Website Maintenance Musts
Recently, I was at the car dealership watching the mechanic work on my car, and suddenly a thought struck me: How many online business owners regularly check under the hood to make sure theirs websites are running smoothly?
And even if you do perform frequent check-ups on your website, are you sure you’re giving it a really thorough once-over? About once a month, you should “pop the hood” to perform a comprehensive check-up, find what’s not working and fix it. Here’s what you should be looking for:
Your web host should provide basic statistics, but consider getting the free Google Analytics program or using the services of a fee-based web analytics company—you’ll get a deeper look at how your visitors travel through your website. You should be able to answer the following questions:
- What pages do your visitors leave your website from? For example, do they abandon your site from the order page without placing an order? If so, maybe there’s a problem with your checkout process.
- How much time do visitors spend on your site, and on each individual page? If they visit your homepage and then leave almost immediately, you’re obviously not grabbing their attention.
- How do your visitors find you? Are particular sites sending lots of traffic your way? Can you capitalize on that by somehow partnering with them? Do most of your visitors come from one particular search engine? If so, what might be the reason for that—and how can you snag traffic from other search engines? What keywords and offers in your pay-per-click ads are pulling best? Can you incorporate them elsewhere on your site?
- What’s causing any traffic spikes? Where are those visitors coming from? Is there a new link pointing to your site? Is an e-mail campaign or PPC ad performing particularly well? Could there be a seasonal reason? How can you make this a regular occurrence?
- Where do your visitors live? If there’s a lot of interest from a particular location, can you tweak your website to cater specifically to those people (e.g., by offering services in another language)?
- What search terms and keywords result in the most traffic to your site? Can you place more of these—or other similar keywords—in your code and content to attract even more traffic?
Traffic is good, but sales make you money. Keep track of your conversion rates—the percentage of your visitors who actually become paying customers. Lots of traffic with few conversions indicates that there’s some kind of disconnect between the message bringing people to your site and the message they’re seeing when they get there. Look at where you lose those people and you’ll see where to start tweaking and testing. Lower traffic with high conversions means you’re doing the right things on your site and you need to concentrate on getting more traffic.