I don’t blame people for thinking this however as I thought the same thing until my company website (www.calgarywebdesign.ca) hit #1 on Google and things, well….basically stayed the same. Make no mistake about it proper visibility in search engines is crucial to any site’s success but a high SEO ranking is merely getting your foot in the front door.
How your website performs once traffic finally gets to your website will determine whether or not you get the occasional call or more consistent business. A good website has the ability to convert visitors into sales which should be a focal point of your web strategy along with merely “getting hits”.
This is called your “conversion rate” or ratio of people who buy your product/service based on the number of visits your site gets. Before you go spending more time and money bringing traffic to your site make sure it is getting full marks for its conversion capabilities first.
If you don’t know where to begin here are 10 basic tips to get you started…
Create a Clear Call To Action (Or Several): Many business websites will simply list their phone number, address and email link assuming people will take action if interested. Never assume this as it’s important to try and inspire a more immediate response from your customers. If you want your users to “call you for a free consultation” or “click here for a price quote” make sure you tell them in places that are clearly visible on your page. There is nothing wrong with having your call to action on multiple pages either as long as it’s not distracting from your website’s content. Remember converting hits into sales means getting visitors past your home page and to your main purchase page(s) for maximum results.
The Return Factor: It’s great to have customers visit your website once but users seldom buy anything on their first visit alone. It’s important to create a reason for customers to come back multiple times until they trust your brand and want to inquire about your services further. Just to be clear there is no one right way to create a strong return factor for your website and it could take on various forms. It could be an interesting news or events calendar, a blog or embedded twitter feed, a regularly updated gallery or portfolio, a monthly coupons page ect. Try to consider what makes you revisit your favourite websites repeatedly and try to incorporate one (or more) of those features into your own site.
Stand Out In The Crowd: One thing I always notice about websites in almost any industry is how much “they all look the same”. Each website is trying to do what their competitor is doing and their isn’t much uniqueness from business to business. Paying attention to what your competition does well IS important and you don’t want to try and reinvent the wheel just to be different. Try however to include something on your website that is different enough to make people remember it among the many others they may see when searching for businesses similar to yours. Whatever that is doesn’t have to be the entire focus of your page but simply something that sticks out in their minds after they leave your site. For example if you see a person with a red sweater walking in a crowd of people all wearing white which person are you going to notice first? This may require a little thought and creativity but the effort will pay in the response you get from your users.
Unique Selling Point: Your unique selling point is what your business has to offer that your competitors don’t and the reason they should want to come to you first when purchasing your type of product or service. You want to convince customers that you are not just one option they have but the BEST option they have when it comes to your industry. Price is always one reason of course but remember people don’t just want cheap, they want value for their money. You can buy an old 50 inch rear projector television for about $100 but most people will still buy a more expensive flat screen TV even though it’s half the size. Think long and hard what you give your customers (beyond just price) that gives value and quality to whatever you are selling. If you find a good answer to this riddle you’ve just taken a huge step in improving your sales.
Track Your Results: Have you ever heard the phrase work smarter not harder? This is one of my favourite sayings as it’s often a trait of most successful business people. There is no point in spending more money on advertising or other promotional material without having a proper way to track your results first. Most website owners check how many hits their website gets and that’s where their research starts and ends. You need to know much such as what pages on your website are most popular, what keywords people using to find your site, how long are people staying or your site, what browser are they viewing you on, are they viewing you through a cell phone or tablet ect. If you currently don’t have a hosting plan that gives you a lot of this information already make the switch immediately. Google Analytics is also an option that is easy to install and will give you a much better idea of what’s happening on your site.
Don’t Be Afraid of Change: Once your website is up and running you may find some of your ideas work great while others (that made sense at the time) aren’t getting a good response from your users. There is nothing wrong with making changes to your website, even multiple times over, until you are getting the results you want. This could mean changing some of the design features, certain categories, or the entire navigation structure ect. Making adjustments to your site as needed is not admitting defeat it is merely reacting intelligently to your customers needs. No one creates a perfect website on their first attempt, it may take several tries before you get it right.
Build Trust & Credibility: Until a customer believes you are reputable, even if they ARE interested in your product or service, they may be hesitant to contact you. That’s why your website must present a strong image from the get go that assures customers they can trust you and will receive quality from your company. Simple things like adding a faq (frequently asked questions) section, a testimonials page, return policies or list of clients you’ve worked with will all build credibility in the eyes of the consumer. If people strongly believe others are using your product or service and are satisfied they will also jump on board much quicker. Businesses often operate a lot on referrals so if someone has never seen your website before it should clearly demonstrate why you would refer yourself.
Keep It Simple: Websites will often try to do too much or add things that aren’t necessary just for the purpose of putting on a show for their audience. There is nothing wrong with trying to impress a little but you should try to avoid content on your website that doesn’t serve a clear purpose to your users. Remember customers are not there to see how fancy your website is, they want to get the information they need as quickly and easily as possible. Always ask yourself with every aspect of your website (pages, categories, pictures ect.) do they serve a worthwhile purpose that makes your visitors care more about your business. Also make sure the most important parts of your website are the most visible and easiest to access on your home page through quick-links or other methods.
Speak to Your Audience: Writing copy or text is one of the most important yet most ignored aspects of web design. The problem is often made worse when clients who are not big fans of writing insist on doing all the written portions of their website themselves. Remember the text of your website is the only way you actually speak to your customers and will leave the biggest lasting impression on them (either positive or negative). The key to writing good copy is to pretend you are writing it to yourself and not the invisible generic customer you are trying to impress. Ask yourself when reading your website has the information provided given you sufficient enough reason to want to by your own product or service? If the wording of your site doesn’t have enough detail, relevant information or any other strong reason to pique your interest personally your customers likely won’t care either. It’s tempting to be lazy on the written aspects of your site but it’s usually the part that requires the most attention.
Update Your Website: People tend to disregard the simplest things when improving their website and updating your site is one of the best ways to make sure your audience has a reason to come back. Updating could fall under “The Return Factor” paragraph listed above but updating your website serves other purposes as well. Search engines don’t like websites that stay stagnant as they are always looking for the newest and latest content on any particular subject matter. Customers also don’t like going to a website that stays the same for too long either as they often can’t get a sense of how up to date the content is. Website that stay the same for weeks (let alone months) on end is often a red flag to customers that the owners are simply ” not that interested” in their business. Probably not a great message to send when trying to attract new consumers.
By Jeff Moyer