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Internet Coaching Library > Website Design > Site Links

Make Your Website Successful

by Enrique De Argaez, MBA, PE, webmaster

There are two reasons for a visitor to go to a website:

- One is to purchase something and
- the second reason is to do research.

Unless visitors click on "buy" they are doing research. They may want to contact you, to complain or to compare your products to a competitor’s. If they are not purchasing from you, they are researching you. Whatever their reason for visiting, your website’s goal is to satisfy their needs and wants.

This coaching article will help you to make your website a targeted destination of choice in seven steps:
1 - Determine Visitor Goals.
2 - Make the Path Obvious.
3 - Keep Expectations in Check.
4 - Allow Visitors Quick Success.
5 - Make Visitor Goals the Site Goals.
6 - Successful People are Persuadable People.
7 - Using Log files for Traffic Analysis.
8 - Use Responsive Web Design (RWD).

The art of persuasion is as old as humankind itself and it all comes down to two closely linked abilities; (one) recognizing and (two) capitalizing on goal-seeking behavior. Here are seven steps to persuading visitors to seek their goals on your website. If you follow these steps you’ll quickly be able to tell the difference between serious traffic and casual browsers, and this means that you can stop watching people kick tires and you will start turning profits.

Step One: Determine Visitor Goals.

Recent surveys to website owners addressing the following two questions:

* What do visitors use your website for?

* How effectively is your site meeting the visitors’ requirements?

show that the most chosen answer to the first question was "Not sure." The most chosen answer to the second question was "Very effectively." That may seem a contradiction, but it isn’t. If you want to ensure a bull’s-eye every time, first shoot your arrow, and then declare whatever it hits as the target. The results demonstrated that few survey participants had a value proposition for their websites but most thought the website was doing a good job of... whatever.

Therefore most website owners or designers aren’t sure of what they want their visitors to do nor their goals. Remember that your first step is to determine your visitor's purpose, either to purchase or to do research.

Step Two: Make the Path to the Goal Obvious.

A fill-in, on-site search option is not an obvious way to do research. It implies the searcher knows what they’re looking for. A searcher looking for 32" flat-screen wide-screen HD-ready flat-panel TVs under US$1,000 probably isn’t going to type that into the search field. If they do, they know what they want and your job is to get them to the "buy" button as fast as you can. Most people will start with "TV" and go from there. You can ask them to refine their search over a number of screens, but take note: the number of screens they’ll navigate indicates how far along they are in the purchase process.

Visitors ready to purchase want to get to the price. That’s their goal. They’ll go through some work to reach that goal. Browsers and tire-kickers won’t go to the effort.

An interface that includes a "Researching a Purchase? Click here" option is an interface that understands visitor goals. The visitor may be skeptical, but they'll also appreciate the honesty and want to be honest in return. Give a researcher this option and they’ll click on it.

Step Three: Keep expectations in check.

Visitors doing their search need to know when they’ll get the results that they want. Something like "Page 1 of 5" with interim results on each page lightens the load on a visitor’s mind, rather than leaving them wondering "When is this going to end?"

Once a visitor has committed to a course of action -- whether purchase or further research -- by filling out a form, a site should help the visitor achieve the goal of that action (complete the purchase, download a paper, whatever) in no more than five pages. Once that first goal is rewarded, get another goal commitment in there fast -- you don’t want them to wander away once you’ve started satisfying them.

Several years of research have shown that five pages is the max the average visitor can address before losing sight of their reason for filling in the forms in the first place. This comes down to keeping expectations in check, and specifically the expectation of when the visitor can achieve a goal.

Step Four: Allow Visitors Quick Success.

Keeping expectations in check by giving visitors quick successes. People will continue doing what they successfully did in the past. Visitors will return to and purchase from websites that make them feel successful -- even if the same product is less expensive elsewhere -- because success is a behavioral goal. Once you demonstrate that your site is going to make them successful, the visitor’s ego kicks in. They’ll say "I just like this site better" and you will know why.

Step Five: Make Visitor Goals the Site Goals.

Remember that visitors come to your site either to purchase or to research. Those are their reasons, not their goals. There is a difference.

A goal is something I don’t consciously know about or recognize. A reason is what I tell myself and say to others when I’m attempting to meet that goal. Behavioral goals are easy to work with because they’re fairly simple and direct: Ego (You’ll look better driving this car), Shame (What happens here stays here), and there are many others.

In this case the goal is ego-driven and simple: success. I want to be successful; you want to be successful; everybody wants to be successful. Make me successful -- even in something as simpe as a product search -- and I will non-consciously tell myself that the way to be successful when I’m ready to purchase is to return to your site.

Step Six: Successful People are Persuadable People.

The easiest people to persuade are those with a feeling of success. They already feel lucky so they’ll go for more. Visitors aren’t coming to your site to make you money; they’re coming to your site to be successful, to get something they want, to meet their goals. The by-product of your helping visitors become successful is that you make money.

Changing someone’s decision from just buying apple pie to buying apple pie with chocolate ice cream is easy.

Make it simple and easy and obvious for the person to get the apple pie. Let them know they’re going to get it and they can have it. Right when they can see it and it’s almost in their hands, which means they can already taste it and smell it and delight in it, suggest -- Suggest! -- that they try it with chocolate ice cream.

You’ll be successful because they’ll be successful, each and every time.

Step Seven: Us Log Files for Traffic Analysis.

The Server Log Files contain important clues to the success or failure of your website design strategy and of your marketing campaigns. You may also determine if the visitors came to buy or to research.

An important feedback of website traffic is analyzing the web server log files in order to study the effects of the campaign on traffic. If you own or manage a website, you are probably already aware of the importance of your log files or site statistics.

Such data can give you insights about your site’s usability, errors in your HTML code, the popularity of your site pages, the type of visitors your site attracts and their behavior. This is specific data about your web site that you should be looking at in your log files on a regular basis.

Step Eight: Use Responsive Web Design For Your Site.

The use of tablets, smartphones and other devices for access to the Internet has increased in recent years. Failure to take this fact into consideration in your website design will lead to problems in search engine positioning and will cause lower traffic in your marketing campaigns. Not all website visitors use a lap-top or a desktop computer today.

Responsive web design (RWD) is required today for a successful website. There are several CMS that are free and offer responsive web design themes. One of the most popular today is WordPress due to its user friendly features and many plugins. There are also several platforms for building responsive websites. One of them is "Bootstrap". A search in the web will give you many design alternatives.

Several variables should be examined monthly, weekly, or even daily to ensure your site design and page optimization is on the right track:

1. Entry Paths.

Most sites can be developed and analyzed around the concept of visitor pathways. If, for example, your site is a Business to Business (B2B) site and you service small, medium and large businesses, there should be pathways through your site designed for each class of visitor. An extremely simplified example would be:

Clients coming to the site through an optimized index (home) page:

home page ---> small business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

home page ---> medium business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

home page ---> large business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

index page ---> large content page ---> content page ---> newsletter opt-in page

The site entry pages for these pathways are often optimized sales pages or optimized content (research) pages.

The final page of this route is often the action that you want clients to take on your site (e.g., sign up for your newsletter, buy your products online or contact you for further information). You can easily determine how effective your pathways are by tracking the entry paths on a regular basis via your site stats.

You should have some idea of the main pathways that clients take through your site, both for monitoring the effectiveness of your page optimization and conversions, and for the purpose of subsequent site redesign(s). A good starting point to track the pathways through your site is via the graph or chart called "Entry Paths" in your log files / site statistics.

2. Top Exit Pages.

These are pages from which most visitors click away from your site. Why is it useful to track these? Because exit pages can tell you:

* If there is a technical problem with the page that is causing visitors to leave your site. For example, if there are broken links, or the form on the page is not working properly etc.

* If your site design is breaking the strategic pathway, for example, you may have links to external sites that are inducing clients to click away before buying your product or signing up for your newsletter.

* If there is something on these pages that is encouraging visitors to leave your site. For example, poor copy, an unprofessional design or confusing layout.

In your log files / site statistics, the graph or chart called "Top Exit Pages" is the place to learn why visitors are leaving your site.

3. Single Access Pages.

These are entry pages that are viewed once before the visitor clicks away from your site. Similar to Top Exit Pages, Single Access Pages can tell you a lot about why people are not staying on your site for long.

Have a close look at the search terms used to find your site. Single Access Pages can often indicate that your target search terms are too broad.

For example, you may be getting a lot of traffic by targeting "printer cartridges" but if you only stock a particular brand of cartridge, then people seeking other brands are not going to find what they truly seek when they arrive at your site so they will leave immediately.

This can be resolved by narrowing down your search terms to be more targeted and focused on your niche products and services, for example, by changing "printer cartridges" to "HP printer cartridges" and so on.

To see what pages of your site are viewed once, look for the graph or chart called "Single Access Pages" in your log files / site statistics.

4. Most Requested Page(s) and Top Entry Pages.

Tracking these pages is key to measuring the success of your SEO campaign.

If your optimization is effective, the Top Entry Pages and Most Requested Pages should be those that you have optimized for target keywords.

The Top Entry Pages are particularly relevant as you consider the pathways through your site. Do the most popular entry pages have any relationship to the start pages for your plotted visitor pathways? Or are visitors entering and navigating your site via ways you didn’t intend? You can use this information to continually tweak your page optimization to guide visitors to the right pathways.

To see your most requested pages, look for the graph or chart titled "Most Requested Pages" in your log files / site statistics. Also look for "Top Entry Pages".

5. Page refreshes.

Why are visitors refreshing pages on your site? Are the pages not loading properly? The "Page Refreshes" variable is another one to monitor on a monthly basis via your site stats to ensure that there are no site usability issues for the visitors.

6. Referring Domains and Referring URLs.

Where are your visitors coming from? Are they coming from sites that are linked to yours? Are blog authors or forum members talking about your site? Referring Domains will tell you what sites are linking to yours, while Referring URLs will list the actual pages where the links are located.

These can be little gold mines because you can often find valuable sources of traffic via links to your site that you didn't even know existed.

In terms of an SEO campaign, these links can all add to your site’s overall link popularity, an important factor in the ranking algorithms of many search engines, particularly Google. Monitoring these metrics can tell you if your site requires a link-building campaign or help you measure the effectiveness of various online and offline advertising campaigns.

In your log files / site statistics, Look for the graph or chart titled "Referring Domains" and "Referring URLs".

7. Search Engine Referrals.

How many of your visitors are coming directly from search engines? What percentage of overall traffic does this represent?

This is a good variable to track to help you keep up with how many search engines are listing your site (both free submission and paid submissions), how much traffic they bring and whether to renew your paid submissions.

It can also tell you whether you need to increase the number of search engines your site is submitted to in order to build on your link popularity. As a very rough guide, you should be receiving at least 30 percent of your site traffic via search engine referrals.

To see search engine referrals, look for a chart or graph called "Search Engines" within your site statistics.

8. Search Phrases and Keywords.

This topic is related to search engine referrals generally, but gives added insight into what terms you were actually found for in the search engines.

Do these terms match what your site was optimized for? Are there any surprising terms that you might want to develop site content for? Some log file analysis programs will even break down what specific phrases your site was found for in which particular search engines. The more detailed the data you have, the more closely you can tweak your optimization campaign to your precise market.

To see the search phrases your site was found for, look for "Search Phrases" or "Search Phrases by "Search Engine".

9. Landing pages for PCC Campaigns, etc.

If you run a pay-per-click campaign or dedicate specific pages to advertising product specials, you may use special landing pages or tracking aids to monitor your traffic and conversions.

Your site logs can help you track these by showing you how many visitors they each had and what they did after they visited those pages.

10. Metric values that show a radical change from developing trends.

Any site metrics that show a dramatic change from one month to the next could pin-point a problem with your site or with your optimization campaign.

For example, if your search engine referrals have dropped dramatically, it could indicate that you have been penalized in a search engine (or more than one). Noticing changing trends early gives you the chance to investigate problem areas and make adjustments if necessary.

Please note that all log file analysis and site statistics programs are different and use slightly different terms to describe the metrics listed above. If you're confused, ask your site admin or hosting provider to highlight these for you.

11. Web statistics software.

You can actually read the "raw" log files produced by your web server. These are plain text files that can be read by any text editor and even Word. However, if you do generate some traffic, you will find it hard to make any sense of the amount of data generated.

You definitely need some software that can analyze the log files for you and generate statistics in a useful form.

If you use a good web hosting service, chances are that your provider will give you a hosting control panel that has already installed one or two web statistics programs for you. The most popular control panel is the "cPanel". One of the most frequently used analytics programs is AWStats. Check their web site or send them an email.

Alternatively you can buy and install your own software on your server, or sign up for a monthly service. The packages that let you download the log files to your PC and analyze them there are less expensive in the long run.

Here are some examples of log file analysis software:

Open Web Analytics (OWA)


Google Analytics

Stat Counter

Remember that, for any web site, your log files are gold mines filled with nuggets of information about your Internet traffic. If you keep digging on a regular basis, you will eventually strike it rich with success.

About the Author:
Enrique de Argaez is the webmaster of several international Internet websites and the author of four newsletters. He is active in Internet Market Research. His main websites are
http://www.internetworldstats.com and http://www.allabout marketresearch.com

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