Picture this scenario…
You enter a Sporting Goods Store and ask an associate where you can find the camping equipment section. You are in need of a tent for your upcoming camping trip, plus you’re in a big hurry. It’s your lunch break and you only have a short window of time before you are due back at work. You are there to find your tent, quickly buy it and get back to the office. The associate directs you all the way to the back of the store and to the far right. You follow the instructions and arrive at the destination you were just sent to. You look around for camping equipment, only to find nothing close to that. Instead, you see golf clubs, golf bags, putters, etc. Confused and agitated you scan the store for a sales associate to help you find what you are actually looking for, but sadly no one is around to assist you and the store is so big, you literally have no clue where to go. Tick tock, tick tock goes your watch; a clear reminder that you are in a hurry. Finally, you let out a disappointed sigh and walk out of the store without making a purchase.
This above scenario, while obviously hypothetical, is very similar to what happens far too often in the online world. If I had a dime for every time I click on a pay per click ad and get directed to a page that is completely irrelevant, I’d be rich. Well, maybe not rich, but I’d have a whole lot of dimes. The bottom line is this…shame on you if you are spending good money on pay per click traffic, yet sending potential shoppers to irrelevant pages. If my search query is campaign equipment, the ad I then click on should absolutely be just that.
Some retailers prefer to send everyone to their home page, no matter what their search query, which is essentially like making your visitors conduct their search all over again. Why would you do that? You want it to be a “win win” experience. In other words, a win for you; you captured the visitor’s attention to get him to click on your ad in the first place; a win for the visitor, since he was sent to the appropriate page he was searching for. Everyone’s happy and there is a much more likely chance of this visitor converting into a sale if you make the process a seamless one.
If you think it makes little to no difference where you send your paid visitors to, I encourage you to run a test utilizing different landing pages. The outcomes should speak for themselves.
When visitors land on your website, either through a pay per click ad, organic listing, or simply by typing your URL into Google, Yahoo or Bing, what do they see once they get there? In other words, does your site appear polished, professional and clean? Is it visually appealing and easy to navigate? Are the calls to action strong and do they create a sense of urgency to find out more about who you are/what you offer?
If you did not answer yes to all of the above questions, it is time to go back to the basics. Your website is a direct representation of who you are as a company and no matter what your industry, it ought to wow your audience and keep them coming back for more. You only have about five precious seconds to sway visitors before they make the decision to stay or leave. Below are a few factors to take into consideration when measuring how captivating your website is.
Visual Appeal – A site does not need tons of bells and whistles to be appealing. It should not be overcrowded; less is definitely more. An attractive color scheme can go a long way. An approach to consider is to utilize your brand and/or logo colors. This can be effective, especially if you are trying to create more brand awareness. Test out different backgrounds, font sizes, colors, images, etc. If it’s been over a year since the look and feel has been updated, try making some revisions. Hint: An outdated website looks outdated.
Navigation — Keep it simple. You want it to be as easy as possible for visitors to take a tour of your website. Make sure that all of your calls to action (i.e. download our latest whitepaper, fill out this contact form, view our recent case study, etc.) are above the fold on the page, which refers to the section that is visible without scrolling. No one likes to scroll – and few people will. It is also a good practice to have links to your important pages found at both the top of the site, as well as the bottom.
About Us — This page is super important, yet often overlooked. Who are you? How long have you been in business? What sets you apart from your competition? Why should a consumer buy a product or service on your site, rather than Joe Shmoe’s?
Contact Us — This link should be conspicuously located on each and very page of your site. No if’s, and’s or but’s.
Content — Some will arguably say that content is the most important part of any website. Searchers are “searching” for information, solutions to problems, answers to questions, products or services they want and/or need, etc. If your website does not provide them with what they are looking for, they are going to be off like a prom dress. ïŠ Your site should posses a nice balance of informative, relative and interesting content. Updating your content regularly is an excellent way of ensuring a fresh experience for searchers. SEO hint: Search engines love fresh content; kill two birds with one stone by pushing out new content, which will simultaneously help to give your organic rankings a boost.
An onsite blog is another great way to maintain new, relevant content. Articles and Optimized Press Releases are also beneficial and will keep your visitors interested; retaining them on your site longer. Hint: the longer they are on your site, the more likely they are to convert into a lead or customer.
Invest the time to evaluate your website on a regular basis and source members of your organization to do the same. The rewards of doing so will be well worth the time that you invest.