If you build it, they will come
After investing time and money into a website, there’s nothing more frustrating than low website traffic. In this article we list the main factors that can affect site visits & what you can do to increase them.
Reading time: about 4-5 minutes
So many times I see people who mistakenly think that just because they launch a website, site visitors will automatically come. Truth is, this is not Field of Dreams and just because you build it does not mean customers will magically appear, no matter how good your website is.
Think of it this way, if you held a party but didn’t send anyone an invite, how many people would even know about it, let alone turn up?
Beyond that, even you are promoting your website gaining those clicks is getting harder and harder. It’s mandatory for practically all businesses to have a website now so the internet is heavily saturated with competition making it difficult to rank well and stand out from the crowd.
Factors that can affect website traffic & what you can do
If your website is brand new it won’t just appear in search engine results immediately. First, your site has to be submitted to search engines and then they need time to crawl your site and index it. Be patient and make sure everything is done on your end (site submission, sitemaps etc.) to help this process.
Hopefully your web designer has already done this for you, but if not, here’s a great article to help you out: How to Submit Your Website to Search Engines.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
It goes without saying that having a quality site to begin with is an important factor but not just in how it looks; how it performs too. A lot of the factors covered below can be held under the umbrella of SEO and if you manage them all:
Good SEO = better ranking = increased website traffic.
Your website has to be optimised to help get people to it in the first place. This is where in-site SEO comes in, such as appropriate use of keywords, proper use of titles and meta descriptions, quality code, optimised images and so on.
This is such a large field its impossible to cover everything, so my advice on this point is to either ensure you find yourself a web developer that is proficient with it, or be willing to invest a good deal of time in educating yourself about it.
Use social media
The impact of social media on website traffic is two-fold. Firstly, if you have reasonable engagement and social shares, these can help your Google ranking as well as expose you to a wider audience. Secondly, the posts themselves can drive traffic to your site via page links, blog posts etc.
Best of all, you can take advantage of all of this for free! Of course, you can use the paid facilities to boost things further, but if you’re sharing quality content you might not need to spend a cent.
If the thought of posting regularly on social media makes you cringe, there are a few options to consider. Firstly, there’s a huge market for social media managers out there, so if you have the budget, outsource it!
However, if you need to manage it yourself and posting regularly is too hard, aim for at least once a week or even once a fortnight… anything is better than nothing. There’s a range of scheduling tools that are available to help make this easier; Facebook for example has its own in-built tool and one of my favourites for Instagram is Later.
Don’t forget why you’re reading this article;
you want more website traffic and social media is an effective way of getting it.
Finally, choose your platforms wisely; you don’t have to be on all of them. For example, LinkedIn is effective for B2B companies, whereas creative businesses tend to have better engagement on Instagram & Pinterest.
Find out which ones are best for your industry and stick to them. Setting up a page isn’t enough, you need to be active on your accounts. So if time, motivation and/or budget is a problem, I suggest choosing 2 and doing those well.
Are you blogging?
Blogging can be time consuming and at times tricky to come up with new content, but its a worthwhile exercise. By creating regular new content you can achieve the following;
- Provide helpful and/or engaging content that your readers will appreciate (which hopefully results in a share or purchase)
- It shows google that your website (and business) is active and fresh thus helping your ranking
- If you blog quality content, it too will rank well and drive more traffic to your site
- It also provides additional content you can share on social media.
If you’re not utilising Google analytics, you should be! Its a great tool for understanding your site visitors and how they engage with your website. It provides insights in to what you are doing well and what you can improve.
What works is always changing so this is an ongoing process and one you should get used to checking in on. It takes a while to build up enough data to start analysing it, but once your site has been up for at least a few months you can start experimenting and tweaking.
Poorly performing website
If a website takes too long to load, is difficult to navigate, confusing, unattractive or just plain boring people can be pretty brutal and leave very quickly. This can affect what is called your “bounce rate.” A high bounce rate (where people leave your site quickly) can be interpreted by google that your site is obviously of little value, which can lower your rankings.
If you have google analytics installed you can check a number of statistics including bounce rates to help you determine what changes you need to make to improve things.
Mobile friendly & secure websites
With a huge number of website traffic coming from mobile phones, a responsive website is no longer optional but a must. If people can’t easily view and use your site on mobile, this too can affect your bounce rate which = lower ranking and less traffic.
Furthermore, the responsiveness of your site is a contributing factor to how google ranks your site and you will be pushed lower than your competitor’s sites if you’re not meeting best practice guidelines. The same goes for sites that don’t have an SSL certificate (security for your website).
Here’s a couple of related articles that explain the above in more detail:
Keywords are the terms and phrases that people enter into a search engine to find you online. So when writing your content you need to put yourself in your customers shoes, determine what they will search for and write your content accordingly. Doing this well will give you a better chance of your content showing up among the results.
At the same time, this has to be done the right way and if you go too far with it (this is called keyword stuffing) it can actually work against you and lower your rankings. A good rule of thumb is to keep keywords and SEO in mind, but write for your audience first and google second.
No website was meant to be an island, but rather a part of a much larger interconnected “web” (www = world wide web). The number of backlinks your site has is an indication of it’s popularity and importance so to google these act as a thumbs up so to speak because your content is obviously valuable if people are happy to link to it.
As with keywords, there are certain ways to do this, and ways you shouldn’t to avoid being penalised.
- Create great content that people want to link to
- Share on social media
- Comment on other websites/blogs with relevant content – but don’t spam!
- Guest post
- Ensure your backlinks are quality links
- Ask clients to link to your content
- Pay for backlinking schemes
- Send spammy emails asking for backlinks
- Inject links into other websites
As you can see there’s a number of factors that affect the amount of website traffic your site can receive. A lot of these factors may require professional assistance such as SEO (both in-site and external), content creation, social media management and so on. However, with a little time and education, there’s a lot you can do yourself with little financial investment.
Its also prudent to remember that this is an ongoing process that you have to be consistent with.