Here’s the myth: you get a great idea, you launch a website, and in a month or so you have a million visitors and you’re coining money. This rarely happens. So if that’s not the most realistic measure of success with your business website, what is?
The average website gets something like three visits a day. If you do any of the things I suggest in this blog, you’ll have more than that. But probably not a million visits in your first month, so how can you tell whether you’re successful?
This actually caused me a lot of trouble back in 2006 when I started out as an in-house SEO. You can’t find out how much traffic other websites get, and in those days you couldn’t even get the highly inaccurate estimates you can find today. It was difficult to tell whether we were making progress or not.
What’s more, the quantity of traffic received by a successful website in one business is quite different from the amount of traffic a successful website in another business might get. Different kinds of businesses need different amounts of traffic — and different numbers and kinds of conversions, too.
In 2006, you could tell where you were ranking, and you could get quite a bit of video game style fun out of zooming up to #1 on Google, but even that pleasure is not really available to us today.
We set up a lab site a few years ago so we could share actual data. It’s great to be able to do that. But see above for why data from one website doesn’t necessarily provide useful benchmarks for your website.
Without benchmarks, the best you can do is look for steady improvement, right? This works well in the long run. You can compare the percentage of growth in traffic and the conversion rate over time and get a good sense of whether you’re succeeding.
Doesn’t sound fun, though, does it? Or fast. What can you do while you’re collecting that data?
Fortunately, there are other — faster — indications that your website is making some progress.
- Who’s visiting your website? Check out your Network Report and see who’s checking your website out. Universities? Government offices? Major corporations? All of these can be indications that your website is being taken seriously.
- Who’s contacting you? When you first start getting business-related spam, it means you’re gaining visibility. That gets old fast, of course. But being asked to review books in your industry, being asked for links by established websites, or being asked to provide a guest post or to post one — those are signs that you’re makking progress.
- How’s your engagement? It takes time to gain lots of visitors and to turn them into leads and customers. Engagement, however, shows much sooner. If people are visiting more pages, spending more time at your site, or signing up for your newsletter, it’s a good sign.
You should have some serious goals for your website when you get started, and those goals should be aligned with your overall business goals. However, these early signs of success can help you discover whether you’re heading in the right direction.