30/01/2013

Is your landing page scaring off potential customers?

Español: Logotipo "Scaring" contra e...
"Scaring" (Photo credit: Wikipedia; CC 3.0 Sharealike)
Over on Empire Avenue this evening - only the second time in 2013 (slaps wrist) - I was inexplicably drawn to the Blogging Community there.

Now, I work on freelance sites and have always shied away from jobs asking to 'review my site' when there's an attached wage.

When people want me to do it for free, I've got no problem.  I'll die skint, but I'll surely go to Heaven.

Such was the case tonight.  A guy named Rahul was obviously experiencing problems with his blog's bounce rate, customer engagement and encouraging clicks, let alone commissions.

Does your blog work hard or work smart?

A lot of work had gone into setting out the blog, a double row of page tabs across the header, drop-down menus and ad placements (lots of ad placements).

All of the work, however, meant a lot of fuss with no real boundaries (word of the day, boundaries - fourth time) to keep the content reigned in:
  • Text from ads seemed to spill over into the article itself
  • A 'you-are-here' path hovered inexplicably between an ad under the fold and above the article title (No shit, Sherlock?)
  • And nothing seemed to begin or end anywhere.
I tried as best as I could to point these errors out gently and hope the gentleman was not offended by the response his plea for help generated:
Jason Darrell: Hi, Rahul. I have a couple of initial thoughts about your blog.
Firstly, the content. You're obviously a guy with a passion for iPad. The majority of users have a passing interest, although they may like to keep up [with the trend] to an extent.
On your front page, the first snippet - or great block - of text you see is:
"Apple just announced their brand new 128GB iPad with Retina display on a press release. The new 128GB iPad was first rumored by 9to5Mac as they saw support for it on iOS 6.1 Beta 5 logs. This is not a redesign or a new model for the iPad. You still get the same A6X Chip..."
That's way over and above most laymen's comprehension of the product/niche and the majority, I suggest, are turned off by that depth of techno detail.
My second observation is the layout of text. Recent studies have confirmed that surfers scan web copy, not read as in the traditional sense of a book or broadsheet newspaper.
Current thinking is that by reducing the size of paragraphs, a page looks more appealing for the average surfer.
Furthermore, text interspersed with H2 & H3 headers and relevant, non-overpowering images will also help to keep your bounce rate down.
An example of what I mean can be found on a new blog I've just started, here.
And tertiary, if I was being ultra-picky, the 'How to start a blog' ad between the fold and the article is extremely confusing.
This is especially true as there are no boundaries to restrain the text, thus retain the reader's attention.
That ad may look better moved to the sidebar and be less obtrusive.
This would allow the article to sit directly beneath the fold/list of tabs across the top of the page.
Likewise, the 'You Are Here' map across the headline - is that necessary, at least where it is?
Perhaps if it was placed beneath the article - when the tabs are out of site - a path would have merit.  But it's in the way at the top.
Why not try getting the tab for the page upon which the surfer resides turn a different colour the others to signify where they are?
Google is very keen on delivering its surfers the goods as soon as they land on a page they've ranked for the search term query.
Your site may be being affected in the rankings due to the amount of code, ads and widgets between the Head and the Body of the article.
I hope this has helped, Rahul; to recap:
  • by speaking in terms consumers can comprehend (dumbing it down),
  • by making clear what is and isn't the article (stright to the article) and
  • by removing all ads between the tabs
then the article, its content and the clear headline will:
  1. reduce bounce rate as customers will feel more at ease on site and
  2. will please Google (lay-out, time on site and possible clicks/shares), subsequently achieving the rise in rankings and availing you of more page views.
Sorry if [the review] sounds harsh, but the solutions to your two queries are really very simple to implement; it's just knowing what the problems are, half of the time, that is the problem itself.
All the very best, bud.
Jason D, aka Zebedeerox  

What on-page barriers are there to customer engagement?


In my eagerness to be first to respond to Rahul, I forgot the most blindingly obvious barrier to engagement and retention within the article itself:
Jason Darrell: Hi, Rahul - sorry bud. One last thing.
The huge ad in the middle of the article. It just screams: "I want to sell to you and earn a commission."
Sure, have a small picture as you do in the article preview.
However, you already have the prices listed beneath the article.
I would consider linking those lines to your sales gateway rather than the picture.
Hot-linking images is yet another frowned-upon activity by Google going on on your blog.
Okay - I'll leave you alone, now.
All the best,
J. xxx
With Google weighting readership more and more, it pays to understand what's expected of a landing page.

Furthermore, ask yourself these three key questions and answer them truthfully:
  • How did your customer find your landing page?  
    • Was it through an optimised link or Search Engine?  
    • Either way, does your post deliver what the breadcrumbs or the anchor text in the link told the customer they were going to get?
  • Can your customer differentiate immediately where the snippet of information is they came looking for compared with everything else on site?
  • What does your call to action say about you?
    •  Does it add further value to your review or article?
    •  Or does it reek of desperation and a none-too-conspicuous sales pitch that would have a customer heading for the door if you were in a car showroom?
I'm no SEO expert, but I have picked up a little along the way.  Writing for the many expert webmasters who've given me a chance in this crazy, molten marketplace has at least made me a little knowledge-rich, if not yet able to retire to Clacton-on-Sea.

For further reading, please feel free to check out the related articles below that go into more depth than my overview on Empire Avenue of Rahul's site.  

Alternatively, drop us a comment with your own thoughts and pop in a link back to your own site in the process.
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