14 March 2018
When designing and building websites, we work closely with our clients to optimise website content to boost engagement from their target audience. After all – the end goal for most websites it to increase direct sales or enquiries from interested customers, and increasing visitor engagement is a step in the right direction towards a sale.
We’ve noticed over the months and years following the launch of websites that this mind-set doesn’t always translate into ongoing actions from the clients. Too often we see getting a website as a checklist exercise, and once it’s live it gets forgotten about. An odd move for something they’ve potentially invested thousands of pounds on.
In this article, we aim to give you a few tips on how you can continue to develop your website to improve user engagement and drive sales. Google and other search engines love visitor engagement on websites and reward sites with useful content, where users stay for a while, and visit multiple pages, and eventually make an enquiry. These should all improve search engine optimisation (SEO) as well as increasing conversions. Win win.
Writing content for your website can be time-consuming but you’re best placed to write about your business and the services you offer. Who knows your business better than you? If finding the time or inspiration really is an issue, you can always consider using a professional copywriter to write things up for you. Having plenty of useful content on your site is great for both search engines and users.
It’s good to break up the text with clear headlines. Maybe also look at bullet points of benefits or features just to help break up the paragraphs of text and add useful information. After all, if you user can’t find the information they need they’re likely to leave the site and go to one of your competitors.
One warning here: in the past you may have been encouraged to write content specifically for search engines, shoehorning keywords and phrases in wherever possible. Google is much better these days at spotting such content and may actually penalise you for it. They want your content to be as useful and informative to the viewers as possible and spamming them with lots of key words won’t make for helpful content.
Trust is a big factor for people online. Just because you have a professional website doesn’t mean the product or service you offer is top quality. So how do you convince people?
Get reviews of your products, if not on your own site directly, you could look at Google My Business or a service like Trust Pilot.
If you don’t have a physical product, you can get testimonials from existing customers about your great service. These can be introduced into the text to support a point, in a sidebar on the site or have a separate page just for testimonials.
However, we know it can be hard to get these. Raving fans of yours can be hard to pin down, even for a short sentence or two. But, it is worth persevering as it can add a huge value to your site and the number of customers you attract online.
Customers aren’t as likely to read hundreds of words on your web page when a short video is so much easier to digest. It’s also really good to get some of your friendly staff involved to show your personality. After all, people buy from people.
It’s also another good way to get testimonials on the site. What better endorsement can you get than a happy customer speaking to the camera about how good you are?
Videos don’t have to cost the Earth either, you can film on your smartphone and access free editing software online to tighten them up.
No-one wants to see a page full of text, even if it is well written, broken up with good headings and scattered with testimonials. People want to see images. Either use nice, clear, large product images or ones of your business and its smiley staff.
Do try to steer clear of standard stock website photography where possible. Fake people with bright white teeth or a cheesy handshake don’t do you any favours! Get a good local photographer in, you’ll be surprised at how much it can help.
So your reader is engaged, they’re ready to get in touch, maybe even ready to buy! Do you want them hunting around for the contact details tucked away in the footer, or locked away on the contact page? No, you want to tell them exactly what step you want them to take next. Have a nice big link with a clear call to action… “Get in touch”, “Find out more”, “Give us a ring on …” etc.
If at all possible, it would be good if this was more than just a text link or line of content in bold, make it obvious. If you can’t add buttons to your site on the content management system (CMS) then maybe get someone to create a couple of images you can use. Send the user to a contact form or give them a phone number to ring, make it really easy for them to do whatever you want them to do next.
There is also a chance the viewer isn’t ready to buy yet, and that’s okay. However, if they’re looking for a slightly different service to the one offered on the current page, why don’t you try suggesting some alternative services you offer? If it’s not clear to them that you offer what they’re looking for, they’ll just head back to Google and find a competitor of yours. They’re not likely to hunt around your site for long.
You might be surprised at how many of your customers know your full range of services so it’s always a good idea to cross-pollinate. It also helps the page structure of your website because you’re linking to important pages from other relevant pages. Google loves this. Without it you’re in danger of those services pages being lost down the rankings. Make it really clear to Google what great services you can offer customers when they’re searching.
How often do you see a long form and just go elsewhere because you don’t have time to fill it out? It happens to us all. The solution is to keep your forms as simple as possible. I know you might like their full name, telephone number, how they heard about the site, etc. but wouldn’t you prefer the contact more? You can always ask those questions later if needed.
Also, try to keep fields non-mandatory where possible and don’t try and force unnecessary information from customers. Just having someone’s name and email address is better than having nothing at all.
Using Google Adwords can boost your presence on search engines quickly, but, be careful; it can easily end up being a waste of money without the right strategy in place. First you need to thoroughly research what keywords you are targeting.
If you’re selling a product, try to get the user when they are ready to buy and not just researching. For instance, if you sell Christmas trees then you may not want to pay for people searching the phrase ‘what is the best Christmas tree’, instead you may want to target ‘where can I buy a Christmas tree’. Obviously, in this instance it’s also worth considering the time of year you advertise and the location you choose to target.
The other thing to consider is the page the user lands on. Taking people to the homepage means they’ll need to click again to find what they’re looking for. Having them land on a shop the product page would be more useful. Better still would be to have a page solely for selling that particular product to that specific user – something nice and clear, maybe with no other links off the page back to the rest of the site. Try to sell it to them without them needing to go elsewhere.
Give potential customers the option to ask you about something while they are on your site. They’re online, engaged with you and are looking to buy. If they’ve got questions, you need to be able to answer them then and there. Otherwise, they may not find the answer they need and try a competitor. With all the exciting advances in artificial intelligence, live chat functionality is more accessible than ever.
The most important thing is to make sure you’re proactive on your site. Is every page working for you and bringing in sufficient business? If not, try some things from the list above to improve it. Take a step back and look at your site as if you were a customer. Maybe even ask friends or relatives to take an objective look.
If you think there is anything we’ve missed from this list please feel free to get in touch.