Successful websites need to get alot of visitors, and alot of your visitors should be coming from search engines, particularly Google.

I’m often asked why a site isn’t ranking well in the websites, or why they’re getting the wrong kind of visitors.

In short:  what’s wrong with my website?

I want to talk about 3 problem scenarios that are typical for small business websites:  that they’re not ranking well in Google, that visitors just bounce right off the site, or that they’re getting the wrong kind of visitors.

1.  I’m not ranking well for my key phrases

Google is constantly tweaking the search engine results, testing sites for their quality and relevance.  These quality signals are coming from the content on your site, where your website fits in the rich mesh of links that Google trusts, and the behaviour of the visitors searching for and visiting your site.

If your site is not ranking well, then you need to review these factors:

Check the content on your website.  You want to be looking out for these poor quality signals:

  • Duplicate Title tags used across multiple web pages
  • Duplicate Meta description tags
  • Duplicate content, either duplicated pages, or pages with duplicated elements such as large menus
  • Pages with little or no meaningful content
  • Keyword Diarrhea, also known as keyword stuffing, which applies to Title tags, Alt tags, meta tags
  • Keyword rich content contained in decorative graphic images
  • No coherent keyword strategy, often referred to as keyword density
  • Pure keyword stuffing, without using keywords within a meaningful context

Check that your inbound linking strategy is delivering quality, topical links.  You want to be looking out for these danger signals:

  • You’re purchasing links from a link brokerage service
  • You have a high proportion of reciprocal links
  • Your recipricoal links are not with quality, relevant, topical websites
  • You don’t have outbound links to those authorative, quality sites
  • You have acquired a flood of inbound links, and then just as quickly stopped link building

2.  I’m getting lots of visitors, but they bounce straight off the site

Your web analytics software will let you know what proportion of your visitors look at just one page of your website, and then decide to leave straight away.  Your bounce rate is a good measure of what kind of first impression your site is making, and an indicator of the quality of your site.

Google make it clear that Bounce Rate is an important contributor to their AdWords quality score, and I think it is reasonable to assume (and I’m only assuming) that bounce rate is also taken into consideration when determining your search engine rankings.

So a bad (high) bounce rate is a double whammy:  you are losing visitors after just one page view, and their decision to leave your site may have an negative effect on your rankings.

You need to figure out what your visitor’s don’t like about your site.  Of course, it may be that your site is perfect and they found exactly what they wanted in a single page.  Bravo for you, and dream on.  For the rest of us, it means checking:

  • that the design of the site reflects your business core values.  Does your website look professional, or home made?
  • that your site looks trustworthy, someone I want to give my money to?
  • that your site loads quickly
  • that the navigation is clear and easy to use

3.  I’m getting lots of visitors, but no buyers

Once upon a time I wrote an article about the mystery canoeist who faked his death and went to Panama with his wife Pam.  I wanted to highlight the fact their fakery was discovered by a casual searcher discovering their photograph on Google Images, and the importance of image search.

My article, John and Anne Move to Panama ranks highly in Google for people searching for John and Anne, is the landing page for many thousands of Google searchers, and it’s even been translated into Russian.

But it hasn’t earned me a penny.  It’s a badly optimised page delivering irrelevant traffic.  But it is useful as an example in my workshops!

If you’re getting lots of visitors, but no buyers,then check your web analytics to see if you are receiving traffic for irrelevant key phrases.  If you are, then:

  • amend the culprit pages to have more appropriate keyword rich text in the Title Tags, headings, body copy and all the other relevant places on the page
  • generate more content relevant to your key theme
  • work on getting high quality inbound links from appropriate websites
  • and accept the fact that you will be getting a proportion of irrelevant traffic

So, if you are struggling with your rankings, your visitor behaviour, or getting the right kinds of visitors then these are some suggestions to help you out.

Good luck!


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