I visit many websites every week. From small single person operations and startup businesses, to multi-national conglomerates. Sometimes the most difficult things to explain to clients are that good rankings do not necessarily equal good conversions.
Clients often get confused by this point. One thing I always ask myself and try to get clients to answer about their own site is "Who is this site for?" and "What problems does this site solve?"
The answers are going to determine how long I spend on a site.
I think this is an often overlooked question that unfortunately eludes most websites owners. In many cases it is very straight forward. You have a product, you sell a product.
However, when you are in a very competitive market or in a niche driven market, you must actively recruit and find effective ways to keep people on your site.
Sadly, it is not enough to have a static page that just sells widgets. It is imperative to try to find something different to offer that other related sites do not or, at least to find a new and creative way to do it.
There is no right or wrong answer, but the best thing you can do for your site is to find a way to set yourself apart from your competition. This can be in the form of superior product information, blogs/forums, reviews, link bait, or any other resource that is not readily available from a competitors website. You need to know your market and your customers and be able to appeal to what they need or want. Sometime visitors don’t know what they want until you tell them!
Remember also that it is not just about having shiny things to attract (or distract) people to trick them in to spending time on your site (although this has merit as well when used correctly). You can have great content and unique resources, etc but is your visitors cannot get to the information they are looking for, then it will be for naught. Some other ways to keep people from leaving your site immediately are:
- Page load times; this is a huge conversion killer. If a page takes more than a few seconds to load, people will leave.
- Avoid using ads, these tend to cheapen the site and they detract from your message.
- Be very selective in your use of multiple fonts, font colors or animations on your page.
- While images are great for enticing visitors to a page, too many increase page load times and causes frustration on a slow connection. Remember a picture (one) is worth a thousand words.
- Pop-up windows are very annoying and also very antiquated.
- Ensure that your “buy” button/links are easily seen and that your shopping cart system works well and is not confusing to the user.
Remember that there is always thousands of other website for people to choose from. It helps to step back from your site and view it from the end user perspective. Better yet is to have friends and colleagues from outside your own market to take a look at your site or to offer suggestions as to what they might look for when researching your particular field or product. Doing so may allow you to spot potential issues or problems with your site that may be hindering or turning off customers.