Focus on the Website

23 June 2009, Comments: Comments Off on Focus on the Website

How do you know that your website is effective? Is it reaching the people you want to reach? Is it getting them to do what you want them to do? The website is a major part of any advertising and marketing campaign, but is it having an impact on sales or fundraising or volunteering?

Most web hosting programs offer a variety of analytical information that can help you determine who is using your website and how. We prefer Google Analytics with a few modifications over any host-based stats program (plus, it’s free).

Here are some important ways to use that information to see just what your website is doing for you:

1. Number of visitors. How many people came to visit your site today? While it’s great to have a solid number, you need to know more. How many of them are unique and how many are repeat visitors? What sites did they come from? If they found you through a web search, what search words did they use? Are they looking for you specifically by name, or by function? By knowing where your visitors are coming from, you can get a better idea of how to attract even more.

2. Conversion rate. How many viewers take an action that you want them to take in your website? This could be purchasing a product, clicking on a link, or downloading a report. A low conversion rate could signal that your message isn’t clear, or that visitors are looking for something different.

3. Stickiness. How long a viewer spends on a particular page is important. If they bypass a page you feel is chockfull of useful information, that page may need to be retooled. On the other hand, if you find that visitors are spending more time on a page than expected, there may be more opportunity to enhance it and link it to other pages.

4. Exit Pages. Where do your visitors leave your website? Practical eCommerce suggests that there are natural places for visitors to leave your site, such as the last page of a purchase. However, if visitors are leaving your site before that, they may not be able to find the information they are looking for, get frustrated and exit. Does your website need to be altered so information can be found more easily?

5. Ranking. Can visitors find you on the web? If they are looking for you specifically by name—and your name is not a common one–probably so. But if they are looking for a more generic product you sell or a service you provide, your website may get lost in the crowd. Increasing your search engine ranking will bring more visitors to your site. Using keywords that are used in searches and adding new information to keep your website fresh will help increase your rankings.

You can also see when someone uses your website’s name on the Internet. By setting up a Google Alert, you can be notified anytime a specific phrase or name appears on the web. In the case of your website, you can see who is using it, where and how.

Web statistics should be reviewed at least monthly so you can tweak both your website as needed, and adjust your other advertising and marketing efforts accordingly. Also, check your search engine position monthly. Search engines adjust their methods for ranking periodically, so your rank could change even if you haven’t done anything different.

In addition to statistical information provided by your web host, you can also uncover more information through free sources such as Google Analytics or Yahoo! Web Analytics.

Developing this routine of reviewing and improving your website is a vital part of growing your website and your business.

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