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5 critical website issues that can harm your brand reputation

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Public Relations

It’s hard to know who’s worth your while on the internet. Everyone presents themselves in the best light online, so you have to come to a conclusion based on the little information you have. This is what the decision-making process looks like from the perspective of your customers. 

The first step in their research is your website, and if they notice any trouble here, they won’t even bother looking further. In fact, even small website issues can indicate larger problems in your organization (or it may seem so from the customer’s perspective).

To avoid turning this into a major problem, here are five such issues that you should work on. 

website issues

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1. Lack of security and compliance

First of all, the use of HTTPS protocol is no longer optional. In the past, using HTTPS over standard HTTP was a nice bonus. Today, using HTTP is not even an option unless you want to be seen as sketchy from the very start.

Investing in security is vital, but you need to understand that your audience’s mistrust isn’t tied just to the protocol. The online audience is data-savvy, and they’re aware that you’re collecting data (every site is). What they’re concerned about is what happens next. 

Disclose why you’re collecting data, address how you’re using it, and inform your audience how they can retract their approval. This will also ensure that you start off on the right foot. 

You need to start by ensuring you’re on the right side of the law. This means figuring out the jurisdiction that you fall under and making sure you do everything by the law. 

Just keep in mind that some regulations like GDPR and CCPA extend even to those who do business outside of the EU or California (respectively), as long as they have customers in these regions. Seeing as how these two are major economic hubs, almost everyone (except for businesses with the smallest local presence), will qualify here.

Now, checking where you fall under and whether you qualify is an arduous task… when done by hand. Fortunately, you can easily download a tool or use a website compliance checklist for CCPA or any other regulation. This reduces the margin of error and gives you a far higher rate of reliability.

If you’re transparent and guarantee that you’re doing everything in compliance with regulations, as well as assure your audience that you’re using all the necessary cybersecurity protocols, you’ll inspire confidence right away.  

2. Slow loading time

The 2024 online audience is not renowned for its attention span and patience. In fact, the majority of them might lead if your site takes more than two seconds to load. This is a massive audience dip, and it’s more than justified. After all, you have all the tools to make your site load faster.

A slow loading speed will also send a powerful message about your organization’s inefficiency. It will suggest that you’re not fully committed to its efficiency. After all, this is their first contact with your organization, and a first contact is hard to shake off.

Slow loading time won’t drive everyone away, but even those who stay will have a diminished user experience, which can affect your brand in several ways. They’ll remember a visit to your site as unpleasant, won’t be as willing to share your content on social media, and are very unlikely to return, which is unfortunate, seeing as how-to return visits are so important. 

A slow loading time will also dissuade your audience from spending more time on your site. Now, this sounds a bit ironic, considering that they have to stay longer to see the same amount of content (since it takes more to load). In practice, however, it won’t work this way. Seeing as how the previous three pages took forever to load, they’ll just leave before clicking on the next one. This reduces your average visit duration and the average number of pages visited. 

A site is sometimes slow due to its unoptimized code. Revising it also gives you a chance to improve it from the standpoint of cybersecurity. So, while you’re at it, you can scan PHP code for vulnerabilities, as well. 

3. Complicated navigation

Previously, we’ve discussed user experience, and the importance of this factor is something we cannot stress enough. You see, complex navigation, not understanding where to go next, and similar scenarios will definitely increase user frustration. This affects them subconsciously, and when they have a negative impression of your business, they might not want to recommend you or even interact with your content.

A complex navigation can ruin your engagement rate and your conversion rate. Why? Well, you can’t convert if you can’t find the product you need. You can’t convert if you can’t find the blog. Ultimately, you cannot convert if you can’t find the CTA button. 

Complex navigation will also increase your bounce rate. Just think about a scenario where a person enters the site, has no idea where to click next, and just leaves. It’s a very likely scenario and one that will hurt your brand immensely.

With so many competitors out there, no one is getting a second chance (almost no one). This means that you need to be quick and allow your users to act on impulse. The site has to be intuitive, and users need to be able to follow the thread without slowing down. This will do wonders for your conversion rate, and it all comes to design and site architecture. 

If your site is not intuitive, this will create a scenario where some users simply navigate it better than others. This means that you’ll have inconsistent user experience across the board, and consistency is the key to building a strong brand. 

4. Poor on-site SEO

Then, there’s the issue of poor on-site SEO. You see, SEO is about more than just link building. It’s a process that also requires that your site is technically sound. Practices like keyword stuffing will lower the quality of your content, but it will also raise some red flags with the search engine, and your rank will dip.

Remember that your SEO is your online reputation. People see that you’re ranking first, and they automatically respect you more. They see that your content is ranking well, and they expect it to be written of high quality and be more trustworthy.

Even though they don’t know how the algorithm works, people know it exists, and they trust it. The lower you rank, the worse it looks for your brand. 

The lack of title tags and meta descriptions will also lower your rank, but it will also make your content less appealing to the audience. This is like if your YouTube video had no thumbnail. Would people still click on it? Possibly, but nowhere near the number. After all, they can’t get informed on what’s behind the link before they click.

Broken links will ruin your SEO rank and just make it look like your site has no maintenance whatsoever. This means that you’re not trying hard enough and almost creates an impression that you don’t even care. 

Finally, you need to keep in mind that the majority of your visitors probably come from mobile devices. This is why optimizing for mobile (or even going mobile-first) is always a sensible choice. 

5. Poor content quality

Low-quality content will create an impression that you’re either not trying or that you don’t have competent content creators on your team. In the best-case scenario, you’ll be seen as someone who doesn’t want to spend enough money for the production of the quality content that their audience deserves. 

Poor content quality will also increase your bounce rate. They start reading, see that it’s not worth their time, and just leave. Not only that, but it will make them remember this negative interaction and make them never want to come back. The worst part is the consistency with this decision. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and they won’t come back. 

Other than this, no one will share your content, and you’ll consistently get negative reviews and feedback. People talk, and if you engage in social media listening, you’ll quickly learn that the talk surrounding your content (and brand) has gone sour. 

Even if your content started out strong, after you start rolling out poor content, your audience will quickly abandon you. There are no loyalties in the world of content marketing, and just because they were impressed with some of your earlier works doesn’t mean that they’ll stay loyal forever. 

The state of your website is indicative of your entire organization

People assume, and they make conclusions. If your site is slow, they expect you to be slow. If it’s disorganized, they assume that you’ll be disorganized. Still, you don’t have to analyze things this deeply. People are just impatient and won’t wait forever for your site to load or give you several chances after you let them down the first few times. So, to improve your brand image, you need to start improving your website.

Srdjan Gombar
Srdjan Gombar is a veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.

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