Is the music gone from your site yet? It had better be, because we’ve got more things for you to get rid of right now so you can start turning your beginner’s web site into one that’s professional and profitable.
Mistake #6: Too Much (Useless) Information
Lots of websites suffer from this malady. It’s a sad case of TM(U)I and most – dare we say all – websites that perpetrate this travesty use extraneous information to take up space as a substitute for real information.
It’s not unlike what we all did in sixth grade when faced with a four page history essay for homework. First, we wrote the title real big on top. Then we put our byline underneath (middle name included), with the date, our grade level, our classroom number, the teacher’s name, the assignment name and the time we started writing the essay. Our first paragraph explained that we’d been thinking about a good topic to write for an essay when we came up with the idea of writing about George Washington because he was such an important and great president and he did so many great things for the country and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for him.
We go on like this for some time and make sure every page has a footer with a page number and the time we started writing it.
Do you see where we’re going with this? Maybe you’ve even thrown in a fact or two that (if you’re as old as we are) you looked up in the encyclopedia, but overall the essay is a lot of filler because, well, it has to be four pages.
There’s a parallel to this on the web, and the result is just as obvious to customers as it was to our sixth grade teachers. The good news is that it’s easy to fix, but you have to know what you’re looking for.
The Ubiquitous Hit Counter
We want the hit counter to die. It’s baffling that it still exists, yet it lurks at the bottom of many web sites, proclaiming truly useless and occasionally embarrassing information. Why do we harbor such ill-will toward the hit counter? Well, its uselessness is a good place to start.
A “hit” on your website is not a visit. Let’s repeat that: a hit is not a visit. At least not in any useful sense of the word. Depending on how the counter works, it may be counting literal hits: that is, every item on your page that is required for it to display. Got four images? That’s four hits. Not the same as four visitors. It is also counting how many times a page was loaded in the browser. If one person goes back to a page six times, that’s six hits. Not the same as six visitors.
If you’re using a hit counter to tell you how many people have visited your site, then you will never know how many people have visited your site. You will not even get close. The only way to get valuable statistics about your site is to use an analytics program that will tell you not only how many people visited your site, but what they did, how long they spent and how they got there is the first place (among tons of other actually useful information).
Beyond the uselessness of it, a hit counter is strictly amateur. In many cases people use it to show how popular their sites are, but trust us, it’s only the unpopular sites that feel they have to prove how popular they are. Look, 50,000 people have visited! I’m important! In reality, this can only be an embarrassment. If your hit count is low, it will only reinforce how unpopular your site is. Why would you want people to know that only 500 people have visited your site since 2003? If your hit count is high, it’s just a pompous absurdity. Have you ever visited an actually popular site and seen a hit counter?
Hit counters take up space and give neither you nor your customers useful information. Stop faking the footer of your site. It’s easy. Just go in there are remove the hit counter right now.
Today’s Date And Time
There are few things more useless on a web site than the date and time. No human being on the planet is going to rush to the Bob’s Green Lawn Service web site just to be sure it’s really Thursday morning. The date and time are on our phones, our computers, our microwave ovens. They don’t need to be – nor do they belong on – our web sites.
Do you know what a date and time are on a web site? Sixth grade filler. You can fix that problem right now and get rid of it. You’d be better off with a picture of your sixth grade teacher.
The Weather Report
This one is particularly baffling. It’s as if scores of business owners bought the five-page web package but could only come up with four pages of content, so rather than feel gypped out of a page, they collectively decided hey, you know what would be really great? A page where someone can put in a zip code and get the current weather report!
If Bob’s Green Lawn Service web site can get away without telling customers the date and time, it can also get away with assuming those customers will make it through the day without a weather widget. There are actual web sites devoted entirely to the weather. There are phone apps. There are TV and radio shows. There are even windows. Customers do not need your site for the weather, and you do not need to be wasting space giving it to them. Get rid of it. Yes, the whole page! Right now!
We’d bet that 99% of all “Links” pages are leftovers from the days when people would sit around sending out emails that said, in essence, “I’ll link to yours if you’ll link to mine.” The “link exchange” used to be the lot of many SEOs and enterprising business owners as they attempted to build the coveted “popularity” of their web sites by generating inbound links.
Well, search engines have gotten smarter and Links pages have gotten useless. If you’re still holding onto one for that reason, get rid of it. We promise it won’t send you plummeting to the bottom of Google.
There is also a small percentage of Links pages that attempt to be useful, but in such a generic way that they fall short. If you’re a financial planner or accountant or bookkeeper and you’re linking to The Wall Street Journal, it may seem relevant, but the truth is your customers can get to The Wall Street Journal web site any old time. They probably don’t need you to help them. Our advice? Just as easy as everything else so far – get rid of the Links page.
Let’s sum this up simply: if there is anything on your website that doesn’t pertain directly and immediately to your business, your products, your services, and the action that you want the customer to take on your website, then remove it. We doubt that you really want people to be checking the weather report or synchronizing their watches or even jumping out to another web site via a link you’ve provided.
Don’t fail to provide real content and actionable items by filling space with generic junk.
Is there any information that you could get rid of on your website right now that wouldn’t affect its success?
Read More In The “Rookie Mistakes” Series
- Rookie Mistake 1: Annoy Customers With Your Contact Form
- Rookie Mistake 2: Use Bad Photography
- Rookie Mistake 3: Bad Links
- Rookie Mistake 4: Dead Links Pointing To Your Site
- Rookie Mistake 5: Forgetting You’re Not A Rock Star
- Rookie Mistake 6: Too Much (Useless) Information
- Rookie Mistake 7: Dizzy Background
- Rookie Mistake 8: Misusing Technology
- Rookie Mistake 9: Mangling Your META Data
- Rookie Mistake 10: No Call To Action