I wrote this post in 2011 and realized it needed updating. I hope you enjoy the revised version! – Heather
To paraphrase the Talking Heads – is your content sending your readers on the road to nowhere?
You see this issue frequently pop up in blog posts. Although the site navigation is there, the body copy is link-free – and there’s nothing that encourages readers to go deeper into the site. There’s no link to a related web page. There are no sales page links. From a conversion perspective, the content is a dead-end.
Granted, some pages (like squeeze pages) are built like this on purpose. Their purpose is to force the reader to take a particular action. However, what I’m talking about is regular site content – for instance, FAQ content, blog posts and articles. Here’s what I mean.
This is a clip from the STOTT Pilates FAQ page: This content is targeted to Pilates fanatics who are willing to pay more for professional home equipment. STOTT Pilates equipment is high end and extremely expensive – which is why the copy blurb is trying to differentiate STOTT equipment from lower price consumer models. The challenge is, the content doesn’t tell the reader what they should do next (a bad sales mistake.) It doesn’t link to their equipment page for more information. The copy doesn’t go anywhere. From a conversion perspective, it’s a dead end.
Here’s an old screen shot from SodaStream:
If you’re a sparkling water addict like I am, these machines are awesome! You may have even gotten excited while reading the copy, thinking, “I want to check out the price right now.”
But you can’t – not without clicking on the navigation. There’s no hyperlink leading you to the next conversion step. The copy is a dead end. (I’m pleased to note that SodaStream has since added links. Well done!)
How do you fix dead end pages?
It’s so simple. Whenever applicable, add a call to action link to your copy.
Here’s all it would take in the SodaStream example: “Find the home soda maker that’s perfect for you.” (link to product page.)
The STOTT Pilates FAQ blurb could end with, “Check out our Pilates equipment catalog” and link to the equipment page. If they ran a sale, I’d mention the sale in the link, “STOTT equipment for up to 40% off.”
It’s really as easy as that. You don’t need to beat the reader over the head. Just a simple link will do.
Wait! These aren’t sales pages. Why should I care?
Because you should always care. 🙂 Granted, articles and FAQ pages are geared towards folks in the “research” phase of the buy cycle. These people may not be quite ready to buy – but they are checking out options. Adding a non-obtrusive call to action may move the reader along the conversion path a tad faster.
How can I find dead-end pages?
There’s no easy way to do this, other than manually reviewing a site’s pages and looking for links. Here are the pages you’ll want to evaluate first:
- Your most trafficked blog posts
- Any FAQ or article page that discusses a popular product or service – especially if that page is positioning well.
If you’re a freelancer, this is a service you can sell to your clients (you can even combine it with an SEO content audit.) If you’re in charge of your company’s site, set aside 15 minutes a day to find and fix the pages. Depending on the site’s size, you could complete the project in an hour – or it may take you a couple months to complete everything.
Don’t let your pages feel the dead end blues. Adding appropriate action-oriented hyperlinks helps your reader find related information, learn more about your company – and yes, encourage them to purchase from you. As my father used to say, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” – and you always want to ask for the sale.