The effectiveness of a website as a communications channel can be difficult to measure, but here are a few simple steps to improve a website by helping visitors find the information they need.
1. Check the on-site search report
This is a report of all the terms that visitors have typed into the search box on the site. If you are using the Kentico CMS, find the “On-site search keywords” report in Web Analytics. Other content management tools or the Google search toolbar will have similar reports.
Look at most searched terms over a month, quarter, year. Test the most common terms by using them in a search on the site and look at the results.
Do the results include the page that will be most helpful?
Is the top result the “best”?
Is there 0 results?
If you are not satisfied with the results, add or update content on site page(s) to change the results. Some suggested changes could be:
Use the search term to the page several times
Include the search term in the page title if appropriate
A real example: On the Minor’s Garden Center website, we noticed that 4 of the top 10 site search terms were specific plant names: roses, arborvitae, Japanese maple, yew. Minor’s has a separate plant search feature. It provides great information about plants, but is through a third party and we are not able to incorporate it directly into the site search, so we added links to the plant search from the search results page.
2. Check website traffic report – Top 10 Pages Visited
If you use Google Analytics, the top 10 are listed on the Behavior / Overview page.
Are the pages that get updated most frequently on the list?
Visit each page
Is there any old/irrelevant content?
Are there any spelling errors?
Is it easy to find the most searched topics on the most visited pages?
Is there content that should be moved to a separate page or added to another page?
If needed, edit the page to clean out old content and put the most relevant content toward the top of the page.
A real example: On multiple school websites, one of the top 3 pages was an IT page with links to student resources, including email. The main reason visitors came to the page was for the email link. One school added a link to student email to the footer of their site to allow students faster access. Another school decided to just keep the link on the IT Student Resources page and added a link to that page from the home page. These 2 steps – reviewing on-site search and top 10 pages – can identify some simple updates to improve the effectiveness of a website as a communication channel.
About the Author
Sally Schmidt Web Solutions Consultant
Sally has 18 years’ experience researching and developing web sites and online applications. She sets the vision for projects by gathering, analyzing and defining business and functional requirements, and target audience needs and expectations. She guides decision making based on usage data and audience feedback analysis. Sally has earned the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ).
Sally has wide range of experience conducting usability interviews and developing surveys, sales and customer care tools, consumer community sites, and even games for kids. She has worked with small and large organizations including IBM, NFL, Kimberly-Clark, Brady Corp., Kohler, MTV, Pentair, ThedaCare, Madison Metropolitan School District, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, Eau Claire Area School District, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Spring Lake Park School District and Charter Manufacturing.