June 12, 2014
The world of online marketing tends to have scapegoats by the dozens. Recently, Google updated Panda to version 4.0. Prior to that, it was a campaign against guest blogging. Then we had link farms like Rap Genius that were getting massive penalties, and sites associated with them might have taken a hit. Back in the ancient times that were mid-2013, we had the Hummingbird update for semantic-based search results. Of course there are always the traditional targets for blame such as bad link neighborhoods and over-usage of keywords in anchor text. However, putting all of the reasons for online failure aside, I believe that there is one reason that can almost always play a factor in why a website may not be having success. That reason is that sometimes a website might just suck, plain and simple. If you are unsure of the quality of your website, here are 10 reasons that a website, hopefully not yours, might suck.
- Your Website sucks because it is old: I am not referring to domain age, which can actually be a great attribute of a quality website. I am talking about the website that looks like it belongs in an episode from the first season of The Simpsons. I deal with clients constantly who rank very well, sometimes in the top spot for their terms, but their website design is so dated that any would be customer is immediately turned off.
- Your website sucks because it is not mobile ready: I am still left speechless when I am evaluating a website that uses old flash style slideshows or poorly formatted text boxes that do not display correctly on a tablet or Smartphone. In 2014, it is inexcusable to create or maintain a website that does not work on tablets and mobile devices.
- Your website sucks because it is slow: Sometimes the biggest issue for a website is that it never shows up. If I can order from Amazon with one click in about five seconds, it had better take less time for me to find out where your store is located. The local results from Google can do a great job of masking some slow sites because the most vital data such as hours and location are presented outside of the actual site on Google listings. That does not mean that additional information should be delivered at a snail’s pace from inside the actual destination webpage.
- Your website sucks because it is not designed to convert: If your website has a long process between the home page and conversion “thank you” page, it had better be because your site is about a treasure hunt. A website without easily accessible contact information, an attractive and simple contact box, and a flawless shopping cart design, is doomed for failure, or at least suckiness.
- Your website sucks because it is ONLY designed to convert: There is such a thing as too much conversion on a website. If you have an e-mail list sign up, a text club sign up, a user account sign up, a refer-a-friend sign up, and a “contact us” box all on the same page, that is too much conversion. Over-converting is one issue, but sneaky conversion is even worse. If you have certain sections of your site that are only accessible by liking a Facebook page, but they should not be hidden behind a conversion wall, the only thing you will increase is your bounce rate.
- Your website sucks because it isn’t interactive: People love to make things happen on a website. It can be as simple as responsive buttons that react when the user mouses-over them or interactive quizzes that are used to share your content. It is important to make your website experience seem like more than an information dump where users gather to get told something.
- Your website sucks because you are not a part of it: Google authorship is one way that the search engine is trying to put a face to content. Although this is a popular SEO practice, you can get a leg up by injecting some of yourself into your website design. Put up blog posts that are interviews with the owner, link your website to active social media accounts, and make sure that your site has some personality.
- Your website sucks because it isn’t fully functional: If you have a website with a broken link or a non-functioning video, you should make it a point to get it fixed pronto. Even sites that claim they are under construction, should make sure that they do not stay that way for long. Sites that are not fully operational look unprofessional and drive away potential customers.
- Your website sucks because it is always changing: This is more my opinion, but I would venture to say that a certain face related social media site sucks because there is no consistency in their design. A website that is constantly being reworked on a massive scale usually means that something is not working. Testing certain elements and functions is incredibly important, but slapping on a new coat of paint just for the sake of saying it is new and improved doesn’t make it so. A consistent, but useful update schedule is a much better way to handle site design.
- Your website sucks because you do not know why it sucks: If your website is having problems and you are not sure why, that is a big problem. Very rarely is a poor performing website the result of unfixable issues or the bad SEO boogeymen that I opened this article with. If you have a website that you cannot seem to get out of sucky territory, it is either time to get some outside opinions, or start work on a new website.
Evan Wright is the digital content manager at DigitalParc, a Minneapolis Web design and SEO company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also the author of The Art of Saving: How to Create Your Money Masterpiece, a consumer advice book. Evan specializes in content strategy, SEO, and online marketing.