Psychology-Driven Brand Design. Creating and Refining Remarkable Brand Identities.

Don’t Blame Google for Your Bad Website

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See, I went to said business owner’s website and I was less than impressed. Let me set the stage: I was hit with a wall — a WALL — of text. With no formatting, no spacing, no consideration to the readability. Nestled within this wall were five or six generic-looking stock photos. It was a single page site, but I wasn’t even compelled to scroll to the bottom of it. When I did get to the bottom, there was a Google map and contact information, but aside from the phone number listed, there was no way to contact them immediately. And worst of all, there was NO call to action. Nothing saying, “Contact us for a quote.” No button to click for more information. No special offer to claim. No ask at all.

What not to do? Yeah, pretty much.

Now, it’s generally a good idea to direct people to a landing page, as opposed to your website, when running campaigns. However, it sounded like this particular business owner was using AdWords to direct people to his website home page (which was actually his entire site). Quite unfortunate, because their site was horrible for conversions. Frankly, I was not at all surprised that his phone wasn’t ringing off the hook during his AdWords campaign.

Getting people to your website is only half the battle. Once they are there, what will they do? If people are coming to your website but you aren’t getting any business, that may be an indication that you need to work on your website. Don’t blame Google.

Yet, that’s what he did — blamed Google. A shame, really. Isn’t it funny how we tend to villianize things we don’t understand? I’m not picking on this poor guy — we all do it, at one time or another. So, I get it. But the problem is, by pointing the finger at something else, you never actually get to the root of the issue. At no point in time did this business owner ask if there were other considerations that could result in a poor result from using Google AdWords. Not once did he consider that there could be anything wrong with his website. Yet, for me, a little yellow flag went up when he said he received “zero phone calls” from new customers. While the effective method of contact will vary with industry, anybody in this day and age that is not utilizing a more technologically advanced method (i.e. a web form) needs to make sure they are catering to users’ expectations of what the internet is for (i.e. convenience).

How to get better results when using Google AdWords

I’d tell this guy that before using Google AdWords to waste his money, he should’ve used Google to search for “conversion optimization” and put some best practices to use.

In the interest of preventing another business owner from wrongfully crucifying Google, here are four quick basic-level tips for helping boost your conversion rate:

1. Copy is king.

What your webpage says is crucially important, particularly when you are focusing on conversions. You’ll need a compelling headline. One that is relevant and specific. You’ll need relatable body text that your audience can understand. Less is generally more, unless you’re selling a high ticket product or service. (The more money people have to pay for your product, the more copy it will take to convince them to do it). Still, if you have walls of text, you’ll bore most people away. Make sure it’s readable, with enough white space around it. 

2. Avoid using cheesy stock photos.

Investing in one quality image will be much more effective than multiple generic, irrelevant, or unrelatable stock images. The visual is the easiest way to engage people, and our brains process images faster than words. Which means the image you use makes an immediate, and even subconscious, impact to the viewer.

3. Use web forms.

Don’t just list a phone number. Yes, that’s important, but a web form is the simplest way for someone to contact you while you capture their information in a database. (And a web form is functional around the clock, even while you’re cozy in your bed at 2:00 a.m.). Your form can be simple, depending on the information you need to capture. If the purpose of your form is allow people to contact you for a quote, you may need them to share details of their project. If it is a simpler lead generation form, maybe all you need is a name and an email address. But in general, people are averse to forms that are long, confusing, or ask for too much or private information.

4. Always, always, always have a call to action (CTA).

A call-to-action is your chance to ask your visitor to do something – to take action. That may be a link that says “click here to get a free assessment” or a button proclaiming “Download our report!”. It could simply be a headline that makes the visitor want to read further. Buttons (as opposed to text links) are great visual cues for CTAs, because people expect that clicking on a button will do something.

As with everything conversion-related, you’ll want to test, test, test. Test different headlines, test different CTA’s, test layout tweaks. Conversion optimization is never-ending once you start. You should always be measuring, monitoring, and tweaking to improve your conversions.

It’s not always Google’s fault.

I’m not necessarily advocating for Google here, but in this case, I’d say this one is definitely not on them. Before you go pointing fingers, just make sure you’re holding up your end of the bargain.

Nyla Smith

Nyla Smith

Nyla is a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Front-End Web Developer and Consultant with over 15 years of experience. She is the owner of n-Vision Designs, LLC in Hampton Roads, Virginia, which exists to provide marketing support and brand consulting to small- and medium-sized businesses needing creative solutions. Contact Nyla if you'd like to discuss your next creative project. She can usually be bribed to a meeting with a cup of green tea and an oatmeal cookie.

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