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"The Importance of  Evaluating Your Website's Performance"Do you often wonder how effective your website really is? If at all! In fact, it may be difficult to know your website’s effectiveness simply because perhaps you don’t “sell” anything or if you do, it is on a limited basis. Maybe your site was set up strictly as an “online brochure” or informational website.

Setting up your website is only the very first step in creating an online presence, of being found. There are many other factors that go into your Internet marketing strategy. The success or failure of your site depends greatly on how well you have defined your website goals. In fact, if  you don’t know what you want your site to accomplish,  it will most likely fail to accomplish anything. As with any part of your business, you need goals,  goals to guide you in developing and monitoring your website, otherwise all your site will be is an online announcement that you are in business. And that announcement may NEVER REACH the intended audience. Scary? Yes.

If you want people to take action when they visit your site, albeit by filling out a form as a lead generation tool to be followed up by you or a representative in your company, or purchase a product, there are steps you should take to insure that your website is functioning at peak efficiency.

To find out how well your site is working, you must know how to analyze the “analytics” of your site (or pay someone to do it for you). These analytics can come from your web hosting provider, from your “back end” of your website (if you have access to them) or by setting up a “google analytics” account. Note: By using Google Analytics, you will get a more robust report and can track numerous elements including: visitor traites, reference websites (where your visitors came from online), your visitors connection spead, search terms used to find your site, and more. With most basic analytics programs you should be able to learn: how many visitors you get, how many pages they view, how long they stay on your site, and  how many are returning or unique visitors. If you are doing NO promotion at all and you are satisfied with these numbers then keep doing what you are doing. However if you are doing any types of promotion either online or off (or both) and not getting any results, that is when you know its time to take the website by the keyboard and start fixing it.

Keep in mind just because you get lots of visitors to your site, it does not mean it is functioning properly Usually, you want those visitors to actually do something there. It is equally important to monitor the number of visitors to your site who made a purchase. This figure is called the site conversion rate, and it is an essential element in determining the efficiency and functionality of your website.

To find the site conversion rate, take the number of visitors per month and figure out the percentage of them that actually performed the action your site is set up for. For example, if you had 2,000 hits to your site, but only 25 of them purchased your product, your site conversion rate equals 1.25%. To get this figure, take your number of visitors and divide that figure by the number of visitors who made a purchase. Then divide that result by 100 (25 ?00 X 100).

If your website is set-up to get visitors to fill out a form, make sure to then figure out what the difference is between your site conversion rate and your sales conversion rate. This is because not everyone who fills out your form will actually become your customer. However, whether your site is set-up to sell a service or product, or to get the visitor to fill out a form, the site conversion rate will measure the success or failure of your website whenever you make changes to the site.

If you find that traffic to your site is extremely low. you may find that you need to implement some additional (or different) marketing strategies. There are several effective methods to improve the flow of traffic to your website, particularly launching a search engine optimization campaign. This campaign is targeted at increasing your position in search engine results so that visitors can find your pages faster and easier. You can either research the steps you need to take to improve your search engine rankings, or employ an organic search engine optimization company to do the work for you. In either case, after your have improved your search engine positions, make sure you keep on top of them by regular monitoring and adjusting of your efforts to maintain high positions.

Another thing to consider: how easy is it for a visitor to your website to accomplish the action the site is set-up for?  For example, if your goal is for the visitor to fill out a form, is this form easily accessible, or does the visitor have to go through several levels (pages, links) to get to it? If it’s too difficult to get to, that visitor is likely to abandon your website and find what they are looking for elsewhere.  Make sure your buttons are highly visible, and the path to your form or ordering page are easily and quickly accessible.

A detailed analysis or review is based on the things we talked about above, as well as keyword usage, proper tagging and descriptors used, the copy itself that the search engines and visitors read are all important in evaluating a website. In our experience many website consultants will only do the analytics and not go in as deep to review each page (at least not at the beginning) or without paying a very high fee.  A lot of this may sound overwhelming or even foreign to you. If you don’t have the capacity or time to do it yourself, hire a firm or individual that specializes in this type of Search Engine Optimization.  The amount of money you might spend in doing so will be far less than the number of lost opportunities you have on a daily basis online.

Hiring a professional to evaluate these things will increase your traffic as well as increase the chances your visitors will take the action you desire, whether it be to make a purchase or fill out your form. Website copy must be specifically geared to your online campaign and not just a cut and paste job from your company brochure. The right copy can make the difference between profit and loss in your online campaign.

Women in Ecommerce™ strives to provide you with the latest information, resources and tools to help you do MORE business on the WEB.  When you join us you receive ongoing advice like the above article as well as the opportunity to attend our live and virtual events, depending on your geographic location. Join us today!