Lab Report: Website Management

We often hear people say that they’re going to try a website and see how it goes. If it’s good for their business, they’ll commit funds for a professional site or for website management.

As a general rule, this doesn’t work.

In the early days of the internet, you could build a website and be fairly confident that people would find it, just as the first store in a pioneer town could be confident of foot traffic. Now, with billions of sites on the web, it’s a different story — just as it is for new stores in town.

We built a lab site called FreshPlans in 2010 (it’s also our community service venture, serving K-12 educators). We did some judicious linkbuilding, we used social media, and we added fresh content each weekday. No paid ads, no exhortations to family and friends to “Like” it — just good SEO management. In its first six months, it went from 49 visits to 8,123 visits. We no longer update FreshPlans every day (more like once a week), but it had over 16,000 visits this month, so its traffic is still increasing.

Six months ago we started another lab site, Almost Outside. This time, we  wrote up 27 pages of high quality content, and then completely ignored the site. No social media, no new content, no linkbuilding.

This is just about what most businesses do. Well, many of them start with five pages of content, but we wanted to give our site a fair shot.

We’ve now had the website up for six months. It has gone from five visits in the first month to six visits this month. It’s indexed by Google, it has about 40% search traffic, it shows up well for several keywords, but basically no one visits this website.

Sound familiar? For many professionals and small businesses, it will. “We had a website,” they’ll say, “but it really didn’t do anything for us.”

We’re not saying that every well-managed website will have the thousands of visitors FreshPlans gets each month — your business may not even need that kind of traffic. But the difference between FreshPlans and Almost Outside tells you something.

In their first six months, FreshPlans got these things, and Almost Outside didn’t:

  • Regular blogging
  • Linkbuilding
  • Social media
  • SEO strategy based on analytics

After six months, FreshPlans had increased traffic by over 1,000 percent. Almost Outside has not increased traffic. Neither of these sites is associated with a business, but we can feel pretty confident that — if each was supporting a brick and mortar business — FreshPlans would be happy with the results of their website and Almost Outside would not.

We see again and again that companies with a good website and an integrated SEO strategy including regular content production, social media, and linkbuilding see great results. A website that is built and ignored doesn’t see those results — no matter who builds it.

Where would you like your online marketing results to be six months from now? Do you want results like FreshPlans, or like Almost Outside? It’s your choice. If you want to be looking back and saying that online marketing didn’t really do much for you, continue to ignore your company website — or not to have one. If you’d like to benefit from the power of the internet, give us a call at 479.966.9761.







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