A website is not something you create once and then leave it on the shelf hoping visitors will drop by to see it. Websites take time, commitment and consistency to make them relevant and popular. If you want to take your website seriously and increase your visitor numbers, time spent on your site and return visits then take note of the below advice.
Let’s first focus on getting them to stay on your site and navigate their way through, then we’ll get to the part where we get them to come back time and time again.
Make it an easy, uncomplicated process
Have you ever landed on one of those sites that don’t seem to have a clear purpose? It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of creating a website but focus on what got you there in the first place - don’t try be everything to everyone - this never works out. Stick to what you do best and share this with your visitors.
Research shows that 55% of people spend 15 seconds or less on websites. That gives you only 15 seconds to convince them to stay. The easiest way to make them stay is by giving them what they want, what they came for. Don’t hide important information, make your call to actions clear and avoid long winded text. Make it as simple as possible for your visitors to navigate through your site and find what it is they’re looking for.
If you don’t already use Google Analytics, set yourself up with a free account and delve into your own site’s analytics to see where any limitations may lie. As a start checkout your bounce rates - percentage of visitors immediately exiting your site without clicking on any other page or link. Remember, anything above 50% means majority of your visitors are boycotting your site. Find pages with high bounce rates and see what changes can be done to help improve this.
Make your site fast!
With the average size of websites increasing from 1.28MB to 1.7MB, loading speed can become a concern. With over 50% of online shoppers abandoning carts due to slow load times and 73% closing the sale through a direct competitor (source: Useful Loading Time Measurements). If you’re an online business a slow site could be costing you substantial amounts in lost revenue.
Majority of visitors will leave your site if it hasn’t loaded in 2-3 seconds. Yep, that’s your window. Any longer and you’ve lost them, and they’re highly unlikely to ever return. Before we go any further, let’s checkout the speed of your site. There are a fair few ways to do this online but here are two quick and free options - Pingdom and Webpage Test.
How’d you go? Remember, anything more than 3 seconds and you’ve lost half your visitors. So, how do we now make your site faster? Ofcourse you can start with reducing the size of huge images, or deleting old plugins/widgets if you’re using WordPress. But there is a simple way to do this without having to change your site, and this is done through a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Simply put a CDN works by using multiple servers to deliver your data to users all over the world, meaning that not all requests are made through a single server which can result is slow page loads. These servers are set up all around the world so visitors to your site will see your website faster than ever before. For a small cost you can have a CDN working for you, you’ll instantly notice the faster page loads. Our favourite CDN is CloudFlare but there are also other alternatives available - EdgeCast, CacheFly, MaxCDN.
Have a drawcard
Think about the sites you frequently visit. What is it that draws you back to these sites each time? If you want your visitors to keep coming back to your site you need to give them a reason to do so. If you have an old website, that hasn’t been updated in the past 6 months then you’re not doing your business any favours. Find a way to create and share, new and regular content with your visitors.
This can be achieved quite easily. Most website platforms allow for an add-on news or blog page that can be updated as often as you like, adding quality rich content to your site. Share your advice, how to’s, reviews, tutorials and news with your visitors. If you have an ecommerce site you can’t go wrong with a promotion or sale, if this is updated on a regular basis you’ll give your visitors reason to visit more frequently.
Get your brand in their face
Once a visitor has left your site you want them to return, don’t you? You can do this by making yourself easily findable. This area alone is enough to write a whole article on, to keep it short we’ll just touch on the main points. Let’s start with social media. Leverage whatever channels your target demographic may be using. This is one of the simplest ways to get in the face of potential customers. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google Plus to your advantage. These platforms are great for engaging directly with your desired customers. Get onto online directories and get listed in any relevant to your business. The more places you appear the easier it is to find you and the harder it is to forget you!
Image source: http://thesocialskinny.com/australian-brands-on-facebook-statistics-and-best-practice/
Of course, we can’t end this without a note on SEO. By optimising your website you’re helping Google promote it for you. Google will help customers find you without you having to pay them a cent (we’re talking organic not paid listings here). If your SEO is up to scratch, you could be opening your online doors to thousands of new visitors a week just from Google searches. Pick 5-10 keyword phrases per web page and use these wisely and naturally through your content. Make sure you utilise H1 and H2 headings on each page, add ALT text to each image on your page, check for and fix broken links, and provide fresh regular content to your site every week.
If you're curious to see when Google last visited your page, use a free Google Bot Access Checker. This will show you the last time Google’s bot visited, the more frequent the visits the better. If you haven’t been visited in the past 3 months you may want to start adding some new content to your website. Remember, new quality content feeds Google’s bot - the more you give him the more often he’ll come back.
Owning and operating a website shouldn’t be hard. But it is something that needs constant attention and time. If you invest a couple of extra hours each week to growing your website and understanding your analytics, you will reap the rewards. The above advice is the groundwork to building a successful website, if you can nail these points then you have the start of an engaging website.