Did you know that 85% of people reported that they will immediately abandon a website if the design is outdated? And did you also know that Google will prioritize a mobile-friendly website in organic searches? But here’s the most important question of all. Does any of this matter to you? The answer is a resounding YES, and with good reason.
Is Your Website Doing More Harm Than Good?
For starters, if you don’t have a modern, mobile-friendly website, then not only aren’t you driving online traffic to build your brand, but your online presence may actually be hurting you. Online has become the new battleground for attention for brands, and staying current with how consumers are searching and how the search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing are ranking sites can make or break your online presence. Because if you aren’t following some key best practices when it comes to your website, you either won’t be found at all, or visitors will judge the quality of your entire business by the poor quality of your site and move on to your competitor. Not getting found is not a great formula for success when you consider that in the U.S. more Google searches are done on mobile devices than on computers, and overall, online search is the #1 source of information for well, just about everything these days. In fact, according to this Google study, 65% of online consumers look up more information online now than what they did just 2 years ago, and 66% of us will turn to our smartphone during a commercial to look up something they just saw. But there is some good news. Correcting these website mistakes don’t have to break the bank, and can be updated relatively quickly if you work with the right web development and design team (Shameless Plug Alert: Corsica Tech has an excellent Web Team that can work with you to re-design an affordable responsive WordPress site that offers a modern user experience. Just give us a call at 877-367-9348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or take advantage of a free website consultation with one of our experts!) Here are 3 of the biggest reasons that your website might actually be working against you. These are mistakes that you need to correct immediately in order to rehabilitate your brand online.
Reason #1 – You don’t have a mobile-friendly website.
First things first – what does it mean to be mobile-friendly or have a responsive design? In the simplest terms, having a mobile-friendly website means that it is coded to automatically respond or adapt visually based on the device that it is being viewed on. So if a user visits your site on a desktop computer it looks one way, but when viewed on a tablet or an iPhone, the visual presentation will be altered to make it easy to view and navigate on the smaller screen. It might sound overwhelming, but WordPress website templates are all responsive by default. Google announced a major change to the search algorithm that would give more weight to mobile-friendly sites in April 2015…and as the world’s #1 search engine, when Google says sites need to be mobile-friendly, we need to listen. The result of Mobilegeddon, according to Adobe, has been about a 10% decrease in traffic via organic search to websites that are not optimized for mobile. Some of the practical indicators that you do not have a mobile-friendly website include text that is too small and hard to read, links that are too close together, and not having a mobile viewpoint set, which keeps all the content on the screen without forcing a user to move right or left to find what they are looking for. If you’ve ever pulled up a site online that it’s responsive, you know what we mean by this. It’s impossible to read and you can’t easily click through to what you want. You can test your website for mobile-friendliness, just enter your URL here.
What does a “failed” mobile-friendly website test result really mean?
It means that Google will not favorably rank your site. And what that means is that if a user is searching for your product or service with search terms like “accountant in YOUR AREA”, you may very well be a fantastic and reliable accountant in that area, but you are not going to ever break into the top rankings for that search term if you aren’t mobile-friendly. Because giving favorable ranking to sites that pass the mobile-friendly test has the net effect of penalizing sites that do not. If that doesn’t get your attention, maybe this will – Google research found that only 9% of users say they will not stay on a mobile site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs, i.e. finding relevant information quickly or easily navigating to what they were searching for. On top of that, 66% of those who leave are more likely to take negative action against your brand, such as deciding to never visit the site again, not purchasing from that business, or immediately awarding their business to a competitor’s site.
Reason #2 – Your site is outdated in design and doesn’t provide a quality user experience
Visitors to your site expect certain things, and if the site doesn’t measure up they will immediately move on to your competitor. And it’s really all about the user experience. Oh – and design matters. You may have the best product in the universe but if you have the equivalent of 1970’s shag carpet and flowered wallpaper as the background, you will be dismissed. Which is why we’ll say this again: Design matters. Period. If you want to see how your design measures up, check out your competitor’s sites. Outdated designs are easy to spot, and by the same token you can see certain trends and themes in sites that are modern and fresh. You might not know why but our guess is that you can easily determine which sites have recently had a fresh coat of paint applied. To help you determine if your site needs a facelift, evaluate it against these 6 qualifications:
- Homepage – is it too cluttered? It’s been proven that the more choices you give someone, the less likely they are to act. So your homepage should not look like a South of the Border junk shop. If it does you need to take a step back and streamline and simplify your messaging.
- Homepage – does it say too little? If you have ever visited a site’s homepage and been left wondering what they actually do, you know what we mean. When it comes to your homepage you want to think like Goldilocks and find a happy medium that’s not too hot, and not too cold but just right. So make sure you clearly state your value on the homepage and don’t leave visitors guessing. Because they don’t’ want to – and won’t – work that hard to decode your brand.
- Is it easy to navigate? The rule of thumb is that if it takes visitors more than 3 clicks to get to what they wanted, they will abandon your site in favor of someone else’s. So it’s critical than your overall design start from the perspective of the most important facets of your business and that you build your site map and navigation from there. Decide ahead of time what action you want visitors to take, and then make it easy for them to take that action.
- Have you made it clear what action you want them to take? This goes hand in hand with the overall navigation but it’s worth mentioning as a stand-alone item. You need to make it crystal clear what action you want a visitor to take. If your goal is to build your subscription list, then highlight that Call to Action, and even use directional cues to lead them to the form. Too many sites shy away from clearly and boldly stating the desired action. That is a mistake because if someone has taken the time to get to your site, you are in effect abandoning them at the goal line.
- Are your contact forms too long? If you want someone to sign up for your newsletter or your blog or download a white paper, you may lose them at the conversion point if the form is too long. The ideal length is 3-5 fields. Anything more than that and the user may decide it’s not worth the time and effort. And if you don’t even have contact forms, see above about having clear calls to action!
- Is your value proposition clear and customer-focused? This is a biggie. We already talked about how you want to be sure to communicate clearly on your homepage and in your calls to action what you do and what action you want visitors to take. But you need to take it one step further and craft your value proposition (what you do, what you stand for) in a way that is customer-focused. It’s the “why should they care?” or “what’s in it for the customer?” test. Because no one wants to read an online brochure for a product or service that talks only about what you do. Newsflash – no one cares. But they do care about what it does for them.
So for example, in our case, we get nowhere by telling you that we provide award-winning IT service to businesses. Sure it’s what we do, but presenting it in that way doesn’t resonate with anyone because it’s all about us. Instead, we talk about how outsourcing your IT saves you time and money, letting you focus on running your business and not worrying about your IT. We take away the IT headaches. It’s the same message but flipped on its head to address the pain points that we are in business to solve. Your messaging needs to do the same if you want to attract the interest and loyalty of your potential customers. You are probably seeing a theme here but if you don’t, we’ll make it clear for you to wrap this section up. Website visitors want to find information quickly, and they want to be presented with clear messaging and suggested actions. They want the user experience to be an easy one and if they have to work too hard on your site they will bounce because they know that the next site on the list will probably give them what they really want. And they won’t ever come back.
Reason #3 – Your site isn’t optimized for the search engines
SEO (search engine optimization) is directly related to Reason #1 and being mobile-friendly. We discussed above how Google is giving favorable ranking to mobile-friendly sites, and how not having a responsive site is going to negatively impact your rankings. But now let’s take one step back to decipher what SEO means and how it impacts your site. SEO itself is a complex topic to really dig into fully, but in a nutshell it means that you are following basic SEO guidelines for keyword tagging, naming your URL’s and your basic website structure that make it easier to be found in organic search results. (We encourage you to click the link above and check out the beginner’s guide to SEO from Moz – it’s a great resource that we ourselves have used.) To explain this in practical, user-friendly terms, think of it this way. When you search for something using a phrase or specific keyword, the search engine (Google, Yahoo! or Bing) returns a list of results that you can look through and then eventually click through to get to a site that answers your questions, or solves your problem. Intuitively we believe that the #1 result in that list is the “best” one and generally we believe that the top 3 or 4 are going to give us the best, most current and relevant information. And this is where you want to be found. Because past the first handful of results, our brains tell us that they are probably not good returns and we ignore them. It’s really the ultimate example of being one of the cool kids! To put this into context further, think about your own habits. How often do you go into the 2nd or 3rd page of results returned to you by a search engine. Probably never. And how often do you choose from the top 3 or 4 items as long as the short description (known as a meta description) matches what you were looking for? Ever notice how the phrase you searched on is highlighted in that description? That is keyword tagging at its best. That site has intentionally been tagged with that phrase for one reason – organic search. If you’ve never searched for your own site, stop reading this article and do that right now. You might find that when you search by your business name, your competitor’s site comes up ahead of your site. Ouch. Then trying searching by a few keywords relevant to your business without using your actual business name. Think about what you would enter if you were a consumer searching for the product or service you offer and see what you get back. It might be very eye-opening. Sites that are optimized will rank higher because they have been properly tagged for the keywords that people interested in that product or service are likely to enter into the search engine. The search engines have indexed these sites because the content on them is relevant to a particular search term and they are basically saying to the searchee, “hey this site is a good match for what you are looking for.” Those sites get served up on a platter and as long as the message match is good and the site offers a quality user experience, the user isn’t likely to continue beyond that result. Really the bottom line is that the higher you rank, the more traffic you will get to your site. SEO then is simply the mechanism for getting ranked and it’s a must that your site be optimized. Again the mechanics of how you do this are a bit more complex, because for a site to be properly tagged and optimized it will require keyword research and the creation of good content that gets pushed out on a regular basis. But for today, the real question is whether or not your site is optimized. If it’s not then it’s a project that needs to make it to the top of your to-do list pronto. So there you have it – the top 3 reasons that your site might be detracting from your brand instead of helping it. If you are guilty of 1, 2 or all 3 of these, then you first decision has already been made for you. It’s without a doubt time to update your website. In that regard you have a couple of options. One is to take your existing site “as-is” and convert it to a responsive design in WordPress, the most widely used content management system for websites today. The better option is to take the opportunity to do the conversion for mobile-friendliness and also to update the overall look and feel of your site to make sure that the navigation, calls to action, value proposition and contact forms are helping you put your best foot forward. And your final decision is who to turn to for website design and development. Corsica Tech has a fantastic web design team ready to work with you to modernize your site. We can do a brand audit, write and edit your content, and create the final product at a price that won’t break the bank. All sites are built in WordPress – the most widely used platform today – which means you can maintain it yourself with its user-friendly content management tools. Let us know when you are ready to give your website the modern look that your business needs. Our web design team is ready to take your call upgrade your online presence today!