B2B Marketing Agency for Technology Companies

Common Website Errors — Fix ’em or Forget ’em?

Common website errors like typos, broken links, non-friendly URLs and slow loading pages can become major issues left unresolved. Here are 12 of them you should start fixing.

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by Eric Sharp

Quality traffic, clear navigation, great content, and a solid conversion rate are a few pillars of a successful website.

However, these pillars can also consume focus — to your website’s own detriment — creating distraction from possible minor issues.

In a way, these minor issues (e.g. spelling errors, duplicate content, slow load times) are a bit like vehicle maintenance. Strong brakes, a clean engine and smooth transmission are always top of mind for owners.

However, overdue oil changes, dim headlights and wearing tires can easily go unnoticed and neglected. Eventually these small issues will become major issues (just like a website’s) if left unresolved.

Common Errors to Fix on Your Website

Below are 12 common website errors organized by what you should fix:

  • today
  • this month
  • this quarter

Let's begin this diagnostic.

Quick and easy (fix today)

1. Spelling Errors

Typos and grammatical errors may seem forgivable, but they send a unprofessional message to your audience. Whomever has copywriting responsibilities in your organization, ensure they have a fresh set of eyes before publishing. Every single person wanting to generate quality website content needs an editor in their life.

2. Broken Links

These errors can frustrate users and dissolve engagement pretty quickly. To approach fixing broken links, use a tool like broken link check rather than manually checking for them. It’ll save you hours of time.

3. Copyright Year Not Current

What is your gut reaction when you see this on a website?

Copyright © 2012 Company XYZ. All Rights Reserved.

Though your business may be healthy and growing, this outdated copyright year gives the impression that your company is either out of business, on the way out of business, or simply indifferent. Don’t let this detail send the wrong message.

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4. Missing/Broken Images

A missing or broken image is a careless website error. They’re easy to diagnose and about as easy to fix — if you have a content management system. Don’t have a CMS? This could be a sign your website is needing a rebuild.

Will take some work (fix this month)

5. Non-friendly 404 Page

website-error-typical-404-page

A standard 404 page abruptly stops user engagement & provides no helpful feedback.

A 404 or “Not Found” error message is a website’s standard response when a user tries to follow a link to a page that is either dead or broken.

Customize your default 404 page and treat it as opportunity to 1) acknowledge the error in a friendly demeanor and 2) guide them to what they may be looking for. Become inspired with these creative 404 pages.

6. Non-friendly URLs

Though not a website “error” per se, non-friendly URLs carry repercussions from a search engine perspective. They’re also hard to remember, link to, and share via social platforms.

  • Friendly = www.website.com/service/more-info
  • Not Friendly = www.website.com/cgi-bin/gen.pl?id=8&view=standard

A site wide change in URL structure is a big deal, so treat this fix with careful planning.

7. Canonicalization

From an SEO perspective, this is certainly a website error rather than a recommendation. Ian Lurie from Portent sums up canonicalization as "having one address and only one address for one page of my web site."

If you can access your website via these two ways, you have two different canonical addresses:

  1. http://www.mywebsite.com
  2. http://mywebsite.com

This impacts your SEO and spawns duplicate content issues (diluting authority and links).

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8. Duplicate Content

Sometimes an unknown byproduct of improper canonicalization, other times an information architecture oversight. If you have the exact same content, in two different places of your site, remove one of those pages.

This typically isn’t an issue with smaller sites (if you have a single canonical address). With larger sites with thousands of pages, duplicate content is more likely to occur (and is a common SEO mistake)

More about Common SEO Issues:

Needs plenty of planning, web expertise (fix this quarter)

9. JavaScript Errors

Do drop down menus work intermittently? Are photo galleries difficult to navigate? Do subtle animations sometimes work? (think minor user interface effects, not “Flash intros”).

These are just a few possible signs that your website is laced with Javascript errors.

They not only create a choppy user experience, but could also prevent people from navigating to critical pages, viewing content and completing forms (more on Validation in #11 below).

Ouch.

10. Slow Loading Pages

The load speed of each individual page of your website is a critical “under the hood” component that search engines (and users) will take quick notice of.

If your website (or your website’s server) is dragging along, you could face a high bounce rate and low conversion-rate. This also impacts your SEO.

Use a free tool like Pingdom’s Website Speed Test to diagnose any issues and then roll up your sleeves.

11. No Form Validation

website-error-form-validation

The goal of form validation is to ensure users provide the necessary and properly formatted information to complete a conversion.

Proper validation will increase your chances of people completing forms faster and easier. Why not make this easy? It could be the difference maker in converting that anonymous visitor into a qualified lead.

12. Browser-specific errors

Though never viewed as the glamorous part of a web developer’s job, browser-specific errors are to building websites as bussing tables are to waitering. No one enjoys it, but it needs to be done.

(Thanks to Ponderosa Steakhouse, I can speak from experience here.)

If you’re constantly browsing your company’s site in Firefox, give it a shot in Chrome, Internet Explorer or Apple Safari. Observe how each browser will render your website differently, but be more on the lookout for elements that simply don’t work (e.g. menus don’t function, page layouts are dramatically skewed).

Also be sure to put these glaring browser differences in context by understanding browser statistics and trends and looking at your Analytics (e.g. IE might only represent 5% of your total traffic). If you’re feeling super geeky, use a tool like BrowserStack to get an accurate understanding of how your website functions in not only different browsers, but multiple versions of browsers.

It’ll Be Worth It

Don’t let the minor issues with your website turn into major ones. Be cognizant of these common ones and comfortable with the fact that improving and growing a website comes with some collateral damage.

Fix the small errors in the short-term and form a plan for the more difficult ones in the future.

I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

Art Williams

We help mid-sized B2B Technology companies generate qualified leads and improve sales efficiency.

16

Years in business

50%

Minimum growth in quality leads our clients see after an engagement

200+

Websites we've created, supported, or consulted over the last decade

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