10 ways your website can scare away traffic


Published on: 28 Jan 2017
8 min read

Ok, so why should you believe that these are the ten signs that scare the traffic away from your website? Why not a different set of reasons? Sure. May be there are 10 more. Even 20. You see the point is to start thinking about making your website retain the traffic that you took pains to generate. Then convert some of it into buying whatever you have to offer. We at Gurujada have worked with, analyzed and seen hundreds of businesses spend hard earned revenue on building good looking websites, on getting traffic, only to end up with a good looking website, but ugly looking traffic stats - high bounce rate, abysmal time on page, and close to zero conversion rates. This post aims to list down a few common patterns that were observed in websites of those businesses that struggle to get a handle on their traffic.

Let’s start with the monster - the page speed.

People are increasingly getting impatient about how long a web page takes to load. I personally don’t wait beyond 3-4 sec for the page to load, and in case it takes longer I tend to close it and move on; unless of course my life depended on me going through the website. Traditional methods of building websites compromised speed over aspects like convenience of maintaining the website, or the look and feel. Same is the case with CMS’ like Wordpress that depend solely on some plugins doing the magic rather than offering nimbleness of the website as an inherent value. The result is sloppy pages that are a punishment to go through on slower connections. No wonder visitors dread the thought of coming back.

Let’s start with the monster

Mobile unresponsive:

When I have something I want to look up on the web, my default action is to Google it on my mobile. Say when someone mentions a brand, or a product or service they liked, I end up checking it up on my mobile real quick. A Year or so ago I would see some lousy results from my search that included websites that either wouldn’t open on my mobile, or would show up in a way that would make it difficult to read, and navigate. Unless I had to check that websites out, I would go back to the search results and continue looking for better results.

Of late, Google started to really care for the search experience on mobile devices and the impact is amazing. I no longer see those lousy results (except on some very rare searches, and I mean really rare), instead I started to see the ⚡ icon appear along with a tag that reads “AMP”. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and you can read more about it here.

Importantly, as a business owner looking to rank for a set of search terms, AMP is an important aspect to consider having on at least those pages that you expect to see ranking well. Secondly, it is obvious that Google and your traffic would hate to see your pages unfriendly to mobile devices.

Lack of a thought through design:

A number of business owners act naive when it comes to ensuring a smooth user experience on their website. As business grows the number of pages on your website grow and with a poor planning, things run out of hand and you end up with unrelated pages on your website in a large number. So you start fiddling with the navigation trying to make sure links point from one page to another in a bid to ensure a thorough coverage of all the pages, or at least most of them. This hampers the user experience in a big way.

Yes, agreed that you want to see those Google Analytics metrics like time spent on the website, number of pages visited etc to be on the higher side. And having a poorly thought out design gives you these numbers very easily, but at what cost? Will your visitor ever dare come back?

Errors:

This is the most ignored one on the list. Unfortunately, unless you have an SEO working on your website or you are savvy about Google Webmasters and Search console, you will almost never come to know of these errors on your website. I’m talking about the 404s (page not found, wow - your visitor has no clue what to do), 502s (bad gateway - how about learning some technology poor visitor?), and a load of other errors that simply leave a bad taste (and a lasting one) in your visitor. In addition, Google penalizes you for leaving the errors unattended to and drops your ranking potential.

Errors

No possible or relevant action:

Just like a newspaper. You don’t want people to come to your website, read through the copy, see the images and videos you may have and then leave without doing much. That sort of a behavior works just fine for news websites, but not for you and I. So what, you may ask. You take pains to get people on your website and then they have nothing to do to become your subscribers, leads, customers, you name it. In this post from Kissmetrics, you would see the lack of a good Call to Action being a key reason for lack of conversions.

No reason to come back:

We work with a number of new businesses and get requirements for a membership section where they want people to keep coming and sign up for more products or services. We ask them one question - Why should your member come back? What is it at stake for the visitor to make a second visit? Unless you have compelling answers for these, there is no point in having a membership section. Similarly, unless you have a reason for a visitor to come back to your website - could be to read a new blog post, access some resources, or to attend an event, it is difficult to sustain your traffic and the associated KPIs like time spent on page, engagement etc.

Too much interruption:

Entrepreneurs are spoiled by choice these days with so many widgets, pop up based sign up forms and other intrusive ways of engaging visitors on their website. Welcome mats, pop ups that show up as a visitor looks to close the tab, timed pop ups with offers have become so easy to implement with the rise of tools like SumoMe. While the intention is to be direct with the visitors about your communication and stress on the most important information, these interruptions are no less annoying than those ugly pop ads we always hated to see. Unless executed well, these intrusive tactics drive traffic away than convert them into subscribers or customers.

Bad copy:

Agreed that you know your business like no one else does. Consequently, you like to write the copy for your website and not let someone else do it for you. Fair, if you can write clearly and succinctly, and understand exactly what cuts the ice with your targeted audience, you are the best person to write the copy. However, far too many times we have seen founders writing copy that can’t necessarily be called great copy. Not that they write badly, not even that they can’t articulate the messaging. It is just that a number of founders don’t write good copy. The problem is that they are not aware of it. The result? Confused visitors leaving for good. It is always a good idea to get a friend who fits your target audience to read through the copy and comment. You’ll be surprised to see the impact it has on your copy.

Bad SEO tactics:

There were two hats in the SEO world - the white hat that played by the rules of Search Engines, and the black hat that attempted to stretch those rules. Search Engines (especially Google) have become smarter ever since, and black hat is rarely practiced these days. Additionally, white started to turn into shades of gray and the line between what is white and what isn’t is blurred. This means there is a ton of junk advice on the internet about what is good and what isn’t from an SEO angle, and it is very difficult for the uninitiated to really see the difference between good advice and junk. Often times, founders tend to fall prey to the junk advice and risk negative SEO - the term used for penalties imposed by search engines.

Bad SEO tactics

When search engines frown upon you and subject your website to the wrath of their ranking algorithm, the losses in traffic can be huge. You are better off
a). Taking advice from credible sources (Moz for example)
b). Talk to someone who has had success with SEO (Get help on this from here).

Lack of https:

This isn’t as obvious for some of us but for a lot of folks worried about privacy, it matters. It matters especially when you are looking to get someone to buy stuff on your website, or even to get them to share their details like name, email id, address etc. Google has heavily backed the use of https to an extent of favoring websites that are using https versus those who don’t when it comes to search results. Don’t trust me on that? Read this insightful post from Moz. Basically https tells your visitors that your website sends data using Encryption (keeping it secured), ensures Data Integrity (data can’t be modified or corrupted) so your visitors can share their information on your website with the trust that their personal information is in safe hands. The lack of https on the other hand discourages people to share that info, reducing the chances of visitors returning to your website.

You may write to us at hello@gurujada.com. I hope that was useful. Please share your thoughts in the comments and let’s make this conversation useful for all of us.

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