It can be frustrating to put time, effort, and money into a website, only to hear crickets. The lack of leads is easy to see—but the “why” is more complex.
But, before we get into identifying the issue, one of the most common pitfalls is not giving your website time.
Suppose an agency professionally built your website, and it’s been less than six months. In that case, my honest recommendation is to give it a little more time. Ranking a brand new website can take a while. Results from an SEO campaign can take anywhere from 6-12 months—or even longer, depending on your industry.
If you’d like to check where your website is in this timeline, run your URL through a free online SEO auditor like SEOptimer.com. A failing score might mean it’s time to have a quick chat with your designer or developer. However, if your SEO checks out, give it a couple more months before throwing in the towel.
If you feel like you’ve given your website the time it needs to flourish and your SEO checks out, one of these five issues is likely impacting your conversion rates.
1. Confused Calls to Action
Websites use Calls to Action (CTAs) to help entice and guide visitors. Things like “add to cart,” “checkout,” or even “subscribe to our mailing list” are calls to action. But they can be more subtle than that, like a link taking you to another article on the site.
Look at your website and note your current CTAs. You may be able to make a few minor tweaks to improve your conversion rates.
Some of the most common CTA issues to look out for are…
Competing calls to action
Asking your visitors to do too many things at once can lead to confusion.
This tends to leave them frustrated. At worst, your visitors bail on your website altogether. Keeping your CTAs focused on one or two desired actions per page helps guide your visitors in the direction that leads to, well, leads.
On the other hand, the same CTA written repeatedly on a page can begin to compete with each other.
Say a website has a “contact us” or “learn more” button every other paragraph. Visitors adapt quickly to repeated CTAs and they become easily ignored.
Actionable Advice: Ensure each of your website’s pages contains only one or two types of CTAs and that they are not repeated too frequently.
Calls to action aren’t clear enough
Vague CTAs are uninspiring, and there’s nothing that sets any “Click Here” or “Learn More” button apart from any other. To get the most out of your CTAs, make sure they’re as informative and enticing to your readers as possible.
Tell them what they’ll find on the page you want them to click. There’s a big difference between “Learn More” and “Learn More About How You Can Save”.
The latter reinforces your benefit and helps confirm that reading more of what you have to say is likely to be worthwhile to them.
Actionable Advice: Make sure your calls to action are clear and enticing. Let your visitors know where you intend to bring them if they click on them, and use descriptive copywriting to double down on your value proposition.
CTAs are not visible enough
CTAs should be placed in common areas on your website and designed to allow them to stand out. Using contrasting colors to boost their visibility helps, so don’t hide them or place them where they blend in.
The portion of your website that’s immediately visible when loaded is called the “Hero” or “Above the Fold” section. Your hero is prime real estate—every visitor who loads that page will see it. For most websites, the percentage of visitors who look at a specific section drops dramatically further down the page.
Your website’s most important calls to action should be placed in the hero section to ensure every visitor has a chance to see them.
Your visitors aren’t offered anything in return
If your goal is to increase the number of newsletter sign-ups, it can be essential to offer your visitor something in return.
“But the emails I’ll send them will be super valuable” you might be thinking, and you’re probably right! But that won’t matter if you can’t convince someone to take the first step.
Without anything to give them as thanks right away, that first step is a lot to ask. The risk of handing your email to someone only to be bombarded with spam is high nowadays. As a result, people are far less likely to give an untested new website their personal information.
Every business can find ways to create these freebies or lead magnets to help entice their visitors to type in their email and click the subscribe button.
- A downloadable eBook or helpful guidebook
- Give them access to a free trial
- Offer a special discount
2. Your Forms are Asking Too Much
Say your “contact us” calls to action are working. They’re leading your visitors to your contact page, but they leave without sending a message—you may need to rethink your form.
One of the biggest culprits of abandoned contact pages is the number of hoops a visitor is put through to establish a connection with you. The more information someone must fill in on your contact form, the less likely they are to finish.
There are some form fields that people are less likely to fill in than others. For example, requesting just their first name rather than first and last tends to get more submissions.
On the same note, there are some pieces of information that people are far less likely to give out without pause. The biggest of these is their phone number. With the number of spam calls nowadays, people are hesitant to give out their numbers.
Actionable Advice: Every business is different, so I recommend that you A/B test your forms to see what works best for your business and your individual goals.
An A/B test allows you to experiment with two variants. These could be how you phrase a call to action, what color your CTA buttons are, or what information you require before someone can click the “send” button on your contact form.
By testing what works and doesn’t, you’ll be able to continuously increase your conversions as time goes on by learning about what people expect and what they respond to.
You may find that simply dropping one or two of your form fields is all it takes to get more people filling it out.
3. Content is King for a Reason
Sparse or poorly written content doesn’t sell, it doesn’t get people excited, and it doesn’t do your business justice by telling its story.
If you’re not answering your visitors’ questions and helping them solve their problems, it becomes difficult for them to trust that you’re the one that can help.
Not only does good copywriting help your visitors trust in your business, but it also dramatically increases your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means that well-written content on your website helps inform visitors and pique their interest. It’s also a massive boost to the number of visitors to your website overall!
Tips on Writing Content
• Use a natural speaking voice
Writing in a “natural speaking voice” for most businesses goes a long way. This helps to make your content more enjoyable to read and to digest.
Studies have shown that it’s best to keep your writing at a 6th or 7th-grade reading level for most businesses. Unless you’re in a highly technical field and confident that your visitors want to read technical jargon, it’s best to keep it out of the conversation.
• Stop keyword stuffing
It used to be that adding as many keywords to your content as possible meant that you had a better chance of ranking for them. That’s not the case anymore, and you can be penalized for it.
Over the years, Google and other search engines have caught on to this practice—and for a good reason. If you’ve read an article or blog post stuffed with the same keyword repeatedly, you know how ridiculously unnatural it sounds and how abrasive it is to read.
No one wants to read that, and Google knows it. That’s why they’re working on understanding the user’s search intent. Ultimately this is a wonderful thing that will make reading and writing for websites more enjoyable for everyone involved.
• Make it easy to skim
Studies have shown that visitors don’t often read everything on a webpage or in an article. The majority of people reading this article will have likely scrolled through to quickly skim the content before investing in reading more. And for a good reason, time is precious, and reading a 3,500-word article takes time. They want to have an indication that they’ll get some relevant and helpful information.
Only 16% of visitors will read an article word-by-word, whereas the rest will skim through to ensure it’s worth investing their time. Proper formatting of titles helps break up your paragraphs, and bulleted lists make this easier to find what they’re looking for.
Make your content as easy to read as possible, but also make sure that if someone wants to skim through it, they can do so easily.
• Write enough that it counts
If you’re publishing articles or blogs to generate leads, a study by HubSpot from 2019 showed that the best-performing articles were at least 2,500 words in length.
This helps provide your visitor with enough information about your service or what they’re trying to learn. It also drastically increases the chances that the article will rank well for its topic.
• But keep it short too
Not to backtrack on my previous tip, but keeping your writing structure concise is also essential. In 1960 the average sentence length was 17 words long. Today the average is 12. By using shorter sentences and keeping paragraphs brief, you’re making it easier for your visitors to digest the information you’ve put on the page.
4. Design Issues
The design and layout of your website can make a significant impact on how successful it is. Have you ever visited a website only to see how old it looked, only to say “Nope!” and leave?
Outdated and older-looking websites have a much more difficult time building trust.
On the other hand, overdoing your website’s design can also have adverse effects. Suppose your website contains a lot of “neat tricks” or non-conventional layouts. In that case, users may find it challenging to locate the information they need.
Visitors to your website have an image in their heads of how a website should look and function. Typically there’s the main navigation bar at the top of the website, followed by the hero section, then the content itself. Shifting too far from the expected can have a pretty negative effect.
Actionable Advice: Adhering to your brand’s style while implementing it in a way that still allows for its personality to shine through is important. Just be sure that all the bells and whistles don’t overshadow the content.
Common web design issues & how to fix them
• Not enough white space
One of the most common issues I see on websites is a lack of white space, so I’ll say it here with emphasis: White space is vital! It helps a design look balanced and allows the reader time to breathe and understand your content before more information is put in front of their face. If all your website’s content is vying for real estate, it’s likely to become a confusing jumble of calls to action, images, colors, and shapes.
• A unique layout just for the sake of it
I’m not going to say that some of the websites you see from designers on sites like Behance aren’t beautifully designed or that their clever use of the more mundane aspects isn’t cool. Still, there’s a time and place for breaking the mold.
Business websites should aim to inform and convert before anything else in most cases. It’s usually best to be clear and not clever when designing your page layouts. Ensure that your content is easily accessed and placed in locations a user would expect to find them. Try not to make people hunt through your page to perform a simple action.
• Emphasis on the wrong items
When someone visits your site, the first thing they should be able to determine is if it’s the right website for them. If they’re not looking for what you offer, they can leave. And that’s a good thing; we want the right leads coming in, not window shoppers or people requesting stuff you don’t offer.
For example: While you may have a stunning logo, chances are it doesn’t need to take up a lot of space or become the main focal point of your homepage. The larger your logo is, the less room you’ll have for other things like your calls to action and hero content.
Ensure you have the right balance of branding and relevant content for your visitors. You’re bound to see an increase in conversions.
• Poor color contrast
Although color contrast typically makes a more minor impact on your visitors, about 8% of men and .5% of women have some form of color blindness. If you use colors that don’t contrast well enough, these visitors won’t be able to fully appreciate or use your website as easily as others.
As a bonus, sufficient color contrast is one of the many legal requirements for a website under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Even small things matter
Did you know that the shape of a button impacts whether someone will click on it or not?
A study done by the Barrow Neurological Institute found that sharp angles created a stronger illusion of salience than round edges. While this may sound like a good thing, the study also found that it was more challenging to look at—so people avoided doing so, and you want people to look at your website’s buttons!
Additionally, the aversion to hard or sharp edges on buttons may stem from early childhood psychology. As children, we’re taught that sharp corners are dangerous and can hurt you. This translates to adulthood, and these sharp-edged buttons lead to fewer clicks.
Another web developer and good friend of mine also mentioned a study he read noting that there are no “right angles” in nature, so they tend to look more unnatural, which further heightens the subconscious avoidance.
CrazyEgg covers call to action buttons in great detail and is worth further reading.
5. Technical Problems
If your website looks great, has awesome content, and isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped, you may have an issue behind the scenes.
Google and other search engines want to provide their users with the very best possible information. If there are technical errors on your website, there’s less chance it will appear in search results.
Common technical issues that should be avoided
• Broken links
When visitors click on a broken link, they’ll find themselves looking at a 404 error page. Search engines will pick up on broken links and penalize your website. Neither of these outcomes is good, but they can be easily avoided!
A quick check to ensure that all your links are properly working is always good. Even if you’re linking to a different website altogether. If you’d like to check for broken links on your own website, you can use Aherfs’ free tool.
• Forms aren’t authenticated
Authentication proves that the emails are legitimate and come from where they claim to be. Always ensure that your DNS records contain DKIM and Return-Path values. And, if possible, set up DMARC for extra deliverability.
Spam emails are a common issue nowadays. Email providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and others do their best to save you from them. Unfortunately, sometimes they’re a little overprotective and may block the emails sent from your own website if the messages aren’t appropriately authenticated.
• Not using SSL certificate
Your website must have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate installed or risk losing quite a few visitors.
Website security is top of mind these days. An SSL certificate should be installed to protect you and your visitors from potential harm. If they aren’t, search engines may penalize them. These penalties come in the form of an entrance page that warns potential visitors that the site may be unsafe. Most visitors will heed and immediately return to the search results. Other times your website may not be found in search results at all.
SSL Certificates are usually included by your hosting provider or Content Delivery Network (CDN) but generally need to be turned on manually. This is as easy as clicking an ‘on’ button in most cases. Still, it can be a bit more complicated in some cases, depending on your hosting provider.
• Poor performance
Speed is crucial and if your website takes over 2 seconds to lead, chances are you’re losing many of your would-be visitors.
You can test your website speed at GTmetrix to see where you factor in. Type in your website’s URL and click analyze. The audit will begin, and you’ll soon see your scores. Once your scores are shown, you can click on the “Performance” tab below them, scroll down to the bottom of the page and find your “Fully Loaded Time”—this is the timing we’re looking for.
People are impatient and expect websites to deliver the information they’re looking for quickly and efficiently. They’ll simply leave and look elsewhere if they’re forced to wait while your pages load.
Performance optimization is a broad topic, so it’s difficult to detail unless you have specific issues. If your website loads slowly but you’re unsure why feel free to reach out for a free website audit. At the very least, this will give you a good idea of what needs to be fixed moving forward.
• Poor website structure
Website organization and how each page relates to one another affects your visitors’ journey through it.
Poor website structure leads to the issues listed above, such as broken links. However, it also creates a confusing maze of information your visitor now has to sift through to find what they need. Relating to website speed above, if your site structure is confusing and takes too long to find information, your visitors may just decide to leave.
Poor website structure also hurts your Search Engine Optimization and ADA Compliance, so it’s important to get this one right.
• Missing metas
Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions are what you see when looking at search results.
The title (typically in blue) followed by a description of what the webpage is about persuades those searching that your website is the one that has their answers.
It’s common to find these metas missing, and when that happens, a search engine will do its best to fill them in themselves. The issue here is that these robots don’t always do a stellar job, and I’m sure you can describe your business services far better than any bot.
• Missing Alt Text
Similar to the metas above, Alt Text describes the content within an image.
Search engine bots, those “spiders” that crawl and index the internet, have come a long way, but they still aren’t able to understand images as well as they may in the future.
Making sure you’re adding Alt Text to your images is essential. This helps search engines index your images on Image Search.
It also increases your ADA compliance. Screen readers will read the image description found in the Alt Text out loud for those who are visually impaired or blind. Alt Text is a win-win and very easy to add.