As marketers, we strive to drive traffic to your website where a wealth of information about your company, organization, products, or events is just waiting to be discovered. You want visitors to find you, learn more about what you offer, and then move on to take some type of action – like buying, calling, or donating. But sometimes barriers or friction seem to disrupt the visitors' path and they leave your website prematurely. How do you find and fix the problem?
Here is a website optimization exercise to help you evaluate how traffic currently moves through your site, and find opportunities to improve.
Sketch what you think is the best path through your website for potential customers.
Here is my sample sketch. I think folks will find my home page, check out services and then hopefully contact me.
What are the questions prospective customers ask you?
Make a list of the questions you hear most often. Can the answers to those questions be found on your website? Or, do you want those questions to be the start of a conversation. A common question for professional services is “what is the typical cost (or value)?”. If you prefer to have prospective clients contact you to ask that question, then your website could use a statement like “call us about typical costs.”
Check your Google Analytics
So I assume you are using Google Analytics, or at least have it installed on your site. If you don’t have Google Analytics but have some other website traffic package, much of the same information may be available to you. But I recommend you start using website analytics.
There are five reports using analytics that will give you a wealth of information about your website visitors.
What are the top pages for traffic on your site? Most sites have the home page as number one. ("/" is the home page of this site.)
Unlike top pages, which are your most popular pages, landing pages are where people first enter your website. Is you home page still tops? If you have campaigns running or an active blog, you could see more traffic coming in other ways.
How does traffic move through your site? Behavior Reports
(Behavior flow report, behavior > landing pages)
Next, run a behavior report based on landing pages. Ignore the traffic that drops off the starting pages. Look at the top three landing pages and the interactions. See where the traffic goes deeper into your site.
A focus on search traffic: Acquisition Reports
(Behavior flow report, acquisition > traffic type > organic)
Run this report and look at the traffic that comes in through organic search. These are the folks that probably don’t know you. See where they came in? Look at where they go (interactions). Are they following the path you sketched?
Lastly, check your exit pages. If every visitor was following my path they would all exit on the “Thank you for submitting your form” page.
Make it easy to follow the path
Now that you know where your visitors enter your site, the pages they visit, and where they leave, you can make changes to help them on the path to becoming customers. Make sure you use call to actions, navigational aids (inline text links, buttons, and images), and provide the information they are seeking, or clear next steps. I'll share examples of how to do that in my next post: Opportunities for Your Website Using Analytics: A Clear Path!