You need to routinely evaluate how your website is performing. Just like you would with any employee.
Don’t just throw money, or hours of labor at the Internet and hope for the best.
A Basic Website Review & SEO Audit
To improve your website’s ROI (Return On Investment) you can perform a simple website review and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) audit.
You can do this review and audit with the info I’m going to provide in this and the following articles. However, you could also hire Market Street to guide you or to simply do one for you.
Getting Found & Being Useful
The purpose of a website review and SEO audit is to help your website have the best chance of getting found. Once found online, the content also has to be truly useful to your target audience.
Being found useful is crucial, because this leads to viewers sharing your info with other like-minded people and coming back for more. Otherwise, the viewer forgets about you and never refers you to anyone, which then restricts your outreach and growth potential.
Being found useful creates an affinity between you and the viewer. This affinity leads to engagement and active referrals. Ideally, you want to develop fans, not just readers.
Define Your Target Audience
Most people hate to do this because they don’t want to leave anyone out. That’s not what we are doing, we aren’t trying to exclude anyone.
What we are trying to do is to connect and communicate much more effectively with our best viewers by defining the “perfect” audience member(s).
BTW: It’s not like marriage. You can have more than one “perfect” audience member. We frequently do this to help target various obvious segments of your audience.
Keep in mind that each of the “perfect” targets will talk to their friends, and other like-minded individuals will naturally find you via searching online as well.
Don’t just target “All adults over the age of 40” for your lawn-care service blog.
A better selection might be:
Adults with higher than average income, living in upper-class neighborhoods, with larger than average lots, that currently subscribe to Home & Garden magazine, get their clothes dry cleaned regularly, and are members of the “Wine of the Month” club. 😉
Review Your Market
Your marketplace or audience may have changed since the last time you looked critically at your website. Talk honestly with your current patrons, clients, customers, customer service providers and your sales or outreach professionals. You may find that you need to redefine your target market or the services and information that you provide.
Don’t assume you know what the marketplace is doing. Ask people and get data to back up, or disprove those assumptions.
Establish Your Baseline Data
Look at the current stats about your website traffic – this will become your baseline data. Much of it may surprise you, some of it will be obvious, all of it should be taken with a grain of salt.
If you aren’t currently collecting data, start now. It’s just like the old saying about planting trees, the best time to do so was 10 years ago, the next best time is right now.
If You Confuse, You Lose
Lawn Care Example:
Imagine that you have tons of great content about grass types, fertilizing, proper watering, when to mow, etc… Do you want to remind the person viewing this content that you also shovel snow and de-ice driveways?
Nope. You and I both know that they will want you to do this, but, now isn’t the right time to bring it up.
Right now your viewer wants the perfect lawn, or to get some decorative plantings put in. Bringing up your snow removal service is literally the farthest thing from their mind.
Bringing up a topic at the wrong time causes “cognitive dissonance”. It interrupts the train of thought and leads to feeling a bit confused. When a website viewer gets confused they are more likely to leave and go somewhere else.
Don’t confuse your audience, keep your messaging timely and focused. Don’t interrupt their train of thought or overload their short attention span.
Tech Talk: Data collection/analytics can be confusing too. Especially if your website isn’t using a single web address. Examples: “http://www.marketstreet.me” or “https://marketstreet.me”. To an analytics report these are 2 separate websites and can make seeing the “big picture” more difficult.
NOTE: With our website even if you type in the “http://www.marketstreet.me.” you’ll be taken to the “https://marketstreet.me” address. This ensures that all of our analytics are drawn from one source, making interpreting the data much easier and effective.
Don’t confuse the search engine or your analytics reports, take all viewers to one website address.
Don’t put out spam content. Once you have created the impression that you are distrustful you will not get that person back on your site, they simply have too many other choices.
Avoid using click-bait titles in your articles. Sure, it’s OK to use trending terms and topics just as long as the content backs up the title or subject line with info that is relevant and meaningful to your viewer.
Tech Talk: In the world of tech, being trustworthy means having an SSL certificate on your website. This feature proves that the connection between the viewer and website is secure.
Websites with an SSL certificate installed cause the web browser to show the address with a little padlock to the left of it.
Websites without SSL certificates often come up with warnings from Google chrome’s web browser declaring the lack of a certificate, this usually scares most viewers away immediately.
You can get a FREE SSL certificate for your website with Let’sEncrypt.org. Having an SSL certificate installed increases your website’s “trust metric” with search engines like Google and improves your search ranking.
Don’t Slow Them Down
If your website has barriers to entry in order to get to the content, it’s going to greatly reduce the effectiveness of your marketing and outreach.
People have hundreds of choices for their time. Many of those choices may be less frustrating than viewing your website. Make sure that everything loads quickly and the information presented serves its purpose.
Websites with faster page loading speeds are ranked higher by Google and other search engines.
Don’t Put Them Off
Is your website one of those that pops up a message immediately upon landing and asks you to fill out a form? Don’t do it.
Seriously, don’t do it. Even if you are offering a discount or a free e-book full of incredibly valuable advice, resist the temptation.
You absolutely have to show that you have something of value to provide before you ask for anything.
Wait until they’ve read a page or two, maybe even wait until they’ve come back to the website for a second time.
Why? Because the viewer doesn’t know if they even want the discount, or if they should be on your newsletter mailing list. You are asking them to go steady with you before you’ve even finished your first cup of coffee together.
Let the viewer choose to give you their information. Ideally, after they have spent time engaged with your website. This creates a much higher quality connection and a much better potential lead. This is simply because they have opted-in of their own free will and not just given in to a nagging pop-up screen.
You could even avoid the whole nagging pop-up thing altogether. Put a nicely styled link to your discount, newsletter, or e-book in the sidebar, embed it inside your article, or put it automatically at the end of every page on your website like we do here…
(Part 2 coming next week)