Let’s be honest: getting traffic and readers to our websites is no easy task, especially in today’s fast-paced digital marketing scene. Marketers and webmasters are faced with frequent search engine algorithm updates, rising advertising costs and fierce competition on all fronts. The last thing you want to do is lose your precious traffic to common and easy-to-fix website mistakes.
I’ll be shedding some light on eight website turn-offs you can easily avoid. Keeping your site free of these common issues will help you retain and increase your readership and desired conversions.
Buzzwords and Jargon
The language you use is important. Buzzwords and jargon are two types of language that can kill the effectiveness of the content on your website. You may be tempted to use these because they sound impressive at first, but there is a critical flaw in both.
Jargon refers to complicated industry terms or language that people outside of that profession would find difficult to understand. I often find myself using lingo in my day to day life that makes perfect sense to me, but I forget that to others it may sound like, well, gibberish.
It’s not that you should treat your readers as if they’re simple-minded or unintelligent. It is about being as clear as you can so that you are able to connect with as large a percentage of your readership as possible. If people run into a bunch of technical terms they don’t understand, many of them will look elsewhere, and you’ll miss out on a sale, sign up or simply fail to convey your message effectively.
Buzzwords, on the other hand, make you sound gimmicky and dilute your readers’ trust in your content.
Generic Stock Photos
Just as important as the marketing message and the words you use on your website are the images you choose. Nothing can make more of an immediate impact on your readers than the images on your site. Grainy images, oversized pictures and copyright infringement are all bad, but that cheesy generic stock photo alongside your customer’s glowing review is the worst offender.
Picking the wrong photos not only looks bad, but they can also damage your reputation online. Your website is often the first impression people get of you, so it’s clearly something you cannot afford to neglect.
So what kind of photos should you be using? Well, every website and business is different, so you need to really think about the message you wish to portray. However, there are definitely some universal concepts that everyone can benefit from.
There are three categories of images you should be using on your website:
- Happy customer photos
- Metaphor images
- Ambient images
Happy customer photos are effective because it’s been proven that images of happy people are more attention-grabbing than any other type of image. Show your customers after they have used a product or have worked with you to attract more customers.
The next type of photo is the metaphor image. The previous category was about showing a customer’s transformation, and type of image is used to illustrate an idea. An example of this would be a photo of someone who has just finished climbing a mountain when talking about the success that you get for your clients. You don’t always need to call too much attention to the metaphor, and most of the time being subtle is key. Finally, ambient photos are a great way to add texture and color to your site. An example could be landscapes, patterns or even a skyline. Use these sensibly, of course, without being overbearing.
No Answers to Basic Questions
Hopefully, you’ve been tracking your website’s analytics and can see that most of your traffic is coming from organic search. This means that your reader typed a question into a search engine and clicked on your link. Awesome, right?
Well, if they start reading your content and see that their search query was not even addressed, let alone answered, then they will usually just leave, causing your bounce rate to increase. Search engine algorithms don’t like that, so it becomes less likely that your site will be the one people visit when they ask the same question. Try to answer your reader’s main question within the first paragraph in order to show that your article is relevant to the original search query you are trying to rank for.
There is nothing worse than reaching a 404 error page when looking for information online. What’s the first thing that comes to mind after reaching that page?
“This site must be old.”
“The content must be outdated.”
It makes your site seem unreliable, untrustworthy and just plain old undesirable. Broken links are not just a nuisance to your readers but actually hurt your rankings in search engines.
Use a free broken link checker tool to identify and fix broken links and maintain your site’s link integrity.
So you planned out your website content and have been consistent for the past year or two. However, you haven’t edited or updated any of the content since it was published. This is a very common mistake that many website owners fall into without even thinking of.
Readers are put off instantly if they sense that the information they are reading is outdated or possibly incorrect. They may even question whether you still regularly update your site or not.
A quick tip for writing timeless content includes rewriting sentences to make them sound relevant for years to come. For example, “we were established in 2010” can be used as opposed to “we were established 10 years ago.”
Slow Page Load Speed
According to Google, the average mobile website takes seven seconds to load. This might not sound like much, but when you couple this with another study that shows that after three seconds of loading, a website will lose up to 40% of readers, you’ll see that a seven-second loading time is actually a big deal. If you are paying for traffic and losing potential customers before they even get to see your offer, you definitely need to improve your loading times.
Slow page load speed can be caused by a variety of things, from bad website hosting, heavy themes, and excessively large images. To deal with this issue, try to shop around for faster hosting providers, compress images appropriately, and keep your site lean by using only the necessary plug-ins and external scripts.
You see pop-ups all over the web, and I bet you hate them too, but if done in the correct way, they can actually increase conversions on your site. The reason you see pop-ups everywhere is that they work. A lot of successful sites use pop-ups in the form of exit-intent promotions.
What you shouldn’t do is set the pop-up to appear as soon as the reader loads the page, as this can be seen as spammy or annoying. Wait at least 20 to 30 seconds, or even better, until they are about to exit the page.
Not Built for Mobile
Last but not least, a common mistake that’s easy to avoid is unresponsive mobile design. Having a website that is not built for mobile is a surefire way to lose up to half of your traffic. In a recent study by Statista, it was revealed that more than 52% of global website traffic from 2018 to 2019 was through mobile devices. It’s clear that catering to mobile traffic cannot just be an afterthought but should be part of your main design plan.
In 2018, Google released an update that penalized websites that had unresponsive mobile website designs. The update actually stated that it will be rolling out mobile-first indexing, meaning that you will not only lose design optimization but also search engine rankings.
Online marketing and running a website can be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding. You should always keep your readers in mind when designing your website layout and content.
Ask yourself these important questions about your users’ experience:
- Have I answered my readers’ main query?
- Have I gone above and beyond with its delivery?
- Will my reader notice the effort I’ve made to help my website stands out from the competition?
Keeping these core questions at the forefront of design and content creation will enable you to actually bring value to others and in return, you’ll increase your conversions.