Imagine yourself landing on a website that you never heard of. What are the first things you do? What information will you look for? And how long will you likely stay? And what are the deal breakers that will make you to never come back?
I was asking these questions in the past couple of months and here are the most common answers from my clients and followers.
“Biggest mistake is not learning more about SEO.”
“I haven’t been consistent on my website. I mean I haven’t made new blog posts since November!”
“For me is not updating it as often as I should”
“Not making it easy or encourage people to contact me.”
“Having a blog and never posting in.”
These people made it crystal clear. The biggest mistakes that are really hurting your site performance have often nothing to do with what font you selected or what icons did you use for your social media links. The biggest mistakes have everything to do with the overall user experience.
Which is why I put together this detailed list of things that can harm your traffic, profit, and credibility as well.
1. Don’t fail the “Introduction Test”
The first introduction with your website homepage matters.
Actually, you have only a few precious seconds to explain WHO, WHAT AND HOW to the viewer. Because clicking the arrow back is very tempting. I mean it is right there!
Your website introduction content needs to be compelling. You need to be really clear about WHO you are, WHAT you do, and HOW you can help your audience.
Hit their pain point right there. And be a little bit creative about it too!
Let me give you an example:
Option 1: I am an Instagram strategist who can help you increase your follower’s number.
Option 2: You know the feeling when you’re pulling your hair out trying to figure out how the Instagram algorithm works? I am an Instagram strategist that can not only explain the ins and outs of this magical platform but who can also help you gain real followers for your business.
Do you see the difference?
2. Stop distracting them!
We are living in a world where people are super busy and nobody has a second to spare. Your visitors included. Most of them come to your website with a purpose whether they know it or not.
Even the ones that don’t know you yet are already looking for something.
Whatever it is, they need to be able to achieve their goal quickly and easily. Otherwise, they’ll abandon the site and look elsewhere.
Stop overwhelming your visitors. Too many colors, too many menu links, too many things in the blog sidebar, long texts blocks…do you seriously expect people to stick around and spend their precious time digging into the mess?
- Streamline your content.
It should be easy to find and look cohesive to the rest of your brand and website.
- Remember, less is more!
Especially if we’re talking about texts. Use headlines, bullets, and paragraphs. Make the most important content the most visible one. Because if everything is visible, then nothing can be really seen.
- Use popup windows with care.
This is one of the most annoying things these days, so use them only if you know people will really be interested in what you offer. And once they close it, pleeease don’t show it again for some time
- Clean the navigation links.
And make sure you let them know hot to contact you right away.
3. Start using Call to Actions (CTA)
This one is actually a little funny. I mean you are building a website where you present all the great things you can offer…and then you kind of forget to let visitors know what they should do on that particular website.
If I ask my clients what their website goal is, in most cases, I get a very generic answer. “I want to get more clients.” “I want to show my services.” “I want to sell my products” or “I want to teach others what I know.”
And even though there is nothing wrong with these statements, they’ll only tell you WHAT the website is supposed to do in the long term. However, what you really need to know is HOW exactly should your website achieve these goals.
In particular, you need to think about the specific actions your web visitors should take. Like specifically. Do you want them to contact you? Sign up to your list? Or buy something? Well then tell them!
4. Your images should be on point.
We live in a very visual world full of infinite scrolls (Hello Pinterest) and drop dead gorgeous galleries (Hello Instagram). Which is why I believe that having consistent and creative images for your website is becoming more and more necessary.
After all, imagery is how you build your website’s aesthetic in the first place.
Images are the perfect opportunity to communicate with your potential customer. By using the right ones you can show them who you are and why they should trust you. They are also something that ultimately creates the overall visual feel of your site. That means they should be in your brand colors, and they should also be connected to the topic you talk about.
Let me give you an example. If you’re writing a blog post about home decorations, you won’t use images of puppies. Only if your pup is sitting on the chair you’re so passionately talking about in the post.
You can either hire a professional photographer, or you can also use stock images.
Oh, and don’t use these images only on your site. Add them to your social media, email, e-books etc. to create a cohesive brand image.
5. Check your mobile experience. Like now.
If you asked me 3 years ago what I think about responsive design, I would say that everyone will have a responsive website by the end of the year. That’s how big deal it is. And yet, even now in 2019 more than 40% of the website isn’t built to look good on mobile devices.
Another problem is the difference between “mobile-friendly” and “responsive.
Mobile friendly will function on smaller screens by fitting the exact PC layout to the smaller screen. That means you’ll be zooming a lot.
Responsive websites create a high-quality user experience on all devices by creating a new, user-friendly layout of the content or even removing some parts that would not work on small devices.
If you’re using CMS (like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix etc), make sure the theme you’re using is responsive. Not only that but make sure you can fix any possible responsivity issues, or even create different mobile version than the PC version. This is really important because:
- Mobile traffic as a share of total global online traffic in 2018 was 52.2%
- By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales.
- 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company.
- 61% of users are unlikely to return to a site on mobile if they had trouble accessing it and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead
In other words, if you know your mobile experience is lacking, start right there.
6. You need to work on the SEO…
Let me start with the uncomfortable truth bombs.
1. There is no magic formula that will get you to the first page of Google. Only hard work.
2. And either way, it won’t happen overnight. Not even in the next month.
Now when we have the formalities behind, let’s talk about the main reason people don’t care about their SEO. It is confusing. Too many things to do.
And the old tricks (like stuffing your website with keywords) are not useful anymore because the search engine algorithms are getting smarter and smarter.
And not being able to really see any results immediately is the most frustrating thing ever.
1. Focus on relevancy.
Stop using popular keywords and focus on more relevant ones called Long-Tail Keywords. People hardly put “kitchen” into the search engine. But they will write “How to renovate my kitchen” or “How much is a kitchen renovation”.
Do your research, here are a few useful tools that can help (I am personally using them in this particular order):
- Soovle – gives you keyword ideas from Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon and more. All in one place.
- Jaaxy – this one is a very powerful tool because not only it’ll show you many ideas in a matter of seconds, but it will also compare your chances of ranking #1 for each keyword!
- Google Analytics & Google Search Console
I am sorry to bring this one up as I know it is frustrating as hell, but you have to be consistent with content creation as well. It’s not only important for your SEO but for your audience as well. Start easy and focus on posting quality rather than quantity. That is a win-win for everybody.
3. Submit a sitemap file
This helps Google better understand how to crawl your site.
7. Fix The Broken Links.
You rename your pages/posts, you change your domain name, or you change the URL links of your products. But do you also make sure all these old links are properly redirected to the new ones?
If they’re not redirected, you most likely just lost a visitor. Many 404 error pages don’t provide any useful links or pointers for the viewer so they landed on the website they don’t know and on a page that does not exist.
What do you think happens next? They’ll leave. 🙁
1. Redirect. Redirect. Redirect. If you know that the content moved elsewhere, always set up 301 redirects so the user doesn’t even notice that some redirection happened.
2. Monitor them. You can monitor your broken links in Google Analytics, and if you use WordPress, you can also download a Broken Link Checker Plugin.
3. Design your 404 page so it gives the user important links to visit when the page really does no longer exist.
Analyze and Measure
Okay, I get it. Seeing the numbers can be a bit overwhelming. Or even frustrating, especially if you just started out.
But if you don’t know who visits your site, how often, from where, and where do they leave…well, then you simply don’t know. Which means you also can’t change anything. And if you do change something without knowing, then you have no way to measure the difference.
In other words, either you want your site to work for you, or you’re ok if it works against you. The choice is yours.