Post by Michael Assad
Does your content management system have what it takes to capture and retain new Web traffic?
More is Better
Your Web site serves many purposes. It helps to raise awareness about who your company is and what you do. In many cases, your Web site is used to sell your company’s products and services. In other cases, your Web site provides content that draws users to your site for educational or entertainment purposes. Whatever your Web site is used for, the more traffic it gets, the better known you are going to be and the more products and services you are going to sell.
Increase your Web site Traffic
How do you increase your Web traffic? That’s the million dollar question, but there are easy ways to create a measurable increase in traffic with a relatively small amount of effort. First, you have to attract new visitors to your site. Then, you have to give them a reason to come back for more.
How do you capture and retain your Web audience? Read on.
Capture your Web Audience
If you want to generate more traffic to your site, people have to find it. The three main ways people are going to get to your site are from entering the URL directly, linking to your site from another source or finding your site using a search engine. The following sections discuss how to increase traffic from these sources.
Optimize your Content
No matter what you are trying to achieve with your Web site, it is critical that the content on each page is relevant to your audience. Think about what search terms your audience are going to use and make sure that they are contained within the content of your site. Make sure that your content is concise and consistent with your corporate message or sales strategy. Don’t try to trick search crawlers by incorporating invisible text with the keywords that you want to get hits for – that will backfire and you will get poorer results!
Tag your Web Pages
‘Meta tags’ contain the information that search crawlers use to learn about your site. While not visible to your human visitors, it is often the first thing that robot search crawlers will see when they visit your site. It is important to utilize the ‘meta keywords’ and ‘meta descriptions’ on every page. Also, Meta tags should be relevant to the content on the specific page, not just to your company or products in general.
Set up Paid Search Ads
Paid search ads are a great way to supplement ‘organic’ search results. You can set up accounts on all of the major search engines including Google, Yahoo and MSN. Paid search ads are displayed on top of or beside organic results. When someone starts a search using the keywords you’ve listed, your ad will appear. You only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. The more you pay the higher up or more prominent your ad will be on the search results page. Paid search keywords can fit into any budget and are easy to adjust as your budget fluctuates. Ads are easy to set up and maintain and results are easy to track.
Use Search Friendly Technologies
One of the first things to consider when building your Web site is what technologies you should use. With the vast array of options, this can be a daunting decision, even for the most tech-savvy. In general, you want a system that generates pages with ‘human readable’ URLs for every page and pages that aren’t bloated with unnecessary code. The more streamlined the code is for your page, the more likely search crawlers are to index the entire page. Be careful with Flash-only sites – you have to be clever if you want search engines to find them at all.
Syndicate your Content
Syndication using a standard called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is becoming a common way to open up new channels for Web content. RSS helps drive traffic to your site from new sources. Syndicate your product list, blog posts, show times or event dates and people can pick up your content using a variety of programs and devices. Syndication also helps to retain your audience because once they are hooked up to your feed, they will automatically receive updates to your content.
Retain your Web Audience
Return visits can make up a significant proportion of your Web traffic. Here are some ways to make sure that your Web audience comes back for more.
Make Your Users Feel at Home
If you want visitors to come back, make them feel comfortable on your site. Make sure that you have a clean design with a consistent, usable navigation system. It is very important to have an accessible search function that returns relevant results. A sitemap is also a useful utility to help visitors get around. Avoid the use of slow-loading flash elements or cheesy sounds. The more comfortable users are on your site, the longer they will spend on it and the more likely they are to return.
Keep Your Content Fresh and Relevant
Each page of your site should have content that is consistent with your message or sales strategy. Put new information up quickly and take stale content away. Offer promotions to move products, or develop a column dedicated to relevant industry commentary. To expand the reach of your content, syndicate it using RSS.
Target Your Content using Analytics
Monitoring the behaviour of your Web traffic can help you learn about your audience. What is the percentage of new versus repeat visitors? How are they getting to your site? What pages are they leaving from? How long are they staying? These and many other questions can be easily answered with an analytics package. There are a wide variety of tools available from the free Google Analytics to the more sophisticated commercial solutions from WebTrends, HitBox and others. Analytics will help you determine where the “high priority content” is. Once you know that, you can further tweak your content for your audience, place ads on the more highly trafficked pages and set up cross-sell or other product promotions to direct visitors to other areas of your site.
Allow Your Users to Contribute
The Web is all about community and sharing. Giving your audience an opportunity to contribute to your site will help them feel part of your brand and will give them a compelling reason to revisit your site. Add a “reviews” section to your product catalog; allow users to comment on news articles or blog postings; set up a rating system or a poll - the possibilities are endless!
Make Sure That Pages Load Quickly
The faster your pages load, the more pages your users are going to visit. This means more exposure for your products and services, more ad sales, and a greater likelihood that users are going to come back and/or recommend your site to others. Slow pages will turn away both human and search crawling visitors. With so many options on the Web, visitors are rarely going to stick around to wait and see what you’re trying to say or sell. It is also important to make sure that every link on your Web site works. There is nothing more frustrating to your visitors than seeing a cryptic error page.
Web Content Management Systems
The Web content management system (CMS) industry emerged when CNET Networks spun out their internal publication system as Vignette in 1995. Since then, thousands of systems have been developed for publishing content to a Web site, each with its own capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. When choosing a CMS, it is very important to determine the current and future requirements of your business and your Web site. A magazine Web site for a publishing company will have drastically different requirements than a corporate Web site for a law firm, for example. Budget is also an important factor when choosing a CMS. With options available at every price point, it is important that you don’t pay too much for features you don’t need, or too little for a system that doesn’t fulfill your requirements. Lastly, it is important to consider the resources you have available to you. Most CMS implementations will require multiple resources from marketing, IT and creative departments. Depending on your available resources, you may choose to have your CMS implementation outsourced to one of many companies who specialize in this service.
For a full history and overview of Web content management systems, see
Michael Assad, Co-founder, CEO
Edentity Web Systems Inc.