Is Your Blog Driving Readers Away?

11 Factors To Enhance Content Trust

Did your blog visitors leave your site without taking the time to read even one sentence of what you’ve written? If so, it’s possible your site lacks trustworthiness.

Before you say anything, check this list of eleven factors that predict information credibility. The first ten of these elements are design related and account for 94% of visitor mistrust and the eleventh item accounts for the remaining 6% according to research of online health sites by Elizabeth Sillence, Pam Briggs, Lesley Fishwick and Peter Harris.

  1. Has inappropriate name. Visitors, and to a lesser extent search bots, must be able to understand your blog name and URL without the context of supporting content. Can visitors discern what your blog is about based on its name alone? If not, change it. Actionable Marketing Tip: Ensure your blog’s name is understandable and spellable. Skip the corporate letter jumble that no one outside your firm or department understands.
  2. Has complex, busy layout. Blog design is one area where less is more. Make a list of all design items and assess the necessity and importance of each one. Leverage the power of consistency over adding more graphics. Eliminate flashing items. Actionable Marketing Tip: Select the most critical visual elements of your 360° brand such as color usage and fonts for your blog.
  3. Lacks navigation aids. First time visitors must be able to click around your blog to find the information they seek. Provide an easy-to-find navigation bar with well-labeled buttons that make sense to newcomers. Actionable Marketing Tip: Offer visitors more than one way to navigate your site such as a search box, archives and top posts.
  4. Has boring web design. Streamlining blog design doesn’t mean lack of design. Use your brand colors effectively. Use creative resources to develop a blog design that extends your business or personal branding. (Here’s help to develop your brand.) Actionable Marketing Tip: Use graphic elements including photographs to attract visitors’ attention and pull them in. Make sure your graphics, fonts and color work together to convey your brand’s message when your name’s not present.
  5. Allows pop-up ads. Skip pop-up ads since they’re annoying. Actionable Marketing Tip: If you display pop-ups for advertising and/or email registration, set cookies and timers to prevent them from appearing until a visitor’s been on your site for a while or you’ll lose them before you can persuade them your blog has value.
  6. Has slow load time. The longer your blog takes to load, the more likely prospective readers will bail before they see it. This element has an impact on search rankings as well. Actionable Marketing Tip: Get technical help to speed up your blog. (Here’s a blog speed checklist.)
  7. Has small print. Many designers use extra large screens when they work forgeting that average readers have smaller screens. Furthermore, readers over 40 tend to wear reading glasses so that tiny type is challenging to decipher.  Actionable Marketing Tip: Consider the device your audience will use to read your blog and where they’ll be when they do so. Select a common, easy-on-the-eye font face such as Arial or New Times Roman. Use at least 12 point type.
  8. Contains too much text. In today’s information rich world, make it easy for readers to skim your content. Avoid long blocks of densely packed words. This doesn’t necessarily mean less words but rather easy-to-consume formatting. Actionable Marketing Tip: Use sub-titles, outlining and bolding to guide readers through your content time efficiently.
  9. Has a corporate look and feel. Blah design is a reader turnoff. As a form of social media, blogs require a human voice. Bear in mind, most people think of corporate communications including stock photography as being void of anything resembling a human emotion and destined for the circular file. This isn’t the way to position your blog. If it can be applied to another business, forget it. Actionable Marketing Tip: Give your blog life by extending your brand’s color and design elements. Also, add real personality matching that of your blogger(s).
  10. Lacks effective findability and/or on-site search facilities. People must be able to find your blog before they can read it. Ensure your blog content appears on search and social media and points readers to other great content within your blog through the use of related articles, top blog posts and links within your posts. Actionable Marketing Tip: Leverage the power of your blog by having each post focus on a keyword phrase, linking both internally and externally, and optimizing the permalink for each post and images within the posts. (Here are more blog search recommendations.)
  11. Has irrelevant or inappropriate content. New readers seek your blog based on its content focus. They’re seeking specific information and to keep them long enough to read at least one post, your writing must be on topic. Actionable Marketing Tip: Keep your blog content laser focused on your main topic to attract a broader audience. Keep your audience coming back for more by listening to them.

To stop your blog from driving visitors away, test these eleven elements on your audience to determine your content’s trustworthiness. To achieve this quickly and cost effectively, ask a few unbiased readers who you know will tell you the truth. Once you have this information, make the appropriate changes to your blog.

What other content marketing elements enhance reader trust and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Hat tip to Derek Halperin of Social Triggers for pointing to the research.

Here are some related articles.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/icanchangethisright/4879511760/

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  • http://www.jeremyfloyd.com Jeremy Floyd

    Great list, Heidi!

    You’ve covered this point 11, but I’d say “Doesn’t give away enough.” This is a culture of generosity, and if your content marketing is always hiding the nugget, then the readers aren’t going to stick around for long.

  • BrentCarnduff

    Good article Heidi! The “pop-ups” issue is a big one – hate them! I’m also offended by the bad language. Not that I’m averse to an occasional outburst, I just don’t feel that it is appropriate for professional settings.

  • http://www.shortcutblogging.com/ Dave Young

    Great list. Our company’s focus is helping our clients with the writing. We’re always looking for ways to help them make their blog better on their own.

  • http://twitter.com/PTheWyse Praverb.net

    Hello Heidi,

    Thank you for putting together this informative post. I also applaud you for replying to my comment on Social Media Examiner.

    I dislike pop-up ads as well.

    12. Has a Flash Intro haha…

  • http://www.facebook.com/sally.spermstains Sally Spermstains

    Spell check! LOSE not LOOSE!! See so many mistakes like this in blogs.