As a web designer, I constantly am presented with both good and bad ideas. Some ideas like hummingbird feeders, dog tags, and wholesale sales on the surface may seem like good ideas, but ultimately stay at ZERO unique visits (Most with an average of 5-7 unique visits a week). In Google Analytics, unique visits are defined as “Direct Traffic”. These sites are sites that I would consider dead sites. So, how do you bring a dead site to life?
There are a few different to consider in bringing a dead site to life.
- Do you have an hour a day that you can use to commit to seeing a site flourish?
- Are you willing to change your content regularly?
- Have you asked other people what they think about your site?
- Do you have a sitemap submitted to Google Webmaster Tools?
- Are you going to take a free or paid approach at marketing?
These are 5 simple things to ask yourself. Here’s what I have to say about the list:
For #1, “Do you have an hour a day that you can use to commit to seeing a site flourish”, is basically a matter of self-discipline. I’ve had a few clients see what they could actually do, but get discouraged by a decrease in their analytics numbers. Speaking more directly, this client also tried to ask me to become the CEO of his company and manage all of the business. I just reminded him of the contract that I made him sign (and you should be making people sign contracts, too) and told him what it would cost to have me do what they were too lazy to do. Laziness only begets more laziness when doing any sort of SEO or development.
#2, “Are you willing to change your content regularly”: This can be as difficult as you make it to be. Some search engines look at the file timestamp that you can see within your FTP browser or webroot on your server. Changing this can be as easy as changing a single character within a page if you haven’t updated it in a very long time. SE’s set priority of information on newer pages, so updating them, or just doing a simple edit, can make all the difference. Another alternative is re-designing your site using something like WordPress or Joomla to use a CMS (Content Management System) as your editor. This can be a great way to use new technology such as a Blog or an RSS feed to distribute your information.
#3, “Have you asked other people what they think about your site”. This can do one of two things: 1. Help drive traffic vicariously by producing talk. 2. Help you realize that your site does in fact suck and give you a reason to: A. continue, or B. quit. Other people can be a very interesting wild card if you keep an open mind. A simple misplacement of an image, or a bad image, that you can correct can improve things like the time visitors are on your site. Most people are going to give you an opinion of the aesthetic value of your site. If you can find people who will do that and give you opinions on the code you’re writing (if you write the code and not use a CMS), then you have found a valuable person to ask questions to. Very Important: Do not abuse this person’s opinion if you value your friendship. It can be extremely annoying to be asked the same question over and over, especially when the opinion being rendered is a free one.
#4, “Do you have a sitemap submitted to Google Webmaster Tools”. This is remedied if you answered no by two links: GSiteCrawler and Google Webmaster Tools. GSiteCrawler generates an XML and simple text-based file structure of your site into a file. It can also automate this process, too. The advantage of having a sitemap is allowing search engines to know where they can go if there is no solid entry point to pages buried deep within your site.
#5, “Are you going to take a free or paid approach at marketing”: I get asked this a lot. For the paid approach, you could use something like Google AdWords or ExactSeek to drive traffic. The truthful reality of using services such as this is there is no guarantee that you will have someone actually stay on your site when they do get there. Plan your money effectively. I’ll come back one day and re-address what effective paid marketing is and isn’t, so for now only pay for advertisement if it’s been effective in the past and use the free methods. So how do you take the free approach? Simple. The UseNet and free press release services. Generally, you want to actually have an LLC or actual articles of incorporation as a business if you’re going to use something like the press releases because reputable companies are there and those who are not appearing to be a reputable company will just get removed as spam. The UseNet, however, is filled with all kinds of information, spam, files, and people that aren’t prudish about letting a lot fly. Just don’t try to pull a bogus marketing scheme and no one will try to hunt you down. Either way, a good submission will travel for weeks across the Internet and create dozens of referring links back to your site.
I can’t really say if you answered yes or no to all of these questions if you should or shouldn’t continue with your site. But, I can say that it should be clear at this point. If you are not willing to commit the time that it takes to make a site its best, then it isn’t possible for you to treat your Internet customers or visitors in a way that they will have no problem handing you money. And that’s the bottom line.