7 Factors that Make Your Blog Less Credible

by 4 08/26/2013

Your blog is hands-down your best marketing tool, but that’s only true if it does what it’s supposed to. When everything works right you have a web optimized hub with excellent, shareable content that builds your community.

But how do you make the leap from having an ordinary blog to one that’s a credible hangout for the people you most want to attract?

Let’s start with these seven key areas.

1. Design Errors

It may be wrong to judge a book by its cover, but web audiences do judge a blog by its design—what they see when they first arrive at the home page.

Be honest, if you visit a site that has a static design dating from the early days of the web, you just don’t take it as seriously. You won’t want to explore further.

If your blog doesn’t look the part, then it’s time to spruce it up a bit.

Cluttered web page

On a WordPress-based site, fixing design issues can be as easy as changing the theme. Most premium themes are between $30 and $100, or you can spend a little more and have one custom designed. Either way, isn’t your online image worth it?

There are more excellent tips and resources on design in Kathryn Aragon’s article on blending design and copy for visual conversion (and don’t forget to address page load speed when creating your design).

2. Confused Navigation

Although a great design will get people onto your site, what will keep them there is usability.

A recent study by Hubspot found that 76% of consumers want a site to make it easy to find the information they want. Good navigation is an important aspect of that.

People don’t want to work too hard to find information on your site, so place your navigation in one of the usual locations (left, right, top or bottom), use either recognized (home, about, services, faqs) or descriptive terminology for labels and take advantage of categories, tags and the search bar to provide even more ways to navigate your blog content.

Some sites successfully use pathways targeted to seekers of different types of information—that can work too.  A good example is the screenshot below from the Copyblogger site.

Whichever route you go, don’t forget to include a sitemap, which will help both visitors and SEO.

Copyblogger-screenshot

The reason to do this is to smooth the path to accessing information. Yes, you can lead people deeper into your site but you have to do it in a totally understandable and transparent way.

After all, if your customers can’t find your authority blog post, how will they know you’re an authority?

Find additional help on avoiding website navigation mistakes on KISSmetrics.

3. Poor Content

Successful marketing relies on excellent content.

The latest figures from the Content Marketing Institute show that 90% of marketers are using content marketing. There are even more supporting statistics (100 of them, to be exact) on the Top Rank Blog. They all add up to one thing: Great content is what differentiates ordinary sites from those with authority.

There are two aspects to address.

The first is making sure written content good web writing guidelines, so that it has a headline that attracts attention, is well-spaced and easy to read, paragraphs covering one main idea each, has subheadings, bullet points and—only where necessary—bold text. Illustrate it with suitable images.

The second is making sure that, whether you are posting written content, video, audio or graphics, the content is excellent and unique. Avoid regurgitating what others have done before. Take the time to write (or hire others to write) content that is insightful, thought provoking and different.

If you must cover a well-traveled path, put your own spin on it. PostPlanner has some useful tips on using content on social media which can also help your site.

4. The Unexplained

No, this isn’t something from sci-fi—it just means that when it comes to usability, the background technology is just as important as what people see. There’s nothing more frustrating than:

  • trying to comment and getting a blank page
  • having social sharing buttons fail
  • strange display errors
  • having to change your browser to access the site
  • randomly loading audio and video

After a while people just give up. That why it makes sense to test usability so you can see what kind of experience your visitors are having.

Address usability issues and your target customers will have more incentive to stick around. Leave them alone, and you might have an unacceptably high bounce rate.

5. Trying Too Hard

The screenshot near the top of this article illustrates another common issue that undermines your blog’s credibility—trying too hard to promote everything.

Take a look at the Crazy Egg blog page—it has clean navigation and a single ad box.

Here’s another example from the Unbounce blog, with a single banner ad, a search form, a subscription form plus links to useful, relevant information.

unbounce-screenshot

Both of these offer restful visual experiences while making it easy for visitors to find their services. Trying to promote too many things at once will fatigue or annoy your visitors and send them away, which won’t help with your online image at all.

Here are some more thoughts from Heather Rubesch of Savvy B2B Marketing on trying too hard.

6. Too Many Hoops

Did you know that there are a whole bunch of people who won’t:

  • register with a site before they comment
  • register with a site to download
  • pay with a tweet

While some consider those interactions a small price to pay for a free resource, for others, they are deal breakers. They don’t want to jump through hoops to interact with content on your site. If they have to, not only will they go away, they will also tell others to avoid it.

My pet peeves? Having to sign up over and over again for the same site every time I want to download something and sites that don’t remember who I am.

There are more website frustrations in this useful article from the econsultancy blog.

7. No Mobile Interface

In the early days of the internet, the fact of having a website was enough to make your business more credible. Those days are gone, especially here in the US.

Now, your business doesn’t just need a website, it needs a site that is optimized so it works just as well on mobile devices as on the web.

More and more people are using smartphones and tablets. Sites that don’t adapt could soon be seen as irrelevant.

Here’s an interesting article from Pipe and Piper on why we should take the mobile web seriously, and check out our list of 26 of the best mobile website resources as a starting point.

Does your website make any of these mistakes? What else undermines the credibility of a website for you? Please share below.

Image credit: Daniela Meleo

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About 

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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4 COMMENTS

David Moloney

Yes, I can’t stand the ‘Too many hoops’ problem. I’m not a fan of blogs that use Disqus. No, I’m not going to sign up to a Disqus account and no I’m not going to link my social media accounts. I just want to add my comment with my Gravatar. Stop making it so hard.

August 26, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    I don’t mind Disqus too much, David, though I agree it should allow name, email and Gravatar. You only build interaction if you make it easy – captchas are a real turn-off.

    August 27, 2013 Reply

Ashley @ madlemmings

Ahhh, so much truth in this post. I am a big usability fan (web developer, blogger too) and it is really annoying when people just don’t get it. Of course that is not to say that any of us are perfect and cannot learn a thing or two. But the number ot times I get something that crashes, or navigation that does not make sense, or forms that are hard to enter (credit cards are a big one there). That is where the ipad etc have helped (number fields for numbers anyone). Thanks for altering the world to a few of these issues :>

August 28, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Yes, there’s nothing more annoying than filling out a form, only to have it crash, Ashley. Of course, as a site owner it can be equally frustrating, especially if you don’t understand what’s causing the error. Usability testing tools are a big help.

    August 28, 2013 Reply


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