Here is a great video about how to approach web testing for small businesses.
I hope that most of people have some sort of web analytics installed on their website. I love Google Analytics, firstly because it is free and secondly it is good enough analytics for small business websites. There other free tools but I think that Google has this product worked out quite well.
The biggest problem of any web analytics software is that it provides a lot of data. It has data about almost about everything.You could be browsing and using analytics for hours every day. Unfortunately just looking at graphs won’t do much. Unless the analytics reports are actionable they are useless.
What to track really depends on type of website and business that you are having there are some some things which everyone should track. Google Dashboard provides snapshot of most important data that are available. Some thing are more important than others and don’t be fooled by big numbers.
Here is a list of statistics I like to track:
There are groups of visitors, unique (“Absolute Unique Visitors” in Google) and overall visits(“Visits” in Google). Of course more visitors the better but the visitors must be “good visitors”. I will write more about how to recognize “good visitor”. What I am measuring is change of number of visitors compare to past. The number is hopefully growing with time so I know that my efforts with online marketing pays off.
Bounce rate is percentage of customers who has visited a webpage but did not click on any link. It is usually best to keep bounce rate as low as possible. Usually the bounce is about 50%. If a bounce rate is higher on homepage or a webpage you should consider doing something about it.
Top content pages tells you what pages are the most visited by your visitors. You should have your most important content with action buttons on those pages. Top landing pages are pages where visitors usually land when they come from internet. Of course those pages should make visitors to explore the website more, click on links or make them to do an action.
It is good to know what source sends you most traffic. You should be able to see which marketing efforts are working and which are not working. You can always see if there is an improvement. If you are running SEO campaign you should see improvement in organic traffic sources. If you are on social media those sources should bring some traffic. If you are running affiliate campaign or have advertising on other website those website should bring traffic.
I like to check what people type in when they search on Google and land on my website. You can learn a lot from keywords. Is it something what you expect? Do you have enough content for keywords that people are interested in? Do they type something unexpected?
You should have an idea about people you are targeting. For me my best visitor is small business owner who needs a website and lives in Australia (Sydney would be best). The person should be looking for a solution for website. Now with that in mind I can check stats. I can check where are visitors coming from (geographically). I can see what keywords they use. I can see what pages they visit. Based on that I can decide if traffic I am receiving is quality traffic or not.
I would say that the most important thing to track is conversion rates. How many people buy, subscribe, apply for a product. I would rather have 10 visitors which email me and enquire about website than 1000 visitors who don’t do anything.
When someone mention 99.9% I usually thing this is great. I just realized that 99.9% sometimes is not good enough. Well of course I am sure that everyone expect everything to be 100%. 100% Australian made, 100% effort, 100% focus but people don’t really think about percentages. Well at least I usually don’t except few exceptions.
I am talking about hosting solutions. Not that I would be completely unhappy with my current hosting jumba.com.au. I am quite happy with them but I am currently working on a website project where the website has to be always up and running. I thought let’s have a look what Australian hosting industry has to offer.
Geek term for how much website can be down is SLA (service level agreement). It means how much percent throughout the year website can be down. Most hoisting companies have 99.9%. Which seems good but it really means that website can be down for 8 hours in a year. Which is not very good. 99.99% would be better, which is only 52 minutes.
I would love to see history of downtimes. It would be great to see when exactly the servers where down. It would be much easier to make a decision of purchase knowing that the company is good based on their history.
Make sure that you at least discuss hosting with you web design agency. They should at least acknowledge that website uptime is quite important. It is usually better to choose bigger and established company for hosting. Try to call support to see how quickly they respond.
I hope that everyone who is running a website have some goal in mind which you are trying to achieve. It does not have to money but I assume most of website should lead to some profit. You don’t have to make profit by selling something from your website but if your website lead to more phone calls and help your customers it still make a profit right? Therefore everyone with website should be interested on how to make website work better.
I am not going to suggest that you use some cutting edge technology or some secret software I am going to write about conversion rate.
Conversion rate tells you how many visitors have completed required action. It is presented in percentage value. Here is an example for better understanding:
Let’s assume that you have a hairdresser business and people can book appointments online. Goal is to have as many bookings as possible. You have 100 visitors a month to your website and 5 booking in a month. That is it 5/100 which is 5% conversion rate. Your goal should be to optimize your website to have the maximum possible amount of bookings.
It might seem that increasing conversion rate by few percent might not be worthy but think about following example:
If you make $30 profit on every haircut and you increase conversion rate by 5% you will make $150 a month more. Which is $1800 a year more. Of course you can achieve higher conversion rate and have even bigger profit. If you conversion rate is 20% you would make $5400 dollars more.
Let’s not forget that I have chosen very low profit and not many visitors, if you have hundreds of visitors or sell products which makes hundreds or thousand dollars in profit, increasing conversion rate is definitely worthy.
Think about what are you trying to achieve with your website. Are you trying sell directly? Generate more leads for your sales team? Get people sign-up for a subscription? Get more newsletter subscribers? No knowing what to track would be a first mistake.
If you don’t have enough visitors to your website it is hard to increase your conversion. If you have only couple visits a day and most of them are out of your area or your competitors or any other visitors which are unlikely to buy, you need to start thinking about search engine optimization and marketing first. It is more important to get visitors to your website first.
You should have at leas phone number or visible contact us on your website. Even better have that element stand out on your website and individual pages.
Here is an example of action button:
After you have sorted out the three points above it is time to test to find out what is maximum conversion rate you can achieve. There are some tools for that, I would recommend to start with Google Website Optimizer because it is quite easy to use. If you don’t have enough technical skills you can ask your web developer or Elaunch.
That should be enough basic information for any website owner to start thinking about conversion rate. Here is a great reading with examples of conversion rate improvements Conversion Examples
I was wondering why I like to be a small business owner. It seems that everyone needs get bigger and bigger to meet some crazy growth goals. People are frustrated when they don’t grow enough. Not me! I am happy to be in a small business and deal with small business. Here are some reasons.
You don’t have go through multiple levels of decision makers to change the button on website. If there is only one decision maker it could be done faster.
If something is not working out it is much easier to change it. For big businesses when they find out that something is wrong it is probably too late.
Customers are much more important when you don’t have too many of them and you don’t want to loose. I can’t imagine Telstra to treat me like human being. Corporations starts to worry when they start loosing customers in thousands.
When you have only limited resources you need to use better. You don’t waste hours in meeting or spend thousands of dollars on marketing.
There is no cap on profits. In online world there are many companies with few employees make big profits. Internet and technology has helped us to achieve it.
I am not saying that all small businesses are fall into those categories but I hope many of them do. Sometimes it is easy to forget that when you are focusing on day-to-day tasks.
One of the ways to learn how to creat a great website is to look around and see what other companies doing. Best to pick the succesful one or the ones which you are most compelling to you. I thought it might be a good idea to share which websites I love the most. The list was long but I chosen 3 websites/companies which I totally admire.
I just read about them in last NETT magazine issue, actually I bought the NETT magazine because of that article. I wanted to find out more about the company plus their tips for running successful online business. They actually run quite a few website but my most favourite is Netsetter and Freelance Switch.
What I love about them?
I just came across this website few months ago. Firstly I was amazed of how clever idea is behind the website and how many got help because with website providing tool for everyday heroes.
What I love about them?
This company and their website is a great example for every B2B company. They certainly must be doing something right with so many people subscribing to their products. I actually love the book they have written, it is called Rework and it is one the best business books I ever read.
What I love about them?
I sometimes stumble on some website which I think can be more successful by improving few things. Well sometimes only complete redesign helps. In some cases I would love to know how much that flashy website cost and if anyone bother to track if a website helps fulfil business goals.
Here is my list of 5 most common web design mistakes.
Having whole website in flash is not very good idea. I know that flash websites look cool and funky and they even sometimes win awards. But sometimes they don’t win clients and they definitely are not Google friendly. Google still have trouble reading them. Do you like when you have to wait for few minutes for page to load? Some people even don’t have proper flash support installed.
Let’s not start about updating a website, is it easy to update a flash website? Not really unless you are flash developer.
What do you want a website visitor to do? I hope that everyone knows the answer to that question. Not having clearly define action on web pages is another mistake. If you see a web-page full of text and images how do you what to do next? Visiting some websites I have no idea… Make sure you have visible call to action it might be your phone number, newsletter subscription, information download, book a service etc.
Too many calls to action are not good enough either. People don’t really like having too many options. It is better to choose the most important thing you want visitors to do and stick with it.
There are websites which are not created SEO friendly. I think in some cases business owners start thinking about SEO after they realize that they have spent lot of money on website which does not bring any clients. SEO should be part of any website design or redesign. Unfortunately designers sometimes don’t know much about SEO or they think that SEO is bullshit.
Make sure that website is SEO optimized.
Website with too many images, crazy colours, huge navigation are not really helping your user. If your website is too cluttered try to make it simple. Your visitor should know within few seconds what is your website about. If you show it to your 10 years child or 70 years grandpa they should be able to tell you what is the purpose of your website.
I don’t like Internet Explorer but it seems there are still plenty of people who are happy using it. There are even different version of this software and thanks to Microsoft every version can display website differently. Make sure that your website looks good on every common internet browser. You can use browsershots.orgwebsite for that. Check you website for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, different versions of MSIE and Safari. These are the most used browsers.
Bruce Clay which great SEO company ran competition for best search engine marketing for small business article. I have received the winning articles in their newsletter this week. I recommend to every small business owner to read these articles.
Here are the links:
SEO for Small Business: Get an SEO Primer by By Brent Rangen
SEO is not a new fad. Keyword stuffing, cloaking, link exchanges, link wheels, and spamming have been around for years. SEO has evolved into something much more since then. Why? Because Google has evolved into something much more.
A small business owner might not understand technical jargon, or “geek speak” well enough to not be a bit apprehensive about the concept of SEO; that’s why “thinking outside the bot” is so important.
In the broadest sense of the term, social media marketing can and usually does embrace a number of outlets including: tweeting, blogging, viewer-supplied content sites, email campaigns and cell phone texting.
Your logo is an important part of your image and your marketing. It should not be treated lightly and should definitely be approached with some basic principles in mind. Below are some guidelines to help you with logo issues.
It is quite surprising to me that some people don’t look at some good examples of logos that already exist. Great logos are all around us and everyone can think of about five companies which are well known. If someone asks me to mention five companies which comes up in my head it would be MacDonald’s, Coca-cola, Google, Microsoft, Apple. Can you imagine their logos? I bet you can. What makes them good?
Logos don’t have many circles, squares, photos, slogans and other distractions. Usually a good logo consists of text and a simple effect or image. It has two or one colors. Simple logos are easy to remember. Let’s have a look at some Aussie examples.
Timeless logos don’t follow trends which is why they are successful over a long period of time. If you are thinking about something cool what follows today’s trend forget it. Always ask yourself if the logo will look good in 10, 20 or 30 years? Can you think of some companies and their logos which scream 1980’s?
Great examples of timeless logos:
It is quite a simple principle. Does the logo look good in black and white? Can you use it on your invoices, letterheads, packaging in black and white?
The best and safest approach is to get logo designed by a professional graphic designer. Make sure that designer have a portfolio of logos they have done. Be careful and make sure that you agree on a price, deadline and number of designs and corrections.
Cheapest way to get a logo is DYI method. If you are confident enough and have graphic skills why not try to have a go yourself? Just make sure you know what you are doing and discuss your designs with as many people as you can. Make sure you show it to people other than your friends for honest feedback. Please be careful that you don’t design something ugly because logo design is very important.
I just recently found a website 99designs.com which allows you to post your design brief to our community of 73,656 designers and you then select a final logo from the designs that are submitted. Some of the logos I have seen on this website are quite good. Make sure that you tell the designers as much as you can about your company, products and services so they have a good understanding of your company image. A drawback to this website is that designers participating in this logo contest might not spend too much time on designing because there can only be one winner.