But what’s the point of having a website if no-one ever sees it? It’s not enough to create a website; you also have to drive people to it (that’s why it’s called ‘site traffic’).
Being found by machines
Depending on your business model, you may want to be found on search engines. I’m over-simplifying, but Google is looking for four main things:
- Good, clean code (that’s down to your web developer)
- Constantly updated content (that’s down to you)
- Key words and phrases (those are increasingly less important)
- Inbound links from highly ranked relevant websites (each one is like a ‘vote’ for your site, and are increasingly more important)
Remember that some of the people who search you may already know you or have heard of you via word of mouth. They are just using Google like an address book to search your brand name, check you out and find your contact details. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time! For those people, you want to make sure your phone number and contact details are easy to see on every page. I recommend the top right corner as the standard position, as well as a separate ‘contact’ tab.
The other people who are searching may not know you. They are using Google to find particular products or services, information or entertainment. For those people who land on your site, you need to let them know why to choose you instead of a competitor.
Being found by human beings
You may also want to be found by people directly typing in your URL, so here are some of the places to include your web address:
- Offline: On your print marketing, especially your business card. Very often, the objective of handing out business cards, leaflets and brochures is to encourage people to visit your website and find out more. Also include it on your building signage, uniforms, vehicle livery…
- Email: In your email signature, separated from the body of the message by a couple of hyphens. You can set up an automated signature in your email program so you don’t have to retype it every time you send a new message.
- Social media: In your profiles, biographies and updates. It’s rare to sell directly through social media, but you can include links to your website or blogsite mixed in with more social updates. When I check my analytics, I find that the social media platforms where I am most active are among the most popular sources of traffic to my own site. All those inbound links help with search engine rankings too.
- Guest blogging: You may be invited to contribute articles or blog posts to other relevant websites or blogsites. One advantage is that you demonstrate your expertise to a new audience. Another is that your byline can link back to your site. Make sure you negotiate a ‘dofollow’ backlink not a ‘nofollow’ backlink (that’s a bit of code that tells the search engine robots to follow the link).
- Blog comments: Even if you don’t keep up your own blog or write posts for other bloggers, you can engage with the blogosphere by commenting on blog posts in your area of expertise. Usually, you can include your web address along with your comment.
Once people are on your site – however you’ve got them there – you need to answer ‘what’s in it for me’ from their point of view, and provide clear navigation so they know what to click next. There are three main calls to action you need:
- If you sell products, you have an e-commerce site, and your main objective is to get people to click the Buy Now button. Your secondary objective is to get them to leave reviews that tempt other people to buy (so you get your customers to do your ‘selling’ for you)
- If you sell services, you usually want people to contact you to arrange a face-to-face appointment. Make it easy for them to get in touch whichever way they please, which may be by landline, mobile, email or a contact form
- If people are not yet ready to buy or contact you, you want them to signup for your newsletter, follow you on social media or subscribe to your blog. That way you can keep in touch, remind them you exist, and you’ll be ‘front of mind’ when they are ready to buy or recommend you.
Objective 1 is to get people to visit your lovely website in the first place.
Objective 2 is to get them to buy, contact you or sign up so you can keep in touch.