Small businesses are really starting to recognize the importance of their online presence. The many conversations I have had over the last year have shown that people now get it and understand the need for digital marketing in their business, even if they don’t fully understand it.
However, it’s not just about having a website for your business. Most companies have a website and that website is not getting the job done. Most small business websites are no better than a digital brochure that they would leave next to their reception desk. People want information and they want to make informed decisions. With that said, it is extremely important to always be improving the effectiveness of your website. Here are Four Ways to Improve Your Website Effectiveness.
Have a Clear Message
More than half of the websites that I come across don’t have a clear message. It’s really confusing as to what the website is trying to get you to do. It’s often the website becomes a dumping ground for information and that information is not organized in a format that is easy to consume. It’s really easy to miss the mark by not providing enough information but at the same time, you can cause confusion by providing too much information. We obviously want to give the search engines content so that they can rank our website, but real people have to view the website and it’s easy to get confused if the message is not clear.
Having a clear message simply means keeping your information organized and having a clear call to action. It’s okay to have multiple services and offer different things, just make sure that each page of content on your website informs and directs.
The messaging of your website will be the information that the viewer needs to make a decision. This doesn’t mean that you need to be Wikipedia and provide all of the information possible on a specific subject. I believe that people are informed well enough prior to looking for a provider to do business with. This means that you need to provide just enough information to let them know that your services match their needs. You also want to make sure that you are clear about the fact you can solve the problem that they have.
Have a Clear Call to Action
I visit a lot of websites and often have no idea how I’m supposed to start communicating with the company. Small businesses feel that since they have a website, a phone number, an email address, and a dozen social media accounts, that they need to make sure that people can find them on each of those things. By providing so many avenues of communication, you confuse the viewer and potentially lead them away from your business. With that said, I have yet to have a business owner tell me that they want more ways that people can contact them. What they want is for it to be simplified. By giving out too many options, we add confusion instead of simplification.
I believe that the website is the one thing that you have control over and should be the destination for all things online. When somebody finds you through Facebook or another social media profile, they should be directed to your website where you can guide them through the appropriate way of contacting you. Your website is where you can structure the information in a way that makes sense and informs the viewer.
Each page on your website should have a clear call to action and should be specific to that service or product. On shopping cart websites it could be as simple as an “add to cart” or “buy now” button. But for small businesses who provide services, you want to make sure that the call to action is clear and that it invites them to do business with you in a way that makes sense based on the service that you offer.
Track The Data
It’s getting easier and easier to know what people are up to when they’re on your website. Tools like Google analytics are free and provide insight into what people are doing on your website. You can know what pages they have visited and how many pages they visited while they were on your website before leaving. Tracking the data is important because it helps you to identify places on your website that could be forcing people to leave your website. The data can help you have a more clear message and help you know whether those calls to action are actually calling people to action.
If you are not tracking your website using a tool like Google analytics, I suggest you get that installed and running as soon as possible. Once you have some data to work with, I recommend starting by looking at 30-days worth of data. Looking at the last 30 days of data from your website will give you an idea of what patterns may be taking place in traffic that comes to your website. Once you have identified the patterns that seem to happen on a weekly basis, drill down so that you can start to look at what happens on a daily basis. Finally, drill down to a single day and start to identify traffic patterns that your website gets on an hourly basis.
Take a look at the common entry and exit points of your website. If your website is doing well in the search engines, it’s likely that people will be entering your website from interior pages and not your homepage. You’ll want to pay extra attention to those exit pages which are the pages that people leave your website from. It is important to identify whether or not people are leaving your website before taking your call to action. This is why a clear call to action is extremely important. Without having tracked any data, you will not know whether your website is being effective or not.
Make Frequent Updates
It’s extremely important to keep your website updated. I don’t just mean making sure that you change something on a page once every couple of months, I mean adding content to your website often. There is a multitude of reasons why you would want to keep your website updated frequently, I’m going to focus on two things:
- The search engines come around and crawl your website quite often. It might not make sense why the search engines would need to come more than once if they’ve already come and looked at your website but the search engines are looking for the most relevant information for the search somebody is doing and that means coming back around to see if there’s anything new or interesting that would make your website more relevant this next time around. Updating your website by changing or adding some additional information to your services pages or blogging from time to time is a great way to keep your website fresh.
- It’s also important to keep your website up-to-date for the people that are viewing it. We live in an information-rich age and things change much faster in just about all industries. If your website is falling behind the times, people will assume that you have fallen behind the times as well. With all of the information available to us, it is getting harder to set yourself apart as a professional. The Internet gives us endless professionals at our fingertips. Make sure that your website is updated frequently and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Tying it all together
Small business owners know that they have to make smart investments into their business in order to have a return on investment. The challenge is that there are so many different things that we can invest our time and our resources into. A business can still exist off of word-of-mouth marketing, but it is now more important than ever to be findable online without the influence of another person. People are searching online to find answers to their questions and to find that services solve their problems. They’re reading reviews from total strangers and doing whatever they can to minimize the potential of making a poor decision. The landscape has changed and will continue to change as technology advances.