How to Find Out if Everyone Thinks Your Website Sucks

FailureThis is a guest post from Google AdWords and Analytics maven Melinda Samson. Take it away Mel:

The recent series, Your Website Sucks, covered ways that you can improve your website which will:

  • Help you get more visitors
  • Help those visitors stick around reading your website for longer
  • Help you generate more leads or sales from your website.

After reading these posts you might be thinking…

I hope my website doesn’t suck…I wonder if my website is one of the ones that suck…. Gaaaah…..How can I find out if everyone thinks my website sucks?

Today we’re going to help you find out. And on a positive note, you don’t actually need to care if everyone thinks your website sucks. You only need to care about what your target audience – your clients, prospects and business contacts – think.

Google Analytics can help you discover if your website sucks

Never heard of Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is Google’s free web analytics tool. Once installed on your website, it provides all kinds of useful information.

Don’t have Google Analytics set up yet?

Go to and follow the steps. If you’re not techie, send the code to your web developer and they should know what to do.

Once you have Google Analytics set up, what next?

Start by going to the Audience Overview screen. You’ll see a graph and some key stats underneath.


Here are some issues to look out for:

Visits and Unique Visitors are similar numbers

The first stat is the total number of people who visited the site. This may be a few people or a lot.

Visits counts the total number of visits, including those who visit more than once. If your website sucks, people won’t come back for a repeat visit, so the number of Visits will be similar to the next stat, which is Unique Visitors.

Average Pages / Visit is low

This is the average number of pages that each visitor looks at.

If this figure is low, it shows people don’t want to read more than one or two pages of your website.

Average Visit Duration is low

This stat measures the average amount of time that a visitor spends on your website.

You want the Average Visit Duration to be as high as possible. I’d aim for at least 1 to 2 minutes.

If this is zero, or close to zero, there’s a definite possibility that your website sucks!

Bounce Rate is high

Bounce Rate measures visitors who leave your website without even clicking on one single thing. That is the percentage of people who visit, click nothing, and then hit the back button.

This stat is a key indicator of how engaged your web visitors are with your content.

If your Bounce Rate is 100% or close to it, seek professional help!

Having said that, it’s always important to view Bounce Rate in conjunction with Average Visit Duration, especially if you have a blog.

For example, as a blogger your aim is to attract visitors back to your site to view your latest piece of content. People might visit your site, read your content and then leave.

Effectively they’ve bounced but yet they’ve done what you wanted and spent time reading your article. In this case, the Bounce wasn’t all bad.

No Goals Tracked

In Google Analytics you can set up “Goals” to track actions that you would like your visitors to take, like confirming an order or submitting a form. You can also set up Goals to track a minimum average visit time or minimum number of pages per visit.

Set your Goals realistically. But, if you don’t achieve them, then you’ll need to make some improvements.

Does your website suck?

If you check these stats and find your website is on the suckier side of the norm, revisit the Your Website Sucks series to see how you can improve it.

Fast Websites & Viral Content: The Web Content Roundup

Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). Are You Making These Common Website Navigation Mistakes? Great analysis and advice

2). Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof Solid research and insights

3). 5 Landing Page Headline Formulas You Can Test Today

4). Infographics are Dead.  Long Live Infographics.

5). Which social media platform is best for your business? Not everything works for every business

6). Why You Need a Seriously Fast Website Hint: high Google rankings!

7).  The Seven Pitfalls of a Modern-Day Brand

Copywriting Video of the Week: The #1 Copywriting Skill – Dramatising Benefits

“Your real challenge, as a copywriter, is to bring the benefits derived from the features to life,” says B2B copywriter Steve Slaunwhite in his e-book, 7 Secrets of Highly-Successful Copy.

This 1962 TV commercial for Super Shell petrol, purportedly written by advertising great David Ogilvy, is a great example of how it’s done.

In this case the feature is the additive Platformate. The benefit is increased mileage.

How to demonstrate that in an attention-getting way? Take 10 gas guzzlers into the Mohave Desert for a mileage test.

Take a look:

Website Mistake 7: Your Site Isn’t Visible On Google

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

Your website is like a billboard in the desert. It doesn’t matter how good it is, if no one sees it, it’s absolutely worthless.

The most common way people find websites in Australia is via Google search engine. Therefore you can expect a large proportion of your website traffic to come from Google.

So you need a search engine marketing strategy to ensure your prospects and customers see a listing for your website when they’re using Google to find information about the types of products or services you sell. There are two ways to do this:

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Wikipedia defines SEO as “the process of improving the visibility of a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid search results.” When people search on Google they generally enter two- or three-word key phrases, such as “buy laptop computer”. Google delivers search results based on what it considers are “relevant” web pages.

There are three important elements of SEO:

i). “On-page” factors are directly related to the content and structure of the website. Placing relevant key phrases in strategic positions on the web page – such as the title tag, meta description, headlines, and sprinkled throughout the text – helps the search engines know what your web page is about.

ii). Having a search engine-friendly site. Search engines catalogue the web using programs called spiders (or bots) which automatically index content. You must ensure the coding of your site allows the Google bot access to all your content.

iii). Inbound links. Google used the number of inbound links to a web page as an indication of its authority. The more inbound links a page has, the greater authority it has. All things being equal, Web pages with greater authority rank higher in the search listings. Google also gives more weight to links from better quality sites.

Inbound links is the most important factor. And it’s also the hardest work.

2. Google AdWords

AdWords is the alternative to SEO for getting your site listed on the first page of Google.

Google show small text ads on the top and right hand side (and sometimes the bottom) of their search results. The ads shown are determined by the key phrase the searcher enters.

For example, if a person searched for “pool cleaners in Sydney”, ads for pool cleaners servicing Sydney would appear alongside the free listings. When a searcher clicks on an ad they are taken to the advertiser’s web page. Advertisers pay only for “click-throughs” i.e. when a searcher clicks on their ad to visit their website. Hence the name “pay-per-click”.

Geographical targeting technology means your ad only appears in the regions you select. So it’s easy to target customers within, say, 20 kilometres of your business.

The fee for each click-through is determined by a bidding system. Generally speaking, to get your ad higher up the listings you must bid more. Obviously, the more people bidding on a particular key phrase, the higher the bids will be. Advertisers control their costs by setting a maximum budget.

The importance of search engine visibility

These days the web is a key information resource for most consumers and business buyers. As Ken Cassar, chief analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings observed, “Web users are conducting more searches not because they can’t find what they’re looking for, but because search as a utility has become deeply ingrained into people’s everyday lives.”

So not having a strategy for making your website visible on Google is one of the biggest mistakes you can make online. If your site doesn’t appear in the first two pages of search results (and preferably the first page) when customers are researching products and services to buy, it opens the door for your competition to steal your business.

Google bring qualified traffic to your site. That’s because people who find your site via Google are actively looking for information on your products and services. SEO and AdWords enable you to build brand awareness throughout the buying cycle – from initial research to purchase. And high search engine rankings create a good impression of your brand.

Things to do

  • Create a search engine marketing strategy for your website.
  • Use the free Google Keyword Tool to research the key phrases customers use to search for your products and services.
  • Develop strategies to get more inbound links for your site.

This post is part 8 of the series Your Website Sucks!

Website Mistake 6: Your Content Is Too Hard To Read

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

Writing for the web is not the same as writing for print. That’s because reading from the screen is hard on your eyes.

Rather than reading word for word, web users scan the page looking for relevant information (much like the way people read newspapers). Good web content is written to be scanned.

This is a fundamental principle that’s overlooked by many website owners.

You can’t just cut and paste your brochure copy and hope it will be read online. It won’t. You need to create original content that is specifically written to be read online. Here’s how.

Web writing guidelines

Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen has studied how people gather information from web pages and developed a web writing style. Its elements include:

  • Concise writing – get to the point quickly and cut any waffle
  • Simple and relevant page titles that clearly explain what a page is about and will make sense when read out of context in search engine listings
  • Inverted pyramid structure – start every page with a summary of its content (just like a newspaper story)
  • Facilitating scanning and skimming – group information into discrete sections with appropriate sub-headings, use short paragraphs and bulleted lists, and highlight key phrases, and
  • A simple writing style free of marketing fluff works best online.

Content that’s written for the web enables readers to find information quickly, improves memory recall and adds credibility to your site.

Good web writing drives action

The web is a highly action-orientated marketing channel. So good web writing motivates the reader to take action: sign up for our newsletter, view our product range, download our new report, ring us for a quote, click here, and so on.

People want and need clear instructions, so make sure you give them. Every single page on your site needs a call to action, even if it’s only to read another page.

Things to do

This post is part 7 of the series Your Website Sucks!

The Pomodoro Technique & Writing an Honest FAQ: The Web Content Roundup

WebContentRoundup21Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). Writing an honest FAQ

2). What gets in the way of great digital copy? Ignorance, apathy, budget…

3). A Crash Course on Storytelling by @demianfarnworth 6 TED Talk videos

4). 6 Simple Steps to Writing Seductive Web Copy

5). Design + Copy: The Sum Is Greater Than the Parts Hallelujah!

6). 5 Types of Content Marketing to Continuously Attract Prospects

7). How The Pomodoro Technique Can Help You Draft Your Book In Just 3 Weeks – While Still Having A Life

For more of the freshest tips and tactics on web copywriting, SEO, social media and online marketing be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Top 7 Things You Should Know About Charles Cuninghame

Charles Cuninghame is an experienced freelance copywriter and plain English editor.

Since 1997 he has helped many marketing teams, communications managers, business owners and creative agencies get better results from their marketing materials and improve their communications.

Here are the top seven things you should know about Charles:

1. Good credentials
Charles holds a Commerce/Law degree from the University of NSW. He also has copywriting qualifications from American Writers & Artists Inc.

2. Creative and strategic
Charles offers a rare combination of creative inspiration and strategic marketing thinking.

3. Website copywriting pioneer
Back in 1995 Charles wrote his first web pages. This makes him one of Australia’s most experienced website copywriters.

4. Keen self-educator
Charles’s clients don’t have to read the latest articles, books and blog posts on copywriting and marketing. Because Charles does and knows what’s working.

5. Passionate about plain English
After being constantly drilled by his first boss and writing mentor to “write like you speak”, Charles became a passionate advocate of plain English.

6. Seen in all the best places
The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, Better Homes & Gardens, Australian Doctor and Your Mortgage Magazine have all featured articles written by Charles.

7. You might have read his work (and not known it)
Charles has ghost-written nine business and inspirational books for high profile entrepreneurs and sportspeople, including one best seller.

Bonus fact
In his spare time you might find Charles riding his longboard at Bondi Beach or photographing his family and urban landscapes.

But enough about me…
… what about you? Do you need an experienced copywriter to create effective marketing materials or plain English documents? If so, please get in touch to discuss your needs.

Flag Down Your Customers With a Strong Headline

headlinesIf your print ad, direct mail piece, press release or home page isn’t getting the results you want a weak headline may be to blame.

Research shows that readers respond more to headlines than any other element of a print ad. So no matter how eye-catching the images and design, or compelling the body copy, without a strong headline an ad will most likely be ignored.

And headlines aren’t confined to print ads. You’ll also need strong headlines for brochures, signage, point of sale material, direct mail, PowerPoint presentations, web pages and email.

Attention or apathy?
These days competition for attention is fierce. This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – almost 3,000 per day. No one can pay attention to 3,000 messages every day, so we filter out most of them.

A headline attracts attention or apathy. People will make the decision to read or filter out your marketing materials based on the headline. You have only seconds to make a favourable first impression.

In Ogilvy on Advertising pioneering ad man David Ogilvy states: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 per cent of your money.”

Your headline must convince prospects of the value of reading your ad, brochure or home page. It must answer the readers’ question, “So what’s in it for me?”

Headlines boost response rates
Headlines can dramatically affect response rates to marketing offers. A headline can make the difference between success and failure. Take these headlines for example:

Headline 1: How to turn your non-smoking into money

Headline 2: Non-smokers save a bundle on health insurance

The second headline generated 20 times more calls than first one.

Top 7 headline formulas that work
If you need to put your puny headline on steroids try one of these tried and tested formulas:

1. Agitate the problem

Are you struggling to find good accounting personnel?

If a reader has the problem they will be compelled to read on to find out the solution.

NB: This is also a question headline – see below.

2. Ask a question

What is the secret to getting rich today?

A question incites curiosity. It engages the mind. A question headline must be open-ended; you have to keep reading to find out the answer.

3. Promise the reader a benefit

Enjoy younger looking skin in just 7 days

Focus on the primary benefit of your product or service and connect it with the target audience.

4. Give them the news

Announcing the smallest MP3 player ever built

If you have genuine news, announce it. Using the word “announcing” attracts more attention.

5. State the offer

FREE seminar shows you how to make $100,000 a year on eBay

If you have an attractive offer shout it out in your headline.

6. Use the words “How to”

How to win friends and influence people

“How to…” promises readers useful information and advice. If you’re ever stuck for a headline write “How to” – whatever follows will be a hardworking headline

7. Use a customer testimonial

“I lost 7 kilograms in 10 days with TrimSpeed”

Putting the testimonial in quotation marks increases readership.

Should a headline be cute or clever?
Some copywriters try to make their headlines cute or clever by using a play on words or an intriguing teaser. But clever headlines are often more a celebration of a copywriter’s wit than an exercise in effective marketing.

A clever headline is a risky ploy; essentially you’re betting on your target audience “getting it”. But why take a chance when you can appeal directly to the target audience’s self interest? Product benefits almost always beat clever. The exception is when a play on words adds an additional, valuable layer of meaning to the headline.

Sharpen your axe
Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” And so it is with headlines. Many copywriting experts recommend you spend 80% of your time writing the headline.

This may sound like overkill. But producing marketing materials is expensive and time consuming. If your headline is a dud you’ve wasted your money and effort.

Things to do

  • Audit your existing headlines and see if they could use some improvement
  • Test different headlines to see which ones get the best response.

Facebook Fails & Editing Tips: The Web Content Roundup

WebContentRoundupHere are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). How to Optimize Copy When You Can’t Use Keywords

2). Just because you are struggling does not mean you are failing Sage advice for entrepreneurs from Neil Patel

3). 5 Worst Things Companies Do on Facebook Today Interesting

4). The Secret to High-Impact Copywriting (Hint: Your Customers Already Use It) Harness the power of imagination

5). 30 Quick Editing Tips Every Content Creator Needs to Know

6). 1 Sneaky Trick To Maximise Your Success (Thank-You) Pages Important, but often overlooked!

7). 30 Quick Conversion Tips Every Marketer Needs to Know

Essential Copywriting Formulas & The Most Misspelled Words: The Web Content Roundup

Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing Great preso!

2). Be Honest: Do You Have a Social Media Strategy?

3). 3 Ethical Ways to Boost Positive Online Reviews

4). 100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English

5). The Essential Copywriting Formulas Every Writer Should Know (and Why)

6). 3 Apps to Help You Write a Marketing Plan

7). How to Keep Your Audience Reading

For more of the freshest tips and tactics on web copywriting, SEO, social media and online marketing be sure to follow me on Twitter.