If you’re here, there’s a high likelihood your site is not doing so great and it may be time for a website redesign.
Are you finding your site’s visitors are leaving pretty soon after they arrive (bouncing)?
Wondering how long users usually stay on a website before clicking away?
Luckily, there’s been a truckload of research done on this.
You have 15 seconds to grab a visitor's interest on your website. That's not load-time, that is 15 seconds of eye-ball time while the user decides if your site is going to provide what they are looking for. That’s not a lot of time to convey your awesomeness.
Yep, you read that right – 15 seconds. I’ve had sneezing fits that have lasted longer.
You need to grab that visitor’s interest long enough so they can decide to call you, email you or spend time on your site getting to know you.
But, how do you do that?
Let’s face it when searching the web, we all judge a book by its cover. We are busy and make split-second decisions on “is this for me, is it worth my time?”
Our BS meters are finely tuned. If we can’t quickly scan the site to see if our time will be well spent, we bounce.
A website needs to convey your key message quickly. It needs to boost your credibility. It needs to look good. It needs to function. It needs to say how the company can solve the visitors’ problems.
Some people think they have to have a website but it shouldn't be more than a glorified brochure… “Hello 1998, it's 2019 and your website needs to do more than look pretty. It's your brand ambassador, your storyteller, your digital HQ, your recruiter, your 24/7 salesperson … ” Websites have a much bigger job to do today than ever before.
Does your site do its job well? Should you fire your website or does it just need an updated job description and a bit of branding rehab?
Here are the 7 most common website mistakes that make visitors run for the hills.
1. Your site is a confusing mess.
By trying to say everything all at once, you end up saying nothing at all.
A cluttered website is like a slap in the face to a casual visitor.
How can they know who you are or what you do if they have 3 pop-ups to exit, a 4,000-word essay to read and 17 sales banners to decipher?
This ain’t no scavenger hunt. Give the people what they want!
- What do you do and for whom? Am I in the right place?
- What problem can you solve?
- Where are you located and how can I contact you?
- Are you credible?
- Is your site full of things screaming for my attention that nothing stands out and I’m exhausted just looking at the homepage?
If your site is a confusing mess, this is a symptom of bigger problems.
Simplify. Organize. Cut out the crap.
Your site’s visitors will thank you.
2. Your site doesn’t tell me what you do quickly and is void of personality
I visit so many sites that look pretty but say nothing. I have no idea what they do besides belong to a category trying to be everything to everyone.
I get it, the C-suite doesn’t like to leave money on the table, but that leaves me having to hunt around to see if my problems fit into your “solutions”.
Prospects usually aren’t looking for a general practitioner, they are looking for someone who specializes in solving problems they have.
Here’s the thing, people have something they want and don’t have or have something they don’t want. That is what they are focused on.
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Can I get a sense of who you are?
- Why you over the competition?
- Is there something special about your company like a category expertise that I need to weigh in my decision?
- Are you more than a commodity that I judge on price?
- What should I remember about your company if anything?
- Do you look and feel credible? Will I lose my job if I suggest hiring/buying from you?
Your business can have the best customer service in the world but if your website is bland and boring, new customers simply won’t stick around to get to know you.
If you just copied your competitors (it must work if they’re doing it, right?), prospects will think you’re generic and just like everyone else.
Well, you and I know that’s not true, but to keep your company successful in the long term, you’re gonna need a lot more than one or two brand champions.
Your website is an extension of your company’s personality – make sure it’s selling you. You’re unique, show it.
3. Outdated content and an inconsistent blog
Have you ever visited a website and seen it hasn’t been updated in the last five years?
What do you think about the company that owns it?
Oh, wow! They must be so busy they don’t have time to update their website!
Or, do you think:
Holy crap, are these guys even in business anymore?
Now, think about what a prospect thinks when they visit your out-of-date site.
They don’t see your team is rushed off their feet fulfilling sales, finishing RFPs or tending to customer queries. No, they just see a blog that was updated three times in January 2013, then once in March 2015. They see your certifications aren’t valid anymore.
So, what do they do? They head over to someone who keeps their website up-to-date and in-touch with their needs.
Outdated doesn’t always mean stale content, it can be the look and feel of the site. We all know what modern sites look like and we also know when we stumble upon sites that feel vintage, and not in a good way.
One of the cornerstones of credibility is consistency.
Keep your website updated regularly, with relevant content to your customers.
Always remember that the effort you put in determines the results you get out. Bad content will turn visitors away just like bad or outdated design will.
This also includes watered-down messaging. Try to avoid using generic statements that anyone, anywhere could use to describe their business.
Pro tip: Talk to your customers about their needs and how you can help them. They don’t care about you. They care about themselves and the problems you can solve for them.
4. You got issues! Technical issues, that is.
One of the most common reasons people leave a website is: it just doesn’t work.
If it doesn’t load quickly, they leave. If your contact form doesn’t work, they’ll leave. Links don’t work? They’ll leave. Videos won’t play? They’ve already left.
People are used to getting what they want, immediately. If they don’t, they’ll go find it somewhere else.
A good website loads in under 3 seconds. People get frustrated and bored otherwise. An easy way to test your site’s loading speed is by typing your URL into tools.pingdom’s online tool.
You might not know if your site works or not – one simple solution. Use it. Try using your website on the office computer. Use it on your cell phone, use it on your iPad. Make a note of anything that doesn’t work as it should and get it fixed ASAP.
5. Unbranded email addresses
Nothing says small fry like an unbranded email address. Not sure what we mean? Consider these two email addresses:
Which one says, ‘I’m a part of an established, trustworthy, reliable construction company’ and which one says, ‘I set this up in 5 minutes, 15 years ago and I’ll probably give your project the same amount of brainpower if you hire me’.
Get professional emails set up.
We use and recommend Google GSuite for managing company email. We have a great reseller resource we love that will help you set it up for the same cost as going direct.
6. Your site is full of “borrowed” content
One of the cardinal sins of the web is plagiarism. The Google KNOWS!
Not only is copying another site’s content punished by Google (yeah, if you want to come up on their search results, you need original content), but it’s also going to look bad to a prospect visiting your site.
I had a well-meaning client who had a 180+ page site that was full of “borrowed” content. He didn’t realize how devastating this was to his rankings and how obvious it was to anyone reading the site with all the inconsistency in voice, tone, and personality. Don’t Frankenstein your website content!
You can get out of the Google-doghouse by redesigning your site and filling it with custom content. This will make a huge difference in your website rankings.
Think about it – if your prospect is looking you up, they’re most likely looking up your competitor too. If they see you’re both using the same text or the same photos, they’re going to know something’s up. Who will they choose? They might not know who has copied who, so they’ll probably go for the third option – a company that has kick-ass original content that speaks to them directly.
Copied content hurts your rankings, even if the original text is listed on the 1st page of Google. One can't simply copy content from winning sites and expect it to fast-track site rankings, it will blow up in your face.
Another issue with copying someone else’s work is you are copying their surface tactics, not the multitude of things that make up their strategy hidden underneath. You’re going to miss the key concept behind their methods – which means you’ll miss out on the benefits of it too.
Don’t waste your energy copying someone else, be inspired but carve out your own path instead. We can help you with our team of writers. You bring your expertise and we bring the wordsmithing.
7. Your site doesn’t tell people what to do next
We’re not talking about being bossy, we’re talking about creating a clear user pathway. You have to tell your site’s visitors what to do next.
In the web design world, we call this the call-to-action (CTA). Your call-to-action might be ‘book in for a consultation’, ‘get in touch’, ‘buy now’, ‘find out more’, or ‘download this’.
You can’t make the sale if you don’t ask for the sale!
You can’t make a connection if you don’t ask for them to take the next step.
Make the most of your prospect’s attention – make sure every page, every blog post, every brochure you have includes a clear, compelling and relevant call-to-action that'll encourage your prospects to take action.
Talking of a clear call-to-action at the end your blog post – here’s ours:
Here at Branding & Beyond, we do more than just build great websites.
We help you find the brand essence of what makes your company great, clean it up and formulate it into a clear brand foundation.
Once you’ve got a strong brand foundation, you can take on your competitors and dominate the market.
Give us a call (512 670-7770) right now and let’s solve your website problems together.
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Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond
Tracy and her team help firms in and around the B2B building trades look and sound credible online and off.
She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of seeing fantastic firms struggle, blend in, and get bypassed by prospects who judge them solely on the outdated information found online.
Branding & Beyond's mission is to solve real business problems and build the brand foundation clients need to get noticed and hired.
You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.