Reap What You Sow: Website Tips That Attract (and Keep) Visitors

It’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, a time for leaf blowers, football, hayrides, Oktoberfest, trick-or-treating, and giving thanks. It’s also a good time to consider whether you are harvesting all that you have sown with your website: Have you planted the seeds that will bring visitors to your site, keep them there, and boost your business?

Here are some things you can do to bring in a bigger harvest from your website. Even if you are already doing some of all of these, it’s a good idea to review them to ensure they haven’t gone fallow. And if you aren’t doing these with your site, don’t wait for spring; sow these seeds now.

Plant Better SEO Keywords

If your place in search results is not where it should be, it might be time to refresh your keywords. If, like many site owners, you are mystified by SEO, there are tools available to help you choose good keywords. One nifty tool is Google’s Keyword Planner. It’s part of the AdWords service, so you need a Google account to access it, but you don’t have to go as far as actually paying for sponsored search to use the keywords tool. Pro tip: Look for keywords that are less competitive (competition = low) and high in search volume (average monthly searches). These are the keywords that lots of people are searching for but few other sites are using.

Go for Sponsored Search

If you feel the time is right to invest actual money in improving your search response, you can use the same Keyword Planner techniques to determine your sponsored search keywords. Sponsored search can be even more confusing than regular SEO; make sure you do your homework and understand all the terminology, how your sponsored search fees are calculated, and how to determine if your campaigns are effective.

Give Thanks

Once you get visitors on your site, how do you keep them there? One way is to thank them for visiting—more specifically, for providing you with their contact information so you can keep reaching out to them. A coupon code for something free or discounted, in return for registering on the site, is a nice way to thank them—and to get them to buy something from you.

Keep in Touch

Another way to keep them coming back is by keeping in touch with a continuous stream of new items, news, or other information. Send a regular email newsletter—not just with advertised specials but with interesting and engaging content. Put social networking links on your site to make it easy for visitors to follow you on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep it Fresh

If your site design looks a bit dated—either because it’s not using cool new features that other sites are using or because you’ve had the same design for a few years—think about a visual upgrade. And don’t just change the color scheme or play with the font settings: Get a web designer to look at the site and give you some ideas. Couple that with some nice new user-friendly features, and you are on your way to a website makeover.

Even if you live where the leaves don’t turn and the air doesn’t become crisp and cool—where the only way you know it’s fall is from the Christmas decorations in the department stores—use this change of seasons to examine your site, and make sure you’re getting at least as much out of it as you’re putting in. A bountiful harvest of new visitors and conversions to loyal customers can be yours with careful planting and attentive cultivation.