Set up your website? Check. Submitted it to the search engines? Check. Planned social media posts? Check. You’ve done everything you know how, yet your website doesn’t seem to be gaining any traction. You are attracting traffic, but you can’t entice them to opt-in to receive your newsletters, make a purchase, or even read a second page.
Your bounce rate is horrible. In fact, you lose those prime visitors who bounce as quickly as they land. You need to get more traffic, but you’re unsure of how to go about it.
You’re not alone. To help you identify why you’re not able to convert that traffic you’re receiving, we’ve assembled an epic list of mistakes that make your website lose visitors. We want to give you a comprehensive, in-depth look at some of the website elements that…well, let’s be honest.
They really annoy people.
These are the largest transgressions that website owners commonly make. Not all of them offend or irritate every user. In fact, some of these elements are necessary for your site, but you might not be executing them correctly.
Whatever the case, we are confident that you’ll find some great information that will help you clean up your online act and improve the results of your internet marketing.
Top 27 Mistakes That Increase Your Bounce Rate and Make Visitors Leave Your Website
In case we have some newbies, let’s start with a look at the definition of the term “bounce rate.”
Google defines bounce rate as, “a single-page session on your site.” This means that a user browses to your site and leaves it without looking at a second page. In most cases, this means that the users get to your site, don’t find what they were looking for, and move on.
Usually, a high bounce rate indicates a problem with engaging visitors. However, there is an exception to this rule. If the page is a landing page set up only to collect data, a high bounce rate is acceptable.
For your purposes as a website owner who is concerned about converting traffic, we will assume that the high bounce rate is killing you. Right?
So, without further ado, here are the 27 mistakes that make your website lose traffic.
1 – Ho-Hum: A boring first impression
Website design is much more than just slapping together some content and a few photos and publishing. It’s a science that blends technology with consumer science and finesse.
Does your website make a ho-hum first impression, or does it wow your users? While the design principle is usually “less is more,” sometimes less can be just less than impressive.
If you have a site that’s completely devoid of any stylistic elements, photos, or colors, it can leave a negative impression. Users will assume that professionals did not create the website, and that aura of unprofessionalism can unfairly rub off on you.
In this case, the users aren’t so much annoyed by your website; we’d rather describe it as a feeling of being “underwhelmed.”
Even if you prefer a style that’s simple, elevate the first impression to simple but elegant by incorporating a splash of color, a stylish secondary font, and some photo or video elements to make it attractive to users.
2 – Over the top: “too glitzy” a first impression
This website is the opposite of the boring one discussed in point #1. Have you ever visited a website and wondered if the webmaster was on hallucinogens when they designed it?
When your website has too many colors, especially those with high contrast, the result can be quite off-putting to users. Excessive font styles and hard to read fonts can make the problem even worse. Add other excesses like flash elements or unoptimized images, and your stylistic choices can even cause a slow page loading time (more about that later!)
Today’s websites are clean, modern, and user-friendly with soft splashes of color to reflect your image. Keep those standards in mind when you create a website.
3 - Incongruent style choices
When you do decide on the best style for your website, make it consistent on every page of your site. Live, own it, work it.
Readers will browse away in confusion and without fully grasping who you are and what you do if you don’t commit to one style of website design.
In other words, don’t have a super minimal look to your home page and a cluttered, kitschy looking about me page. This makes people distrust you and think that you didn’t care enough to create a website worthy of world viewing.
4 – Push notification invites
Push notifications can benefit your website as they’re a fantastic way to deliver messages to users in a timely way and they increase engagement. When you’ve found someone who gladly opted to receive your notifications, they are a prime user who is very interested in your content.
Here’s the flip side to that same coin. Those who don’t want to receive push notifications are very wary of continuing to use your website. Some visitors absolutely despise these notifications so much that they will flee from your site at the mere sight of your invite.
The moral of the story is that push notifications are a double-edged sword. They keep those who subscribe to receive notifications more engaged and drive sales but alienate those users who hate them.
5 - You leave them wondering how to contact you
Your website visitors are savvy. They use the internet to solve problems. A new user lands on your site because they believe that you have a solution to that problem.
Once they land on your website, they want to ask you a question. The problem is that they notice that you are missing a “contact us” page. Nor do they see a contact form on your landing page. Guess what they do? They leave. Like right then.
Most users don’t go to the trouble of hunting down your information. They want you to make yourself available. It’s your job to be accessible to users, not the user’s job to find you.
In addition, not opening up a clear channel to reach you makes it look like you have something to hide in the minds of these savvy users. A link to your contact form placed prominently on every page will easily eliminate this confusion.
6 - Two words: click bait
Have you ever been searching Google for something and you see an intriguing title that you just couldn’t refuse to click on? I bet that you have. Then, you realized that the content you found had nothing to do with the title.
Here’s an example of what that might look like.
“If you thought Rock Star X was hot in her 20s, you should see what a knockout she is at 50.”
Because you admired Rock Star X back in the day, you browse over for a read. You’re naturally excited to hear that she’s as gorgeous as you remember. However, you’re sadly disappointed to land on a sales page for essential oils that features a teeny tiny thumbnail image of Rock Star X that the webmaster lifted off of Google Images.
There is almost nothing more scrungy than clickbait. Not only will your visitors be disappointed, but they’ll also label you as dishonest or an outright liar. That’s definitely not the way to build an excellent online reputation for your business.
7 - Annoying animated GIFs
Some people think that animated GIFs are cute and funny. While they can be, there are a couple of reasons why users don’t always like them. Those reasons are:
- They can look outdated
- You slow down your page loading time by using these files; therefore, they could have a negative impact on your SEO
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, cute little cartoonish files came onto the scene. While they were cute, do they give a professional look to your website? Some users see these old GIFs (if you still have them), as way outdated and presume the rest of your content will also be obsolete.
But, what if you’re using one of the new GIFs available, featuring characters from your favorite sitcom? You might think they are okay to use because they are distinctly new. Right?
They are huge files that can seriously slow your page loading speed way down and ever further annoy your visitors.
There’s one final consideration with GIFs that should make you reconsider using those newer images. Many of them contain copyrighted content such as movie scenes or celebrity images. Those could infringe on copyright laws in your area.
It’s just a good idea not to use them without some level of discrimination. Instead, offer valuable infographics, blog content, or a how-to video or two.
8 - Insecurity issues
There is nothing more upsetting to a user than being expected to share personal data on a website that lacks a security certificate.
Savvy internet users look for the lock icon and “https” at the top left-hand side of your website before entering data. The “s” indicates that your website encrypts data, ensuring the security of your users.
Imagine a user. She goes to your website, finds a product she loves, and uses her credit card to spend her hard-earned dollars with you. A week later, she tries to use her card to find it maxed out. A hacker stole her data, spent her entire credit limit, and stuck her with a bill she can’t afford to pay. The data breach is traced back to your company.
Does she ever shop with you again? Doubtful.
When a visitor enters your home, you do everything you can to make them feel welcomed, safe, and comfortable. You should always take on the serious responsibility of making users on your website feel that same feeling of security.
On a final note, an SSL certificate improves SEO and can boost your website ranking.
9 - Overuse of stock photos
Do you know this nameless, faceless businessman?
I think we’ve all seen him a time or two too many. Search for stock photos tagged “businessman” or “executive,” and you’ll see him and his cell phone every time. Users get tired of seeing the same images on every. Single. Website.
We know that you might not be able to use 100% original images. Not everyone has photography skills. Stock images aren’t bad, per se. It’s when you don’t use them with discretion, or you overuse them that annoy users.
Even if you don’t have photog skills, take time to create charts, screenshots, or other visual aids to balance out those stock photos.
10 - Missing or incomplete “About Us” page
Your readers want more than just information from your website or blog. They want to get to know you.
Your About Us page should infuse your website with a hint of your own personal flavor. It should answer the following questions that your visitors are asking:
- Who are you?
- Why should you be a trusted resource?
- How will they benefit from reading more?
- What are the goals of your website?
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. If you’re visiting a website for the first time, you probably feel apprehension about whether you believe what they are saying and wondering exactly what’s in it for them. You might experience a feeling ranging from uneasiness to distrust. People will not buy from someone they don’t trust.
So, put yourself in the user’s shoes. Where do you go to see if you get a feeling that the site is legit?
The About Us page.
Therefore, if you are missing this page, or you see that yours doesn’t answer the above list of questions, please remedy the problem. It’s your chance to build reader trust and make you more likable.
11 - Overdose of CTA’s
Once you get more traffic through your internet marketing skills, you must convert sales.
Have you ever been to a really nice gift shop loaded with awesome things to buy that had one big problem–no advice, guidance, or customer service?
The chances are pretty good that while you were tempted to make a purchase, you left empty-handed. You see, we want guidance. A little nudge from the shop clerk that you were making a great choice or an offer to hold the items at the POS while you continued to browse would have gone a long way.
The experience might have left you annoyed, and definitely left you confused. Why would they open their shop doors to miss out on sales?
You must deliver the same commitment to customer service to your visitors. While you can’t be there in person to help them shop, you can guide them in the process of making decisions with your call-to-action.
These are persuasive suggestions that guide the visitor into buying whatever you’re selling. Whether you’re selling an ebook, shipping a physical e-commerce product, or selling them on the idea of subscribing to your newsletter, it’s your job to help them understand what they need to do next.
Some CTA buttons that are classics because they’re quite effective are as follows:
- Schedule a test drive
- Book an appointment
- See your results
- Start your trial
- Buy now
- Subscribe to receive great information
- Get your discount
Do you see how each of these suggests a specific action that the reader must take to move forward? Of course, you don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. Use simple CTAs that are honest and easy to understand.
This makes the difference between a visitor who converts or one who browses away unsold.
12 - Your blog content is outdated or non-existent
Picture this. A user googles a search term related to your industry, and your website comes up in the SERPs. Something about the result returned piques their interest, so they click the link. They expect to find a website complete with awesome blog posts with tons for in-depth information on the topic.
They land on your website. It has some great content, but the last time you updated your blog was over a year ago. The information is now perceived as outdated or off-trend.
Or, perhaps they don’t find a blog page at all. Therefore, they assume (probably incorrectly) that your website doesn’t have the answers they seek.
If a brand new visitor lands on your website and doesn’t see what they expect, they bounce. Without a blog, you don’t give readers as many opportunities to explore your website.
13 - Captcha faux pas
Captcha is a necessary tool to ensure that spambots do not barrage your website. Readers understand and appreciate your intent to keep your website safe.
So, if users don’t mind Captcha, why is on this list?
Some Captchas are more challenging to use on both desktop and mobile phones which renders them outdated and annoying.
Right now, the Smart Captcha V2 is the most secure, user-friendly, and mobile-friendly Captcha technology available. Your users simply check the box and enter the website with no muss or fuss. No more losing conversions because a puzzle was too difficult to solve!
A few of the outdated, tired Captcha technologies that will undoubtedly aggravate your users are:
- Super Captcha aka 3D Image Captcha: These are very hard to see and read, particularly on a cellular phone.
- Word Captcha: Like the Super Captcha, these are very difficult to read on a cell phone. In addition, it’s an outdated and less secure technology.
- Math Problem Captcha: The math problem solution captchas are easy to read. One problem. With AI advancements, bots are also able to solve them and enter your site.
For the best way to keep your website safe from bots but also satisfy those very human visitors, Smart Captcha V2 is the way to go.
14 - The checkout process is exhausting
If your checkout form is too long, you’re making your user exhausted. Can you guess what they do when they get bored? Yes. They abandon their cart and leave your website.
You’ve lost a sale. Your user now needs to start looking for another vendor to purchase from, and everyone loses.
Users understand that they need to complete checkout forms for online purchases. However, they expect you to do your part as well. That is, you should provide them with a form that takes three minutes or less to complete. If you create a form longer than that, you will lose roughly 50% of your users.
15 - Loud videos or music that plays automatically
Videos are an extremely effective way to engage readers. It improves SEO and lets your traffic see you bring your product to life. Therefore, they gain a better understanding of what you do. However, you should give them a choice on when or if to play your video because forcing video can be aggravating to some visitors.
Imagine this. An office employee is sitting at her desk working quietly all day long. She decides to take a well-earned break and do a little research on an item she’s considering purchasing online. She isn’t really supposed to do this at work, but she plans to be really, really quiet.
She navigates to the e-commerce site, and… BLAMMO! A blaringly loud video featuring thunderous music automatically loads and alerts her lurking boss that she’s up to no good.
Does this shopper stop the video and click “Buy Now?” Of course not! She exits the website, toggles back over to the boring spreadsheet she was working on, and pretends that it was an accident.
While that might be a silly sounding scenario, rest assured that your visitors want to control whether they view a video or listen to music. Don’t force it on them or they will flee from your site, especially if they can’t find the volume control easily!
16 - Lost in navigation
Navigation is guiding yourself on a course so you can reach an ultimate destination. Whether you’re walking, driving, or riding an elephant, you need to be able to get from one point to the next.
When you apply this website design, it means your visitors are able to intuitively and accurately jump throughout your pages to find the data they need.
Now, think of your website’s navigation buttons as the GPS that will get your readers to engage with your website and, hopefully, reach the conclusion that they must buy whatever you’re selling.
It’s your job to guide your visitors as they engage with your website. If you fail to do so, visitors will quickly get tired of the guessing game and leave.
Here are some of the navigation offenses that annoy users:
- The navigation layout varies from page to page, making it difficult to find.
- Your navigation buttons are too small.
- Navigation buttons are broken or lead to nowhere.
- You’ve used a difficult to read font in the navigation.
Visitors will not be amused by an endless game of hide and seek. Instead, they will exit, and you will have missed a prime opportunity from an engaged user.
17 - Poorly written content
There’s practically nothing more painful or confusing than trying to read an interesting piece of content–a blog post, for example–that’s riddled with grammatical and spelling errors.
It’s not only painful, but it gives an overall poor impression of your website that can leave visitors questioning your credibility and authority. There is content out there that is so poorly written that users don’t even know what point the writer was trying to make!
I’m not talking about typos. They can, and will, happen from time to time. Sometimes a letter or two slips through the grammar check and spell check undetected. I am referring to copy that has repeated misspelled words, blatant grammar errors, and poorly chosen words that lead to a very awkward user experience.
If you take the time and care to write content, please take a final step and give it run through Grammarly, spell check it, read it over one more time, and make those vital last-minute corrections.
If it’s important enough to write, it’s important enough to write well.
18 - Broken links
After you create a website, your job is not done. You must maintain it regularly. One overlooked task is link maintenance.
Is your website filled with broken links? Take the time to replace or remove them. They could be annoying to users.
They find your website as a valuable, trusted source of information. They consider your links your personal recommendations for further reading or additional documentation on a topic. When they click a link and get a 404 error message, you disappoint your users.
19 - Spammy content
It’s very frustrating for users to visit your website expecting great information only to find it filled with spammy content. One whiff of spam can make your traffic take flight.
This perception can come about for several reasons, as follows:
- Poorly written sponsored guest posts: If you accept sponsored posts, reserve the right to edit the content and limit the number of backlinks that you allow. Otherwise, your readers will pick up on this and feel they were tricked.
- Overuse of affiliate links: Again, these are great revenue for your site. Use them in a way to enhance user experience rather than detract from your content. For example, an affiliate link to the non-stick cookie sheet that you used in baking your favorite cookies in an awesome blog post is useful. Links to that cookie sheet, plus kitty toys, the hottest new cell phone, and your favorite brand of boots are irrelevant.
- Too many ads: Like the overuse of affiliate links, inserting an overabundance of ads into your content will drive away your users.
- Spun content: It’s obvious to most native readers when content is spun. This text lurches when reading it aloud or seems extremely awkward.
- Keyword stuffing: Don’t overstuff your content, domain name, or call-to-action with the same keyword. Instead, use secondary and long-tail keywords to capture the interest of the search engines.
Here’s a final thought on spammy content. If your users interpret your content as spam, then the search engines will very definitely look at it likewise. You are at risk for penalties that undo all your work on SEO and throw all your internet marketing efforts down the drain.
20 - Irrelevant content
While we’re talking about the unpleasant topic of content that draws penalties, let’s touch on irrelevant content. It also can get you penalized causing a drop in website ranking and leave users confused.
If your website is about coffee and tea, make sure to include content about…well, coffee and tea. Some other relevant content can be about coffee brewing methods, equipment and accessories, recipes for cookies or food pairings, content on tea party etiquette, and maybe even some cute coffee-related apparel.
These are all things that a user would expect to find on a coffee and tea site.
What don’t they expect to find? Completely irrelevant information on how to get started blogging, home buying information, or male enhancement pills. Sadly, this kind of trickery happens all the time.
When this happens, visitors will feel like they were duped or wasted their time. You can bet they probably won’t return.
21 - Overuse of pop-up forms
Like their aforementioned cousins, push notifications, subscription forms (aka pop-up forms) are a valuable way for bloggers and e-commerce sites to collect user data for marketing purposes.
But sometimes, enough is enough.
I wish I had screenshot a DIY site I viewed over the weekend. I really could not make this up, and it’s a prime example of overuse of pop-ups. I was seeking information on how to repair my leaky kitchen faucet. I had landed on a site that had volumes of blog posts on the issue at hand.
Pop-up Message 1: From the home page, where I landed. “Dude, get in on the action.”
Me: I’m not a dude. Ignored. Still interested in the content, I navigated to a blog post on how to fix my faucet problem.
Pop-up Message 2: “Dude, get in on the action!”
Me: More peeved, but my faucet was still leaking. I went back to their search bar to type in a different search term to try to narrow down my specific issue. Guess what?
Pop-up Message 3: “Dude, get in on the action!”
Me: Try to exit the site.
Pop-up Message 4: “Dude, sure you wanna leave?”
Me: Ignore. Exit.
Unprofessional address of female readers aside, any reader would feel like they were being badgered to opt in to this blog’s newsletter. That is enough to make anyone pass and detrimental to your internet marketing.
22 - Timing is everything
Another pop-up annoyance is when you schedule them to appear too quickly.
Give your readers a few seconds to view your site and decide if they like your content. If your message pops up before they’ve decided that, they will ignore the message. In fact, they could very well be a great prospective subscriber, but you merely asked too early.
Users decide in 2 to 3 seconds if they want to engage with your site. Give them their space for a few seconds, and you’ll likely find an increase in your subscribers. The flip side of the coin is not to wait too long, or you might lose the opportunity to capture that data.
The experts at Mail Chimp suggest setting your pop-ups to appear from 5 to 20 seconds after a user arrives at your site.
23 - Subscription forms with shaming messages
When your subscription form pops up, you’ll be able to invite the user to opt-in or pass. Be careful of how you word the “pass” option, so you don’t offend users.
A simple “no, thank you,” will do just fine and allow them to decline politely.
There’s been a recent surge in “shaming messages” that are designed to make users think twice before passing up the opt-in. In fact, they are just making users irate.
Some of these options recently seen are:
“No, I love spending too much money.”
“No, I don’t like to save.”
“No, I don’t want creative ideas.”
By using these messages, you can be alienating your visitors. It’s a move that makes you look somewhere between a passive-aggressive control freak and a plain old bully.
24 - Subscription forms that are difficult to use
Pretend for a minute that your subscription form popped up, and you got an interested subscriber to attempt to opt-in. But, your form was complicated. It seemed to require too much information or otherwise intrusive.
He tried to bail out, but he couldn’t find the little “X” to exit the form. By now, he’s gotten very annoyed with you. He leaves the website instead of dealing with your form.
This just took you from having an engaged visitor who was ready to opt-in to one who exited your site in frustration.
Be sure that your subscription form does the following:
- Collects just the right amount of data. Not too little, not too much.
- Gives users clear instructions; don’t leave the user scratching his head in confusion.
- Uses a friendly success message. This shows your user that he or she has successfully subscribed.
Making these small but significant tweaks to your subscription form will drive an increase in new subscribers and allow you to continue to grow your list.
25 - Don’t confuse ads with CTAs
A rookie marketing mistake is confusing ads with CTAs. Here’s the difference.
An ad will offer your product to a user and explain to them how it will solve a problem for them. On your website, this can be a product description, a sales letter, photos, or a banner ad that takes the user to your shopping page.
Once you’ve presented this information and the CTA is meant to seal the deal.
Make sure that your CTA doesn’t loop the reader back around to a sales pitch. This can create a hesitant buyer who has time to develop a case of buyer’s remorse before she completes checkout.
From a buyer’s perspective, it’s confusing, annoying, and they just want you to shut up and let them finish shopping, already!
26 - Not mobile optimized
The percentage of users who are surfing the web from their phones is growing steadily year after year. According to Statista, the percentage of users who browse the web via mobile device in 2018 was 61.2% and is projected to climb in 2019 to 63.4%.
Therefore, not having your website mobile ready could be the kiss of death for your business. Users have spoken, and their message is loud and clear. They want to visit your website from their phone.
What happens when your site is not mobile ready?
- Your website ranking will drop because Google indexes mobile-responsive sites higher than those which are not mobile-friendly.
- Users might not be able to read the fonts you’ve used without zooming in.
- Links will be difficult to click as they may be spaced too close together.
- Visitors will need to rotate their phone to view the site.
- Navigation buttons may disappear.
- On mobile sites, ads dominate the screen. This makes your content appear less significant.
- Your site will appear to be “broken.”
The list of issues that your users will face can go on and on. Let’s just say that your site will be ugly and will drive away visitors at the same time that you lose points for SEO.
And if you’re using online forms, make sure that they look okay and function seamlessly on mobile too!
27 - Slow page loading time
I saved this bullet point for the last because it’s the number one complaint of website users. Slow page loading time is an issue that all website users can agree on. It doesn’t matter if they are attempting to visit your site from a laptop, tablet, or their smartphone. If your site loads too slowly, as in over 2 seconds, they will leave your site.
Website users feel the need for speed. They want to access information quickly and won’t accept slow page loading times. This means that if your page takes 3 seconds or more, your site abandonment rate will surge to a staggering 40%. Worse yet, 70% of those who abandoned vow never to return to your site.
So how can you speed up your page loading times? Here are four easy ideas:
- Reduce image sizes
- Clean up redirects
- Enable compression. It’s like a handy zip file for your website.
The Bottom Line
You’ve worked hard to build your blog or website. It’s getting traffic that’s you can’t afford to waste! Don’t let all your hard labor be all for naught by annoying, offending, or confusing those who decide to visit your site.
If you find that you have a high bounce rate, or your site is just not converting well, take a hard and honest look at it. You might discover that you are committing one of these mistakes and, therefore, inadvertently sending your traffic to your competitors.
The truth is, building your site was the easy part. Getting those first few visitors wasn’t even that hard (thanks, Mom!). However, increasing your traffic year after year so that you can make real money with your website is the true test of your internet marketing acumen.