ever again, all other things being equal.

But to keep your website online, you’ll still have to pay the registry for your domain and your hosting company for your hosting account.

So let’s talk about domain names and hosting for a second.

The thing about domain names and hosting is that you never buy these things. Whilst you pay money for them, you only get to rent them for a period of time.

It’s just like if you live in an apartment or building that you rent. You have to always pay up when the rent is due. If you refuse to pay up, you get kicked out.

Exactly the same thing with your domain name and hosting.

You might say, “But it’s MY name!”

Well, yes. Whilst it may be your name, a unique name that no one else in the world thought up, it’s still rented property.

If it’s any consolation, there is no company in the world that basically owns their domain outright. They always have to renew their domains as well.

You can renew your domain name for up to 10 years in advance if you desire. And you can also set your domain name to auto-renew. This means that once your registration period is up, a deduction from your account is made and an extra year is added to your domain name’s duration.

Note that all other things being equal, as long as you choose to renew your domain, nobody else will be able to take that domain name from you.

With hosting, it’s a similar situation. Your hosting company may even specifically say that you can ‘buy’ your own dedicated server, but truly speaking, it’s only yours as long as you continue to pay them. Stop paying them, and no server access for you.

We will say though that it is possible to host your website from your own server or personal computer, but that’s probably not going to be worth your while and is very technical.

If you are interested though, you’re going to have to:

  • have a dedicated IP address to ensure visitors can actually reach your website.
  • make sure that your computer never sleeps, hibernates, restarts or shuts down. If your computer goes off, your website would also go off.
  • make sure that you have a very high speed and capacity Internet connection to your computer to serve your visitors
  • have very high level technical skills to maintain your server, protect against security threats, etc.

Just make sure you don’t go crazy.

Servers with plenty of cables

If none of that sounds fun but you still want to get as close as possible to never having to pay recurring costs for your website, you might want to consider the next point.

Opt for a free website platform

You can have your website be only a one-time cost by having your designer develop it on a free website platform.

If you’ve read our article on “How much does a website cost?”, we mention that the creation method and platform can affect the total cost of your site.

In this case, apart from the cost you would pay your website designer (unless you’ll be designing that yourself), you would have a website that you won’t have to pay anything for ever again.

This is possible because firstly, they won’t provide you with the domain name of your choice. You will have a “sub-domain name” which means that their name will be included in your website name.

Very long and unattractive domain name

Secondly, in order to provide all the features including free hosting for your website, the platform would have to benefit something in exchange. Usually that is with them placing some advertising on your website.

If you can live with these two factors, you won’t have a problem. If you do decide to upgrade or get a proper domain name, you’ll have to sign up for one of their paid tiers and you’ll be paying either monthly or yearly till the day you no longer want your website online.

Want to give a free website platform a shot? Here are a few you might want to consider:

  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • WordPress (their .com service)
  • Blogger
  • Website.com
  • Web.com
  • Google My Business (business.site)

Barter trade with your designer

One final option that exists if you want to pay only a one-time fee for your website (or no fee at all) is to find a website firm or designer who is willing to do a barter trade with you.

Whatever business or service you provide, there might be a website designer who needs those exact services and is willing to negotiate with you.

Let’s say you’re a radio station. You want an amazing website designed for you. You might be able to strike up a deal with a website designer and offer them free advertising on air if they create your website for you. It could be a win-win deal.

Or you have a print shop. A website in exchange for free flyers. Someone might be willing to consider that option.

If you’re a person of your word, you can even get your website for free as long as you’re willing to refer a few other people to your website design guy for a fully paid up website.

Many large business deals and alliances in the world were based on a mutually beneficial situation which either caused no money or very little money to exchange hands, yet both parties are better off than before.

So it’s possible for you too to seek out a symbiotic relationship with your website design provider.

21. I want a mobile app for my business

The world has gone mobile, that’s a fact. Since Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, we’ve had a smartphone and mobile revolution which is still growing today.

People are doing everything with their phones today, from entertainment to shopping to learning to communicating, everything.

Most people can’t live without their mobiles, never leave home without them and, if given a choice, would rather lose their wallet. – Reuters

With the iPhone and smartphone revolution also came mobile apps. With the two largest appstores being the Apple Appstore and the Google Play Store, whatever you have in mind, there’s an app for that.

Many business, big and small have also decided to have apps for themselves, and there are many good reasons for your business to also have an app. Especially if your app would provide a special function or would update constantly with latest news, etc.

But one huge problem that currently exists is app fatigue. People no longer want to install apps.

Half of all U.S. smartphone users download zero apps per month.– Comscore

Currently, most people just have a fixed set of go-to apps. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Uber, etc. Once they’ve downloaded those, they’re done. In fact, when people stray outside their main go-to apps, the new app installed is used less than once.

77 percent of apps are uninstalled in less than 3 days of being installed.– Android Authority

Why aren’t people interested in installing new apps?

  • Consumers don’t have enough storage on their devices
  • People spend their time in the same handful of apps
  • App advertisements hinder the user experience
  • People forget about them

Despite all this, there are 2 ways for you to have a mobile app for your business.

Get a native app

The first is to have a native mobile app developed for your business. By native, we mean that the mobile app will be developed specifically for a particular platform and will be installed from the respective app store.

If your target audience use iPhones, then you’ll need a native app built to run on iOS and submitted to the Apple Appstore.

Alternatively if most of your customers use phones that run Google’s Android Operating system, then that’s the platform you’ll need to have your app developed for and submitted to the Google Play Store.

Google Play Apple App Store

Some of the main advantages of native apps are the fact that they:

  • are able to use most of the phone’s hardware and features to provide unique and emersive experiences
  • increase your brand awareness and loyalty
  • can provide functionality you wouldn’t be able to provide otherwise

But the disadvantages of native mobile apps also have to be considered. Including the fact that:

  • your app can be rejected from the app store
  • it can be difficult to have your app discovered or found
  • developing a mobile app can come with quite a considerable expense
  • there is a significant amount of fragmentation to deal with for Android phones due to many users running different versions of the operating system
  • you have to spend double if you want a native app for both iPhones and Android phones
  • both Apple and Google take a cut out of sales that happen in your app and finally
  • the fact that updating your apps when needed can be a very painful and expensive process

Whilst a mobile app is most likely not the best option for a vast majority of organizations and businesses, there is an alternative that you’d probably want to hear about.

Get a Progressive Web App

A PWA (Progressive Web App) is a relatively new innovation that is seeing a very serious uptick in adoption. All the big players are now turning their mobile sites into Progressive Web Apps, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Google, the New York Times and a whole lot more.

Basically, a Progressive Web App is a website or web application that has almost all the features and functionality of a native app but without most of the disadvantages. They can look and feel just like native apps and are:

  • Responsive
  • Secure
  • Work offline
  • Looks and feels just like a native app
  • Installable
  • Linkable
  • Easy updates
  • Lightweight
  • Searchable
  • Cross-platform

Progressive Web Apps Benefits

The results of adopting a PWA instead of a native app have been so mind boggling that PWAs are being touted as the future of mobile app development.

Consider this:

  • BookMyShow has observed 80%+ increase in their conversion rates since adopting a PWA.
  • Pinterest increased their ad click-throughs by 50%
  • OLX recorded 250% more re-engagement when they switched to a PWA

Whilst we’d love to dive much deeper into PWAs, we’ll have to hold off on that for a little while leaving you with just a few more statistics to consider:

  • +68% increase in mobile traffic
  • 15x faster to load and install
  • 25x less device storage required
  • 52% average increase in conversions
  • Sessions are on average increased by 78.25%
  • Engagement is often increased by 137%
  • The average load time for a page is 2.75 seconds
  • Compared to mobile website’s, bounce rate is reduced by a phenomenal 42.86%
  • On average, page views increased by a staggering 133.67%!

If you do want to read a bit more on the advantages of PWAs, this article might be useful: What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps Benefits

Currenty, all our website design packages come with PWAs.

22. My website doesn’t load well on Opera Mini

Opera Mini is a type of browser known as a proxy browser. Another proxy browser is UC Browser.

Proxy browsers work quite differently from regularly browsers. Instead of connecting directly to the website you visit, a proxy browser stands in between you and the website you’re accessing.

It pulls the information on that page, then it squeezes it, compresses it and strips out any information it believes isn’t necessary and then sends you a really small package of information representing the website you went to.

What’s incredible about this is that Opera Mini can actually save you up to 9x the amount of data you would have spent on a normal browsing session.

In the top 20 African countries people saved an estimate of $100 million USD in mobile data by using Opera products in 2018.– Opera

So, the great thing about browsing with Opera Mini is that they strip out content and make the webpage you’re viewing light.

But the bad thing about browsing with Opera Mini is that they strip out content and make the webpage you’re viewing light. 😀

They strip out as much animation and fancy stuff and javascript and other interactive features as possible. If your website depends heavily on these things, the experience is not going to be a good one on Opera Mini.

Walmart Website on Chrome vs Opera Mini

Considering that Opera Mini has over 42% of the entire mobile browser market in Ghana, you might think making your website highly compatible with Opera Mini is the way to go.

But you might not need to read too much into that. After all, majority of Ghanaians are connecting to the Internet at 2G speeds. Hopefully the subset of people who are your target clients have far faster speeds.

As at 2017 the majority of connections are still slower speed 2G (53%).– GSMA Intelligence

Whilst it is something to consider, it comes down to whether your website can work as well as needed if the functionality that doesn’t work with a proxy browser is omitted. If omitting that severely impacts the function of your site, you might have to forgo Opera Mini.

But it might not be as bad as you think. Opera Mini’s market share in Africa is declining as it has been challenged significantly by Google Chrome. Also, a lot of people actually have multiple browsers on their device. So you might not lose out as much as you might think.

If on the other hand the vast majority of your visitors and clients are Opera Mini users, you’ll have to make some tweaks to your website. These would include:

  • Inlining as much css and javascript as possible
  • Using SVG rather than icon fonts
  • Eliminating certain CSS properties like border-radius, gradeint and CSS animations
  • Test your website with javascript disabled

You can read further on this from the creators themselves on how to make websites that work well with Opera Mini.

23. I’m getting a lot of spam in my email account

Spam! Spam!! Spam!!! I bet even spammers don’t love being spammed.

Did you know that back in 2009, 94% of all emails were spam?– NY Times

If you’re receiving a lot of spam to your email address (most specifically one attached to your domain name), there might be a few things to look out for in order to solve that.

Website contact form without spam protection

The most likely culprit would be a contact form on your website that doesn’t have any type of spam protection. Spammers will try anything to get into your inbox and they know that your website’s contact form sends an email straight to you.

Contact form without captcha

There are a few different ways to prevent being spammed through your contact form including honeypots, simple captchas, some type of form validation or by using a service.

Two of the leading services that help protect and prevent your website from being inundated with spam are Akismet and Google Recaptcha. By signing up and implementing any of those services, you would be able to drastically reduce the amount of spam being generated by your website contact forms.

Contact form with Google Recaptcha

Email shown on website

On the other hand, there are robots whose job is to simply visit websites and scrape/copy every single email address they can find. The more email addresses they gather, the better their odds of getting someone to click on an email they send.

If your website has your email address in plain view, it means your email address can be picked up and added to thousands of email lists to be targeted for spamming.

Displaying your email address in a format that isn’t too obvious, (eg. email us on hello[at]ourbusiness.com) or not displaying your email address at all are possible ways to get around this, although you’d have to weigh the pros and cons.

Email shown in your domain name registration

Some bots go beyond just your website and rather scrape your email address from publicly available domain registration records.

Every single domain name out there is registered to someone at a valid name, email address, phone number and physical address. By visiting these public registries, your name and email address can be vaccumed up for a spamming session.

To protect against this, you can purchase domain privacy for a few dollars a year. With domain privacy, all your personal details will be replaced with generic ones by your registry.

WHOIS Data Redacted For Privacy

You can still be reached, but only via a legitimate claim that goes through your registry.

Signing up on questionable websites

Whilst this might be slightly obvious, it’s worth mentioning. If you do sign up to a lot of things on the Internet, you run the risk of being spammed.

Ideally, make sure you only give your email address (one that you value) to websites and companies you believe will respect your privacy and not spam you or sell your details to third parties who will spam you.

Enabling spam settings in email system

It could also be that you are receiving a lot of spam because a spam filtering setting is currently disabled in your email system.

Some email systems have spam filtering off by default. This may be because with a business email account, them being liable for accidentally filtering out an important email could be a problem.

Spam Filtering Off By Default

Or maybe you might choose to use your own email program or client to do spam filtering for you.

Either way, take a look at your email settings and find out if there’s a spam filtering feature that you need to switch on manually and that could cut down on the spam you receive.

In your hosting account, you might find an option called Apache SpamAssassin that can be configured to help filter and reduce the amount of spam you receive.

Enabling SpamAssassin

Upgrading email provider

If nothing else helps, you might want to consider upgrading your email to a 3rd party service.

Google’s Gmail has probably the world’s best spam filtering system. It’s even part of how they gained their reputation as one of the best email services on the planet.

By upgrading your email to G Suite (that’s the name for Google’s set of business apps), you’re most likely to cut down the spam that gets through to you by about 99.9% so keep that in mind.

24. I don’t see my website’s pictures when I share links on social media

Featured image not showing

Whenever you share a link on a website like Facebook or WhatsApp, there’s usually an image of the page or article and a brief description that are shown.

WopeDigital Links Shared on WhatsApp

This is obviously very useful in conveying a summary of what the link is about and it can help ensure that the link shared gets a lot more clicks, visits and engagements.

If you do not get any image or summary of your link popping up when you share it on various networks or you want to control the particular information that is shared, you need to add some extra information to your website called Open Graph Meta Tags.

This was introduced in April, 2010 by Facebook and is a way to bring information about things on the Internet into the social networking world. Currently, the Open Graph Protocol or markup is used by many different websites and networks including Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Twitter and many more.

Open Graph Meta Tags (if implemented) can be found by viewing the source code for your pages. You will find them in the <head> tag starting with og:title. Many different tags specify different things to be worked with by a social network. A few examples include:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”The Rock” />
<meta property=”og:type” content=”video.movie” />
<meta property=”og:url” content=”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/rock.jpg” />

The 4 lines above tell a social network the title of the link shared, what the link is about, the exact link being shared and an image to represent that link.

You can find more information on the official website for the Open Graph Protocol.

Once you’ve implemented the needed meta tags, you can use Facebook’s Share Debugger tool to cross-check your implementation.

Facebook Sharing Debugger

25. I see irrelevant information instead of a description for my website in Google

When someone searches for something in Google, on its SERP (Search Engine Result Page), they basically show you the title of the page, the path or URL of the page and a brief description.

But sometimes, instead of seeing a meaningful description of your website, you might find a lot of disconnected and incoherent words. Sometimes, you might actually see math formulas or something that looks like Greek or Latin.

This is Google’s way of telling you that whilst they tried their best, they just could not find an appropriate portion of information on that page to display to your potential visitor.

Google Caching Errors and Shortcodes

It’s not a favourable position to be in and it’s one that you should rectify because Google takes CTR (Click Through Rate) into consideration to identify whether you should rank higher or lower in their results and an incoherent description won’t help that.

For example, let’s say you and your competitor are both grappling for the top spot for your preferred keyword. Google shows your page 100 times and 5 people click through. They then show your competitor’s page and get 9 people clicking on it.

With just that information, Google will say,

“I think that other page is better than this one.”

and so they’ll continue to show your competitors page in a higher position than yours.

Make sure your pages have sufficient readable content

The first step to solving this problem is to ensure your pages actually do have some content.

If your page doesn’t have any content, then it won’t be a surprise when Google can hardly find anything to serve as a description for your page.

You might have content on the page but it may not be readable. It might be just an embedded video or some images or an infographic, etc. If those pages can support you adding relevant text/readable content in areas, go for it.

Check to see if the page has a manually entered excerpt

It’s not all pages that might require text content so another option (if you use WordPress for your website) is to check on the excerpt for that page.

The concept of an excerpt, whilst hardly used in most situations, fits perfectly here. You get to craft your own short summary of what that particular page is about.

The excerpt might be displayed or not, depending on your site or theme’s settings, but it can be picked up by Google and displayed as the description for that page.

If you’ve looked around and can’t find exactly what Google is showing to the world to describe your page, have a look in the excerpt. There might be something there already.

Google Caching Lorem Ipsum

Check to see if your page is throwing up errors and exceptions

It’s quite interesting what Google sometimes decides is important to show when it comes to your website.

We’ve seen website errors and warning messages pop up instead of all the other content that was displayed on a page.

Google Caching Errors

Checking and resolving any errors being shown on your pages will ensure that Google doesn’t show that to your audience.

Add a meta description to all your pages

Better than the excerpt though is a tag called the Meta Description. A Meta Description is a line of code placed in your website that helps other entities (including search engines like Google and social networks) know what your page is about.

Whilst they don’t impact your search engine rankings directly, as mentioned, they do impact how many people choose to click through to your page, and that is something Google takes careful notice of.

To add a meta description to your page requires adding a line of code to the <head> section of your page that would look something like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”Here’s where you place your nicely crafted and unique page description.”/>

But you don’t need to be a coding person to add meta descriptions to your page. You can rather use an SEO plugin (like Yoast or All-in-One SEO) which allows you to add and even automatically generate meta descriptions for your pages.

WopeDigital Meta Description via SEO Plugin

A good resource on meta descriptions and how to write great ones can be found on the Yoast website. They recommend these 7 points:

  • Up to 155 characters – and sometimes more
  • Actionable and written in an active voice
  • Including a call-to-action
  • Containing the focus keyword
  • Possibly showing specifications
  • Matching the content
  • Unique

Conclusion

We know this has been a long read but we’re glad you made it to the end.

If you need any help resolving any of the issues we’ve mentioned or you have a different problem, do let us know by contacting us or leaving a comment below.

We hope you get the very best out of your website whilst avoiding all the common and uncommon errors that may come your way.

Don't have time to read the whole guide right now?

Let us know where we should send the PDF version and we'll do so immediately.

Leave a comment

Download Our Free Guide25 Common Website Problems And Their Solutions

Let us know where we should send it and we'll do so immediately.