Why doesn’t anyone visit my website?
Buying a website is a big investment, so why are so many people disappointed with the impact it has on their business after it’s launched?
“The website looks really good, but we’ve not had any business from it. No one visits. It’s been a waste of time and money…”
Thankfully we don’t hear that often at Kontrolit, but when we do, we have to admit, it stings. We pride ourselves on being one of the good guys in this industry, so we hate for anyone to feel that way. We talk to customers a great deal before starting any new web project, explaining as much as we can about the whole process without frying their brains, but the old Field of Dreams notion persists amongst many:
“If you build it, they will come”.
Sorry, but they probably won’t. Why? Because no one knows it’s been built!
That doesn’t mean your developer has built you a bad site. Unless you’ve signed up for other services besides creating the website, his job is done once the testing is complete and the site goes live.
Look at it this way – if you paid a construction company to build you a bricks and mortar shop, would you also expect them to go out and round up a bunch of customers for you once the last roof tile is laid?
This is a great analogy because a new website is a bit like that shop – both are hopefully built to a high standard, on solid foundations that will stand the test of time; both are well designed, look great and are filled with amazing products you hope people will buy. But both are going to need plenty of marketing before anyone is persuaded to go and visit.
A bricks and mortar structure has one advantage over a new website – you can build your business within sight of other businesses, or at least within sight of people driving by, where everyone can see there’s a new place to check out. Even if you don’t do any marketing at all, you’re bound to get some passing trade, right?
New websites, however beautiful, however well-built, are isolated and lonely places at first; tiny jewels of islands floating in the endless blue ocean of the World Wide Web. No one's likely to land there unless it's by accident.
How to get found
Just like your bricks and mortar shop, you have to advertise your online business to attract new customers.
But this is the important thing to learn about websites: customers aren’t the only element which need to know there’s a new kid on the block. Your business has to be found by search engines like Google, too. That’s how you get included in search results when a potential customer is looking for what you’re selling.
Even more important: it’s not enough for Google to know your website exists; among all the other websites that sell exactly the same products and services, you have to impress Google with the knowledge that your website does it better. If you can’t, you won’t rank highly in the search results and you won’t get that crucial visibility to potential new customers.
Don’t be an island
Your new website is a beautiful but friendless entity, adrift in that ocean of internet we spoke of earlier; you need to build some bridges so people can get to you. The more bridges you can build, the more ways there are for people to reach you.
The internet equivalent to bridges are links.
Examples of links
- Links to your website shared from social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest etc.
- Links from other people’s websites when they mention your business
- Links from online business directories
- Links from online news sites, review sites or chat forums
The good news is, as your website grows in reputation and popularity, it won’t just be you building the bridges; other people will start to share links to useful or interesting pages on your website too, bringing your business to the notice of a wider base of potential customers.
This is a gross simplification, but essentially, Google puts a lot of stock in the link profile of a website and this can make a big difference to your rankings. The better you rank, the more visitors you’re likely to have.
That kind of authority doesn’t come built in with a new website. You have to build it over time. If you have the time and inclination to do it yourself you can, but you can also hire specialists to help you.
When you’re no longer an island…
Links aren’t the only thing that are useful to your website. If you don’t provide a helpful experience when customers and search engines stop by, they’ll leave again. Customers won’t spend their money or get in touch, and search engines will relegate your site to the dark and dusty basement of the search results where no one ever looks.
We cover the essentials of a good website in detail in this “What is SEO?” post on our blog, but to summarise, your site should have:
- content that’s relevant to visitor’s search queries
- Unique, in-depth content that really goes the extra mile to answer visitors’ questions
- Regular new content to keep your customers (and search engines) coming back to see what’s new.
- Good navigation (menus and links between pages) so visitors can easily find the information they’re looking for. Your web developer will suggest ways to set up navigation initially, but as your website grows bigger, you should give it more thought to prevent your site becoming messy and unusable for visitors.
- A sound technical base (your web developer is responsible for this).
Will your website be ready for your peak sales period?
A note about timescales
It’s important that your website is working well for your business by the time you hit your peak sales season.
As this article has hopefully explained, your new website won't be bringing you the maximum number of visitors and sales on the day it's launched.
When planning your website in consultation with your developer, build in as much extra time as possible between the site’s launch and your peak sales period. You’ll need this time to market your website, earning and establishing some ranking in search results. This process does take time, so in an ideal world, leave at least 4 – 6 months after launch for this work.
If you’ve left it too late to accomplish this, all is not lost – while you may not be ranking well yet in the “organic” search results for some of your key phrases, you can still make the most of your busy sales period. Consider using a pay-per-click service like Google AdWords to give your products and services the visibility you might not have otherwise.
Launching your website isn't the end, it's the beginning
The launch of your website is the first step, not the last, in an ongoing journey to make it a profitable tool for your business. It takes time and regular effort to grow your content, build those bridges, and attract those customers.
If your web developer offers to expand his role to help you with those things after your website is launched, take care.
At Kontrolit, we have specialist staff with different areas of expertise. Some are designers and developers – these are the people who create your website. Others are experts in search engine optimisation, content marketing and AdWords. We also work with partners who are experts in social media and public relations. These people are more likely to be involved in helping your website become a success after it goes live.
We all know a little bit about each other’s work, but none of us could do the others’ jobs with the same competence.
If you would hesitate to ask your builder to become your press agent, be sure your web developer has the extra skills needed to successfully market your website online.