Every now and then I look at a site and wonder if the owner is even trying to make money. Well, I guess I know they are because they do all the "right" things to make money, but they are doing all the wrong things to serve their customer's needs.
Building a great website is a lot of work, but the job is never really done. There is always something you can do to improve performance, create a better customer experience, or generate a genuine desire for customers to return. And there are also things that shoo customers away, elicit a poor customer experience, and interfere with site performance. Here are just a few:
Too Many Ads
Business sites with too many ads make your site look unprofessional. Most business sites selling products or services are probably better served with little or no ads whatsoever. Ads are great on editorial and content driven sites, not so much with traditional product or service driven sites. The exception to this rule is ads for your own products. That's called up-selling and is just good marketing.
Check your links regularly, like once a month. If you find any broken links, internal or external, be sure to get those fixed. If visitors click a link on your site they need to be taken to a legitimate page. It's very easy for links to break if you ever move content around. You also want to check external links pointed in to your site. See if anybody has links pointed to you that are broken. If so, request that those be fixed or redirect them to the correct page.
Keep your navigation clean and consistent. Make sure it is generally easy to use and to for the visitor to find what they are looking for without having to spend to much team reading through each navigation link. Navigation should be segmented, sections highlighted properly and any drop down or fly-out menus should be easy to use, as many are not.
Don't block content behind registration pages. You may feel a need to capture certain information from your visitors, but you'll find you'll have far fewer visitors if you force them to enter information they don't want to give you. Give your content away, expect nothing in return and you'll likely get a lot more back than if you force visitors into providing you such information.
Slow Load Times
Ineffective Site Search
If you have it on your site, your customers need to be able to find it. If you have a site search that doesn't deliver the results then visitors will leave assuming you don't have what they want. Check various keyword combination, misspellings, close matches, etc and make sure your search results give the visitors what they came looking for.
Long Checkout Process
Keep your shopping cart short and simple. Every screen they have to click through before their order is finished is an added opportunity for the visitor to rethink their purchase and leave the site. Don't give them that opportunity. Get all the information you can on a single page, only going to multiple check out pages if absolutely necessary. And don't collect more information than you need.
Follow these simple guidelines and you should see an improvement in your customer retention and return rate. Then again, if you're just in business for the fun of it, don't bother and see how quickly you lose business.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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