Website traffic is only half the battle

Posted on by Craig Loftus

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) aims to improve search rankings and visit count, but that in itself does not guarantee the success of a business website.
  • Conversion of visits into positive action is what affects the bottom line, and this is what websites need to maximise.
  • Conversions need to be measured, and the measurements used to identify ways to improve the effectiveness of a website.

As Kenyan companies move online, they frequently come across the term Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which is marketed heavily as something without which websites will fail. The purpose of SEO is simple: to improve the visibility of a website in internet search results, and thereby increase the number of visitors to the website. But SEO is only half the battle.

It is not the number of visits to a website, but the number of visits that result in a conversion that will influence the bottom line for a business.

What is a conversion?

The definition of “conversion” is tied to the nature of the website and the business.

For an online shop, a conversion is simply a sale. For estate agents, it may be a telephone call to the agency. For customer service websites, it may simply be the visitor being able to find the information they were looking for.

Secondary conversions that don’t directly lead to a sale, but encourage further engagement, should not be overlooked. They include actions such as the visitor subscribing to a newsletter, reading an article or posting a comment on the site. They may not directly bring revenue to the business, but they show positive user engagement.

Conversion rates, therefore, are the key metric when measuring the success of a website.

Measuring conversions

  1. Define what constitutes a conversion for your business. Conversions may take place directly on the website (e.g., an online purchase) or offline (e.g., a telephone call to your sales team, or an in-store purchase), and both are relevant.
  2. Identify ways to track conversions. Online conversions are relatively easy to track, and most analytics tools can be configured to do this once you have come up with a definition. Offline conversions can be more tricky, but there are methods that can be used to estimate them:
    1. Asking questions to the customer (in person or on the phone) about where they heard about the product/service that they are purchasing.
    2. Issuing discount codes via your website, and then tracking where these are redeemed. This is also typically used as a marketing strategy, and will provide useful information about the types of visitors to your website.
    3. Supplying unique contact numbers on your website, so that you know which calls came from there.

Watching how conversion rates change in response to improvements you make to your website provides the insights you need to maximise its effectiveness.

For example, after adding a “Store Finder” page to your website, you can monitor whether that has a direct impact on the number of customers visiting your shop to make a purchase.

Conclusions

  • SEO brings visitors to your website, but it is what happens next that counts.
  • If a business is to get a realistic sense of the value being generated by its website, then conversion rates need to be measured.
  • Conversions that are completed offline should also be measured.
  • Monitoring how conversion rates change in response to improvements is a powerful tool for maximising the effectiveness of your website.