We built a website last year for an industrial manufacturers rep. When I checked in with them recently, they were happy with their website, but they were wondering whether they were getting the most out of it. “What else can we do?” they asked.
Then we had an email from a local law firm, for whose site we did a live refresh earlier this year. “What else should we be doing?” they asked.
This is a great question. It reflects the reality that a good website is just the starting point for online marketing. A great website is an important asset for your marketing strategy. Like all assets, you have to leverage it to get the best return on your investment.
Both the websites mentioned above are attractive, well built websites with content optimized for search. Both get most of their visitors through searches for their names and their type of business. Both have good bounce rates. Both sites are functioning well and presenting a positive appearance to visitors, and it’s clear from their analytics that their visitors are generally well targeted traffic. It’s like having a great looking shop, all cleaned up and fully stocked, open 24 hours a day.
Both sites could benefit from more traffic, though. To extend the shop metaphor, both websites need to have a sign on the front of the shop, and maybe some guy in a rabbit suit standing by the road with a sign, waving to passersby, and a spot on the news talking about the opening of the new store.
A while back, I looked at traffic growth for websites under various circumstances. See the details in “Results of Regular Site Upkeep,” but here are the high points:
- Well built, optimized sites with no further work done after launch or relaunch averaged a 6.49% increase in traffic in one year.
- Sites with one to three hours a week of maintenance, including blogging and linkbuilding, showed an average increase in traffic of 38.23%.
This was an analysis of lots of websites, and these were the average figures. Each site has its own additional variables, from the quality of the product to the type of customer, but the difference is significant.
What else should you do for your website?
- Regular blogging, or alternative means of sharing content
- Regular, quality linkbuilding
- Regular social media participation
- Regular review of analytics and action in response
The specific details will vary from one website to another and from one business to another. Our industrial clients don’t have a blog; they do have a section of case studies. They should add new case studies, and they should use email or social media to draw their customers to those case studies. They’ve been thinking about adding a vlog (video blog) and using email newsletters to share that content. That’s a great idea.
The law firm has a blog. Their post on child custody law is one of their main sources of traffic at their website, bringing people who need that information to their site, where they can also find a good lawyer (read “Educating Your Customers” for more on that subject). The firm also has a page of case studies. They have only a handful of posts, though, so this is an area where they should certainly do more.
Well, if there was ever any doubt that ‘set it and forget it’ is not a great plan for traffic growth, seeing the 6% versus 38% should set everyone straight. Websites are like bread. Everyone prefers fresh versus stale. Or Moldy.
Great data. 🙂
You got it! There’s a lot of magical thinking when it comes to websites, though…
Oh — and I guess I should have mentioned that we see poorly made or outdated websites that go for years with no rise in traffic at all. If you’re going to have a neglected website, you’re better off with a good quality one.
A designer/marketer’s job is never done! And, to end where Rebecca left off, sometimes it’s better not having one at all!
Better not having a website at all? I’d agree that you’re better off with no website than with a really bad one, but having no website means that you’ll be missing the customers who go online to research before they shop — which is now the majority of consumers.
One of my favorite things about having a better than average website is I don’t have to worry about changes in someone’s algorithmic process. They ALL like good original content. And staying fresh helps too.
I don’t if a bad website is worse than none. I think it depends on what the word ‘bad’ means. If it looks like a DIY site but all the information is there, its correct, and people can contact you that would mean more of a poorly made site. If the site does not work, does not have your contact info, or has nothing that a customer wants then I would go along with Bad and better nothing than bad.
Really, neither of those options is a good one, is it? If your website is so poor that it makes people decide not to shop with you, or if the fact that you don’t have one makes people go with a competitor — well, it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other, isn’t it? The last census, however, showed that nearly half of all small businesses have no website.
Your point about the algorithm changes is an excellent one!