Every business today needs an online presence, but how do you make your website work to bring customers to you? Here are some tips to help you optimise your website and generate those all-important sales.
There is no point in investing in a beautifully-designed website if you don’t do anything to attract traffic to it. The online world is crowded and simply creating a website will not bring customers flocking. As at January 2020, there were over 1.7 billion websites in existence, so you can see the challenge in being found.
So what actions will make sure your website is ranked highly by search engines and, therefore, found online by people looking for your products? You need to optimise your website for both humans and bots (the software applications that crawl over your website to analyse it).
You may be surprised to learn that 37.2% of traffic visiting websites is from bots, with 62.8% coming from humans. So it is important that you cater for both types of visitor to get the most benefit from your website.
Unfortunately, there are good and bad bots hitting websites. Figures from Imperva say almost a quarter (24.1%) of website traffic in 2019 came from bad bots. So it is important to ensure you have a secure website and keep your computer and devices up to date.
There are several things you can do to optimise your website:
- make sure that the website loads quickly.
- make sure it has TLS, or Transport Layer Security (https:// rather than http://).
- use modern techniques, such as WebP compression, to make sure images load quickly.
- make sure the website is responsive on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
- use words carefully to describe your business accurately on the home page.
- publish regular new content that is relevant and useful to customers.
Page load time is a key metric checked by search engine bots. It is also important for human users. Slow page loading will be penalised by bots, and humans who have to wait for a page to load will go elsewhere.
The user’s experience should be positive as soon as they arrive at your website. A good experience will result in conversions. ‘Conversions’ are where a visitor is persuaded to do something you want on your website, such as buy your product, sign up for a newsletter, download a guide or register for a webinar.
A 1-second delay in page loading results in a 7% reduction in conversions.
In addition, a slow-loading website will be indexed as providing a poor user experience by the bots, ranking it lower with search engines and, therefore, less visible in search results.
Why does your website need TLS?
TLS encrypts communications between a website’s server and a visitor’s browser. This makes it harder for others to listen in to those communications or insert malware. If you visit a secure website you will see it has a padlock symbol in the bar next to the website address. The ’s’ of ‘https’ stands for ‘secure’.
Conversely, insecure websites may prompt a message on your screen advising they are not secure. As you want visitors to your website to trust it and, by extension, you and your products, a secure website is a must. Users will be aware that you take your business, and customers’ privacy, seriously.
It is also worth noting that, if you have links from your website to websites that are not secure, your website will be penalised by search engines.
Optimising images on your website
A lot of websites feature visual content, including photos, animations, videos and adverts. Large image files can be slow to load. Again, this damages the user experience and results in lower page ranking. Ensure you use modern techniques, like WebP compression, on images for a better user experience.
If users have a poor experience of your website when accessing it via a smartphone, either because it loads slowly or isn’t optimised for viewing on all devices, your reputation will be damaged and you are likely to lose sales.
The importance of the right words on your website
When visitors arrive at your website, they must have the best experience possible. They need to know straight away what your business does. Nobody wants to have to keep clicking different pages to discover the information they need. So keep the home page text succinct and describe what your offering is as simply as possible.
Ensure your contact details are easy to find and not buried away.
Good content on your website serves several positive functions. Well-written and informative text is useful to the visitor and ranks highly with search engines. The latest generation of natural language processing (NLP) bots, like Google’s BERT, is better able to understand website content as it relates to users’ searches online. So if you have lots of content that website visitors find useful and interesting, your website will be seen as valuable by both humans and bots.
Regularly posting such content also boosts your standing with search engines and moves your website up the search rankings.
How to draw customers down the sales funnel
What is the sales funnel? The sales funnel is a term used by marketers and represents the journey customers take from initial research (the wide end of the funnel) to making the purchase or signing up for your newsletter (the narrow end). Understanding the customer’s intent at each stage of the funnel will help you to meet their needs at each point. If you answer all the questions the customer may have, you are building trust in your brand and making it more likely that they will buy from you.
The first stage of customer intent
According to Moz, 89% of purchases start with a search query online. At the outset, the customer probably doesn’t know exactly what product they want to buy. Therefore their searches will be very general and not technical at this stage. They are likely to use a question format for their search. For example, someone looking for a kiln for their glass fusing hobby, may search for ‘best hobby kilns’.
The second stage of customer intent
Once the customer has found lots of links to websites with kilns, they will want more detailed information about the different products that may suit their needs. They will want to make comparisons between different brands, sizes and prices. They have a bit more knowledge and will use more technical terms to help them make a decision. Search queries at this stage will have more competition with adverts alongside websites, as the query is becoming more specific.
The third stage of customer intent
Once the customer is armed with plenty of information about the best product for them, they are nearing the point of purchase. They may have decided what specific model of kiln they want and where they want to buy it. They will use branded search queries. In this section of the funnel, there is high competition with different companies and even more advertising.
Why should customers choose you?
Once you understand the intent of the customer at each stage of the journey to purchase, you can make sure that your website answers the questions they have at each stage. This means having a range of content, some of which is loosely related to the topic and some of which is specific.
The more general articles cast a wider net to draw organic traffic to your website and, once there, you need to provide enough interesting content that they will be keen to stay and read more.
If the customer finds your information useful, they will be more likely to stay on your website for longer. This builds trust in your brand and your authority on the topic. If they feel comfortable that you are an expert in the field, they will be confident that you will provide a good service and deliver the product they want, when they are at that stage of the buying or sign-up process.
This article should have given you some points to consider to ensure that your website offers the best experience to everyone – and every bot – who visits it. The easier you make it for the customer to use your website and make an informed choice, the smoother the path to purchase.