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7 Website Design Mistakes That Are Killing Your SEO and Conversions

Oct 26, 2015 | Online Marketing, SEO, Web Design

Did you know that you might inadvertently be killing your own SEO and conversion rates on your website by some simple design and website management mistakes? Good web design and elements can boost sales and help with optimization. And, there are other web design elements or practices that can hinder your website’s ranking and conversions.

For a little background, your SEO is your search engine optimization. It’s how your website is found organically (as in without spending money on AdWords and other forms of advertising) online. And, your conversion rate is the proportion of visitors to a website who take action to go beyond a casual content view or website visit. In other words, it’s what leads to the act of converting visitors to your site into paying customers or clients.

Make sure you aren’t doing these following “conversion killers” on your website or you could be hindering your chances of a successful website for your brand or company.

1. Very Little Or No Content

Quality content that is constantly updated is the most important thing you can do for your website. Building a website and just letting it sit out there in cyberspace with no updates and no refreshing is one of the most common mistakes I see people make.

Search engines prefer websites that have lots of original content they can index and crawl. This means you must be updating your sites to stay relevant to Google, Bing and other search engines. Sites that are doing it well are constantly adding content to their website for visitors to read. Sometimes through blogging, other times through adding additional “evergreen pages” to their site.

A mistake I often see my clients make is posting updates and notices on a semi-regular basis, but only by putting a graphic in their blog update, with their text embedded in the picture or graphic itself, or just posting photos from an event with no description.

Search engines cannot see photos, or read the text inside of graphics, so they are missing a huge opportunity for adding good searchable content to their websites by not taking the time to write an actual article to go along with their graphics and pictures.

In a study done by serpIQ, which examined the top 10 search results for 20,000+ keywords, they found that pages showing up in the top 10 list for any keyword had, on average, a page content length of 2,000 words. This means that your goal should be about 2,000 words per web page article or blog post to make some sort of impact in your SEO. At the very least, try to eek out 500 on each and every single blog post or page that you create. Putting none on a blog post means you have missed an important SEO opportunity.

2. Auto-Sliders

While they were the “cool” thing to have for several years, and many potential clients are still asking for them, automatic sliders generally aren’t very helpful to most websites. Most internet visitors like to be in control of their experience when visiting a site and this feature could be killing your conversions.

Usability studies have been done that show that autostart image sliders, or carousels weren’t very effective for conversion rates. Only the first slide in a series is likely to receive some interaction by website visitors, and, even then, it was only about one percent. Hardly worth the hit you take in page speed to have them if you ask me.

So, while you may think they are “cool” and everything, your visitors could probably care less about them and they are only annoying them and slowing down the loading times of the pages they are on. This brings us to the next problem.

3. Slow Loading Pages

Nobody wants to wait for a page on a website to load. If it isn’t loading quickly your visitors are likely to simply move on to a different site. They will never even see all of your content and products.

And, with more and more people visiting websites from their mobile devices, using their mobile internet plans, slow loading pages are an even bigger problem than in years past. 73% of mobile internet users report that they have encountered a website that was too slow to load and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

According to KISSmetrics, a delay of even one second can reduce your conversions by seven percent. So, imagine if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, just a 1-second page delay could potentially cost them $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

4. Too Many Images On A Page

While images are certainly needed to spruce up designs and draw attention to the content on your pages, remember that they must be used sparingly to make sure that your load times don’t suffer and they don’t overpower your text. Pages filled with excessive pictures and graphics generally tend to have lower rankings.

Also, be sure that your images are sized correctly for the web and not too large, dragging down your page load speeds with them. And, be sure that you are including a descriptive and appropriate “alt” and “title” tags with each image you post, so search engines know what your pictures are about. Otherwise, your pictures mean nothing to the search engines, as they can’t “see” them and determine what they are.

5. Using Images Instead Of Actual Text For Important Elements

I have seen many people attempt to use images for their page titles, which are generally the H1 tags of a page and very important to search engines, because they like a cool font and don’t know how to make it happen using the text they have to work with from within WordPress or whatever program they are building their website with.

Or, they want their page to look a certain way and don’t know how to make it happen with HTML, so they design the whole page as an image in Photoshop so it looks like what they want.

Or, they want to use cute little pictures for their navigation menu, instead of text.

These “shortcuts” to making your page look the exact way you want it to are all hugely detrimental to websites. Search engines simply can’t know what text is inside an image or what an image stands for, aside from the “alt” tag you provide for it, if you do so at all (and many people don’t). Search engines need to be able to “see” text in order to understand what your page is about.

If you are frustrated because you can’t make your page look a certain way, find a different way to style the page that you will like, learn some CSS so you can style it how you would like, or hire a website designer to assist you in getting the look you desire.

6. Using Too Much Javascript Or Too Many Plugins

Using too much Javascript or too many WordPress plugins can cause your site load speeds to suffer as well. Again, slow loading pages will cause visitors to leave and search engine rankings to take a dive.

Certainly, if the scripting or plugins are needed to make your site functional use them, but think long and hard if you really must. Sometimes people try to throw different things into their websites just because “they can,” not because they really need to. Try to keep the extraneous stuff to a bare minimum to keep your page load speed times fast.

7. Not Updating The Look Of Your Site On A Regular Basis

When you do get visitors to your site, if you can’t keep them there it is all for nothing. Nobody likes a page that is boring and dull or one that looks like it hasn’t been updated in 10 years.

When a visitor happens upon a site that looks dated, they immediately form an opinion about the company. They may think your company is old and dated and doesn’t keep up with modern times. Or, even worse, they may think it is a site that belongs to a company that is no longer in business.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of old websites still online for companies that are no longer in operation. In some instances, a company may have paid for their website hosting and domain names for several years in advance and simply forgot to take it down when the closed up shop. And, sometimes people just continue to pay their hosting bills every month, even though they don’t pay a bit of attention to their website and have forgotten about it.

Most people will simply click away as quickly as they arrived, moving on to a more current competitor when coming upon an old looking site.

I am amazed at the number of sites I run across that look like they haven’t been touched in 10 or 15 years, for companies that are currently in business and actually still using them for their main online advertising. As a general rule, I tell people they should consider refreshing their sites every 3 to 5 years.

As with clothes, cars and most anything else, website styles change over time. Technologies that were “cool” or “in” grow overused and dated within several years. A refresh of your website is really needed to stay modern and current.


Photo Credit: FirmBee / Pixabay

Nora Kramer
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