The Google Myth

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Google will not save your business.  More precisely, pay-per-click advertising won’t save your business if your website is not geared to solve customer problems or put them into your sales process.

There is a lot of misconception about how search engine marketing will push multitudes of qualified leads and customers to your front door, or website in this case.  If the information you're presenting is perceived as low value, irrelevant or simply confusing, the chance of them ever returning is low.

Hoping that pay-per-click advertising will generate business without addressing website strategy, is like selling a car at a premium price with a dodgy interior by tinting the windows. On opening the door the customer soon backs away.

If you use pay-per-click advertising a ‘bounce rate’ can indicate the performance of your web strategy. It will also give you insight into how effective the relationship between your paid advertising and website content is.

A ‘bounce’ is when someone goes to a single page on your website, whether it ‘s directly to an internal page, or your homepage and then leaves your website from that page.  In other words, they’ve either got all the information they needed from that page, or they’ve not found what they were looking for and decided to leave.  

A colleague refers to high bounce rates in no uncertain terms as “they came, they vomited, they left”.
It all boils down to strategy and understanding what your customers expect from your website. Forget the term ‘browsing’. People are now well accustomed to using internet banking, booking flights, looking up tide times or ordering gifts. This means they are impatient, task focused and not willing to ‘click around’ to see what they can find.  
You need to adjust your mindset and focus your efforts on helping to solve problems and give options for ‘next steps’.
If you don’t know what people expect, don’t guess. Work out how you can get insight into what your audience wants from your website. Current web statistics won’t tell you what content to add, only how people are reacting to existing content. You might be better asking your sales team what customer expectations are so you can better anticipate their needs.
There’s no question that Google will help your business, you just need to avoid setting yourself up for failure by not getting your website right first.
Keep in mind;
  • Marketing is not the same as problem solving.  Your website strategy must simultaneously market your business and solve customer problems. If people get to your website and understand what you do, it’s a waste of time if there’s no clear ‘next step’.
  • A website should not be an information dump  The best marketing strategy you can employ on the web is making it easy for people to find relevant information and perform tasks.
  • Customers are ruthless and rarely give second chances. You need to ensure you’re perceived value is high if you want to retain their attention when they land on your website.   Your ‘bounce rate’ will give an indication of how you’re doing in this area.
  • People are task focused and no longer want to be ‘dazzled’ by a website. The majority of visitors simply want to get in and out as painlessly as possible. Are you helping them to do this?
  • Your website must allow customers to take action:  ‘request a quote’, ‘arrange an appointment’, ‘place an order’, ‘subscribe to our newsletter’, ‘find a store’, ‘find a team member’, ‘call this number’, ‘find a product’...the list goes on. If you’re not solving problems you’re simply frustrating people and making it hard for them to do business with you.
  • Web stats are a historical record so don’t overanalyse them.  Use them, but continually look for ways to improve your strategy and provide real value to your customers.
  • Continually improve the value you offer and the image you present. You’ve got limited time to convince people you’re worth it when they get to your website.
  • If you adjust your sales, marketing or brand strategy, adjust your website accordingly so it helps to both streamline your sale process and reflect your desired positioning online.

© Hamish Chadwick, Image Substation 2010

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