A question I am asked more and more often is “Why doesn’t my website get any traffic?” A simple question with a complex answer.
In the online world or Interweb as my grandmother calls it, the phrase
“If you build it they will come.” is wrong. What it should be is
“If you build it, market it and keep it fresh they will come.”
This article could be applied to any website. But inline with the fact that we work almost exclusively with photographers in developing websites and competitions, I am going to write a series of articles on how to take control of your photographic website, understand why you’re not getting traffic and give you some practical tips and information to get it moving again and turn it into the marketing tool is was most likely designed to be.
Where to start, where to start?
The first thing I usually ask when developing a site for someone is “Why are you here? Who sent you? Are you from the government?”
Once I get my paranoia out of the way I ask “What is it, you want this site to do?”
Now the answer to this question gives me a good idea on the direction the site needs to take and the framework it will need to support it.
“I want my site to showcase my amazing photography.”
“I’m not sure, my friend told me that I must have a website. So here I am.”
“I want a way to interact with my clients.”
“I want a blog, they look cool and I want to share my thoughts and knowledge.”
“I want an online gallery where I can sell my images.”
If I build a blog style website for someone who wants to sell their images online I’m going to have an unhappy camper.
But further to that the clients going to have a website that they will push into the too hard basket because it doesn’t do what they want it to do.
Ok now’s the point where you pause and think about your site.
Does it do what you want it to do? Is it hard to use? When was the last time you looked at it? Do you know how many hits you get?
If the only reason you have a website is so that you have something to put on the bottom of your business card or a reason to get excited when you Google your own name (Don’t pretend you haven’t. We all have at least once.) you should probably stop reading now.
For the rest of us here is some basic information on where traffic comes from for the average under performing website.
Google Search 65%
Returning Visitors / Direct Traffic 15%
Referral Traffic 10%
Other Search Engines 10%
As you can see getting your site indexed and optimised correctly for Google is one of the biggest factors that will affect the success of your website.
Your now thinking yeah it’s all well and good to say I need to be optimised for Google, BUT I’m no webhead! I cant spell html! And I don’t go by the online name of Lovemachine768.
An easy way to gauge how well your website has been setup is to go to Google and type in your name or the name of your business.
Are you on the first page of results? Are you in the top 5 results. How much is the top spot on Google actually worth?
According to data from the Chitika network, it’s worth a ton – double the traffic of the #2 spot, to be precise.
So how does Google work out your ranking? Your ranking is calculated based on a number of factors but the major ones to pay attention to are;
Meta Data or Meta Tags
I know your thinking “Speak english man! “
Meta Data is the hidden information in the head of each page of your website. Its made up of the Page Title, keywords and a short description of the page content.
This is the text, videos, galleries, images and links that make up each page of your website.
“Hold up there propeller head, I thought I warned you about that tech speak!”
What are backlinks? Backlinks are links from other websites that are linking back to your website (Referral Traffic).
Once you get your Google optimisation sorted out this is your next challenge. I’ll go into methods of increasing your backlinks in a future article.
What do I mean by freshness? What I mean is how often do you add new content to your website? Blog entries, videos, image galleries, links, news, seminars, workshops, etc.
If not prompted to do other wise Google will come and look at your website (Spider) every 10 – 14 days. If your site hasn’t changed or had any new content between this visit and the last your website will either stay at its current ranking or even drop positions.
As you can see creating your website is only the beginning. In the next article I’m going to focus on 6 easy to understand steps that will help your site to start climbing the Google ranks towards that Number 1 spot.