One of the major sources of frustration with most business owners is the performance of their website.
As the owner of a marketing company I often get asked “How can I improve the performance of my website?” or “Why can’t I find my website on Google?” or “How can I get my website on to the 1st page on Google?”
Essentially what these questions really mean is “how can I optimise my website for Google search?”
These kinds of questions are normally asked by business owners who have taken on the role of managing and developing their own website, and are interested in turning their website into a marketing asset that creates leads and value for their business.
These questions are based on completely valid concerns, however they are very broad. Without knowing more about your specific circumstances there could be a variety of reasons and solutions for your specific situation.
So with that in mind, let’s break the question down so we know exactly how to deal with your concerns, and look at some basic solutions to this problem.
What does someone mean when they ask these questions?
There could be a number of core concerns, such us:
- My website isn’t on the 1st page on google for specific search terms (keywords and phrases)
- My website traffic is poor/low and no one seems to be finding my website (I’ve checked google analytics and visitors to the site on a daily visits are low)
- My bounce rate is high (visitors aren’t staying on my website for any length of time)
- I’ve invested a lot of time and money into my website and yet it still cannot be found
These are all valid complaints and challenges, however they aren’t very measurable.
Your website is your no.1 marketing asset
Before digging into the specifics of your website performance the first thing to get to grips with is the role in which your website plays with regards to your wider marketing strategy. For example:
- Are you hoping to be found on search engines for what it is you do and the services you offer?
- Would you like your website to generate leads and enquiries for you?
- Is your website used more for credibility than for lead generation – i.e. it will be used by current prospects and customers rather than being ’top of funnel’ or a ‘lead generator’?
Your website goals – What are your expectations?
Without a plan and a clear set of goals how will you be able to effectively measure the performance of your website over time?
This is normally where most people go blank but it’s really crucial to understand how you are going to measure if something is working or not.
SMART goals is a simple and effective methodology to use.
Ensure your goal is:
- Time bound
Getting started with goal setting for your website:
- What metrics are your measuring and why?
- Where are you now and where do you want to be?
- Where did you expect to be by now?
- What have you done so far to develop and increase performance?
- What can you do to achieve the goals you have set out?
- How long will it take to achieve your goals?
- Have you got the time/money/resource to do it yourself or do you need professional assistance?
You simply cannot expect your website performance to improve if nothing changes – the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy doesn’t work.
Start measuring specific metrics each week/month so you can measure your performance consistently over time. If you are continually making changes and trying to improve performance, then you will see changes in your metrics.
As a starting point, measure:
- Your traffic and where it is coming from
- Your conversion rate – e.g. how many people visit your site compared to how many people complete an online form or take the desired action
- Your bounce rate – you want to see this going down over time
- The time people are spending on your website – you want to see this increase over time
- How many pages people are visiting on your website
This can all be measured using Google Analytics – click here to get started.
Depending on the market you are in, and how much competition there is, it could take some time to improve the performance of your website.
Activity – What are you doing about the performance of your website?
Next on the list is to look at other major factors of website presence, including:
- How long has your website been live for? – If it’s only been a few weeks then you really can’t expect stellar results in such a short space of time
- Has it been fully indexed by google? – Check here to see if your website has been indexed using Google Webmaster Tools
- Have you spent any time/money on basic SEO, if so, what have you done? – Think about your website content, keywords, citations, links, social media distribution, number of pages, etc
- Are you in a competitive market place? – If so, it may be particularly difficult of you to make an impact via search and you may need to manage your expectations differently
- Have you performed some basic keyword research? – Click here to read a straightforward and informative article from BrightLocal on basic keyword research
- Are you creating and publishing frequent, relevant and unique content for your website? – Publishing frequent blog articles is one of the most tried and tested ways to improve the performance of your website
- Are you actively driving traffic to your website? – This can be done in many different ways – through social media, email marketing, etc. Click here to read about 39 other ways to drive traffic to your website
If your website has been live for a while and you are feeling frustrated, perhaps the best thing for you to do would be to ask a local web development company to run a full diagnostic and report on your website. This will give you a good picture of where you are at and what you can do to develop your website further.
One of the key aspects I have come across is the guess work around keyword research. Most business people think they know what keywords they want to rank for, but they don’t compare what they think to what people are actually searching for on search engines like Google.
Gap spotting – Where can you make improvements?
If your website isn’t performing the way you would like it to, the chances are that:
- You haven’t given it enough time
- Your activity is poor (see above list)
- Your goals are unrealistic/you don’t have any specific goals
- You simply aren’t creating enough relevant content
- You aren’t actively driving traffic to your website
One of the major reasons for under performance can be found in your content. Ensure your content:
- is well written and relevant to your audience
- is easy to read and understand
- contains headlines (h1, h2, h3) on all pages
- contains relevant keywords that your customers actually search on
- is frequently updated, developed and improved
Click here for an introduction to SEO for small business owners.
What can you do to improve the performance of your website?
Give people a reason to come back often
One of the best solutions to the majority of the problems mentioned above is to start writing regular helpful and useful blog articles about topics that your customers care about and will get value from.
Build a list
Give away something of value to your audience and build your list a database of names and email addresses – perhaps this could be a weekly newsletter or an eBook. You can then send out a frequent email to your audience to drive them back to your website.
Perform basic keyword research
Use Google Keyword Planner tool to help you with your keywords – click here to read more about how to do this.
View your website as a marketing asset
Start looking at your website as a way to get more leads into your business – make sure the single call to action is clear (do you want people to call you, complete a contact form, download something?). Make it really obvious to your visitors what it is you want them to do.
Have a plan
Using the information in this article to put a short and executable plan together.
For more insight you can read this article where I detail the six marketing methods that I used to establish Learning Everyday
Search engine optimisation isn’t as simple as placing a few keywords in your headlines, tags and titles. There also needs to be regular new content being published on your website.
There are over 200 factors that impact search engine optimisation, and therefore it’s not something that you complete, tick a box, and move on from – it’s never ‘complete’. You have to continue to develop and improve your website over time.
It’s important that you don’t just think about Google when you are creating content, but that you think about your customer and what they would benefit and get value from.
One of the main reasons why people don’t get the results they are looking for is because they are inconsistent with their activity or they stop completely.
Have patience, continually improve, focus on serving your customers and over time you will start to get noticed.
Don’t forget to be awesome!