Have you invested a heavily in your website only to find that those leads you thought would be flowing in, are simply not coming? You are not alone. Millions of pounds are spent each year by businesses on websites that simply don't work. Why? Because most web design / development companies start with the assumption that making something look better is the answer to selling more. They are wrong. There is much more to it than that, but don't worry because you can improve your website without having to rebuild it again.
Here are 10 of the fastest ways to improve the performance of your website.
1. Know your numbers
How many visitors does your website get every month? How many leads does it generate? If you have some ideas of the numbers, well done, but you are probably wrong. Sorry. 98% of all websites we are asked to work on do not have their data collection set up properly. If the 'view' you look at in Google Analytics is All Datathen you are including spam traffic and traffic from irrelevant people.
If your business only sells to people in the UK you need a UK only traffic view to give you the real picture of potential customers on your website. You also need to ensure you are tracking goals on your website, which includes people filling out contact forms and clicking on phone numbers. Without having access to the correct information, you will be completely in the dark and won't know how many real potential customers are on your website and how well your website converts. Make sure to you have this sorted to ensure you can measure the positive effect on your sales of the other nine things you are going to do!
2. Improve your search visibility
Now you have accurate data, how many relevant people are finding your website? Are they finding you because they already know you or because they are looking for what you do? Build it and they will come, doesn't work. If you want more relevant traffic fast then make sure you're being found through advertising on relevant search terms using Google AdWords and Bing adCenter.
You only pay for people that actually click on your ads and therefore go to your website. This is by far the fastest way to drive relevant prospects to your website, but beware. You must use these powerful tools carefully. By not having carefully targeted campaigns, you can spend a lot of money very quickly without achieving any results.
Learn how to use the tools or pay an expert agency to set up and run the campaigns for you. A good agency will charge you a significant amount of money for good AdWords set up and on-going management, but it's a worthwhile investment, as they will make your advertising spend go much further. If they are cheap, or they are charging you as a percentage of spend beware that you might not be getting the best deal!
3. Get your website found long term
You don't want to be paying for your website traffic all of the time and should aim to improve your website so it's found naturally on search engines. 64% of ALL website visits start at a search engine, so this is important, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is not an overnight solution.
Your web designer or marketing agency probably told you they 'know about SEO' as they all do but unless you have been charged for specific SEO work assume that you still have it all to do. There are simple things that you can do yourself to help your SEO. For example:
- Make sure you have what you want to be found for in your main headings
- Ensure that your meta titles and descriptions are well written and again contain the phrases you want to be found for
- Change generic titles like 'Services' to specific titles, for example 'what we do'
- Ask your suppliers and customers for links from their website
- Make sure that your Yell, Thompson and Google Business Page all link to your website.
There are more than 1000 things that Google takes into account when it determines what pages rank for any specific search. That means that there are lots of things that will help, but also lots of things to do. If you want to do it yourself buy a good book that was published in the last 12 months. Things move quick in search engine optimisation. If you don't fancy it yourself then again find a good specialist agency to do it for you. As with paid search if they are cheap then it's unlikely they will be any good!
4. Ensure it is HTTPS
From the 17thOctober this year, Google is now alerting people when a website isn't over HTTPS, which is the encrypted standard for websites. This means Google will be putting people off visiting your website if its not over HTTPS. It also has a significant impact on your position in the search rankings – your SEO. If you haven't already it is imperative that you get your website running over HTTPS right now! Call your developer after you finish reading this article and get them to sort it as soon as possible.
5. Ensure your website is fully mobile friendly
This is another thing that you should have already done by now. Check your website by using Google's mobile website checker (Google it!) to ensure it is. Like the HTTPS issue this isn't something that you can fix without professional help, but it is essential as now more than 50% of all UK website traffic is from mobile and once again mobile optimisation will affect your Google rankings.
6. Make your content current
Has your website got a blog? When was the last time you updated it? No blog posts for months says to your potential customers that you haven't got anything interesting to say and that you are not going anywhere as a business. Don't think that the solution is to remove the blog as 'you don't have time', that's even worse. Get your staff to write blogs, from sales to customer service, to production and delivery. Incentivise them and report on the amount of traffic that different blogs generate, as this creates healthy competition amongst your employees to make sure they are writing quality content that will be read and shared. It is particularly important for sales people, so that they project a position of thought leadership in your industry.
7. Provide information for buyers at different points of their journey
Websites often assume that the people on them are just about to buy X and all it needs to do is convince the visitor to buy their product or service over a competitor.
Websites are used for research and investigation. Defining whether they have a need at all is the start of the buying journey and then they will progress through a series of stages to define their requirements, consider the alternatives and evaluate what is best. If you provide information for visitors at all stages of their buying journey you can engage with them sooner and start influencing their decision.
8. Help don't sell
This relates to the previous point. Don't have a website that is a bland brochure rattling off the corporate message. Create content that helps, not sells. Think about what questions your customers might have along the buying process, from defining whether they have a need all the way through to the final product comparisons. This is equally applicable to consumer websites, as it is to business-to-business. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you set out to help your visitors in a non-sales way, the more you will sell.
9. Include calls to action
Just because your website is focused on being helpful doesn't mean you don't include calls to action. You need to be smart about including them too. Having a 'get a demo' call to action on the home page isn't going to work well as people have just arrived at your website. However, you need to have calls to actions at the bottom and also in the middle of your interesting blog posts. Go through your website and look at every page – Do you give the visitor a definitive call to action on every page? – Is the call to action appropriate to the page it is on?
10. Keep working on your website
Possibly the most important point of all is the need to keep working on your website. It will never be 'finished'. Use the data you have to see where people are coming from when they visit your website; what pages they are looking at, what forms they are completing and what articles they are reading.
Use this information to guide your actions when it comes to deciding what blogs to write, which calls to action work best and what traffic sources convert into leads. Make sure you're setting time aside for this every week, and if you cannot, then engage with experts that can do it for you.
By following the ten tips above you can ensure you're getting the best from your website – and it is working hard for you 24/7.
Tim Butler is founder of Innovation Visual, a digital marketing consultancy specialising in developing your online presence and digital communications. Using the latest techniques in SEO, PPC and online content creation, Innovation Visual is an award-winning Google, Bing and Hubspot Partner, and works to increase conversion rates, basket values, and return frequency.