You know what should be including – product information, pricing (if applicable), contact details etc, but are you as confident about the things you shouldn’t be publishing? It might be worth taking a look through the list below and just checking that you’re not doing any of the following:
Your private contact information. Maintain a dedicated business line and email address.
Usernames or passwords. Some small businesses have a place online that they think isn’t public, where they post all their instructions for accessing online accounts, but this really isn’t a good idea because you’re vulnerable to hackers.
Detailed contact information for your employees. This one is arguable – you might want your customers to know who’s in your team to create a warm, friendly company ‘face’, but it can make it easier for recruiters to poach your staff and for your competitors to gain more information on your company.
Anything long enough for a book. A website is a source of information true, but your visitors don’t have time to read an epic, they want nuggets rather than a complete mine.
Any information or images you don’t own or don’t have permission to use. This includes other people’s names and information about them that is being posted without their permission.
Invisible text or any other SEO tricks. Don’t try to trick search engines by posting invisible text, exchanging links with sites that are not relevant to your industry, or beefing your content inappropriately with keywords. Search engines spot these tricks and may exclude your site altogether.
Case studies with confidential information. Always, always double and triple-check any customer case study or quote before publishing.
Unchecked comments from strangers. Never allow anyone complete access to post comments on your site – a disgruntled customer could post a negative or malicious comment on your site. Even if you remove the message quickly, it could cost you a sale. You should require your respondents to register, and you should regularly monitor what they are saying in the discussion forums.
Information that’s incomplete or difficult to access. Your visitors want accurate information that is useful to them. Incomplete (eg no pricing, no info on how to buy) or hard-to-find data will very quickly frustrate people and turn them elsewhere.
Data that isn’t relevant to your business. This can confuse potential customers who may not get a clear idea of what your business is all about.
An ‘under construction’ page. It’s not better to have something up than nothing if visitors to your site can’t access key portions of your company information – it’s unprofessional, and can imply that you’re not quite ready for customers yet.
Anything that you don’t want the world to see. Say you post something about how your product is better than a competitor’s – in a year’s time you might want to develop a business partnership with that company.
For more on what to avoid, take a look at ‘Mistakes to avoid when setting up a website’.