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Inbound Marketing Blog

    3 Characteristics of Websites That Don't Suck

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    Stop The Website Madness


    I don't know about you, but I hate visiting websites that suck.  
    They can complicate the process of contacting them when the only way to do so is to call.  They often have way too much text on their homepage, more links than Craigslist, and their homepage loading times rival how long it took Pete Rose to admit he bet on baseball.

    If your website sucks, you can be certain that it is doing your business a serious disservice.  The problem is that most business owners don't know what is causing the poor visitor experience that is leading to little or no sales from their site.  So let's change this.  Doing so may involve a coder and some serious effort on your part, but the benefits to be enjoyed from creating a better website will pay world of dividends in the long run.

    How Can You Help

    This is the first question you should ask yourself:  how do you help your visitors? If your website doesn't contain valuable information that will benefit your prospective customers during the research phase of their buying process, then how do you expect them to buy from you?

    We used to refer to this as TOFU - Top of the Funnel, but now we call it the "Awareness Stage in the Buyer Journey," as coined by HubSpot, and it makes total sense.

    Think about the last time you purchased something.  Anything. Where did the process start?  If you're purchasing a car do you go straight to the dealership and start negotiating with pushy salesmen?  No.  You did 10 years ago, but not today.

    Today you start researching online for the MSRP, crash testing info, MPG, incentives, etc.  This is why sites like cars.com and kbb.com get so much site traffic and all the major brands advertise on these websites because consumers are researching first.

    It is an absolute must for your website to have informational content that is going to help your visitors and prospective clients learn about how you can help them before they are going to purchase from you.  This is why we blog and create free white papers and ebooks for our prospects. The more valuable content we create in our blog the more you will consume and eventually once you trust us you might even subscribe and then download one of our valuable ebooks to help you improve your online marketing.  

    Make it Easy

    Most website designers are concerned with the design of the site as they should be, but what about the navigation, calls to action, and user experience?

    All too often, I visit websites and the only way I can purchase a service is to call.  This is extremely prevalent with small and medium-sized, service-based business. Here is the big problem: I have to locate a "Contact Us" page and fill out a form to contact them.  I know you have had the same experience. It's extremely frustrating.

    If you're going to require the visitor to call you to make a purchase, you should put your phone number in the header of your site, in a big bold font that contrasts against the site's background color.  Don't hide it in the footer, on an About Us page, or force your customers to access a fill-out form to buy from you. You are making the purchase process too hard, and your potential customers will likely find a site that is easier to buy from, even if that's site's prices aren't as competitive.

    Don't forget about the mobile experience.  If your website isn't designed responsively, you need a redesign today.  Using a mobile website that has a different URL (most do) is killing your SEO efforts.  Not having a mobile site is also killing your business, as 40% of all search queries are coming from mobile.  Any good web design agency includes responsvie design in ALL of their websites now, as it isn't just optional anymore, and they should never charge you extra for this feature.

    Even though we don't use it at my company, I am a big proponent of Live Chat because it both makes it easy for the visitor to ask questions, and adds a personal touch. We have seen clients increase lead generation by up to 32% by implementing Live Chat because it helps the visitor.  

    There are many Live Chat platforms to chose from, and they will typically run you about $100 per month. Close management of your Live Chat platform is essential to reaping the potential benefits it possesses for your company. 

    Smush Your Images

    The single biggest killer for websites is slow page load speed. How many times have you visited a site and had to wait for the spinning wheel of death? Loading.  Loading. Loading.

    Slow page load speed not only effects your SEO negatively, but is the single largest contributor to increasing your bounce rate.

    The first place to increase your page load speed is to smush your images.  This means you need to use a website like www.smushit.com from Yahoo (free) to compress your large images down to 100kb.  

    If you have ever had a Free SEO Review of your website you will typically see a list of the number of images that over 100kb.  

    You need to address your image sizing on all of your pages starting with your homepage, blog, and landing pages.  If they are over 100kb then smush them down as much as you can to speed up your site.

    These tips may seem simple because they are, but most websites overlook many of these elements, which leads to your website becoming one of those that "sucks." If you don't want your website to suck, take steps to improve it, especially if you want to enjoy the potential revenue that an effective website makes available to your business. 

    If you need some help with your website, check out the totally awesome ebook below. Learn the 6 Secrets of Effective Websites because your website should be your #1 salesperson.

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    photo credit: Scarleth Marie via photopin cc

    Topics: Inbound Marketing