As you’ve read (a few times before!) your website is your shop window. It’s where prospective clients decide whether you’re the right adviser/planner for them.
That means you need to get it right.
Unfortunately, we’ve recently seen a few websites making basic mistakes with how they link out to other websites (known as outbound links). So, in this week’s blog, we thought we’d highlight some of the issues and explain how to fix them.
First things first, though, what are the consequences of using links incorrectly?
Mistakes cause frustration and lower return on investment
Used correctly, links out to other sites can be useful to your website visitor.
However, the mistakes we explain later in this blog:
- Will leave people who click them feeling frustrated
- Look unprofessional, potentially undermining a prospect’s confidence in you and your business
- Could push your prospect into the arms of a competitor, reducing your return on investment.
Not great, right? Especially when they are so easy to fix.
So, here are the six mistakes we see advisers/planners make with links on their websites.
Mistake #1: Broken links
It’s no surprise that we start here.
Broken links, which take the visitor to a page that doesn’t exist (even though it might have in the past) will frustrate your visitor and make you look unprofessional.
They can occur for a variety of reasons:
- The link might be incorrectly added in the first place
- The site you’re linking to has removed the page or changed their URL structure
- There’s a problem with the site you’re linking to that’s out of your control
- You make an update to your website, which causes an issue with the link.
When you first add a link to your website, check that it works.
It sounds obvious, but many of us will have hurriedly added a link to a site without actually checking that it works. Next, review every page on your website to create a list of outbound links. Then, check them regularly to make sure they’re still working.
All very simple and sensible.
Mistake #2: Outbound links opening a website in the same window
Many websites include outbound links that open the new website in the same browser window. In other words, the visitor is taken away from your website to another site.
That means the visitor is no longer on your website, with no guarantee that they will return if they become distracted by the website you’ve linked to. As you’ll discover as you read on, the issue of distraction is particularly problematic when it comes to directory websites and social media.
Again, it’s a simple solution.
Ensure that all outbound links to a third-party website open in a separate window. You can usually do this by simply ticking a box when you add the link to a page. If you don’t have this option, contact your web developer, as there’s usually a simple solution.
Mistake #3: Linking out to Unbiased
We’ve seen several advisers/planners including a link on their website to their Unbiased profile, or even worse, the Unbiased homepage.
Why would you do that?!
You’ve worked hard to attract a prospect to your website, only to send them to a directory that proudly boasts of listing more than “27,000 experts”. Doing it means you’re literally pushing potential clients into the arms of competitors.
This is really simple: don’t do it!
Don’t link out to your Unbiased profile.
Don’t link out to the Unbiased homepage.
There’s one possible exception to that rule: if you have a section on your site that explains who you don’t work with, linking out to Unbiased could be a way of signposting visitors to a place where they can get the help they need.
That exception aside, don’t link your website to Unbiased or, indeed, any other directory, such as MoneyHelper.
Mistake #4: Linking to VouchedFor instead of using the widget
We love VouchedFor and regularly recommend firms use it, alongside Google, to collect online reviews.
Those reviews should then be displayed on your website.
But many firms do it in the wrong way, displaying a VouchedFor image, logo, or badge and then linking out to their VouchedFor profile. Again, that means you’re pushing your prospective client to a site where they can find countless other advisers/planners.
Again, it’s a simple fix: use the code that VouchedFor provides to embed the review widget on your website. This means that instead of linking out to their site, you get a pop-up displaying the reviews.
Your website visitor (who could be a prospective client) will get to read your reviews but will never leave your website. Once they’re done, they can simply close the pop-up and continue to browse your site.
You can see an example of how this works on the Smith & Wardle website (which, ahem, we developed and subsequently won Best Adviser Website in the 2021 Professional Adviser Awards for), if you scroll down until you see the VouchedFor logo.
Mistake #5: Not linking out correctly to the FCA Register
It’s no secret that trust in the financial services profession could be improved and, with the proliferation of scams, it’s important that potential clients understand that you are regulated by the FCA.
To achieve that, we recommend linking your website to the FCA Register.
However, some firms only link to the main register page. That could lead to frustration as your prospective client navigates the complexities of the register to find your listing.
Link to your firm’s page on the register and remember to make sure that the link opens in a separate window.
Mistake #6: Prominently linking to social media profiles
Social media can be a great way of driving traffic to your website. Ideally, though, it should be a one-way street. So, when someone is on your website, you want them to be taking a call to action, rather than visiting your social media accounts.
Because if they click a link from your website to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Insta (yeah, I’m down with the kids), there’s a good chance they’ll be distracted by their notifications.
Once they’ve started looking at those, reading messages and interacting with connections, the chances of them returning to your account, let alone your website, are slim.
Try not to display social media logos and links too prominently on your website. The site’s footer is the ideal place to put them. Certainly not the top right-hand corner of the site, which should be saved for your key calls to action.
Review your site and fix the issues
We like to make our blogs practical, and this week’s is no exception.
Now’s the time to pull up your website, and work through this blog, checking if any of the issues we’ve highlighted apply to you.
Then, if you need help fixing them, email email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300.