It’s a spin on the fast food industry phrase, but I think it also applies to the selling of websites. Problem is, almost no web developers or designers ever ask the question. Do you want traffic with your new website? Clients just assume traffic is part of the deal and don’t realise it’s not. I can think of a dozen good reasons why designers keep quiet about it, not the least of which is the prospect of losing the deal if SEO work is brought into the project cost…
However from the client perspective, once the order is filled, they sit down to enjoy their new creation, but after a few months there’s a sour taste in their mouth. Little traffic or sales inquiries off the new site. They then don’t have the courage to ask the provider they think they’re missing something, often because they know others are in the same boat.
Do you want to upsize to a BUSINESS PLAN?
Yep, most Websites projects today are still brochures. An outbound marketing channel. The design is all focused upon what we have to offer, the right wording, picture and visuals. Seldom any thought to what people are looking for or willing to interact with. No planning on how to get traffic to the site or if their product or service has a viable market. It’s assumed the company’s business plan sorted this out before the web designer was employed. Sadly this seldom occurs.
The truth is just a few hours with Google and various third party tools lets us work out if you’ve got the right product, for the right market – Find that untapped niche. Work out if there really is a market need and what the competition is like – What it will take in terms of marketing investment to overtake them. See if you’ve any chance of making a success of your online storefront. The data even lets you quantify the risks and opportunities, making financing the venture easier… Amazing stuff.
Start with some good ‘realtime’ market research
Here’s an example. We took on another new client yesterday to rebuild her hopeless e-commerce site that has been running a year with few sales. We quickly determined the site coding is rubbish and Google hates it. (There’s another 400 NZ customers using this same ‘pretty’ platform, all with similar low-traffic, low-ranking problems). But the technology problem is really the easy fix for us. Generally a low cost upgrade to WordPress with an integrated cart does the trick. But better technology is not enough. It only provides a better foundation. Low traffic issues usually go much deeper than the website or cart technology used. Read my recent SEO Pyramid article for details.
Our clients website project started by researching the market opportunities. Seeing which sectors, products and related keywords would give her the fastest returns. We also looked at her competitors, looked at some data and made some assumptions on how well they were doing online too. Seeing where they were weak or strong. Not once did we have to talk about the website ‘design’ or cart ‘features’. Certainly site topics and copywriting strategies were covered, but only after we understood where the market opportunities lay.
It was all about strategies and how she could use the website better to get more people visiting and making money from it. Market research is the first thing to do. Not the copy, design or coding. Theses things comes later in the project. The problem is that talking research or strategies is usually overlooked entirely. The site ends up being a branding exercise. And branding doesn’t pay the bills…
Ask Yourself a few Questions
This 3 minute video from the US sums up what we worked through with my client.
SEO and Traffic Building – The elephant in the room
When most business clients I know sit down to discuss a new website, getting good traffic and sales leads is usually somewhere on the long ‘to do’ list. Yet it’s the elephant in the room that no one talks about, with designers and developers avoiding it like the plague, content to point out that their creation is ‘SEO-optimised’ and the site is submitted to search engines…
A year later and minimal traffic, most businesses then get sucked into buying various local directory, SEO or backlinks services, most of dubious quality. Many just get out the credit card and buy Google Adwords. Yet if traffic-building was openly discuss at the onset of the website build, all this would have been avoided. And the results obtained in a planned manner being WAY BETTER than having third parties working on it months after the site is built!
We’re ‘Google-friendly’ – Yeah, right
Even some of the largest web design-development companies here try to avoid the traffic discussion, content to say that their websites are submitted to Google and ‘SEO friendly’ etc. This all sounds wonderful, but assuming the web developer has done everything correctly (most don’t), it’s still just 20% of the ‘formula’ to a high search ranking and traffic.
SEO is one of the first things to work through, not a tacky add-on
We need to do much more in 2012. Online marketing has become extremely competitive today. But at the same time, if you do the planning, research and have a traffic-building program in place, more traffic and sales will come.
Am I right or wrong here? Am I the only one that can see the elephant?