Our top 10 tips for making sure you make the most out of your website and what it can do for your business.
The chances are that if you are reading this and you either work in a business or run a business yourself, then that business will have a website. The possible exceptions might be if your are just starting out, your business is very small or you consider that the internet is not important to your business (I know hard to imagine, but some people still think that way).
Far too many businesses though fall into the trap of thinking “thank goodness for that” when they finish their website and consider it a job done. That might be the case when you produce a brochure – after all you cannot change a brochure once you have had it printed, but this should most certainly not be the case with a website. We would urge you to think of it more as the start than the finish. In many respects websites should be thought of being a little like painting the Forth Bridge – it is never finished (although having decided to check our facts it turns out that even painting the Forth Bridge finished at some point as you can see here).
So if you accept our argument that you should regard your website as never being finished what exactly do we suggest that you should be doing to/with it. Here are our top 10 suggestions:
1. Check your Google Analytics. The amount of information and insight that the free version of Google Analytics provides is quite remarkable. It allows you to understand how many people are visiting your website (whether that number is increasing or decreasing), how they found your site, how many pages they looked at, what they looked at and much much more. If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website we would strongly suggest you get your web company to add it. Even if you don’t look at it now, from the point it is added it is compiling a history for you that you can look at the future.
2. Ask yourself what is the Google Analytics telling you (or for that matter, ask us to to do that for you)? It can for example help guide you on what aspects of your marketing are working best for you. For example if you are running a direct mail campaign or perhaps doing a door drop, does this lead to an increase in the amount of direct traffic to your website. What proportion of your website traffic is coming from social media – anything less than 5% and it is worth looking at more closely. Where is your most engaged web traffic coming from and where are you losing visitors? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself.
3. Is your website mobile friendly or to coin an industry phrase – responsive? Google announced in February 2015 that from April of that year it would start to penalise websites that are not mobile friendly by ranking them less highly in searches on mobile devices. If you are at all unsure whether your website is mobile friendly or not, then Google have a free to use tool where you can check your website – you can find it here.
Aside from the rankings though, there are other compelling reasons why you would want your website to be mobile friendly. Firstly and perhaps most obviously you would want your website user experience to be as good as possible regardless of what device they were using wouldn’t you? Google Analytics also tells you what your bounce rate is (the bounce rate is the percentage of people who arrive on one page and leave the site immediately), not just overall, but also by device. A “bounce” could in certain circumstances be good, for example – I look at a website for a telephone number and I find it straight away. Most bounces though are considered bad and you should be looking for the lowest bounce rate possible. If your website is not mobile friendly you will usually see a higher bounce rate for tablets and an even higher bounce rate for mobiles.
The good news about responsive sites is that most new sites will be built as a responsive site and the days when it cost more to have your website built mobile friendly are long gone.
4. Look to see whether there is a correlation between web traffic and business levels. If there is, then this might increase the argument for doing more to drive traffic to your site e.g. more social media, pay per click etc – at least on a trial basis to check that this also leads to an increase in enquiries and business levels.
5. Keep your site fresh. It is generally well accepted that Google and other search engines, “like” websites that are regularly updated. It is one of the reasons that we write blogs like these, although they are also a great way through social media of driving traffic to our site. Even if you don’t blog, there are other ways of keeping a site fresh, adding testimonials or case studies are another good way.
6. Check whether your site is secure. Aside from the fact you would not want your site hacked or enquiry data stolen, Chrome announced last year that they would progressively highlight to users the websites that they considered to be not secure. If you look at an insecure website (ours included but we are taking steps to address this), Chrome will currently show an “i” in a circle next to the address in the browser, which if you click on it will show that the website is not secure. Later this year they will make this much more prominent with a red warning bar, that is likely to have a damaging effect on the traffic that visits your site. Fortunately it is not very difficult to change your site from being http to https, which is what is required to make your site secure. You will also need a security licence. Your web company will be able to quote to do this or we can direct you to firms that can help with this.
7. Measure what you can. Google analytics will tell you a lot about how your website is performing but you also need measures in your business as well. Make sure that all enquiries are logged and that new enquirers are asked how they found your business, then monitor this information and ensure that you calculate the amount of business that the website generates and that you can gauge how well web enquiries convert compared to others.
8. Look for opportunities to list your website on other websites, as this can be a good way of driving traffic to your website that might not otherwise find you. Make sure that you set up a Google My Business listing, as it is free and will help you be found even when people are searching for your type of business rather than your name. A glance at our referral traffic so far this year, found that 3 people already this year had come to our website via our listing on the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce website. PR activity that leads to online articles can also sometimes include links to your website.
9. Consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is where you, or someone on your behalf will make changes to your website to make sure that you rank highly on searches for the terms that you want to be found for. Large organisations that drive a lot of traffic to their site and get a lot of business from it, can spend thousands a month on this. A one off exercise though, costing hundreds rather than thousands can highlight changes that you can make to your site that will improve its ranking. We usually suggest this is done as part of building a new website.
10. Consider paid for activity to drive more traffic to your website. If your website is performing well and you are generating business from it, then it may be worthwhile considering paid for activity to boost the amount. There is a huge variety of ways this can be done, but Google adwords (pay per click), boosted Facebook posts or online advertising are some of the most popular. The great thing about any form of online marketing is that it is highly measurable. Could you also do email marketing or e-newsletters to prospects to drive even more traffic? It is crucial though to make sure that you ensure your website is working well before you start spending money on driving more traffic to it.
Hopefully we have given you some food for thought with this blog, but if it all sounds a bit daunting or you don’t have the time or expertise to carry out this work, then that is what we are here for. You can contact us here. So what are you waiting for?