Why it doesn’t pay to run good ads to a bad website

good ads bad websiteEven as I wrote the headline of this article, the answer seemed really obvious.

Good ads.

Bad website.

What good could ever come of it?

But the answer is complex because there are varying degrees of a “bad” website and the level of “badness” can be relative to the quality of the other websites in your market. 

The job of a good AdWords ad is to “win the click”

Google AdWords drives targeted traffic to your website, so let’s start with what makes a good ad.

The Ad Copy should be relevant to the carefully selected target keywords and include messages to attract attention, so that the person searching Google:

  • knows that the ad relates to what he/she was searching for
  • wants to click on the ad and find out more.

The Ad Copy can also “plant the seed” for the action that you want people to take once they visit your website. For example, by including “buy online, save 10%” in the ad copy, people clicking on the ad are already aware of how much they can save if they buy online. Which can make them more likely to act.

When AdWords ads are doing their job well, they are attracting well targeted, quality clicks.

The job of a good business website is to get people to convert

Once people visit your website, the website needs to win the conversion, which might be signing up for your e-Newsletter, submitting an online enquiry, completing a purchase or another important action.

If the website is bad, the conversion is less likely to happen. In the worst cases, conversions are non-existent.

Which means that if you’re running AdWords ads you’ve spent money getting people to your website but you aren’t getting a return on your advertising investment.

What makes a website bad?

A few things that spring to mind in terms of bad websites are:

  • Being hard to navigate
  • Having an outdated design
  • Small, hard to read fonts
  • Using garish colours
  • It’s difficult to tell what the business does
  • Overly complicated check-out or sign-up process
  • The “Search” field doesn’t work
  • Links are broken
  • Important information like Contact Details or Product Pricing is hard to find or non-existent
  • The copy is boring and wasn’t written for the web.

For AdWords, a bad website is also one that isn’t relevant to the keywords and ad copy used in the AdWords campaign.

You need to test an AdWords campaign to find out how well the visitors convert

There are different levels of “badness” for websites. For example:

  • The website might have some or all of the things mentioned above.
  • It might look awesome, but be let down by the copy.
  • The copy might be awesome but be let down by the design.

You also need to take your competitors websites into consideration.

It’s really easy for people click on several ads in quick succession to see what’s available and then go back to the website that appealed to them the most.

Even though at first glance the website might seem OK, if your website is just OK and your competitors websites are awesome, then relatively speaking your website doesn’t cut it in the fast moving web world.

Another consideration is that although your website may have been good a few years ago, if your new and/or existing competitors now have awesome new websites, then relatively speaking, your website isn’t as good as it used to be. And because more and more people are searching using mobile devices, to compete in today’s market your website needs to be mobile optimised.

How can you tell if your website is bad?

It can be hard for a business owner to be objective about their website. Particularly if he/she is focused on the fact that it will cost $$$ to get it updated.

A key signal that your website is bad is that you’re getting plenty of website visitors but no results.

No sales. No sign ups. No enquiries. No sharing of your content on social media.

You can also do the old tried and tested “ask a friend” what they think of your website. But if they’re not in your target audience, or they don’t feel they can’t be completely honest, you’re no better off.

Another option is to check your website analytics tool, like Google Analytics.

Once your AdWords and Analytics accounts are linked, you can see exactly how the AdWords traffic performs once people arrive at your website.

You’ll probably see that some people Bounce, which is pretty normal for AdWords in my experience (and a Bounce is not always bad, for example if someone visits your website to find your phone number and finds it easily on the home page). But some people should stick around and get engaged. Depending upon the product or service you offer, it might take a few visits before they convert, but ideally you want new visitors to view several pages and spend at least a minute or two looking around.

What should you do next if your ads aren’t getting results?

It’s possible that you’re not getting conversions because the market for your product or service is highly competitive and price-sensitive. It’s also possible that the market for your product or service isn’t very big.

But if your website is the issue, there are a lot of changes that can be made to improve your results. Work with a savvy web designer, developer and/or copywriter to make updates.

What things make you think a website is bad, and make you want to leave? Let me know in the comments.

About Melinda
Melinda aka Mel is a Premier Google Partner, AdWords & Analytics Consultant, Speaker and Trainer and co-owner of Click-Winning Content. Mel provides results-driven services to Australian businesses and is committed to never using an acronym without explaining it first. She also likes grand slam tennis, cracked pepper and Melbourne sunsets. Please connect at the links below.