There are at least a million ways to design a solar website today, and there are probably just as many ways to turn that expensive investment into useless cyber real estate. In this post, we’ll discuss seven common mistakes that drive away visitors.
Given the billion websites in the world, someone arriving on your site is almost a solar marketing miracle. Sadly, it’s what happens after customers get to your site that will make your solar website a lead magnet…or a waste of time and money.
Before I get into the seven mistakes, let’s remind ourselves of the ultimate raison d’etre for having a website: To make the person cruising the interwebs to stop their never ending search for the perfect solar product/service/price and decide that you are the one to contact.
Many of the issues below apply to all sectors, from solar PV manufacturers, to residential installers, to EPCs, BOS, etc. They just manifest themselves in different ways. With that in mind, here are 7 ways your solar website is stopping your visitors from contacting you (and driving customers to competitors).
#1 You Don't Have a FAQs Page
There’s a reason they’re called Frequently Asked Questions. I wrote a blog post about this earlier this year. If you didn’t read it then, read it now.
#2 Not Enough Information About Your Solar Product or Service
Related to #1, but not. People Google “solar yada, yada, yada” because they're looking for something: More information on a solar whatever. In fact, there are certain key search terms for your product and service that people Google all the time. Forget buying Google Adwords. Instead, just provide the answers to those search terms on your website somewhere: In a blog, FAQ, or “about solar,” or product pages. Of course, SEO service providers can help too, but providing relevant website content can be just as effective.
#3 Too Much Solar Information
As much as I see too little information on some websites, I also see way too much. We live in a short-attention span world in 2012. While I love to see solar websites with useful info, it’s a mistake to overwhelm the visitor. Provide succinct information about common topics, but don’t write a book. For longer answers and more complex topics, write a blog post and link to it with a “read more.” Or, have a solar education page, or have a PDF linked to the brief product description. And don't forget a brief 3-4 minute video. The Web is becoming more and more visual. Is your website?
#4 Confusing Website Navigation with a Internal Bad Search Engine
There is a whole subset to website design called “User Interface” or “UI,” and it's very specialized. But here, I’m talking about basic navigation. Nothing attracts readers to delve into your website like a great, simple design with drop-down menus at the top. If you'd rather drive visitors away and make them frustrated, design lots and lots of confusing navigation options with far too many sub-page levels. Make it difficult to find that page they were reading a few minutes earlier. Also, don’t provide an effective and visible search box on every page or provide a site map. You wouldn’t want the visitor to quickly find exactly what they’re looking for. ...Seriously, you can do better than this. Or at least, your web designer can.
#5 Invasive and Annoying Pop-ups! Please Don’t.
So, finally a person visits your site in search of useful solar service or product information. And what’s the first thing you do? You blast them with a pop-up that blocks the information they were in the middle of reading and you demand an email address and other contact information. This is the equivalent of walking into a store to browse and having a clerk block your path and eagerly ask if he can call or email you some time. People may click these pop-ups away and return to what they were reading, but then isn't it a waste of time and an annoyance? It’s another excuse for a visitor to not trust your brand and to go back to Google.
#6 Having Old Solar Information/Seminars/White Papers/Price Sheets
It’s great that you had a webinar series in 2010. Nice. But we're halfway through 2012 now, and man, are things different than in 2010. Don’t get me started. The point is that some solar information on your website is evergreen (no pun intended), and that’s wonderful. Keep that content. But if you’ve got white papers that are over a year old, visitors may think you’re out of touch, and they’d be right to seek a business that is more in touch and go back to Google. If you can, update or replace the content and remove any "call to action" that says to register for a webinar that took place two years ago.
#7 Keep Your Blog Updated Regularly
Related to #6, but if you’re going to have a blog and all of the wonders of organic search engine optimization (SEO) that it brings, then be consistent. Write at least one blog post a week. Visiting a barely updated blog is like visiting a ghost town. It’s a bit creepy and scares people away. Visitors may wonder if you’re still in business or at least scoff at your half-hearted attempt at a blog. On the other hand, a vibrant, consistent blog with useful information and/or solar thought leadership makes your company look like a thriving solar business and a trusted solar expert. So, make the time and keep posting.
With the exception of navigation and design, all of these mistakes are easy to correct and inexpensive. What’s mainly required is time and a little thought. And that’s why fixing these issues is another way…to UnThink Solar.
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.