a few months ago i launched a site that started REAL slow. thanks to WebmasterWorld, i have had some success carefully optimizing and now have reasonably good serps. though traffic remains less than great it has begun to increase. but although traffic has gone up by a factor of 3 or 4, sales remain virtually nonexistent. since i have no money to advertise the obvious solution would seem to be to redesign my site. problem is, however, i feel like i've painted myself in a corner: if i redo the site keyword density and position, etc. would change significantly and i risk loosing the search engine position which accounts for virtually all my traffic. anyone else been in this position?
i hope this is the appropriate forum to address my situation. as always, thanks in advance for any suggestions.
What is your current conversion rate for traffic? i.e.how many visitors does it take to make a sale? Are you an affiliate or do you sell your own stuff?
You can redesign a site without affecting your keywords. The best resource I can point you to is Successful Site in Google Alone [webmasterworld.com] for SEO and Usability 101 [webmasterworld.com] as a way to make sure your site is basically presentable and easy to use.
I also suggest doing some reading by Jakob Nielsen on usability, this can have a dramatic effect on your sales.
[edited by: Woz at 11:57 pm (utc) on Jan. 7, 2003]
[edit reason] fixed link ;) [/edit]
I have been in this position. We sell a very expensive software to a very specialized public - and do virtually no advertising - so it is up to me and my website to produce leads for the sales people. Once I got the website traffic increased, I still was not getting the leads that were needed to feed the sales people. I went through the site and added "request info" buttons in obvious places (even tho there was a "contact" button on each page). I made these stand out graphically. I also added several additional pages that were versions of request info page - such as surveys promising a free evaluation, an offer for white papers, an ROI calculator, etc. This worked. By adding more opportunity for my visitors to become a lead, they did. You need to look at your site from the viewpoint of "how easy is it" to order your product. Go thru your site as a visitor (or have a friend do it - the dumber the better) and evaluate how easy is it to order from you.
it's an affiliate/info site and we donate a percentage to charity (donations have so far come out of pocket). i get a couple hundred people a day and sales are basically flat-lined. i have read extensively on usability but the thing that baffles me is that, although the site doesn't look like much, it employs a model that has been HUGELY successful for some existing sites, albeit with mega-ad budgets.
and i know from tinkering that keyword/serp interaction is a fragile matter. one main keyword dropped 80 places in the last go-round. and until then i didn't realize i'd even changed that one.
No offence but your home page is very long and some visitors like me may be put off by the sheer number of links on your homepage.
If you split the content of the homepage into several more pages it may lead to more conversions.
Also, I don't know if you have a contact form on the site in addition to an e-mail address. For some reason surfers to sites seem to prefer filling in forms instead of e-mailing in the usual manner. :)
I would echo sem4u!
". . . the dumber the better" - i'd be perfect! thanks for the advice, WW.
". . . your home page is very long and some visitors like me may be put off"
- sem4u, GSM: thanks so much for taking the time to check things out. i wouldn't be at all surprised if you're right. believe it or not i have already cut the page down by at least half (to no result)! and my uncertainty stems from the fact that the 800lb gorilla in this field has pages far longer (better content but even 'busier') with up to 100 links (i've counted 'em), banners, and pop-ups per page. go figure.
IMHO, it's your front page design that's putting people off buying. As the others said, it's too long, but also it's hard work to read because there's no focus. Lots of the text is too small to read easily, the colours are all over the place and the logo needs some updating.
What I think you should do:
1) Decide on your major keywords that you want to optimise for. Make a much shorter, snappier page with knock-em-dead copy targeting your major phrases.
2) How can you break up your content into separate pages with separate keywords? Optimise one page for just a few keywords.
Identify the prime keywords by looking at your server logs and the overture keyword suggestion tool.
E.g. if your business is cushions then optimise your front page for cushions and then have subpages to velvet cushions, leather cushions, fluffy cushions etc. If it's all together on one huge page, you're unlikely to get fluffy cushion traffic because the title isn't fluffy cushions and you don't have "fluffy cushions" as H1 text at the top of the page. Plus all the other important factors.
If your site isn't doing well now and you can afford to, then I'd cut your losses now, do a major redesign and launch the new site before the crawl at the beginning of February. You'll be in Google at the beginning of March and probably doing much better in the SERPs. A site that's not well optimised is more likely to jump around a lot in the SERPs because if it's ranking it's doing so for single factors, e.g. just the page text but not the title, the incoming link etc. If you go the whole hog for a keyword you're likely to be much more stable.
The logo text is too small to read and you could do with a bit more graphical oommph to it, e.g. shadows, lighting effects, something a bit more professional looking. You'll probably get a better conversion rate if the site looks more like the best sites in the field.
Lots of potential for improvement here - that's the very good news. :)
Well, JC, that makes it unanimous. Your great to take the time to help.
I was really happy to see our main keyword rise steadily and hit #2 this time around but . . . guess I'll have to bite the bullet.
What others have suggested is absolutely true.
You need to come up with an easier site navigation. Most of your visitors will get frustrated fast with new windows opening every time they click on a link.
You need to sit down with a pen and paper and brake down your entire site into sections and subsections and create a navigation tree. Each leaf should be connected to a branch and each branch connected to the trunk.
Also, try not to use so many different colors and fonts, it's uncomfortable to read and your visitor's eyes get tired much quicker.
Most things already said, there is not much to add for me:
-- text color: get ridd of the pink. it doesn't look professional and also isn't easy to read.
-- the donation message & link at the top irritates and could distract visitors.
-- the testimonials from organisations that received donation near the bottom is off topic and could be placed on a separate page.
-- regarding opening additional windows with each link, you could do so with external links (thats something that users understand) but keep your links "normal" within your site.
All things said in this thread help in satisfying your site visitors and could improve your conversion rate.