Recently, I was interviewed by a reporter who was writing an article about businesses losing website visitors [you can substitute “blog” for website].
The first question she asked was interesting. She asked if companies know if they’re losing visitors. That was provocative because I hadn’t looked at the question that way. I would be willing to bet that most companies and individuals do not know that they’re losing visitors. And if they do know, they don’t know why.
The companies that do know they’re losing website visitors are the smart ones because they are using analytics software on their site (like Google Analytics) so they can track things like the bounce rate which indicates the percentage of visitors who leave your site from the page they entered without clicking through to additional pages. A high bounce rate indicates your content didn’t match the visitor’s expectation so they clicked off your site.
We went on to talk about various ways I believe businesses lose web visitors. When I refer to a business, I mean you as a small business owner, solo professional or entrepreneur as well as large companies.
I came up with a list of 10 ways business websites may be losing visitors…
1. No clear purpose for the site. The first real problem is that the company or business owner is not clear about the purpose or outcomes that they want from their site. If you’re not clear about what your site is about, what you outcomes you want or what the content is going to be to support the purpose, then it’s a good bet your visitor is going to be confused too and they’re not going to hang around for very long.
2. There is no way for visitors to stay connected. This continues to be an issue on a lot of blogs I evaluate. A lot of sites don’t have any way for a visitor to stay connected, to subscribe to get updates when you have new content, to subscribe to your mailing list, to get your free report or free white paper, ecourse or video course. Without an email subscribe option there’s no way for you to stay visible in your visitor’s inbox and no consistent reminder for your visitor to return to your site. You are losing that visitor.
2a. To take it a step futher, frequently it’s difficult to find contact information for a professional or business. If you don’t have contact information or it’s buried and your visitor can’t find it, again, you are losing an opportunity to stay connected especially if they want more information from you.
You don’t have to have your phone number and email address on your site but you can have a contact form. For example, on denisewakeman.com I have a link in the top navigation so it’s easy to find. It says “Contact Denise.” There are several different options for contacting me if you need support, if you want to ask a question, if you want to submit a story. The main link goes to my support desk. At the minimum my VA checks that every week day. My virtual assistant will either respond or pass it on to me if it needs my personal response.
3. No calls to action on your content. You are producing great content and then you leave your visitor hanging. They don’t know what else to do. They don’t know how to get more information. In all probability they won’t take the time to poke around and try to find out more.
One site that does this well is www.hubspot.com. They are an inbound marketing company. At the bottom of every single blog post, there is a call to action to get one of their free reports. You have to opt-in to get it and their content is top-notch. I, for one, have no problem giving my email address to get their content. They generate tons of leads for their business. Again, that’s a way to keep visitors connected to you.
4. Not attracting the right audience by optimizing your keywords. You need to know what keywords your ideal audience is using in their searches on so you can integrate them in your content and be found by the search engines. Use a tool like freekeywords.wordtracker.com.
5. Your content doesn’t match the promise of the headline. Remember, when your ideal client is doing a search on the web and they see search results on Google or Bing or Yahoo, or they’re seeing a link posted on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, typically they see only the title of your blog post or article. If that is sufficiently compelling, they’re going to click on the link. To keep that visitor the content must match the promise of the headline and it must be compelling. It must offer tremendous value so your visitor can take the next step on your call to action (see #3).
6. Poor navigation. Your visitor can’t find what they want or expect in a few seconds. Make sure you have very clear navigation, preferably along the top of your blog and also some key navigation on the side bar.
7. Too much clutter and too many distractions so your visitor doesn’t know where to look or click. I confess I don’t always practice what I preach. I like testing applications and widgets and realize sometimes the sidebars get cluttered. Review your site. Is there anything in the sidebar that’s out of date? Do you have ads or affiliate banners that are not performing or don’t support the topic of your site? Get rid of them.
8. Your site is too hard to read. The font is too small or you are using a color on color background, like a yellow font on blue background. That’s extreme, but you know what I mean. Or gray font on a white background – that’s difficult to read as well. Usability studies have proven that a black font on a white background is the easiest to read on the web. Keep your fonts a decent size so people can read them. They may be reading your site on a smart phone or on a netbook, or an iPad, not on a 20 inch monitor. 12 to 14 point is a good size to strive for.
9. Too many hoops to jump through to get your content. Many sites still have flash video on the landing page or home page for their site. You have no choice but to watch this video just to get into the site and figure out if you even want the content. Personally, I don’t care for this approach and it could be driving some of your visitors away. If you insist on gating your site with a video, consider including a link to skip the video and enter the site. And make the link obvious.
10. No. search function on your site. Make it easy for your visitor to drill deeper into your site. Add a search tool that will search the content only on your site vs all of the Web. This functionality is built into some platforms. Many WordPress themes have it built in and simply requires you to activate it. Google also provides a search tool you can customize and add to your site. There’s also a site called www.lijit.com that provides a third party application you can add to your site. Make sure people can find the content that they’re looking for on your site or they’ll look elsewhere.
These are only ten ways I believe small businesses, service professionals, and companies may be losing visitors to their website or blog. There are more…what have you noticed when you're visiting websites and blogs…why do you leave?
Do you know if your site is losing visitors?
If you have comments or questions about optimizing your site, post them below, go ahead and post them in the comments.
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