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If you’re in business, chances are you have a website. And if your website isn’t working to bring in leads and customers, you might be wondering why that is.

This is one of the reasons I introduced my website audit service. Because so many business owners I’d been talking to had websites they were paying for, but had never received any income from.

An effective website should attract visitors using search engine optimisation (SEO) and convert those visitors into sales and enquiries.

In my experience, when a website isn’t attracting and converting customers, it’s usually for one of the following 10 reasons.

10 Common website mistakes

1. There’s no SEO on your site

If your website isn’t getting enough visitors, it’s because it’s not showing up on Google. And if it’s not showing up on Google, it’s because it hasn’t been optimised properly — or hasn’t been optimised at all.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s all about optimising your website so the search engines can find it, index it and list it. This is so your potential customers will see it when they do a Google search.

How to fix it:

An SEO copywriter needs to rewrite your website so it works for your human audience and the search engines.

This involves researching the key search terms your customers are using to find your business online and making sure those same terms appear on your website. Then, when your customers do a search, your website will be a match.

2. It’s not clear what you do

Some websites don’t explain what the company does at all and some explain it so badly that it doesn’t make any sense.

If your website visitors can’t understand how you can help them, they won’t become customers any time soon.

Things that could be confusing your visitors include:

  • Misleading images and visuals
  • Talking only in benefits and without giving any context to explain how the benefits will be achieved
  • Using vague and non-specific words, like ‘solutions’
  • Over-elaborate or jargon-filled descriptions that are difficult to make sense of
  • A combination of the above.

How to fix it:

Make sure your website is giving a cohesive first impression, with relevant images and messaging. Your images don’t have to be dull and boring, but they should represent you and what you’re about.

As a general rule, your website should start by explaining what you do and who you do it for. You should be able to do this in a couple of sentences — and using plain English that anyone can understand.

3. Poor navigation and signposting

Signposts, also known as internal links, guide visitors through the pages of your website, to help them find the information they need.

Internal links are also good for your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and spread value to the other pages of your website.

These links should appear at opportune points as visitors scroll down the page. And they should take them to all the places they need to go on their customer journey. For example, from the home page to the contact page, via all the pages they’ll want to see inbetween.

But some websites don’t have any links to their other pages apart from those in the main navigation/menu bar. And rather than being easy, the navigation is confusing and makes it difficult to find key information.

How to fix it:

You should be able to add internal links to your other pages at various points on your website. For example, your home page might have a short paragraph about each of your services, with a link to a main page for each service.

On each service page, there might be links to further pages, for example: relevant case studies, work examples or your contact page.

If the website isn’t written or formatted so it’s easy to add these links, think about rewriting or reformatting it to create some opportunities.

4. Your calls to action aren’t working

A call to action (CTA) is anything on your website that prompts your visitors to take action. The action could be anything from visiting another page to getting in touch with you.

For example, it could be:

  • An internal link
  • Your telephone number
  • A contact form
  • Your email address
  • A sign-up box for your mailing list.

But on some websites, the calls to action simply don’t work. There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Buttons that don’t do anything
  • Broken or incorrect links
  • Unclear links or button text
  • Contact forms that don’t send
  • Buried or missing contact details.

How to fix it:

Your calls to action should be clear, obvious and placed right where your customers can see them. If you can, use coloured buttons that contrast with your background and make any text links obvious.

Make sure your links and buttons give visitors a clear expectation of what will happen when they click on them — and make sure they follow through. If you’re expecting visitors to sign up for something, be explicit about what they’ll be getting in return.

Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. For example, display your phone number prominently at the top of your website rather than burying it in the footer where it’s harder for visitors to find.

Spare a thought for your mobile visitors, make sure links and buttons are well spaced to allow for a thumb press.

Check regularly that all your buttons, links and forms are working properly.

5. There’s a disconnect

There’s a disconnect between what visitors are expecting to see on your website and what’s actually there.

For example, the title tag and meta description in the Google search lead visitors to believe you have just what they’re looking for. But when they get to your site, they find something different. The visitors think they’re in the wrong place and leave.

How to fix it:

This can happen if you’ve changed something in your business, but haven’t made the changes across the board.

For example, if you were selling office furniture, then switched to selling home office furniture. And you updated your website, but didn’t update your website’s title and meta tags.

To fix it, you just need to remember that any changes need to be made across your whole site, including your titles and meta descriptions.

You also need to look at outside mentions of your business that may still be drawing traffic, such as online directories and backlinks from other websites.

6. Your website isn’t responsive

People browse the internet on a range of devices nowadays. And they’ve come to expect a good experience that’s tailored for the device they’re using —whether that’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

A responsive site will scale for all these different devices. If yours doesn’t, you’re probably giving your visitors a terrible user experience that will prompt them to go elsewhere.

How to fix it:

If you’re not sure if your site is responsive, you can check it using this free tool.

The tool will show you how your site appears on a range of different tablets and smartphones. In each case, your site should resize itself to fit the device screen.

If it doesn’t, the only way around this is to get the site redesigned — either professionally, or using a responsive template from a leading website builder, like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix.

7. There are issues with the design

Customers will make judgements about your company based on the design of your website. A well designed site will fill them with joy and confidence. A poorly designed one will have them reaching for the back button.

Here are some general observations about what constitutes bad and good website design right now.

Bad website design

  • Dated and cluttered with too many different elements
  • Strange colour combinations that are unpleasant to look at or make the text hard to read
  • Complex navigation that hides vital information out of reach
  • Stock photographs that don’t represent your business
  • Text that spans the whole screen with no borders or breaks
  • Oddly sized text that isn’t spaced out properly.

Good website design

  • Fresh, modern appearance with lots of white space
  • Clean, streamlined layout
  • Lots of white space
  • Easy to navigate and find information
  • Simple, single-column format for the text
  • Relevant, high-res images that are pleasing to look at.

How to fix it:

If you feel your site is old and dated looking, it might be time for a refresh and a rebrand. You might be able to give your existing site a facelift, or you could bring the professionals in and get a whole new site designed.

8. The content is poor

On a website, the written content is everything. This is how you talk to and engage your target audience. It’s where you show them how you can help them or solve their problems. Or maybe introduce them to irresistible things they’ll want to buy.

Some websites fail miserably at doing these things and it’s usually because their content has one or more of the following problems:

  • Dull and boring
  • Littered with errors
  • Difficult to understand
  • Doesn’t explain things properly
  • Badly written and awkward to read
  • Stuffed with SEO keywords
  • Focused on the company — not the customer.

How to fix it:

You can rewrite your website, or ask someone on your team to do it. But it makes much more sense to hire a professional copywriter.

Because what you really need is someone who knows how to write for your audience. Someone who can engage them, inform them and persuade them to buy from you.

Hiring a professional will be more expensive, but it will be money well spent and the returns will be higher. Because whatever you pay a copywriter, you can expect to make back many times over.

9. Annoying website features

I once landed on a website that had no less than six different pop-ups. I counted them as:

  1. You must accept our policy
  2. Here are the policy choices you made
  3. Thank you for accepting the policy
  4. Sign up for our newsletter
  5. Register for a free ebook
  6. A huge chatbot box asking how it could help.

I had to accept or close all of these down before I could see anything on the website — only to find there was nothing worth looking at. How irritating!

One pop-up can be an irritant. Six are, frankly, ridiculous. If I hadn’t been so interested in what I thought I was going to find at the end, I would have left the site at the second one.

Even more irritating?

  • Pop-ups that are repeated on every page of the site — if a visitor is not interested the first time, that should be enough
  • Pop-ups you can’t close down without completing the sign-up — no visitor is going to respond well to feeling forced into a sign-up
  • Pop-ups with passive aggressive opt-outs, like ‘No thanks, I already know everything about online marketing’.

Pop-ups are just one irritant that can turn away potential customers. Other examples of irritants include:

  • Broken links
  • Page not found (Error 404)
  • Intrusive advertising/chatbots
  • Sign-up boxes that sit on top of the screen, can’t be closed down and obscure your content
  • Distracting carousels* or animations
  • Autoplay videos
  • Order processes that won’t complete.

How to fix it:

Unfortunately, GDPR and privacy policy consent is a necessary irritation. It needs to be there, but it doesn’t have to be disruptive. One small banner at the top of the site with an accept button should suffice — no confirmation or ‘thank you’ required.

Give your visitors a chance to get to know you and see what you’re about before you bombard them with sign-ups. Set these pop-ups to appear as they leave the site, rather than when they arrive.

Regularly check your site for broken links using a broken link checker.

If you’ve removed pages, make sure all links to them have also been removed or updated.

*Carousels are the sliding panels at the top of some websites. If they are large and move quickly, you can still see them at the top of the screen when you scroll down — and this can be distracting.

If you use carousels on your site, make sure they don’t change too frequently. Consider stopping the carousel after the first time around and add arrows, so visitors can scroll through them manually and at their own pace.

The same with animations. Avoid continuous looping — let them play once or twice, then stop. Or, if you can, stop them when visitors scroll past them, so they’re not creating a distraction at the top of the screen.

Autoplay videos can be annoying — especially if they stall your site while they’re loading or play unexpectedly with sound. Visitors should always be given the option to watch your video or scroll past it.

Check your order and payment processes regularly. Don’t rely on visitors reporting problems to you, because that may never happen.

10. Contact problems

If you’re offering a service, the main goal of your website is probably getting visitors to contact you. If they’re not contacting you, it may be a problem with the way you’ve structured your contact information.

So what could be the problem?

Here are some examples:

  • You’re not making it easy enough for visitors to contact you
  • You don’t give visitors enough contact options
  • Your contact form isn’t working
  • The link to your contact page isn’t working
  • Your contact details have changed and your website hasn’t been updated
  • Your contact form is too long and detailed.

How to fix it:

Make it easy for visitors to contact you using your preferred contact method. For example, if you want them to call you, have your phone number displayed prominently at the top of your website.

Give visitors a range of contact options. These might include:

  • A phone number if they need an immediate response
  • A mobile number with the option to text or WhatsApp you
  • A contact form if they’d prefer to articulate their needs in writing
  • An email address if they want to send you some additional files
  • Social media links if they want to connect with you and get to know you better first.

Check your contact form regularly. Sometimes they just stop working and you may never know.

Make sure you have an accessible contact page and that the contact details on it are all up to date.

Make your contact form as short and easy to complete as possible. Remember, a contact form is only for making contact and the customer hasn’t decided if they’re going to work with you yet.

The minimum would be to ask for their name, their message and either a phone number or email address so you can follow up with them.

Do you need help with your website?

If your website isn’t working out the way you think it should, there may be a problem — and you may be too close to it to work out what it is.

My website audit service will give you a fresh, objective and honest perspective on your website — from someone who knows and understands websites.

Your audit will be packed with insights, observations and advice to help you improve your website and turn it into the powerhouse selling machine it should be — working 24/7 to benefit your business and make you more money.

If you’re interested, you can find out more about my website auditing service or contact me with any more specific questions.