Why Isn't Your Website Bringing in the Business?

You've built (or paid for) your website, fully expecting the customers to come. But, unlike Kevin Costner in '80s classic Field of Dreams, you're not being besieged by ghostly baseball players from the olden days, contacting you and placing orders.

Where are the calls and the sales to justify the time and money you've poured into your online venture?

Whether you need a touch of search engine optimisation (SEO) to help people find you in Google, or your website is struggling to close the sale, here are a few ways to make improvements, increase hits and build engagement and conversion.

You're on page 12 of Google

The first diagnostic to run is simple: Google your kind of business. Try a few different ways to describe what you do, plus ways to describe your local area if you provide services locally (rather than, for example, selling physical or downloadable products).

Did you find yourself? Few people search beyond page 1.

If your business is failing to make an impact in search results, you need help with SEO. In a nutshell, this means using the same, appropriate words in the right places whenever you describe what you do, making sure you fill in your page descriptions and metadata, and updating your website regularly with blog posts and content that meets the needs of people interested in what you do or sell. For help, read my introduction to SEO for small businesses.

You appear in search results but still don't get traffic to your website

So you've Googled yourself and you're not doing too badly. Is anyone actually clicking on your business?

To work this one out, you need to know how much website traffic you're getting. If you're running on a platform like Squarespace, it's likely metrics come built in. If not, Google Analytics is the way to go. It's free and it provides masses of useful data about your traffic, how people find you and where they're from. It also gives you a chance to flag up your website to Google, which, who knows, might give you a leg up the search results by lending you a bit of credibility.

If you find you're appearing high enough in search results but you're not getting much traffic, then no one is clicking on you. Take a close look at how the name and description of your business appears in search results.

(By the way, ‘how much' traffic is ‘not much' depends on your business. Google Adwords can give you an indication of how many people tend to search for specific keyword phrases relevant to you.)

The title of your business should include somewhere what you actually do, and, if relevant, where you do it. For example, ‘Angela Bunt Creative' isn't as obvious as ‘Angela Bunt Creative | South London Interior Designer.'

The description should say, in 15 or so words, what is special about you and the problem you solve, who you serve and why you're the best at it. Check out how your competitors do it. Make your description more succinct and more specific.

You can find out how to update your title and description by Googling the name of your website platform or asking the person who developed your website (or give me a call and I'll help you).

You're getting traffic but no business

If you're not converting website visitors into customers, it tends to come down to this: your website isn't really getting across what you do or provide, and how you benefit your customers, in a way that makes immediate sense.

Key to preventing a ‘bounce' (when someone lands on your website then immediately clicks away) is to build a homepage that grabs attention. The top of your homepage is your 3 millisecond elevator pitch. Does yours communicate your features and benefits clearly? If you're feeling brave, show a friend your website (someone who isn't familiar with what you do) and ask them what the homepage tells them about your business.

Once you've got an attention-grabbing homepage, don't mess around. Make it easy to skip to the end of the buying process, be that shopping for stuff, booking a course or contacting you, via a clear link (or button) or ‘call to action.'

Your call to action has to be specific; people don't want to ‘find out more,' they want to know who you are, what you do and what you've done for other customers. They should be able to find out by clicking the links on your menu bar. Your call to action is how you seal the deal: ‘Shop Now', ‘Book a Course' or ‘Call Me'.

If that sounds pushy, remember some people will come to your site already having the end goal in sight. If you make them search for it you risk putting them off.

There's an error somewhere

Another potential pitfall to investigate is a typo in your phone number or email address. Read and check all your contact and purchasing links. If you've got a contact form, test it. Use your site like a customer (or ask someone else to do it) to place an order, book a table or contact yourself.

It's always worth double checking that everything is working as it should, especially if you see a sudden dip in interest after making a change. Here are more tips on how to build a trustworthy website.

Other ways to bring your audience to your website

Good practice around SEO and website design do a fabulous job of getting potential customers to start a relationship with you. There are two other major ways to attract website traffic; email marketing (by building up a list of loyal followers) and social media marketing.

I'll write more about email and social media in future posts, but for now, have a read of Yoast's Email Marketing Basics and Moz's Beginner's Guide to Social Media, which includes a quick guide to your main social media options.

If your site isn't returning on your investment, let me know and I'll help you out.