If you have a business website, you know that it’s a powerful thing. But you also may feel frustrated if, after all the time and money to spend putting it up, your sales and conversions aren’t increasing. Having your website be effective in bringing you results is the whole point of setting it up! I like to think of a website as another employee. It should have a specific job, a purpose, and goals. You need to teach it how to work in line with your overall business goals. You should give it the tools and the knowledge to achieve what you want it to achieve. You should review it regularly to make sure it’s doing what you want, how you want. And if it isn’t, you need to re-evaluate it.
There are many ways to make a website effective. Here are my top 3.
This a very general step, but it’s probably the single most important thing about a website and the thing I find people overlook most. What does having good content mean, anyway?
- Targeted page content on homepages, service pages and product pages that answers user’s questions
- Blog posts that offer educational, non-promotional information
- Content that is written well and in a voice that not only reflects who you are as a business, but that is easy for your users to understand
- Photos, video, and other imagery that helps your users get the information they need quickly
Run through your site right now in your head. Does your written content actively and effectively answer the questions your ideal client has? I’m not just talking about telling them that your product or service fits their needs. But do you provide free, helpful information that not only answers their questions about you but about your industry in general?
Do you have an active blog? If you don’t, you should start one. Even if you only publish a post per month, a blog helps you rank better, gives you shareable content for social media, and earns potential customers’ trust. It’s one of the best ways to make your website more effective because it’s helpful and not salesy. Think hard about how you write the content on your site. Whether it’s sales copy, an About Me page, a blog post, whatever. What you say is just as important as how you say it.
If you have a more laid-back working style and you hope to cultivate a warm, friendly relationship with each client, avoid writing copy that is hyper-professional, stiff and technical. No one wants to read long blocks of text, especially if they are researching a company to work with. Think back to when you were in school. If you had to do research, would you rather have watched a video or take notes out of a dull, thick textbook? Most people are visual learners, so give them that option! For example, here’s a video I made a while back about writing great blog posts that are helpful to readers and optimized for SEO!
Good Use of Links
While this goes along with creating great copy, it’s important to recognize all on its own. Having links on your site is incredibly important. You don’t want someone to visit a page on your site and not go to another one. You want them to go to as many pages on your site as possible. The longer they spend on your site, the more chance you have of converting them to a customer or client. Think of it like dating. If you go on a first date and they are a good match, you’d want them to agree to a second date. And a third. And a fourth. A website works the same way. That first visit is the first date. You want to offer a second date to the people who are a good match for you by offering links to:
- Related, helpful content
- Social media profiles
- Free downloads like checklists, ebooks, or whitepapers
- Your About page
- Your testimonials
- Your products and services
Remember that your products and services is sort of like a marriage proposal. You are asking them to partner up with you. You don’t want to propose after the first date! Give them ample space to explore your site, get to know and trust you, before popping the question. These links can not only go in your written page content, but can be images, sidebar links, and buttons, footer links, etc. Space them out so that no matter where your user is on a page, there is a link to another page in view. Make them eye-catching, but not distracting from the real meat of that page.
Analyze How People Use It
I have met so many people who have complained that their site did well for a while when they first launched it, but eventually it “stopped being useful.” When I asked them why, they had no idea and believed that it was impossible to know. Remember when I said a website is like having another employee? If you had an employee who did great in the first few weeks after being hired, and then their performance started slipping, wouldn’t you want to figure out why? You would at least want to confront them and let them know they need to improve their performance.
When your website suddenly isn’t working as well as it was, it’s in your best interest to figure out why. You can do this with data and analysis. Install programs like Google Analytics. Try to be as consistent as possible with your content output. Monitor where your visitors come from, when, and who they are. If you can see all pieces of the puzzle, you can see patterns. And when you can see patterns, you can see when they are broken. I highly recommend that every 6-12 months, a business does an audit or controlled user-test of their site. Preferably both. Audits are when you bring an expert in to spot problems with your site you may have missed. If you can get users to test your site, you can get them to report back to you with problems or bugs that they find.
Lots of things can hurt conversions, from the season of the year, to the color of your call-to-action buttons, to the topics you’re writing about on your blog. If you can sit down with a detailed analysis of how your site works and how people use it, and identify relationships between conversion changes and changes you’ve been making, you can spot problems and fix them.