Even with a solid content marketing strategy, close attention to SEO, and solid website design, you can still fail to reach your audience.
There are a lot of pet peeves that users have that will instantly repel them from your site, regardless of the quality of the content or the amount of time you spent optimizing it. A few users may tolerate these mistakes if they're really hungry for your content, but by and large, these mistakes thwart your best marketing endeavors, causing you to lose potential customers and leads.
No one wants that.
Today we're going to take a look at some of the most common mistakes that should be avoided if you don't want to irritate your users.
Unclear Intentions, Purpose, and Next Steps
Your visitors should have a clear understanding of why your site exists, what product or service it offers, and who is offering it as soon as they land on your pages. If the user took enough time to click on your link, they expect to receive some sort of information that solves an issue they're having or satisfies the reason for clicking in the first place.
However, if that information isn't readily available once the page loads, they may give up and look elsewhere for solutions to their problems. The identity of your website needs to readily apparent, as does the types of information, products, and services provided on the website.
I think you'd be surprised just how important an About Us page is - especially for an ecommerce site. A good portion of visitors to an unknown brand's website will visit their About Us page prior to engaging/purchasing. It's part of the decision process. If your About Us page doesn't clearly explain who you are and what your business is about, expect to lose some sales/leads.
While we're not going to get into website design best practices, here are a few quick tips:
- Most websites nowadays have a logo in the upper left, and in most cases that logo is clickable to the home page.
- Most websites also have 'floating' navigation - meaning the nav bar stays at the top of your browser screen as you scroll through the page. This lets your visitors quickly find what they want without having to scroll back to the top of the page
- Speaking of navigation, the days of a left or right main navigation are gone. Don't do that.
- Make sure your font is large enough to read without requiring using the browser's zoom feature. Just because you can see small letters doesn't mean everyone can.
We've also written an article on Old School SEO practices that you should avoid nowadays.
Lastly, every page should have a clear next step. Your call to action needs to be obvious and easy to find. When writing a blog, you may actually want to start with the call to action first (what you want the reader to do when they're done reading your article) and work backwards from there. It makes the click even more obvious that way, because the content was created specifically for that task.
Slow Page Loading
We're spoiled little brats nowadays. We want our information, and we want it NOW!
"Nothing's worse than a slow loading website."
Certainly you've experienced this, and you probably even hit the BACK button at some point, giving up.
Google thought this was such an issue that a few years ago they made it part of their overall ranking algorithm. If your site loads slowly, you'll potentially see a decrease in top ranking on the search results.
It's that important.
To keep your site from being avoided at all costs, run a few random pages through the Page Speed Insights tool from Google. This tool will give you a score from zero to one hundred, and it will tell you what to fix if you didn't get that perfect score.
Look carefully on that tool, too, because they separate out desktop and mobile users - remember, your site needs to be mobile responsive and load quickly for those visitors, too.
Lastly, consider using Google's AMP and Facebook's Instant Articles (there are WordPress plugins for both) for your mobile visitors. These addons help your visitors get their information quicker because it strips down the extra HTML coding, removes pictures, and delivers just the content a lot quicker.
Unsolicited Video and Audio Content
Sometimes web administrators choose to incorporate video and audio content that plays automatically when a user visits a page.
By and large, auto-playing audio is a big no-no.
Most users don't like being assaulted and shocked by unexpected audio and video for several reasons. First of all, it can draw the attention of others in public places, which could result in a faux pas in quiet environments (on a subway, plane, or church, during a lecture, etc.).
The user's immediate reaction in these types of settings is to instantly close the browser. Other times, the unexpected content could lead to pierced ear drums if the volume was set too high. Though there may be a rare few exceptions, most people don't like unsolicited video and audio content – especially if it's an advertisement.
In most cases, when you embed a video there is a setting to keep the auto-audio to OFF.
Too Many Pop-Up Windows
Ad blockers are all the rage now. In fact, Google has reported that the next version of Chrome will have ad-blocking built in. Apple is doing similar things, and so are other popular Internet platforms. Anyone who has ever used the Internet knows how painful a flurry of pop-up ads are, and for that reason, many business owners refrain from monetizing their website's with third party advertising revenue.
But advertisements aren't the only kind of pop-ups that irritate users. Sometimes a digital marketing campaign can go too far in trying to be persistent with calls to action - especially if they're in the form of pop-up windows.
If you've ever seen a site that persistently asks you to enter your email address in a pop-up window, you know what I'm talking about. While one, or even two, attempts to get a visitor to join a mailing list may be acceptable, don't abuse these types of prompts. There's a difference between being persistent and being annoying. Also, I've visited some sites that abuse the use of their online tech support chat feature by using a mouse-over feature to spawn a new live chat window.
We prefer a simple CTA in the middle of the content (as you'll see shortly in this article) and another similar one in the right-hand sidebar. This is enough to get the reader's attention without being overbearing.
By the way - we use OptinMonster to create these cool-looking calls to action. Check them out here (aff)
Outdated Location Information
It's also extremely irritating to find the site you were looking for, only to discover that it's information is outdated. This is especially true of local searches when you are looking for contact information, the physical location of a brick and mortar location, store hours, and other similar information.
This is awful for local SEO, too. Did you know that in 2014, approximately 50% of mobile searches were issued with the intent of finding local results?
If you fail to update your website with the latest, most accurate information, some of your visitors may give up and search for another competitor. Make sure that your physical locations are easy to find, contact, and access, or you may lose customers to the competition.
If you have one location, put that on your Contact Us page. If you have more than one, perhaps in a retail-type situation, we recommend a Locations page that lists each one, and then individual pages for each location as well. See how Sunshine Drapery does theirs.
You'll also want to make sure your business information is correct in Google My Business. This is tied to Google's maps and can influence how your business shows up in the maps that sometimes appear in searches. Again, multiple locations need their own listings in this system.
General Ugliness and Repugnance
We humans are very visual creatures, and modern Internet users thrive on streaming video, high quality images, and aesthetically pleasing content. If your website is an assault upon your visitors' eyes, however, your conversion rate is going to take a beating. For these reasons, you need to strive to make sure that your website is attractive and easy on the eyes.
When in doubt, remember that less is more.
Even if you don't consider yourself to have an eye for color, you can still make a website that doesn't hurt your visitors eyes. Make sure that your background isn't an obnoxiously bright color, such as hot pink or yellow. Furthermore, make sure that you don't make your background an image or color that makes it nearly impossible to read your text and content.
Writing for the web is completely different than academic writing. In school, you were probably taught a few rules about paragraphs, such as how they are used to string together coherent thoughts and supporting statements to flesh out your message. But on the web, all the rules you learned in school about paragraphs are broken.
Paragraphs in web content need to be thoughtfully broken up into smaller bite-sized chunks to make it easier for your visitors' to digest. Paragraphs that are too long often dissuade people from reading them, make it easier for a visitor to lose their place, and make your content more difficult to skim. There isn't really a “magic number” of lines or sentences, but you can use intuition and good judgment to segment your text.
Take this article for instance - you'll rarely see a paragraph of more than three sentences. This is done purposely, as it makes the content 'seem' easier to consume.
Watch These Changes Boost Your Analytics & Sales
If your website has committed any of these digital marketing blunders, your conversion rate probably isn't anywhere near as optimized as it could be. Though some of these mistakes may seem small or insignificant, correcting these errors can lessen your bounce rate, which can even improve your rankings.
Correcting these small irritations can not only draw more traffic to your site (by decreasing your bounce rate), but even hold your audiences attention for a longer period of time, increase user engagement, and increase the average number of pages viewed per visitor.