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20 Website Mistakes That Kill Conversions

Learn from your mistakes. We’ve all heard it.

But when it comes to a website, there are mistakes you want to avoid from the start, that affect your bottom line.

Act now (before the event), and before it’s too late (saving serious stress), by understanding 20 website mistakes that kill conversions.

Read on or use the table of contents to ‘jump’ to a specific section in the post.

Table of Contents

1. Not Planning Website

Consider the importance of ‘website planning’ to the foundations of your house. You wouldn’t want to rush the process and live on rocky foundations!

Because good website planning:

  • Attracts your target market
  • Generates profits.

Therefore, take the time to do it and 9 steps for planning a new website, from Hallam, is a great starting point. 

Working on design and copy separately is a common mistake that must be avoided. Instead, a comprehensive approach must be taken to achieve the goal of clear brand messaging.

Takeaway: A lack of website planning will result in your website having too much going on, having too little going on, or being too confusing.

2. Not Differentiating from Competition

Marketing 101 is to make sure your potential buyers understand what sets your product or service apart.

But unfortunately, ‘sameness’ is the common theme of the average company today.

And this is because differentiation requires an all-in commitment. CXL explains this and what, why and how to get your differentiation strategy right.

To add to this, Audrey Robinson summarises it best in this useful post, by saying: “Brands should focus on playing to its strengths and developing sustainable competitive advantages.”

Whether that be through:

  • Branding (and not being afraid to inject personality)
  • Offering something more (diversity is everything)
  • Excellent customer service (what keeps customers coming back)
  • Customer research (to stay ahead of the competition)
  • Personalisation (with unique experiences key to winning customers).

3. Not Clear with CTAs

Users have found your website, but don’t expect good conversions, unless you can direct the user to the next step. It’s paramount you do this through:
  • Clear
  • Specific call to action (CTA) phrases that create urgency to make the user take action.

15 call to action examples (and how to write the perfect CTA) is a pro guide that will help you.

And The Daily Egg’s 21 captivating call to action examples is also useful.

As David Zheng of Daily Egg states (here) the principles of writing effective CTA copy have remained consistent:

a) Emphasise a low barrier to entry

b) Include a clear directive

c) Encourage immediate action.

Note: Don’t underestimate CTA buttons, and the 8 characteristics of high-converting CTA buttons is a great resource that will benefit you.

4. Not Mobile Friendly

More than half of all web traffic is mobile.

And according to the Ericsson Mobility Report, this trend will continue, with a 25% increase in mobile traffic by 2025. 

Yes, humans are addicted to mobile phones.

At any time, or any place, people are searching for websites on their mobiles that will solve their problems.

This means your website must be mobile friendly by:

  • Loading
  • Displaying quickly on a mobile screen of any size. 

Takeaway: Less traffic and lower conversions are the disastrous result of a website that is not mobile friendly.

5. Not Navigation Friendly

Neil Patel here says: “The design of a website’s navigation has a bigger impact on success or failure than almost any other factor.”

And that’s because, if you lose your potential customer through poor navigation, then you lose the conversion.

Great website navigation needs to be:

  • Intuitive
  • Quick 
  • Simplistic.

This will ensure your user will get from point a (now) to point b (where you want then to go) successfully.

Check out Neil Patel’s common website navigation mistakes and the Daily Egg’s website navigation tips, examples and best practices, to guide you.

6. Not Using High Quality Images

Humans are visual creatures, and thus poor-quality images on websites, negatively impact how we perceive that website.

High quality images are a must, and they need to be:

  • Crisp (not blurry or pixelated)
  • Relevant (and enhance content) 
  •  Properly licensed (so you can use them worry free). 

And when you fulfill these criteria, they can increase user engagement, leading to higher conversions.

Note: The 5 minute guide to image quality, by Unsplash, is a useful resource, to make sure you’re using the right image for the right use.

Hiring a professional photographer is a great option for taking images from sub-par to amazing. Even if it’s only for your most important website photos.

For everything else you can’t look past these 15 best places to find photos for websites.

These are free and paid stock photo websites, that provide images free of copyright.

Note: Don’t use images directly from the internet. This is not only unprofessional but illegal.

7. Not Factoring in SEO

We talked earlier about website planning (1) being like the foundations of your house.

And SEO is the same. SEO is an integral component of the discoverability of your website through search engines (like Google).

Organic search is most often the primary source of website traffic, which is critical to maximising conversions.

SEO is a long-term investment, that must be implemented from day 1 – in the website planning phase.

And that includes, incorporating SEO into your website design and content.

But as important as SEO is, it’s not the entire game.

Because a 360-degree Digital marketing strategy is needed to ensure you are leaving no gaps in your strategy for potential customers to fall through the cracks.

8. Not Having a Fast Website

According to Time humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

So, is your page loading quickly enough to maintain user attention?

Because if it’s more than a few seconds, users won’t stick around, and it will: Cost you a conversion.

And even more: Your website won’t rank high on Google.

How to increase page speed, by Neil Patel, is an awesome resource that breaks down what’s wrong and how to fix it, using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Hire a professional if you want, but remember these 4 statistics (mentioned here):

  • 1 in 4 visitors would abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load 
  • 46% of users don’t revisit poorly performing websites 
  • 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their site visit will shop elsewhere next time 
  • 1 second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%.

9. Not Utilising Content and White Space

Content will always be king and here is why according to Forbes. It helps your website reach your prospective buyers more effectively.

Therefore ‘use content’ or ‘lose conversions.’ That includes keeping content up to date.

And don’t forget the:

Use plenty of white space and never underestimate the importance of itIt’s extremely powerful and can improve your website’s conversion rates, as it:

  • Breaks up text
  • Avoids attention leaks
  • Draws attention to focus points
  • Increases visibility of your call to action.

10. Not Identifying Your Target Market

If you want to increase conversions, you have to figure out your target market.

‘Unfocused’ messages are the result of not understanding your target market, because you don’t know what moves them to buy.

And proper target market research, should include:

  • Who they are 
  • What they want 
  • What matters to them
  • Sources of friction for them. 

This resource by CXL is a useful starting point, and this resource by Inc is also an excellent resource.

So whatever you do:

  • Don’t write for 100% of your website traffic (this is unfocused)
  •  Write for the lesser % (your target market that will convert better).

11. Not Making Your Checkout / Inquiry / Sign Up Process Easy

Some websites fail to get a prospect to take the next step because there is:

  • Too much friction (obstacles getting in the way)
  • Too much information (which can be overwhelming / lead to confusion).

And poor conversion rates are the result.

The key is to understand your customer’s point of view and ask yourself these questions about your website:

  • Is there just enough information to get to the next step? 
  • Are the steps simple and minimised? 
  • Is certainty being provided to the customer? 
  • Is urgency being created to encourage action taking?

Note: This great post, by CXL, provides great friction-based analysis (with examples), that gives you a greater understanding of friction, and why it’s a conversion killer.

12. Not Testing Usability

Website usability testing is a must for boosting conversions.

Because there is no point in having a stunning website that has usability problems. Any usability problem means your website is:

  • Difficult to use
  • Hard to understand. 

And this is the opposite of your number 1 goal for usability, and this is:

Satisfying users when visiting your website, because they found what they were looking for.

User Peek gives 6 examples of how usability testing increases conversions, and highlights usability testing is an easy task (not hard like you might be thinking).

And while talking of easy, that’s what’s fundamental to website usability: Keep it simple (more on that in this useful post).

13. Not Choosing a Simple & Responsive Design

Content is king. We mentioned this earlier in 9. not utilising content and white space.

So, choose a simple and responsive design that allows the website’s content to speak for itself.

Web FX summarises that best here, by saying: “We live in in a multi-screen society.”

And because of this: “It’s important for your website to be viewable across as many devices as possible, because you never know what device someone will be using to view your website.”

All the big brands (like Google, Facebook and Twitter) use a simple / responsive design and so should you.

Note: Responsive design: best practices and considerations, by Toptal, is a useful reference.

14. Not Building a Email List

Big companies love email lists and so should you.

It’s easier to get visitors to return your website (by capturing their email) as opposed to one-time website visits.

An email list allows you to build a relationship with potential customers repeatedly and this can boost conversions.

But only when emails are:

  • Personal 
  • Useful 
  • Targeted.

The marketing rule of 7 summarises why building an email list is so important.

It states that a: “Prospect needs to hear your message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.”

Takeaway: You can read more on the marketing rule of 7 here. But whatever you do, start building an email list today (or you’ll be leaving money on the table).

15. Not Defining Website Goals

No website goals = no direction = poor conversions.

And having the goal of wanting a ‘better website’ is what all website owners want.

You need to get more specific, and Intechnic outlines the best examples of website goals and objectives here.

The SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) model, outlined by Intechnic (again here), is your method for setting all goals across departments, that include:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Support
  • IT
  • Operations
  • HR.

Takeaway: Don’t be vague. Instead be clear with goals, that demonstrate exactly what you want to achieve with your website, and this clarity will translate to higher conversions.

16. Not Utilising Social Media

Leaving money on the table. That’s what you are doing as a website owner, if you aren’t effectively using social media.

And it starts with a social media plan, with the goal of more sales.

But you should never use social media as a ‘selling tool’, rather a:

  • Engagement
  • Connection
  • Awareness one.

This beginner’s guide is useful for achieving the goal of lead conversion with social media, and as Neil Patel states: “Done right, social media can be an extremely powerful tool for lead generation.”

But it requires a lot of patience and dedication to get you there.

Tip: Hootsuite is a useful tool for managing multiple social accounts, and Canva is a free design tool for creating images to post on social media.

17. Not Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

Ignoring your buyer’s journey is an expensive mistake that leads to lower conversions.

The buyer’s journey is a buyer’s path to purchase.

And while closing the sale is key, you can’t ignore this, or your reach to your target audience will be significantly less.

Because the success of any brand is the buyer’s entire experience with your brand.

This is well outlined by Small Dog Creative here, who outline the 4 stages in a buyer’s journey:

  • Attract customers
  • Convert visitors
  • Close the sale
  • Delight the customer.

Takeaway: Reaching your customer at every stage of the buyer’s journey is key to maximising conversions.

18. Not Tracking with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free Google tool that helps analyse your website traffic. Don’t underestimate its power because it’s free.

It is:

  • User-friendly
  • Customisable
  • Comprehensive.

And when used effectively, you can boost your conversion rate.

Foundr outlines how one of the best (and easiest) ways to use Google Analytics to increase conversions is to review your traffic segments by channel type.

Neil Patel’s 5 easy google analytics reports to help you increase conversions is useful, as is Hotjar’s improving goal conversion rate in Google Analytics.

Takeaway: As Sir William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin once said: “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” So use Google Analytics to improve your conversions.

19. Not Using Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free Google tool for anyone with a website to:

  • Monitor how Google views their site
  • Optimise its online presence.

Wordstream provides a clear distinction between Google Analytics and Search Console: “Analytics gives you traffic and conversion data; Search Console gives you a look at the casual search factors underlying the data.”

Therefore, when you link the two: You have a powerful weapon to boosting conversions.

And how to use Google Search Console to boost conversions, by Conversion Uplift, is a great starting point for any website owner.

As is this awesome insider’s guide to using Google Search Console to fix your site, by Neil Patel.

20. Not Optimising/Personalising Content

     As a website owner you need to:
  •   Reach the largest possible audience (the goal of content optimisation). 

Then give the audience:

  •      What they want in real time (the goal of personalisation).

Optimising/personalising content is a big deal when it comes to conversions.

Such a big deal that Epilson research reports 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences.

Just look at any leading brand’s home page and you will find personalisation.

And it’s all because customers want it.

UX Booth break downs how to improve conversions with better personalisation, and this is to:

  • Segment 
  • Identify customer journey 
  • Personalise the customer experience. 

And as they summarise, every personalisation factor must be tested to:

  • Keep the effective ones 
  • Add new ideas 
  • Test again.

Tip: Learn more about segmentation hereand how to optimise websites accordingly.


Trinidadian-British author Wayne Gerard Trotman summarises it best when he says: “Life is a lot more pleasant when you learn from other people’s mistakes.”

So take the great losses caused by making any of the 20 website mistakes, as great lessons, that will allow you to maximise conversions for your business.

Over to You…

Do you agree with 20 Website Mistakes That Kill Conversions? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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