Every small business has a website, but how do you know if your site is operating as an effective selling tool? Sure your website may look attractive, include some helpful information your customers might find interesting, but is it driving enquiry and gaining more visitors each month? The good news is there are a number of simple tricks you can use to audit your website and assess if the most important front-facing marketing tool you have is getting the job done right. #1. Start by evaluating your enquiry rate Small business websites can largely be evaluated in terms of their effectiveness by calculating their enquiry rate. You can do this by calculating how many enquiries you received last month divided by the number of unique visitors your website received in that same period. If you’re a user of Google Analytics you can do this by visiting the Audience > Overview section of your dashboard, adjusting the date range and dividing the total Users by the enquiries received last month. At a minimum you should be aiming for a 2% enquiry rate each month but the more the better! #2. Review your bounce rate and your visitors time on site There are two common site metrics that tell a similar story when it comes to the quality of the content on your site; these are bounce rate and the time your users spend on your site. Your bounce rate tells you how many visitors left your site site after visiting a single page. This is expressed as a percentage of the overall visitors to your site and per page. Ideally you want this figure to be as low as possible, and should be aiming for somewhere around 30%. Similar to bounce rate, the time your users spend on your pages is representative of the quality of your content. If you have good, rich valuable content that speaks to your users’ intent, this figure should be higher, if you’re seeing figures less than a minute per page across your site you may need to consider reviewing your site messaging because the longer your visitors stay on your site the more chance you have of selling to them. #3. Evaluate your search engine visibility Most small business owners recognise the value of a high ranking in Google. The good news is there are a number of things you can do to improve this if you’re not where you want to be, but you have to make an honest assessment of where you are today before you get started. A great tool to do this with is Moz’s Open Site Explorer. If you’re noticing that you’re not getting much traffic from Google, Moz can tell you how effective your site is by assessing your Domain Authority. This figure is a ranking from 1-100 indicating the strength of your site. The higher value the better, with high quality incoming links a major contributing factor to your growth moving forward. Another great tip is to ensure your site is using a security certificate. This will secure your site against hackers, add the https address to your site and the best news is that Google loves sites which operate under a high security standard. #4. Make sure your site runs lightening fast! Over the past few years’ website consumers have come to expect that site pages’ load in under 4 seconds. Pretty fast huh? The unfortunately reality for small business owners is that if their sites load slower than this they run this risk of frustrating their users and losing them to another site. There are a number of clever tools you can use to check the page load times on your site, but realistically it should be plain to see if you’re site is loading slowly. If you’re running a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress and have a heap of active plugins running this can be a major cause of a slow site. If your site is poorly built or is loading images with large file sizes this is also another common cause. We recommend checking your site for these inhibitors as they can really lose you a lot of customers. #5. Design standards matter more than you think Humans by nature are very visual, and on the web due to the vast amounts of information we consume each day expect things to look and function a certain way. What this means is that there’s an ‘unwritten’ design standard your site needs to meet if you’re going to be successful online. Companies all around the world spend large amounts of time ensuring their site, content and products present in a user friendly manner that communicates their message effectively to their audience. If you think your site could do with a refresh, we recommend surveying a few of your customers and employees to confirm your suspicions. If this is the case, then your site will likely become a much more powerful selling tool after a visual refresh. #6. Ensure you’re publishing regular content updates If one thing is for sure in the world of Internet marketing, it’s that Google and your customers hate sites that look like they haven’t been updated recently. If this sounds like you, then we recommend considering starting a company blog or at least adding a stream of your social media updates to your site. Blogging will take you more time but is an incredibly powerful means of increasing your search engine visibility and driving new traffic, whereas a social media strategy can enable you to syndicate what your company is doing across a wide variety of sources demonstrating that the ‘lights are on’ at your organisation. #7. Evaluate the cost of your corporate website It amazes me that small businesses running owners with sites that don’t receive much traffic are paying huge amounts to support their website and hosting without any real return on their investment. If your website’s receiving less than a few thousand visitors per month, you shouldn’t be paying more than $100-$200 per year to host your site. Sound pretty cheap right? Well it’s just what the market’s dictating, so if you’re paying more than this, there could be an opportunity for you to save a few dollars. Conclusion Auditing the effectiveness of your website is a vital process all small business owners should undertake. After all, your corporate website is most likely one of your most important marketing channels so you want to ensure that it’s working as well as humanly possible to deliver the highest possible return on your investment. If you take the time to review your website using the above tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to enhancing the performance of your site. So get ready for increased traffic, longer user time on-site, and more of the right type of enquiries coming through your site.