Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Your Small Business Website is All About your Users

Search Engines don't spend Money!!

At least not at your website!!

Alot of the work that I do with small business owners is geared around making their website more friendly to the search engines to bring more traffic to their website.

But, a word of caution - you must remember that it is your customers that spend money with you, and not the Search Engines.

One of my clients has a marine website - he sells boats. He doesn't as such sell boats online, but he uses his website to promote the boats that he has for sale. The original design for his website was particularly unfriendly as far as the search engines were concerned. URL's, title tags, meta descriptions all unfriendly. Keyword research - non existent.

So, when I started to work with this client I did a major redesign of the website, but I also made alot of changes behind the scenes so that they would get more natural traffic from the search engines.

It took a month or so, but there were some exciting changes as far as the traffic to the website were concerned. When I took over this project there was very little data about the website. Where was the traffic coming from? How much traffic? What rankings for keywords in the search engines?

So, now the website is getting some traffic, how do we track user experience. I know there are a number of very good paid packages on the market, but the main one I use is Google Analytics.

How much traffic are you getting?
Where is it coming from?
How many people 'bounce'?
Do they do what you want them to do?
What pages are they visiting?
What links do they click on?

When you have some base information you can start testing different elements on your website to start to improve these parameters.

Is there a page on your website that has a very high bounce rate? That is, people leave your site quickly after landing on this page. If so, why? This would be a page that I would look at changing to reduce this.

Do people click on the link to sign up for your newsletter, or to buy now?? If not, what can you change to make them more likely to do this?

Optimising your user experience is all about testing and retesting. Make a change and test the result. Is it better or worse?

One of the services that I offer for small business owners is a free website review.

Unfortunately I find that alot of small business owners don't have any relevant information as to how there site is currently performing. The client that I mentioned had a hit counter on their site. They thought this represented unique visitors. What it really represented was page views, and it included their own page views.

Improving your user experience is about having meaningful data as to what is currently happening on your website. You then can set some priorities as to what you want to improve. Make changes and then track to see if the changes improve the result or not. Repeat this process, and repeat, repeat and repeat again.

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