I am a big believer in strategy and content marketing. I believe you can meet goals, build an audience and make money with content marketing. However, if the presentation of your content marketing, on your website, is bad than you have wasted your time and money.
Sadly, there a many horrible websites out there today and I am going to break down two common problems that I see and hope that businesses can keep an open mind and evaluate the effectiveness of their website.
1. Ineffective Home Page
Your home page is critically important! It is often the first thing visitors see and you have just a few seconds to grab and hold the attention of new visitors. This means you need an attractive website with content that tells them what they need to know quickly. Also, keep in mind that website visitors will not work hard to find what they are looking for. If your site is difficult to use they will leave and the fantastic content you have created will never be seen.
Here are 4 common problems I see with website home pages:
- No one knows what the site is offering – Your business name and philosophies are not enough for a potential new client/customer to understand what exactly it is that you offer. Spell it out quickly.
- Ugly/choppy design – Users can’t figure out where to look or how to use the site. A home page shouldn’t be confusing or unattractive. It should exude professionalism and have an easy flow for the visitor. Everything should be “obvious.” I use the term “idiot proof,” make everything on your site idiot proof. Remember, visitors will not work hard.
- Funky navigation – All navigation provided should be easy to use, easy to find, and should not require testing from the user to determine how the site works.
- Lack of focus – All websites, before creation, should have goals in place to meet the needs of the website visitor and meet the goals of the businesses. I think most people have websites because they want to make more money, but their home page screams something else. Focus on what is important. How great your business is doesn’t matter, what you do and offer does.
2. Bad Design and Layout
The bottom line is you get what you pay for. If you pay for a cheap site then odds are you will most likely not have a design that is professional and/or the coding will look like Satan played a joke on you.
Let me make this very clear, good coding is critical for an abundant of reasons. A priority should be that the search engines can easily crawl your site and see what it is that you want them to see for indexing and ranking purposes. You have to pay good money for a good website if you want a successful presence online.
The layout of the entire site and individual pages is important. You have to please multiple audiences and meet their needs. Page layouts are designed to help the audience find what they need while also displaying content that is focused on converting multiple audiences so your business can make a sale.
Some common problems I see with design and layout:
- Site doesn’t load fast enough – How fast or slow your site loads for users is really important to Google and it should be for you as well. People don’t wait for slow sites to load. Slowness can be caused by multiple things. Test your speed here.
- Site doesn’t work on mobile devices – If your website doesn’t work on mobile devices (which includes tablets) you are up a creek without a paddle. Get this fixed ASAP. At SMX Advanced, June 2013, I sat in a conference and listened to Google’s Matt Cutts flat out say that a site will not be penalized for not working well on mobile, but the sites that do work well will have higher rankings than those that don’t.
- Visitors don’t know what to do next –Your design and layout should influence what a user does next. If they look at service “A” would service “B” be important to them as well? Find a way to move them to the service “B” page. How quickly and easily can they contact you? Is your contact info easy to find? (Shockingly, on many sites it is not.). Make things easy.
- Getting back to where the visitor was first is difficult – Visitors may start clicking and getting deeper into your site, but they often want to go back to where they were to read again and make a decision. Your site navigation should make this easy for them. Add breadcrumbs to your site to make things easier for your visitors.
- Lack of home button or way to get home – I know many people think that a home button in navigation is unimportant, but for many visitors it is REALLY important. Most of the people that have the money to spend on your services are not experts at the web. They don’t know how to get around things easily. You have to make things easy for them.
- Blogs are unreachable or off-site – I have seen a lot of websites lately that have blogs and are creating content, yet there is no button for it in the navigation or the blog is not easy to find. Why waste your time creating blog posts when people can’t find them? Also, blogs within your website are better than sending a visitor to a different site to read; you need them on-site to make a sale, right?
If you are working hard to create content, infographics, videos etc. you need to make sure you have a site that is easy to use and attractive to your visitors because you want people to eventually reach the content parts of your site. If the visitor is turned off by the look of your site and/or can’t find what they are looking for then what is the point of having various forms of content in the first place?