When a company’s website is not doing its job, there could be two problems: Either your site is not getting enough traffic—or it is, but your visitors are not converting into customers. Sometimes, of course, websites face both of these challenges.
Rather than randomly throwing money at your frustration, conduct a website audit to help uncover inefficiencies in design, development, and marketing that may be hindering your site.
Start by analyzing the traffic coming to your site, using a free tool such as Google analytics, or asking your website host or administrator do it. The tools show you what city and state your Web visitors originate from, what kind of device they are using (make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices if a large percentage of your visitors are coming from mobile devices), and what they do once they get to your site.
If traffic is just trickling in, your marketing and communications efforts are probably at fault. The solution is to generate buzz and attract traffic by promoting the site on social media, actively participating in blogging, running promotions on the site, or offering incentives through e-mail marketing.
Another cause of low traffic: Your website isn’t optimized to be found on search engines. The result is that even if local customers are looking for your services or products, your business website is not coming up near the top of search engine results. Use Google’s keyword tool to find out what words or phrases your potential clients are entering into search engines when they are looking for businesses like yours.
The tool helps you think like a website visitor does. For instance, you might have a business helping people from other countries work on their accent. That’s commonly called an accent modification or revision company. But someone looking for your service might type ‘speak more American’ or ‘fix my accent’ into a search engine.
When you’re analyzing keywords, start with words describing your business category and add your geographic location to them, so you can see what terms people in your area are searching. Click “exact” keywords and “local monthly searches” and pay attention to “long-tail” search terms, which appear lower on the key word ranking results you’ll get but can help you figure out what exactly your customers are looking for and adjust your website accordingly.
You can do some search engine optimization yourself, but it is time-consuming and can be complicated. If you decide to hire a consultant, start with a per-project arrangement and make sure you get references, read online reviews, and look at the consultant’s portfolio. Monthly retainers for ongoing SEO consulting can cost between $100 for a student or offshore contractor and $2,000 for extensive services, including article-writing and obtaining website links, he says.
Perhaps the problem is not lack of traffic but a poor user experience on your website. Take a look at things like the “bounce” rate on your analytics report, which measures how quickly visitors leave your site after landing on it. A high bounce rate typically means visitors are not engaging with your content.
There are four critical items every website needs to be effective in converting visitors into leads and bringing back repeat sales and visits. Concise and clear messaging, showing value to the visitor; clear calls to action, such as contact us or buy now; stickiness factors like fresh content that brings visitors back; and social media integration to help spread word of mouth.