When I do personal blog consultations either on an Academy mastermind call, a blog critique, or a 1-on-1 consultation… I see a lot of commonalities. Common mistakes.
They’re trying. Really hard. They’re doing what they THINK should work, but it just isn’t. And, that’s often what brings them to somebody like me.
When I look at their site, I see the problems. See, it is one thing to talk about building traffic… but it is quite another to evaluate an existing site and ensure that it FLOWS well and is going to make optimum use of whatever traffic you drive its way. And, so many blog owners get so focused on the traffic part of it that they’re completely forgetting about the CONVERSION part of it.
How many people are getting on your list?
Are you making any sales?
Are you getting people to do anything at all? Or are you squandering the opportunity of a visitor on your site, driving them away and driving up your bounce rate?
Let me tell you what I see a lot of.
#1 – Missing or Hidden Opt-in Form
It is really amazing me to me just how many blogs I see out there which either don’t have an opt-in form at all… or they pack it into some widget on the sidebar or (worse yet) the footer. It is true that sidebar and footer placements for an opt-in can make sense (I use them), but if that’s the ONLY place you do it, it is such a lost opportunity.
If you have any intentions with your blog which are bigger than talking to yourself and your mom, you NEED an email list. This isn’t a matter of “someday maybe I will”, or “when I have enough money”. In the scheme of internet business, this is as important as BREATHING is to your living for the next 5 minutes.
And, the #1 priority of your blog is to build the list. All other concerns are secondary.
Oh, and don’t make people HUNT for your opt-in forms. They’ll NEVER find it that way. To make an opt-in form convert, it needs to be immediately noticeable, relevant and natural to what they’re doing at the time they see it, and what they want.
#2 – Poor Management of Attention
Attention is like an energy, and it must be managed just as water flow must be managed. When a person arrives on your site, their attention will land somewhere… and from there it will flow somewhere. The “trick” is to control where the attention lands and where it flows. You want their attention on the things you want them to do.
A lot of sites mismanage this in a pretty big way. Most typical blogs pack the screen with so much crap that there is no place for the attention to land. The attention scatters and you’re FAR more likely to send the user away from your site immediately.
In other cases, I see a site which (purposely or not) focuses the attention pretty well, but then doesn’t control the flow. For example, I recently consulted with a lady who had a compelling image on her homepage. It had a picture of her, along with a strong statement which immediately tells the reader what the site is all about and why they should care. If I recall, that image even had a call to action on it. But, then…. NOTHING. The image wasn’t clickable. There was no opt-in form. NOTHING. It was like the flow of attention hit a brick wall with no way out.
Managing attention starts with knowing exactly what the purpose of your site is and what you want people to do. Then, using design elements and color, you guide and manage your reader’s attention into those things.
#3 – Getting Stuck In Your Own Head
When it is your site, you end up getting tunnel vision on the thing. So, you start doing things which YOU think are cool. Or you have things on the site which make sense to YOU, but your new visitor remains completely oblivious to. YOU care because it is your site. THEY don’t care one damn bit about you, how awesome you are, how long you’ve been in business, how awesome your customer support is, how witty your logo or tagline is…. you get the idea.
ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THEMSELVES. They care about what you can do for them.
One of the best ways to get out of your own head and avoid tunnel vision is to have others go through your site and tell you their reactions. What is the first thing their eyes land on? Can they find something specific? What are they looking for and can they find it? How does your content strike them? Do they understand it?
#4 – Crappy, Boring Headlines
Oh, God, I see this one alot. Just boring, flat headlines. It is like the writer just said “fuggit” and put in some dumb keyword in the headline.
Listen, this is a HEADLINE. Just like in the news media, the headline has to be engaging and make people give a sh*t. Take a look at the garbage gazettes in the grocery store checkout line some time. Observe how they specifically tailor those headlines to make you want to pick it up.
As an example, one client site I saw one time was about online video. One of the blog posts was simply “Lighting for Video”. That’s it. Flat as a pancake. Also incredibly vague and isn’t going to necessarily attract anybody of any specific interest. From a marketing perspective, it is a waste of time. Instead, something like “How To Light Your Videos Like A Pro On A Shoestring Budget”. Hey, that’s more interesting.
Again, get into the reader’s head. Enter the conversation which is already happening within their heads. Give them what they want.
#5 – “Just Because I Can” Widgets
A lot of users of Wordpress get WAY too widget happy. They see that there’s a widget for search, for meta links, for a blog roll, for a list of categories, for archives… and they just stuff them ALL in there just for the sake of making the sidebar busy.
A “just because I can” widget is a widget that you stick in there merely because it exists. It has NO – and I mean ZERO – strategic reason for being there.
Don’t have a search box on your sidebar if you don’t have that much content. It will just lead your reader into likely dead ends.
Don’t show links to archives in your sidebar – especially the kind broken down into months. Readers just don’t navigate that way. And dropdowns are annoying to use.
Don’t use blog rolls. Those things were popular 10 years ago, but at least in my opinion, have no real purpose on a blog which you’re intending to use for business purposes.
A lot of sidebar widgets are just clutter. And they serve to scatter attention (see #2 above).
#6 – “We” When You Really Mean “I”
Chances are that most of you reading this post right now are working alone. Even if you run a business, there’s a good chance that you’re a solopreneur. So, there is no need to go around and try to look bigger than you are by littering your site with “we”.
People like to do business with real people.
#7 – Banner Ads
In a lot of cases, running banner ads on your blog is a mistake.
If you are running a blog which you want to use to market products, sell products, or market your own business…. DO NOT host banner ads on your site UNLESS they are for your own stuff. Those ads are distracting, and it distracts from what you want them to do.
If you are a blogger and simply trying to earn some money from your blog, don’t try to eke out every penny by littering your blog with ads. It detracts from the user experience in a big way… and for what? A few nickels? It isn’t worth it. Plus, the presence of those ads will detract from more effective means of monetization such as affiliate marketing.
#8 – Too Much Content
This does hand-in-hand with #2 above about attention. When you give people way too many things to look at, their attention scatters and, psychologically, they are driven away.
And one way I see that people do this is simply to put too much content on the screen at once.
For example, some business sites user a blog theme which is designed to look like a magazine site. A business homepage need not try to look like CNN or something. Thin it out and focus on the calls to action.
Also, I see a lot of bloggers who list out full posts on their homepage. Say, the last 10 posts printed in full… right there on the homepage. It is just total overwhelm for the end user. I understand that some themes don’t allow this to be changed without a little bit of nerd knowledge, but don’t let that be an excuse for doing things wrong. Hire something on Fiverr to fix it for you.
My job is to help serious blog owners blog for business. If you feel you’re missing something on your site and just wasting energy with an?inefficient?site, consider my blog critique service. I will personally evaluate your site and provide you specific action steps to improve your site and maximize conversions. Click here to learn more.