August 25, 2010
When you review the keywords from which people clicked to your site, are they only peripherally related to what you offer? If so, your website is likely suffering from BlindWebsititis!
What Is BlindWebsititis?
BlindWebsititis is what happens to websites when those in charge of their content don't come right out and say exactly what every page is all about. Instead, they use only corporate jargon, non-descriptive copy, or – in acute cases – no copy at all. It's a horrible condition that affects hundreds of thousands of websites every year. Sadly, the pain of BlindWebsititis goes well beyond the hurt to the website itself; it often spreads to site visitors who have to try to guess what the company offers.
Even search engines aren't spared from BlindWebsititis. Their symptoms include the miscategorization of the afflicted websites because there's no way for them to assign relevant keywords.
Rather than dealing with the pain of BlindWebsititis, many users click away from infected sites as quickly as possible, in search of healthier ones that clearly say what they're offering.
Causes of BlindWebsititis
This condition is so widespread that intensive research has gone into determining the possible causes. One major cause is the proprietary prose that companies use internally to discuss their offerings. While using company jargon within the walls of a business is not unhealthy in and of itself, when it makes its way to the website, it often turns into BlindWebsititis. Companies tend to forget that for every person who knows exactly what they do, there may be 20 others who don't.
While BlindWebsititis has been spreading like the flu, research finds that some websites are immune. What gives them this amazing immunity? These companies are interested only in visitors who seek them out by brand name. It turns out that search engines use a special "immunized algorithm" that protects branded searches from coming down with the condition.
The Worst Cases
Sadly, companies who seek to gain new customers from the search engines – that is, people looking for their type of product or service who don't already know that the company exists – are hurt the most by BlindWebsititis. These companies often stop growing, and in many cases premature death is inevitable.
For critical cases of BlindWebsititis, companies must immediately take action! The first step is to let people who've never heard of them know that they're in the right place. Because it's widely accepted that people using search engines are generally searching for stuff, they are typically pleased when they find their information quickly and easily. The cure with the fewest number of side effects is to display this information as clearly and succinctly as possible.
Research into BlindWebsititis has shown that clarity on every page results in the best recovery rate because there is no beginning, middle, or end to any website. Because each page is a gateway to the rest of the site, when one page is afflicted, the rest are too. Adding clear content to all pages tells users that they've found what they're looking for, which leaves BlindWebsititis with no further mode of attack. In fact, it's been found that just adding a short, descriptive summary to the top of every page can cure BlindWebsititis immediately. (However, the cure has a longer recovery period for search engines if they have to re-index the previously afflicted pages.)
The Active Ingredients
Best results have been noted when the site creator uses keyword phrases in the most natural manner possible. This means users don't have to think too hard, which boosts their own immune response to the affliction. Descriptive web writing provides complete information to search engine visitors who don't know anything about the company or its products and services.
Beware of a Relapse!
While BlindWebsititis may seem to be cured on websites when a paragraph of text is added below the fold (rather than at the top), the affliction still exists, albeit in a dormant state. It may not affect search engines in this form, but because users often don't look below the fold, they continue to feel the pain. Their suffering often takes the form of scratching their heads in wonderment. The resulting itchiness can become acute if the copy at the bottom of the page is keyword stuffed or slightly hidden with gray text and is suddenly noticed by the user.
Is Your Website Afflicted?
To see if your website has BlindWebsititis, take a look at it with fresh eyes. Perform usability tests with people who are not already familiar with your company and see if they can tell what you offer within a short amount of time. If they are confused or have to click around to your About Us page, then you have some work to do. Luckily, you'll see great benefits when you completely cure BlindWebsititis by clearly describing your products and services. Benefits include increased search engine rankings, more targeted visitors, a decreased bounce rate, and higher conversions and sales.
Jill Whalen is an SEO Consultant and the CEO of High Rankings
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