How to Make More Money by Understanding Your Website Visitors Better

FEInternational
Thomas Smale Co-founder, FE International

Posted on September 3rd 2014

How to Make More Money by Understanding Your Website Visitors Better

To get the most out of a website, it is important to have a great understanding of your existing visitors. By using some of the tools that are available in the market, you can learn what your visitors do and don't like about specific website elements. Once this is fully understood, changes can be tested and implemented to get better results. When this is optimized, conversion rates will increase and user experience will be improved. This means that in addition to getting more out of existing traffic, even more visitors will be coming to the website from search engines.

In order to do this correctly, it will be important for you to implement this intelligently. Simply relying on intuitive ideas is not enough to have success at website optimization. Rather, real data will need to be collected before anything is done. This means that information will need to be learned about visitor demographics in addition to their behavior on the page. Once this is understood thoroughly, only then can optimization begin. To get the most out of a website, below is a list of information that you should know to get to know your website visitors better.

Market Research

The first step to understanding visitors is to conduct some market research. If it hasn't been done already, you should start by learning about industry leaders in your website's niche. In addition to leading websites, leading businesses and product manufacturers should be studied as well. In many cases, extensive research should be conducted that can take several days. Since this is the most important step, it is important that this is not neglected. While this strategic research might not be making any immediate money, it will make more in the long-run as you will have a better roadmap for success. Target demographics, income, supply chain elements, and others should all be studied extensively.

When studying the existing market, is important to examine authoritative sources. While there are many blogs available online, some of them do not have rich content that provides high-quality information. Rather, you should consider investing in some professional market research reports. These can be expensive, and if possible free sources should be sought first. Regardless of how much money is spent, the most important factor is that high-quality information is learned. If it is not available online or through authoritative sources, you can even attempt to learn it yourself. By simply making a phone call or interviewing someone in the industry, a great wealth of information can be learned that can give you a strong competitive advantage over other websites.

Keyword Research

Once the market is thoroughly understood, the next step is to begin conducting keyword research. All prospective words should have low competition and high potential traffic. However, the most important factor is that words are selected that are targeted to specific needs. General traffic will not convert nearly as well as targeted traffic. Therefore, it is critical that you select words that can drive the right type of traffic to a given page. By doing this, it will be easier to optimize your website to be designed for a specific demographic. Ideally, these potential visitors should have an implied need and be looking to purchase. If this opportunity is found, it will be relatively easy to convert traffic with the right on page content. 

Once getting started with a niche, it may also be possible that competition could move in on a keyword. Other competing websites should be evaluated carefully to ensure that they have a low opportunity to capitalize on a targeted keyword. Ideally, you should look for words that strongly match what yout website is designed to offer. By doing this, better results can be expected to be attained without even needing to build any extra links or write extra articles. Many keyword research tools offer insights into the potential demographics of a given niche to make it easier to find keywords that match the offerings of your website.

Analytics Tools

Once website pages have been created, it is important to monitor the results carefully. When results are clearly seen, it will be easier to be responsive to visitor demands. This means that you can easily change the interface, content, and graphics to increase conversion rates. Additionally, elements that seem to be detracting from user experience can be removed as well. This can also help with ensuring that as they placed in the right place to optimize conversion. Finally, advanced information can also be learned about the specific demographics that are actually coming into the page. Behavioral traits such as time on page, areas of interest, and exit pages can all be noted carefully. When this information is aggregated, you will find it relatively simple to make changes to a page. Once these changes have been implemented, you can then proceed to make sure that they are performing well and make additional changes if necessary.

Demographics Insights

Analytics tools offer demographic insights into prevailing website traffic. Age, gender, income, race, and much more can all be learned through these tools. By understanding this information, it will be easier to optimize a webpage for incoming traffic. Once this is understood, a webpage can then be constructed for the individuals coming into the page to add the most value. Advertisements and product offerings can be optimized to ensure that they fit the needs of the specific target market. In some cases, it may also be possible to make changes based on the time of day or week when demographics might change. 

The more information that is available to you when trying to do this, the better. Many of the most popular tools on the market, some of which are even free, are able to do this. More advanced programs are even available that can learn very specific information like an individual's name. However, aggregate information is more than sufficient for most website owners. You should at least start by using the tools like Google analytics that can provide basic demographic insights into prevailing website traffic.

Exit Pages

Monitoring the page where users generally leave the website is very important. When these pages are identified, they can be optimized accordingly to reduce visitor exits. Since visitors exiting the website represents a source of lost revenue, it is important to watch these carefully. Analytics tools available in the marketplace today are generally able to identify these quickly. When they are identified, it is also important to immediately take action to improve the situation. In some cases, exit pages are experiencing a 404 error or other severe usability problems. By assessing the situation immediately, you will be less likely to be penalized by search engines. If a page that is having problem gets crawled, it is possible that many pages on a web property could be de-ranked quickly.

Time on Page

Time on page is another important element that all website owners should monitor. Search engines generally use this as one of the main criteria for ranking individual webpages. If users quickly bounce back to a search engine results page, this will be interpreted as a sign that a given website is not relevant. Therefore, search engines may begin to reduce the website's ranking in favor of other options. For this reason, you should be careful to keep an eye on time on page. For the use of analytics tools, this metric should be relatively simple to ascertain. Pages should be sorted by time on page, and then assessed individually in an attempt to increase the time that visitors spend on these pages.

Navigation Optimization

Another great way to take advantage of analytics tools is for menu optimization. On many websites, visitors will use the general navigation to visit other pages after coming in through an entry page. This can increase conversions as well as website traffic by reducing exits. When menus are optimized to ensure that visitors find new prospective pages interesting, website traffic can increase. Simply changing the order of certain menu elements can make a dramatic difference in the amount of pages that your web traffic visits. By using analytics software, both the order of pages visited and the specific links that were clicked can be learned. This means that menus can be optimized to ensure that visitors are spending as much time as possible on a website. In some cases, it may be advantageous to change a menu slightly on certain pages to make it more useful for a specific demographic.

User Surveys

Many people today are used to seeing surveys on websites and often engage with them on a regular basis. Since thousands of people are coming into a website, even a small percentage of them filling out a survey can lead to great insights. This is especially true for surveys that offer an open-ended answer field, which can provide new ideas for improvement. Aggregate data is also important, since this can be compared with existing demographic data to fine-tune an existing web property. 

When conducting surveys, it is important to ensure that users are not bothered by the survey. If they find the survey to be intrusive, they may quickly leave the page. Additionally, visitors should not find themselves subject to the same survey multiple times. Since many surveys are presented in a form that is similar to a pop-up, many people may find them annoying. Therefore, it is important to only include a survey when it is absolutely necessary. Survey should not be used as a permanent solution to be responsive to customer changes. Rather, they should be used merely for testing the website to optimize results. 

For websites that get a high amount of traffic, it is not necessary to survey 100 percent of visitors. Rather, only a minimal amount of data should be required to optimize a website. In many cases, just 1000 survey responses is generally enough to learn valuable insights about your website.

Heat Mapping Tools

Another powerful tool that is available today is what is called a heat map. These work through JavaScript to send advanced information back to the server about visitor activity. This provides data such as where mouse clicks or keypresses are occurring. Since many visitors move the mouse around the screen as they read, viable insights into general activity can often be learned. Information can often be learned about what website visitors might be potentially needing when visiting a page.

In many cases, heat maps will indicate that most time is spent on the first couple paragraphs of content. As a result, it will be important to optimize this content to provide an optimal experience. Heat maps can be especially helpful when trying to place advertisements on the website. By monitoring rollover activity, you will be able to find the best location to place an advertisement. Quite simply, the areas that are indicated with high activity are generally the best for ad placement. However, it is also important that these advertisements do not interfere with user experience to the detriment of search engine optimization. Therefore, achieving a balance is important when placing advertisements. By using heat mapping tools, it is relatively simple to find the best real estate for advertisements.

A/B Testing

When attempting to optimize a website, it is important to split test it. After viewing the information acquired from sources above, you should first attempt to brainstorm some potential improvements. After these have been implemented, they should be split tested to ensure that they are actually leading to better performance. When doing this, it is critical that only a single variable is being changed to get the best data. If this is done incorrectly, it is possible that the wrong results will be found. This can lead to potentially disastrous problems later down the road as website optimization can reduce conversion performance.

When split testing, it is generally recommended to use specialized software designed for this task. However, there are many ways to do split testing without needing to buy expensive software packages. You should keep in mind that these days there is plenty of freemium products available that can make this fairly simple. If you have an understanding of programming, you can also write a simple script that randomly selects one of several contingencies. If this data is stored and used correctly, split testing can provide insights that are immensely valuable for optimizing your web property.

Conclusion

By implementing some of the potential monitoring and optimization solutions listed above, you should now be well on your way to making more money from your website. Instead of investing large amounts of time and money on additional traffic generation, it is often a better idea to simply improve what already exists. By doing this, more money can be made at an even lower cost. For many websites, this leads to increased profitability and better user satisfaction.
 
 
FEInternational

Thomas Smale

Co-founder, FE International

Thomas originally co-founded FE International in 2010 (previously Flipping Enterprises) after graduating the University of Bath with a degree in Business Administration. Having owned and run several successful websites in a variety of niches, Thomas is passionate about entrepreneurship and online business. He is a respected expert in the industry with particular experience in due diligence, online business valuation and strategic exit planning.

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