There is likely an SEO blunder that your site is making this very second.
This mistake may seem so miniscule, that the vast majority of site owners simply overlook it, but if you took the time to fix it now, you could prevent some serious negative lasting effects on how your site performs in the rankings.
Let’s face it.
There’s no traffic like organic traffic. Once you’ve worked yourself into a position where the organic traffic comes flowing in on a regular basis, then you know you’re doing something right.
But what if your SEO (or lack thereof) is actually hindering your ability to attract massive amounts of traffic? What if you could fix this issue with only a few minor tweaks?
Believe it or not, there are marketers out there that are unknowingly sabotaging their own marketing campaigns because they made this one ridiculously easy to fix mistake.
Even though my site routinely brings in several thousand readers a day, I’m always open to gaining more. After all, there’s no such thing as too much traffic.
So, even if your site is absolutely on fire, ranking for keywords left and right, there’s always room for improvement.
That’s why I am going to expose the one SEO mistake that almost everyone fails to recognize. After plugging this hole, you may see a significant rise in search traffic!
Sounds awesome, right?
But First, We Need to Recognize One Elusive Truth About SEO
If you’re genuinely serious about killing it in the rankings, you can’t worry about the coolest new trend.
Let me explain. After every Google update, a few clever SEO’s come together and discover a new spammy loophole that can be exploited in order to quickly rank a site.
Suddenly, these new techniques become all the rage. Everyone starts doing it, and it usually works…for a while. Then Google wises up and smashes all of these sites in the next update and everyone is back to square one.
Trying to game the system will never end well for you.
The only certainties in life are taxes, death, and another Google update that rocks the online world.
Of course these SEO’s will never tell you otherwise because their business depends on getting their clients sites ranked as quickly as possible, even if it doesn’t last.
The initial success you see will only be temporary. True, lasting results are achieved by following the basics and creating a site that provides the best user experience for your audience.
These are the same basics that have worked for years and will continue to work for many years into the future as well. Basically what I’m trying to say is, avoid the latest fad because you will end up screwing yourself in the end and focus on the most basic ranking factors (which is what Google really wants).
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s unmask this one pesky SEO mistake that may have been killing your efforts.
How Does Your Site Look?
Did you know that the layout of your site could be damaging your rankings?
No, Google won’t penalize an ugly site, but it will cause people to turn away, which in turn will hinder your ability to rank within the SERP’s.
People do not evaluate your site by its content (however awesome it may be), but instead, judge it by the design first and the content second. An ugly site will flat out chases people away, which will negatively affect how your site ranks.
One article published by the University of West Georgia found that there is a direct correlation between how a website looks and the perceived value they place on that site.
Here’s a small excerpt;
“Design and aesthetics have a profound impact on how users perceive information, learn, judge credibility and usability, and ultimately assign value to a product. To dismiss design as merely visual is to make a fundamental mistake.”
So what does this have to do with SEO?
Google’s algorithm is based on providing the best sites for its users. If your site is chasing off visitors because of how it looks, then your exit rate will skyrocket.
Your exit rate (not to be confused with bounce rate) is when someone clicks through to your site and are like “woah this kinda sucks” and hits the back button.
When this happens, it is a sign that visitors aren’t finding value in your site, so if this occurs too often, Google will drop you in the rankings.
Successful marketer, Mark Brinker summarized a study on the impact of site aesthetics on the perception of the viewer.
He found that the 3 most significant factors in the perception of a viewer were having;
A. No physical address on the site.
B. A site that is slow to load.
C. An ugly or badly designed website.
And what happens when someone doesn’t dig your site? They aren’t going to stay regardless of how great your content may be or how beneficial your offer is. They will simply leave, your exit rate will skyrocket, and your site will either plummet in the rankings or fail to reach its true potential!
So what can you do to decrease your exit rate? Follow the KISS method.
Don’t over complicate the design of your site. Keep it as simplistic and easy to navigate as humanly possible.
I took a gamble several months ago and completely changed the layout of my site. Before, I had a video at the top of my homepage, several calls to action, a large button, and a bunch of posts. For all intents and purposes, it worked extremely well.
However, I decided to completely overhaul the look of my site in order to enhance the user experience for all of my readers. What I found was truly remarkable.
People were spending far more time on my site. The simplistic design allowed my readers to enjoy the site without being put off by a massive amount of clutter. This in turn drastically reduced my exit rate, and now I rank higher in the SERP’s, which brings in more organic traffic to my site than ever before!
Ads Can Also Scare Readers Off
Does your site look like this guy’s store?
In 2012, Google launched an update that punishes sites that have too many ads above the fold.
I understand that people want to make money and may assume that the more ads they place on the site, the higher the probability someone will click on one, but it makes for a lousy user experience, so Google put an end to it.
Obviously, this is common sense to you. I don’t expect any of my readers are foolish enough to crap up their page with a ton of ads.
However, I would be willing to bet that there are many readers out there that do try and test the limits a bit.
Here is the thing about ads. They can be extremely off putting for many and often times kill the aesthetic value of a website. Poorly placed banner ads can scare off traffic in droves.
Plus, if you use Google Adwords, then you don’t have much control over what ads actually appear. For all you know, Google is showing ad colors that clash with the color scheme of your site, scaring even MORE people away.
But does it really matter if people are actually clicking on the links?
Even if people are clicking your ads, your organic traffic may eventually dry up all together if the other people (who aren’t clicking your ads) find your ads invasive and hit the back button.
How should you fix your ads?
First of all, I don’t want to make it sound as if ads are bad for your site. What is bad for your site is having either too many ads, ads in the wrong location, or the wrong ads entirely.
Luckily, this is an extremely easy fix. First, limit the amount of ads that you place on your site. Then take the few ad spots that you do have and place them in areas that won’t negatively hinder the user’s experience (i.e. NOT in blog posts).
For the last step, you’ll need to drop Adwords and start using Clickbank, CPA, or your own ads. This way you will have full control over what ads appear and can tailor them so that it doesn’t hinder the aesthetic value of your site.
SEO isn’t all about building backlinks or learning the coolest new trick. It’s about understanding what Google is looking for, which is to present sites to its users that offer the highest possible value.
There is a bit of psychology involved. Yes, the look of a site plays a significant role in this.
Focus on creating a site that people want to read. Your audience will be more likely to stick around and you will be far better off.