Four Things That Can Tremendously Impact Your Website
The key thing to remember is: You get out of our website what you put into it. OK, that’s easy to say, right? The trick is how to make that happen.
One way to ensure your website gets the attention it needs is to establish a monthly review of your website. Set a date, put it on your Outlook calendar (for me, if something doesn’t appear on my calendar, it doesn’t exist), and stick to it.
So, for example, let’s say it’s the 15th of the month and it’s time to review the website. Here is a checklist of items to cover:
1. What’s new this month?
This isn’t referring to your website, but changes within your organization.
• Have you released a new product? Or is one about to be released?
• Have you released a new service?
• Have you hired a new staff member?
• Are you looking for a new staff member?
• Do you have an upcoming event?
• Are you attending an upcoming event, seminar or trade show?
• Did you just complete a recent project?
• Were you just awarded a new project?
• Is there an industry-related article that you found on the Web that your audience might find interesting?
• Did someone in your organization figure out a tip or trick that might help your audience?
The idea here is to go around the organization once per month and ask, “What’s new?” From there, write about it. This can either be a quick press release, a full editorial article, a blog entry or something as simple as a link.
If you plan on writing short news releases on a regular basis, a suggestion is to have a checklist of pre-set questions when outlining your article:
• What’s a short, catchy title that really tells the story?
• Who is the article’s intended audience?
• Why is this article newsworthy?
• Who should be the primary contact if someone wants to respond?
• Can we have a short quote, either from someone in the organization, from the client or both (if applicable)?
Having a news checklist will make the process of writing much easier, as you can simply send the checklist to an employee who has a news story. He or she can then fill in the answers, and you’ll have all the “guts” of the story already in place to finish writing.
2. Site traffic review
Whether you have an existing tool to view site traffic reports, or (preferably) you use Google Analytics, put it on your checklist to review your website’s traffic report.
• Is the overall site traffic up or down?
• What are the top 10 most popular pages over the past month?
• What pages are trending up, or trending down?
On the most basic level, this simple review will give you something to think about. For example, you may find that a page you didn’t think would be popular actually is. So, perhaps you need to add more content to that section of the website, or incorporate links to direct visitors to other areas of the website (now that you’ve hooked them).
On the other side of the coin, perhaps there are pages that aren’t performing; maybe they need a content overhaul with new graphics or interactivity to give them more life and relevancy? Or, maybe it’s simply time to kill those pages and focus the attention on pages that are producing results. Without a site traffic review, you’re essentially flying blind as to how effective your website truly is. A once-a-month review will give you the data needed to start making decisions for the future direction of the website.
3. Site referral review
Whereas a site traffic review will tell you how many people are visiting your website, a site referral review will tell you how they are finding and coming to your website. In Google Analytics, this can be found under Traffic Sources. A site referral review will tell you:
• What search engines are the most effective?
• What are the most popular keywords your audience is using to find you?
• What other websites are referring traffic to your website?
Knowing this data can have a big impact on the direction of your website:
• Do you need to tweak the META tags or page titles of your website to better utilize search engine optimization?
• Should you “beef up” the content of a page or section of the website if certain keywords are driving traffic to that page?
• Should you create new content that is more relevant and timely if the keyword results aren’t performing as well as you’d like?
4. Google test
Once a month, conduct your own Google search test and see if you can find your organization. Think like your audience and put in the keywords they might enter to look for you. Don’t forget to use location names (city, state and so on) if you feel it’s relevant. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find, and you might find results that you thought should be good, but aren’t. From there you can start to plan out a strategy, whether that’s developing new content, tweaking your search engine optimization plan and the like.
That’s it. Put it on your calendar at least once a month. A little scheduled TLC toward your website can have a tremendous payoff.
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John Forsberg is CEO of i2 Integration, dedicated to creating Internet, intranet and extranet Web applications, and interactive multimedia productions.