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Why Your Confusing Website Content Is Costing You Business

By Jackie Van MeterJun 24, 2016

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How is your online money-making machine doing? Is it spitting out $100 bills at a rapid rate, or is it driving valuable prospects to your competitors?

Analytics will only tell part of the story, so if you aren't tracking visitor behavior in other ways, you might not actually know how your website is performing.

If you aren't getting the ROI you hoped for, it could be that you're driving customers away. It may be time to address some fundamental problems with your website.

Is your website content confusing your visitors? If so, it's definitely costing you business. Here are several reasons why this can happen and what you can do about it.

You're Not Updating Frequently Enough

How often does a website need to be refreshed? Every one to two years? Every three to five years?

In the past, this may be exactly what your designer or marketing team advised you to do. One major update every one to two years sounds reasonable enough. But are you actually going to wait 365 to 730 days to re-evaluate your online presence and revise your content? That sounds like a long time when you think in terms of days rather than years, doesn't it?

Traditionally, websites were just online business cards or brochures. Today, visitors expect a lot more from a website experience. They want to be able to browse from a desktop computer or from a mobile device, they want a healthy dose of visual content, and they want their questions answered fast.

So we can't just stay in maintenance mode anymore. We need to be thinking in terms of continuous and ongoing improvement, or growth-driven design.

It sounds simple enough, but if you aren't doing it, then your out-of-date, incomplete or erroneous content (for example, pages for products you no longer support), could be confusing your visitors and costing you business.

You Aren't Putting Mobile First

If last year's Google's mobile-friendly update—also known as Mobilegeddon—didn't get your attention, it should have.

If your site wasn't mobile-friendly at the time of the update, your site was penalized. Your desktop rankings may have gone unaffected, but your mobile rankings were almost certainly impacted. According to Mediative, 72 percent of consumers want mobile-friendly sites. And that number is only going to grow. If your visitors are browsing your site from a mobile device, and your site isn't optimized for mobile, odds are they are going to a competitor, and they might not be coming back.

A mobile-optimized site enhances the user experience. It's fast, easy to navigate and offers the information your target customer is looking for. When you take a mobile-first approach, it’s much easier to scale up from there. But starting with a bigger screen and scaling down is more of a challenge.

When a visitor browses on a mobile device, they are expecting your site to adapt to their screen size. If it doesn't, it shouldn't come as any surprise that your visitors are leaving your site confused.

You Don't Have User-Centric Content

Traditionally, brochures were more focused on the business than on the customer. The content was fixated on the product, the company's noteworthy achievements, its history, and so on.

There is a time and place for all of these things. But your visitors are probably leaving confused if you aren't answering their questions or solving their problems with your content.They may be coming to your website to learn about your product or services, which is a good thing. But if they can't get any of their questions answered, they're going to have to look elsewhere, which means they might not come back (let's not forget how distracting sites like YouTube and Facebook can be).

It's important to create content centered on your target audience. Most of it should be top-funnel, and provide clear, concise and easy-to-understand answers. Content creation isn't easy. It will require a well-developed strategy, and it will require research. You must understand your audience to create the kind of content they want and need.

The need to customize has also increased. In other words, you need to speak directly to your target customer. Useful information, in and of itself, isn't enough to draw in the people you're trying to reach.

Great content should also be accompanied by strong visuals. This means using relevant images to keep users engaged.

Visitors Can't Find What They're Looking For

It's frustrating when you just can't find what you're looking for, isn't it? Maybe you forgot where you put that client file last week, or maybe you left your glasses on your dresser without thinking.

Imagine how your visitors feel when they land on your website and they have no idea where they should go to solve their problem. If you're lucky, they might give you a chance and dig a little deeper. But many will assume you don't have what they want (even if you have the best solution on the market).

This is why navigation needs to be clear and straightforward. Other developments in technology and design, such as single-page parallax scrolling, has driven the need for clearer and even simpler website navigation than in times past.

This is another important reason to be user-centric in your approach. You can't point your audience in the right direction without knowing what they want or what they're trying to find. It's time to eliminate complicated, nested drop-down menus and to start simplifying your website structure so nothing is unnecessarily ambiguous or unclear.

Final Thoughts

Creating a high-performing website in today's online space requires a bit of a mindset shift, as it goes against traditional thinking for website design and content creation.

Content must be tailored to the visitor experience. It must be up-to-date, work on the device they're using, and answer the questions they have. Your site must be easy to navigate and help users find what they're looking for quickly and easily.

If you want to learn more about building an up-to-date website, get our High Performing Websites That Last eBook.

Download the High Performing Websites Guide

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The Author

Jackie Van Meter

Jackie is a seasoned media executive with 17 years of advertising sales, online media and event marketing experience. Jackie has helped to launch four magazines and their corresponding websites and apps, ranging from technical trade titles to local glossy tabloids. Working with national and local brands, Jackie has a proven track record of offering her clients earned, owned and paid media to grow their bottom line.
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