There comes a point in every website’s life when you realize the web design is no longer current and the information is out of date. It’s nobody’s fault, we simply live in an age where technology continuously advances at astounding rates (I should know, I wear a computer on my head #googleglass). A website is no different. Code is always changing, and the functionalities now offered to new websites simply weren’t available when the old website was built.
Everyone should be looking over their website once a month. How is the traffic? What search terms are visitors using to find your website? There are many times when a prospective client approaches, clueless about their current website traffic. Sometimes their previous website simply won’t have analytics installed to monitor this data. At minimum, have a company set up Google Analytics on your website for you. Start off with measuring your website traffic, and then you will be able to see what parts of the website are producing traffic. Look for missing tags, broken links, search engine optimization, and website design flaws. These are all factors which may affect your website’s traffic and revenues. If you don’t want to pay a company to audit your website and give it a look over for suggestions, then at minimum use the free online services. There are services online that will check for broken links on your website, and analyze the SEO of your site. Some of the data might not make sense especially in terms of measuring Search Engine Optimization. This is why we have SEO professionals.
Most companies know when their website is deteriorating. Contact forms aren’t being filled out, traffic is on the decline. The visitors who are finding you may find you through a Google search from non-relevant topics. When you see the signs, it’s definitely time to start evaluating your website.
Look around for websites that are doing it right. Find popular websites, even if they do not have much to do with your industry, and use them as a baseline. What are they doing right? What catches your eye, their content, the way you navigate the website? Incorporate relevant aspects of what you learn from these sites into your own website design.
Here is a handy way to get some usability testing: ask a few friends or family members to try your website out. Give them a specific task like “contact us” or “buy a sweater from the deals page.” Sit behind them and watch them navigate—do not help them. You will likely find areas where you need to improve navigation or clarify some instructions. Identify the usability issues and address them. Once these are taken care of, find another person to test it.
Now that you have a user-friendly website, lets talk advertising. This isn’t Field of Dreams here, if you build it they will come type of deal. Websites just don’t work like that. One of the best ways to help your website produce is to get it in front of your target audience, the people who would use it most.
Here are some ways to get the word out:
- Submit your site to major search engines. There are sites that will do this for you, or you can do it yourself.
- Tell your friends. Tweet about it—constantly! Add it to your Facebook status updates, post pictures of it on Flickr, add it to your LinkedIn account—anywhere and everywhere is the key here. The more people coming to your site, the better.
- Use an e-mail address with your domain. Visit other websites that complement (not compete with) yours, and offer to exchange links or guest blog/write. Post constructively on blogs and forums, and put your URL in your signature.
- Use article marketing. Creating SEO-optimized articles and posting them to other sites is a sometimes a useful way to create backlinks to your website. This might help boost your website’s search engine ranking but always be aware of search engine updates that often impact SEO strategies and can render these less helpful or even downgrade your site’s ranking.
Here are some great tools for your website:
- Blame Stella, This site is the new kid on the block. Test out your site for speed and errors and compare it to other sites you like.
- You Get Signal, This is a page you will want to bookmark. The swiss army knife of internet tools.
Above all, when it comes to marketing yourself or your website, consistency is king. Your site need not be perfect nor your tweets poetic, but if you consistently strive to improve your website and consistently share updates via social media, you are doing it right and it will pay off – it probably already is.