While I work for private clients, I also work for a couple of agencies, helping to build and optimize websites and looking after some of their clients as I look after my own. At one of those agencies, I have a colleague named Tami. She minds the PPC results and I mind the organic SEO results, and we meet virtually sometimes on Monday mornings in our ritual mining of analytics data.
Tami calls this, “Making sure nothing awful has happened.”
I like to think of it as seeking opportunities to maximize results, but it’s one of those half full vs. half empty things, right?
In any case, I was there poking around among web sites that I take care of and websites that I ignore (because the clients don’t pay for management services). Some people are happy with their initial results and don’t care to be more aggressive about their online marketing, so there are sites in my data that get regular care and sites that just trundle along on their own momentum.
Not long ago I wrote about a single SEO case study: a company I’d had on my regular clients list for a year, with excellent results.
That’s just one company, though. There are so many factors for each company, ranging from the state of the economy to seasonal changes to level of compliance, that one company can only be an indication of what can happen, not what does happen.
So I ran some anonymous numbers comparing well-built, optimized websites that were being taken care of with equally well-built optimized websites that were being left to their own devices.
I compared only one thing: traffic increase over the past month. Website traffic is not always the most interesting or important metric, but it’s easily understood and easily compared. It’s a neutral choice. Comparing July and August will certainly give you different results for a lawn care company than for a school supply store, but over a large number of sites, seasonal variations even out. So I simply gathered up all the numbers and took the mean increase (or decrease) in traffic for the entire population.
The good news is that the average good website increased in traffic, whether cared for or not. Some of the untended websites went up in traffic and some went down, but the average result was a 6.49% increase in traffic.
In general, healthy websites do show a gradual and steady increase in traffic, interrupted sometimes by seasonal dips. So it’s good to know that a good website can survive a bit of neglect.
The other good news is that sites that were being looked after showed an average increase in traffic of 38.23%.
“Looked after” can include social media, blogging, routine linkbuilding, and keeping an eye on analytics and Google alerts. The sites generally have one to three hours spent on them each week, though some have less and some have more — sort of like having the cleaners in.
What’s the moral of the story? Simply this: spending a little time looking after your website is worth doing. If you have someone with the skills on your staff, give them an hour, or perhaps a morning, a week to do minimum maintenance. If you don’t have someone with the skills, consider hiring someone.
The other take-away is that getting your on-site optimization done so you have a healthy website can be enough, even if you do nothing else, to keep you on a path of steady improvement. That’s got to make you feel optimistic.