In the first article of this two-part series, Ben Landers, CEO of Blue Corona, an inbound web marketing, analytics, and optimization company, recommended that contractors remember the acronym F.A.C.T.S. to ensure their company website is working optimally. In short, a website needs to be findable, accessible from all devices, filled with the right content, trustworthy, and integrated into the company sales structure.
One of the significant advantages of digital technology is the ability for data to be tracked and measured on the Internet, leading to vital insights into a business’ customer base. With the right tools, contractors can see exactly where customers are coming into their site from, which pages are converting to leads, and which ones aren’t.
“With the right tools and expertise, just about anything online can be measured and quantified,” said Landers. “For example, Google Analytics can be customized to provide insights about ease of navigation. Tools like Hotjar can provide recordings of people visiting your site, which can be used to diagnose various issues.”
Landers explained that even with these capabilities and tools, though, contractors need to make sure they are using the data correctly, rather than chasing after vanity metrics that look good but do little to improve the bottom line. He said that an example of these is a misunderstanding of how to use bounce rate information to inform future business strategies. A high bounce rate means people are leaving the website after viewing just one page, rather than clicking around the site.
“Some digital marketers love to talk about bounce rate and how high bounce rates are bad,” Landers said. “A high bounce rate is only bad if your site’s visit-to-lead conversion rate is low. If 100% of your website visitors were to come to one page of your site and call you, your bounce rate would be 100%.”
Landers said that bounce rate is definitely an important metric, but it shouldn’t be used standing alone. Instead, the bounce rate is a useful diagnostic metric for identifying what happens when people visit a site, but a low bounce rate shouldn’t be the final goal or destination. As an example, Landers shared that a residential contractor he worked with had an extremely high lead conversion rate for their website, but a web consultant cautioned them that their bounce rate was too high. However, Landers said that it was because the website was so successful that it had a high bounce rate. Many people were clicking off of the site, but only because they had just called the office to book a service call after seeing only a page or two.
If a contractor is unhappy with their website, how should they proceed? Landers said that contractors must always keep the goal of the website at the top of the mind, instead of focusing on its appearance. They must first focus on what they want the website to achieve, and only then can they think about how the site can achieve that.
“Let’s say you’re not happy with the look of your website,” said Landers. “That’s a symptom. If some marketer told you your website looks outdated or ‘old school’ but your business was growing at double digit rates, would you change it?” He explained that a lot of contractors call his company asking them to design their website in a particular way, but as Blue Corona works with them, they are able to explain that designing their site that way will actually take them away from what they are trying to achieve. An example of this, Landers gave, was a contractor asking for their website to look clean and sleek, like Apple’s. However, the products Apple sells are very different from the service a contractor provides, so it makes sense that the two company’s websites will look different. In fact, if the contracting site did look like Apple’s, it might even be counterproductive.
Landers said that a website redesign is a great chance for a contractor to improve the user experience of customers on their site, which Google is increasingly taking into account when ranking sites. He explained that in January 2021, Google Search will introduce three new ranking factors called Core Web Vitals, all of which focus on the user experience. Contractors should spend time thinking about the effects a redesign could have on search engine optimization.
“It’s common for content to change, be removed, or be moved within the site’s hierarchy during a redesign,” he said. “All of this can affect rankings, traffic, and leads. If there are multiple changes, such as content changing and being relocated, it gets difficult to diagnose the root cause of issues.”
In addition to this, a common change to a site during a redesign is removing text content in favor a more “minimalistic” approach, Landers said, but sometimes the content that is being removed might have been one of the vital reasons the site was ranking well before a redesign.
“A website redesign often includes changes to your site’s content hierarchy and URL structure,” Landers said. “If you’re changing hierarchy or URLs, you should create a detailed sitemap for the new site to compare against the existing site and map the URL moves.”
Landers also offered key features that contractors should take into account for the website:
- Your contact info should be easy to click/call from any page.
- Forms should be easy to fill out from any page and from any device.
- Use strong design to guide your visitor’s eye.
- Post testimonials, promotions, and coupons.
- Give people a variety of ways to contact you, including a website chat option.