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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Ask the Pit Crew: Why Aren’t People Buying on My Site?

Ask the Pole Position Marketing Pit CrewMembers of the Pole Position Marketing pit crew answer your web marketing questions from their unique perspectives with a “bonus lap” by a guest industry pro.

Have a question you’d like answered?Ask the pit crew!

This Week’s Question:

Why aren’t people buying my stuff when they come to my site?

Stoney deGeyter’s Answer from an SEO Perspective:

Oooh, now that’s a loaded question.

Ok, let’s assume that your stuff isn’t totally craptastic and that you are, in fact, selling high quality products or services. Let’s also assume that you’re competitive on pricing, guarantees, shipping policies, etc.

So what does that leave?

Two things: 1) your site just isn’t that usable or 2) you have no real credibility. If you want to get sales, both must be improved.


Just because you have a website and it looks great to the eye, doesn’t mean it’s “usable” to the average person. There are a lot of large and small things you can do to make your site more usable. Far too many for me to go into here, but the best thing you can do is to remove all obstacles that might distract, prevent or make purchasing your products or services more difficult.

A good practice is to have someone you know that is not familiar with your site try to place an order. Watch what they do and see if you can pinpoint frustrations they have in the process. Everything from linking to information availability to placement of buttons can all play a role.


Credibility is key to earning your shopper’s trust. Credibility (and its cousin, trust) comes in all all different ways, so think about the things that you think about when buying from another unknown store online. What matters to you? What kinds of things do you want to see?

  • Authoritative blog posts?
  • Questions being answered?
  • Product reviews?
  • Testimonials?
  • Security symbols
  • BBB membership?
  • Social engagement?

This is just a short list, but many things can help build your credibility. Think about what you can do to be more credible to your audience. Craft your content to address the benefits rather than it being all about you. Most of all, be genuine and engage your shoppers. Everyone loves a friendly face.

Mike Fleming’s Answer from an Analytics & Conversion Optimization Perspective:

You Tasked Designers and Developers with Converting Your Visitors

Your first mistake was that you assumed your designers/developers would create a site that would persuade people to buy. The problem is—conversion rate optimization is complicated and requires knowledge in many different areas that designers/developers aren’t trained in. Some of these skills include usability, psychology, persuasion, web analytics and statistics, direct-response copywriting and visual design principles. Designers are usually mostly concerned with the look and feel of the site, while developers are concerned about functionality and innovation (even if it costs the company sales).

It might be a cliché, but you go to a doctor when you’re sick. You should go to someone trained in conversion rate optimization if you want your site to sell.

You Don’t Test Your Site

The lack of conversion knowledge on your team leads to your next problem—you don’t test your site. You think that you’ve commissioned your designer to create a great site, spent a bunch of money on it, and now visitors should realize that you’re the best and they should buy from you.

The problem is—you designed the site from your perspective. What you need is your visitors’ perspective. You need to let them tell you how they want your site to function, what tasks they want to complete and the best way for the site to help complete them. You can’t do this without testing.

If you don’t test, you’ll always be in the dark about how well or poorly your site performs. Testing is quick, cheap and easy. There is almost no reason any site should not be doing it.

Your Site Is Committing Sins

The lack of testing with your site leads to the heart of the problem—your site is creating conversion sins. You might not want to believe it and it’s certainly likely you’re unable to identify the problems, but your site is missing the mark in some major areas. What are they? Although you can learn many “best practices” that will provide you with a place to start, only your visitors truly know how you’re failing them. Whether it’s unclear calls to action, providing too many choices, populating pages with visual distractions, not keeping your promises, filling pages with too much text, asking for too much information, or failing to display credibility and earn trust, there are flaws that need fixed before you can expect your trend to reverse itself.

Annalisa Hilliard’s Answer from a Link Building and Local SEO Perspective:

There are several things you’ll want to consider from a link perspective.

Is your internal link navigation helpful to your users? In other words, the information architecture should maneuver visitors through your site in a way that accomplishes their goals and ushers them into a call to action. One of the best ways to provide this experience is by structuring your link navigation to guide their process. Read: Usability, usability, usability.

Your conversions may be suffering because:

  • Main navigation structure doesn’t link to the most important pages of your site
  • Main navigation is cluttered with unnecessary links
  • Page has too many links/calls to action, overwhelming the user with options
  • Links take user off the page instead of opening the link in a new tab

Where are your backlinks coming from?

Are irrelevant websites linking to you? Do not take links from a website that isn’t going to bring targeted traffic to your site, as this may cause a sudden, unsafe drop in conversions. Pre-qualify your leads by directing traffic from websites with related substance. Think of it as a Venn diagram: Find where your audience overlaps with other niches and create links using those logical relationships.

Are websites lacking in authority linking to you? If you haven’t embraced quality over quantity in your link building efforts, changing your mindset and strategy is well overdue. Getting links for the sake of numbers will get your site slapped by Kung Fu Panda, Mr. Popper’s Penguins or even a Hummingbird—and then your lack of sales will have just begun. Always conduct due diligence before chasing after a link. Find out if it will bring your site value, and will therefore be worthy of your time and effort. I leave you with a checklist to help guide your determination of a link’s worth.

Debbie Briggs’ Answer from a Content Marketing Perspective:

It’s not all about you! If the majority of your content starts with “we,” you’re missing the opportunity to drive home the benefits of your products and how they can fulfill a need. Your website content should be customer-centric, from clear product descriptions highlighting features and benefits, to blog posts that provide helpful, useful relative information for your customers.

Another reason why people may not be buying anything from your site is simply because you haven’t asked them to. Clear, concise calls to action are a must on your website. Links to your Contact Us page, a specific product page or perhaps a Request a Quote page can keep the customer engaged and headed toward the path to conversion. Even your blog posts, which should be more of a “soft sell” approach, can include a simple call to action at the end to find out more by contacting you. If you don’t ask for the sale, you might just lose it. 

Bonus Lap with Dan Shure:

SEO is Dan Shure’s obsession. It was pretty obvious to him when he would watch Whiteboard Friday while driving to work, just to learn whenever he could. Dan has worked with startups, eCommerce sites, bloggers, affiliates, small businesses to large companies and everything in between. Dan has also been a Moz Associate since 2012, and has spoken at industry events such as Mozcation Portsmouth and SMX East in New York. Check out his SEO blog at: www.evolvingseo.com/blog/

People not buying your stuff when they get to your site comes down to one thing: TRUST. Potential customers need to believe they are going to get a good product. That it won’t break, or if it does it will be a painless exchange or return process. They need to trust that you, as the store owner, are an expert in the products you are selling and have selectively chosen only the best to sell. They have to trust you are charging a fair price.

There are a few ways this trust can be conveyed on your site.

For starters, photos and videos of the people behind the store, especially if there is one person (the owner, CEO, thought leader) of a company—these can exponentially raise the level of trust. We’re simply more likely to believe someone we can see and hear. Secondly, it’s sometimes not enough to just put yourself in a video. You have to be real. You have to seem genuine and somehow connect with your audience. This comes with showing your personality and being honest.

Secondly, consumers are going to believe what other consumers say about your company, brand or products more than what you say about yourself. Definitely go out of your way to include real testimonials and reviews from customers. Put photos of those customers next to their reviews. Then that person reviewing becomes more real in the eyes of the shoppers, too.

An example of someone doing this well is a client of mine (he did not ask me to reference him). Alec Nelson of VacuumSpot has uploaded a prolific amount of videos to his brand YouTube channel (and embeds them on his site) teaching people all about how to fix and repair their vacuums. He is by far always the one to either get a call from people, or be chosen over the competition because you feel like you know him and he’s been helpful. The website, as you can see, isn’t the prettiest site on the web, but it still does very well because of that trust factor.

Finally, I’m not a CRO or UX expert, but your shopping process could have some sort of sticking point in it, whether it’s the funnel checkout process, the calls to action not being clear or being confusing etc. I would urge people to take a look at your funnel conversion path reports in Google Analytics, do some A/B testing and perhaps pick up the classic book by Steve Krug, “Don’t Make Me Think.”

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