Most new website projects we get involved with are in fact not new websites in the true sense of the word, but they are replacing an existing website.
There are many valid reasons for changing your existing website including rebranding, acquisition, change to Responsive Design, etc.; but most website owners change their site because their website is not achieving the owner’s objectives.
On the surface they have a website that looks great, some even with eye catching graphics and clever tricks, but they fail to generate traffic or/and deliver leads/revenue. Usually, this is when we get called in, because their fabulous looking website is not doing a fabulous job!
That may not be news to some people but it appears it is to most owners and web designers! There are many facets of a website which is usually ignored whilst a lot of effort, time, money goes on the graphics, aesthetics, creativity, etc.
This would be great if your website was brochure, but your website is not a brochure and here is why.
Just because we have moved on to the digital age, the principal of marketing has not changed. Your brochure is handed out by your sales people, sent out by your telesales people, or collected from your premises, or found in your distribution outlets such as inserts in Newspapers, etc. They are in effect landing on people’s desk, or in their hand, by your deliberate actions such as cold calling, telesales, etc. In this sense you are “Pushing” your message to your audience.
Websites need to “Pull” Internet traffic from search engines such as Google or other advertising means that pulls people to your website (TV, Social Media, Printed Media, etc.). Whichever way the traffic comes, it has to be pulled to your website.
The cheapest means of getting traffic to your website is by Organic Search, which means coming in the first 2 pages of any SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Ideally you want to be on the 1st page as only 40% of people bother to go to the second page.
To come on the 1st page (or any page), you need to be relevant to keywords that people use to search a subject matter. So in this case you have to match and be “the best match” for keywords that create demand for your product or service. Your “Pull Factor” is dependent on meeting the criterion set by Search Engines for “Best Match” or to use the technical word “Relevance”. Without “Relevance” you have no Pull Factor.
Brochure’s pull factor is their design and aesthetics, which motivates the recipient to browse through. Nobody has to search for a brochure on a 3rd party platform to find your brochure because brochures are not found but are handed out (Pushed)
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the method of getting you noticed by Search Engines and attempt to place your website ideally on the first page. To achieve this you must demonstrate to search engines that your content is “Relevant” and is more relevant than your competitors.
This means a clear understanding of the keywords that can potentially generate traffic and then creating content to match these keywords. This is done by research in keyword search volumes, number of websites that compete in this space, and how well-optimised are your competing websites. This information is not easily available to general public and requires specialists software and access to search engine’s database.
Whilst your website content has to meet “Relevance” for search engines, your brochure is free from these constraints. Your brochure can have any subject and any terminology you wish to use and in any order you see fit. This is not the case for your website as your content has to fit the search criterion and keywords people use.
Study after study shows how little time visitors spend on each page. Average of 15-20 seconds is the norm on the Internet and your website is not an exception. So we have to be precise, to the point, and brief. So in additional to “Relevance” copywriters need to get their heads around “Brevity”.
None of that wannabe Shakespearean stuff on your website will help you. This is “Speed Dating” rather than “Being Engaged”. Try reading your content and see if you can even speed-read it in 20 seconds and you will see the challenge.
Brochures afford you to go off on a hunt for word-smithing excellence, you have time to set the scene, wander, meander, and take the reader on a journey. Unlike a website, you have the attention of the reader so you can play mind games if you want, but not on your website.
Your website is a tool, like any tool it has to be fit for purpose. Your website has to be designed with understanding of keywords, should be structured around keyphrases, needs to be elegant, informative but brief.
This is a tough balancing act, which focusing on aesthetics alone will not achieve. So next time you ask someone “What do you think of my website?”, make sure they understand you do not mean the “aesthetics” but how it matches the brief of brining traffic to your website. A pretty website without search engine compliance attributes will be a very lonely place!
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