These days you can add just about anything you want to your website. But, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Here are 7 things that you should remove from your website as soon as possible and never look back.
1. Email Links - bad for marketing, great for spammers!
When a visitor gets in touch, you get an email. But was the email sent from a contact form? Or just an email link?
The fact is - email links fail on every criterion for good marketing, from messaging to routing, from usability to tracking.
Beyond that, email links are spam magnets. Spammers use robots that scrape the web for email addresses. So that email link on your company website is filling up your spam folder.
What you should be doing:
- Remove every email link from your website
- Add a simple contact form with a thank you page
- Tell Analytics the address of this thank you page by setting up goals
- Setup an auto-response email, telling your new leads when you’ll be in touch
- Make sure your CMS saves a backup of every submission. Email doesn’t always get through!
2. Press Releases - stop being lazy
Let’s make one thing very, very clear… A press release was never intended to be a blog post. It’s not educational nor is it entertaining. It’s an announcement, that’s it. And it’s specifically designed for members of the press.
Stop copying and pasting press releases into your web pages. Better yet, stop uploading them as PDFs (more on PDF files below…).
Before you go stuffing your website full of press releases, ask yourself;
For most sites, it’s probably around .01%. It makes you wonder why so many sites have “press” in the main navigation.
How much effort would it take to turn the press release into a nice piece of content?
Does it really need to say “for immediate release?” Do you need to have the company info at the bottom? If it’s on your site, why does it link to your site. Is this your best effort to publish good web content?
Do you expect your visitors to find your press release compelling?
Research suggests that they won’t. This study shows them to be one of the least persuasive things you can put on your site.
On the other hand, if the media frequently requests information, your website can help. Create a digital press kit with images, downloads and anything else they are asking for. This makes perfect sense, since it solves a problem.
Here’s what we recommend you do instead of the old copy/past press release garbage;
- Rewrite your press release as a blog post or news article, adapting it for the web. Include the following elements, which probably weren’t part of the original release:
- Images: a featured image with the headline within the image, plus additional images throughout the content
- Formatting: sub headers, bulleted lists, bolding, italics, etc.
- Links: one link to another post, another link to a product or service page
- Marketing: Keywords, mentions from influencers and other calls-to-action
3. PDF Files - seriously!
Many of you may disagree, but please hear me out. Here’s rundown of pros and cons for PDF files and HTML webpages.
It’s true that PDFs often rank, but usually it’s by accident. No serious search optimizer would recommend targeting a competitive phrase with a PDF file.
PDF files are easy to create and upload, so they are an easy fix for content management when sites are hard to update.
Don’t get me started on Word Docs. They’re even worse! That’s just a PDF file that can contain viruses.
Does your site have a PDF problem? Here’s how to check for rust. Search Google for “site:webaddress.com PDF” and you’ll see a count.
Want to see how many HTML pages a website has? Just do the same search with -PDF, so search for “site:webaddress.com -PDF” and Google will show you the page count.
Here's what I recommend:
- All content should be HTML pages. Use PDFs as an alternate version when information is likely to be printed or downloaded.
4. Vague Headlines - are you a copywriter?
Homepage headlines often fail to say what the business does. Instead, they offer a general statement about quality or value.
The visitor’s first question is “am I in the right place?” The headline should answer this question by explicitly stating the main business category.
Ironically, the “what we do” information is usually just below the headline in smaller text.
Here's what I recommend:
Flip the header and subheader if your headline is vague, but the text below is specific. Make the headline text descriptive, so every visitor can tell what you do, at a glance, within seconds.
Try the Five Second Test: Show your site to a stranger. Count to five then turn off the screen. Now ask them “what did you recall?” If they don’t know what you do, your headline is too vague. You just failed the Five Second Test.
5. YouTube Suggested Videos …#CatFun videos on your site
It’s very easy to embed a YouTube video into your website. But be careful. When the video ends, YouTube may suggest other totally unrelated videos. Are visitors watching cat videos on your site?
Here's how to fix it:
- Turn off suggested videos by unchecking a box while grabbing the “embed” code from YouTube.
- While watching the video in YouTube, click the “share” button under the video.
- Now click “embed”
- Rather than taking the default embed code here, click “show more”suggested videos
- Uncheck the box next to “show suggested videos when the video finishes
- Copy and paste the new embed code into your webpage
- Cats are bad, but I’ve seen worse. Suggested videos may actually promote a competitor. That’s both embarrassing and counter-productive.
6. Social Media Icons In Your Header - Big Exit Signs
OK, think about it… Social media traffic is great, but only if it’s flowing toward you. When visitors leave your site and go to a social network, that doesn’t help you meet your goals. They are unlikely to return.
Where there’s traffic, there’s hope. A visitor on your site may subscribe or become a lead. A visitor on YouTube is more likely to watch videos of dogs looking guilty. Surprisingly, 26% of top marketing sites put social icons in their headers!
Facebook is worth $300 billion. Trust me, you need the visitors more than they do.
My top recommendations:
- Link to social networks cautiously.
- Add social media icons to your website footer, rather than the header.
- Change the color of the icons so they are not so visually prominent. If you show the color, do so on the rollover.
- Link only to social networks where you are genuinely active, both sharing content and interacting with followers
7. Stock Photos - Really? Do I have to say it?
People pictures are powerful because faces are so compelling. From the time we are infants, we gaze at faces more than any other type of images. Every website should have pictures of people.
But visitors can smell a stock image a mile away. And stock images of people are the worst kind. They just don’t feel genuine.
Perfect lighting. Spotless office. Ethnically diverse. Casual, but serious. Obviously not real.
Here's what to do:
- Invest in a bit in photography.
- Dress up for picture day.
- No budget? Take a selfie.
- Authentic is more important than polished.
That's it for now. What Did I Miss? I’m sure there are a few more bad ideas we could have included here. But these are my 7 top issues that we constantly run into on web projects. Maybe together, we can help make the web a better place! Thanks for reading :)