Getting your website on the internet has never been easier. These days, just about anyone can have their little piece of web real estate in a matter of hours. However, putting up a site is one thing; getting traffic and keeping your visitors is something entirely different.
It takes much more effort to get people to visit your site than to keep them there. Over time, these repeat visitors can make up a good portion of your overall profit. Not only that, but they will tell their friends.
As a web entrepreneur, one reality you must face is that competition can be fierce, depending on your niche. To make matters worse, the average web surfer has an itchy mouse finger when it comes to staying or clicking the back button. You literally have only seconds to convince them to stay and have a look around – oh, and most importantly, to come back.
So, assuming that you have some traffic coming to your site, here are 10 ways to make their visit a pleasant one:
1. Design and color is important. Your visitors will form an opinion the second your home page loads. An aesthetically pleasing and well laid out design will speak volumes about your website. If you don’t have any experience in graphics, don’t assume you can learn as you go along – your site will end up looking cheap and amateurish. Hire a designer, or use a pre-designed template.
2. Avoid clutter. While it might be tempting to plaster your website with advertising and links, you have to think of the end user and their experience. People can become overwhelmed by banners, buttons, and flashy ads. Besides, they could get the impression that making money is your only motive. The bottom line is that if you do advertise, do it tastefully, and don’t make your site look spammy.
3. Make it easy to navigate. Make it easy for your visitors to find what they are looking for. Again, many users are impatient and will exit your site on a whim. Your home page should display all the top tier menus clearly. All sub-menus should also be easily navigated. Above all, make sure they can find their way back to your homepage or to a previous menu.
4. Make sure your pages load quickly. This is an absolute must for any website. Since internet connection speeds vary from user to user, it is critical that you design your site to load quickly. Don’t overload your pages (especially the home page) with heavy-duty graphics. Though it may be visually stunning, people won’t wait around for the pages to finish loading. Think light and fast.
5. Ensure that all your links, buttons and banners are functioning. Two reasons for this: One, the homepage will be slow to complete loading if you have a button or banner that holds up the works. Two, if people click on a link only to be redirected to a generic 404 error page, you, and your website, will lose credibility. Fix your broken links and also create a friendly 404 error page with links back to your homepage.
6. Keep track of your stats. Knowledge is power, and the more info you have about your website’s performance, the better. Use programs such as Google Analytics, Awstats, or Statcounter, to find out things like: Where your traffic comes from, how many visitors you are getting, how long do they stay, and what words are they typing in a search engine to arrive at your site. Oh, and don’t forget the error reports – they are worth their weight in gold.
7. Create great content. Ok, so you have a little traffic coming to your site – what are you giving back? You need to ask yourself: Why are they here, and not at one of the other million sites out there? It certainly is not for your flashy design or numerous advertising banners. The answer is almost always: They are looking for something of value. That value is usually in the form of creative, original content pertaining to whatever it was they were searching for. Give it to them – The more content you have, the better the chances of them staying a little longer.
8. Interact with your readers. This is particularly important if you run a blog. Try to answer any questions and always respond to comments. Thank them for their input and possibly start a dialogue with some. Remember, if a person feels a connection with your site, they will keep coming back because they feel good about it. Besides, if you allow people to write comments (or even articles), you are not only creating a sense of community, but you are essentially receiving free content.
9. Find a reliable web host. It seems that, these days, web hosts are a dime a dozen. Find one that has a good reputation – ask around. If you have a bad host, your site could be down more than it’s up. Nothing will frustrate your visitors more than this. Also, be sure that they have good tech-support and can provide a full backup of your website in an emergency.
10. Control spam. Spammers are a determined lot. Unfortunately, they are everywhere these days. As a webmaster, it is your responsibility to control spam and shield it from your visitors. When people see spam on your site, it looks as if you are not in control. You will lose your credibility and trust.
If you’re struggling to get traffic, you need this book.