Website marketing is a complex practice, but it’s one that’s crucial to master in order to get the most out of the website you’ve invested so much time and effort into building. So as you go about improving your web marketing skills, keep an eye out for the following mistakes. They’re quite common to new website owners, but can easily be avoided if you know what to watch out for.
Mistake #1 – Making Decisions Based on Gut Feeling
There’s no doubt that building and promoting a website is a complicated process. At every step of the process, you’ve got to make decisions that influence how successful your website will be – from the colors you choose to highlight specific features on your site to the words you select to promote new products. However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when marketing your website is to make these decisions based on “gut feeling” instead of solid data.
To get this all-important data, you need to install a program like Google Analytics and actually pay attention to what it has to say. Data from this program can, for example, tell you which of your pages are the most popular and which traffic sources result in the highest conversions. Using this valuable information to guide your decisions will ultimately be more effective than simply guessing at which changes will make the biggest difference in your website’s bottom line.
Mistake #2 – Not Split Testing Your Promotions
Another important way to use data to drive decisions on your website is with split testing – the process of comparing site element variants against one another in order to conclusively determine which version is more effective.
As an example, say you’re launching a new promotion and want to determine if a banner reading, “Buy Now and Get Free Shipping” or one that proclaims, “Buy Now and Get 20% Off” will result in more clicks through to your advertisement. Using a split test program, you don’t have to guess at which one will result in the most sales – you can actually run the two side-by-side to figure out which type of promotion your customers will respond best to.
The data generated from your split test campaigns can be extremely valuable in informing both your current and future promotions, but you’ll miss out on all of these benefits if you make decisions based on gut feeling alone!
Mistake #3 – Ignoring the Importance of Long Term Goals
Once you’ve started using Google Analytics (or a related website data-tracking program) and split testing software to generate the web data needed to make informed decisions about site-wide changes, use these capabilities in order to set up measurable, long term goals.
Suppose you want your website to make more sales. That’s a great start, but how exactly will you quantify this? Exactly how many sales do you want to make each year? Which traffic sources do you want to account for these sales? What specific profit margins are you hoping to achieve?
By knowing exactly what you want to accomplish, you’ll be better able to align your actions in order to bring about your desired results. Simply deciding to “increase sales” doesn’t give you much to go off of, but if you say that you’d like to increase sales from Facebook traffic by 50% within the next six months, you’ll be better able to come up with a concrete strategy for achieving these objectives, as well as put the necessary benchmarks in place to ensure your progress is on track.
Mistake #4 – Not Targeting Appropriate Keywords
Too many business owners put up web pages without a thought in the world for the keywords they’re targeting. But given the potential free traffic that can be achieved by targeting the right keywords and optimizing your pages well enough to get ranked highly in the SERPs, failing to target the appropriate keywords puts these site owners at a major disadvantage.
So what does the “right” keyword look like? Your specific results may vary based on the scope of your business and the amount of effort you’re willing to put into getting your site ranked. But be aware that no matter how great your new website is, chances are you aren’t going to be able to get it ranked well in the Google SERPs for highly competitive keyword phrases like “lose weight” or “make money online” without years and years of effort.
Instead, target locally-oriented keywords (for example, “best Chicago pizza”) or long-tail keywords (ie – “lose weight with ab exercises”), both of which will be less competitive and more likely to result in high SERP rankings.
Mistake #5 – Failing to Optimize Your Pages
Once you’ve chosen a set of keywords to target, don’t just hope and pray that Google will pick up your site and rank it on these specific SERPs. Instead, optimize your pages smartly, in a way that Google and the other search engines will understand.
A few of the steps you should take include:
- Integrating your target keyword into your meta tags, headline tag and body content
- Including your target keyword in your page URL
- Building back links to your page that use your target keyword as the anchor text
Mistake #6 – Ignoring Your Social Presence
The level of activity you maintain on popular social networking sites – including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – has never been more important than now. While it used to be that these sites simply represented a good opportunity to get your marketing messages in front of prospective customers, it’s now widely acknowledged that “social shares” of your website’s content could improve your SERPs rankings.
According to Neil Patel, founder of web analytics giant KISSmetrics:
“Based on [statements by Google and Bing], you can assume that social media plays a role in influencing the search engine results by giving preference based on the authority of the author and the number of times a piece of content is shared on social networking sites.”
When you pair this understanding with the recent launch of Google’s Search Plus Your World (which has had a similarly major impact on social injections into the traditional SERPs), one thing is clear. Your social presence matters more than ever, making it imperative that you invest time in building and maintaining your presence on the top social networking sites.
Mistake #7 – Expecting Overnight Results
Yes, your website looks great and the information it provides is top-notch compared to your competitors. But just because a website is good doesn’t mean that it will be subject to a flood of frenzied traffic the second it opens its doors.
Instead, be aware that website traffic takes time to build. The search engines need time to index your content and decide where it should fall in the SERPs, and your prospective customers need time to find your site and identify it as a better alternative to others on the market.
Don’t lose sleep if your website only gets a handful of visitors at first, but don’t sit back on your laurels either. Invest time in promoting your website effectively and, before you know it, you should have the flood of excited customers you’ve been hoping for.