First Things First or "Don't Forget Your Site"
Imagine the following scenario. You're driving along, listening to your favourite radio station when you hear an ad for the new Google Nexus 10, being sold by a local electronics outlet. The ad is completely wonderful, convincing you instantly to buy the Nexus and, as luck would have it, you're very close to the outlet and can be there in 2 minutes. You park the car, jump out of the seat and race towards the door of the shop. There you have to press a button to open the outer doors. Then another button to open another set of doors just inside the first set. Then, once you're in the shop, you have to try and find the Nexus but all the shelves are really high and unlit so it's hard to see anything. There's no map of the store and no one to ask for help. All the labels on the shelves are written in text so small a mouse would have trouble reading them (if mice could read, of course) while round every corner of every aisle is a HUGE full size advertisement for a product you don't want.
What would you do?
Well, I hope you'd turn around and leave the store pretty quickly, then find somewhere else that makes buying the Nexus easier. I'd like to think any sensible person would do this, this store is clearly run by a moron, isn't it? So why is this hypothetical experience repeated time and time again in reality when applied to websites? Just sit back and think for a moment of how many websites you've visited that presented you with a "splash page" - a page that simply tells you you've reached the site you were looking for - and which needs you to click before you can get into the site proper? How many sites have had menus that were unreadable (or incomprehensible).
How many seemed designed to make it difficult to find the product you thought they sold? How many made it hard to put things in a basket, or checkout? How many simply didn't work on your browser, or on your iPad Chromebook?
No one would spend money on a radio ad to send people to my electrical outlet above, yet every day thousands of dollars, pounds, euros and yens are being spent delivering visitors to sites where they will give up and click away. You must, must make sure your site is as good as it can be for its purpose before you spend a single penny on AdWords (or at least before you start spending money properly) or it's just pouring down the drain.
So what do I need to check?
Well, there are entire books written on the subject of building a good website so I'm not even going to try to cover the subject here. However, all you really need to do is think about the experience you have on other websites; what annoys you, frustrates you in your own buying experiences. Consider these, then look at your own site and ask yourself if yours is any better.
I can offer some very short and simple guidelines:
- Speed. Make the site fast to load and "straight to the point". No huge graphics, no auto-play videos, no 8Mb Flash presentations. Make use of this great tool from Google Webmasters. Any score less than 80% gets a slap on the wrist...
- Relevance. If someone clicks on an Ad for a Nexus, the click should lead to a page that shows Nexuses (Nexii??). That page will show their price(s) and have a simple, obvious button to buy or at least add to a basket.
- Easy. Don't make it hard to buy things. Make it easy. Make the "Add to Basket/Buy Now" button obvious and clearly labelled. If the page is long, have two or more such buttons so one is always visible. Make it easy to see what's in your basket now. Make it easy to checkout, with clear links and prominent information about acceptable payment options, shipping and so on.
- Navigation. Make navigating around the site obvious and easy to do. Don't make your menu system something so fancy that only 1 in 10 people can even understand it. There's nothing wrong with plain and simple - your buyers will thank you for it.
Most of all. Get help. I've probably read many thousands of requests for help on these boards since I joined in the mid 18th Century but I can count on the fingers of one hand (OK, maybe a few hands) how many have been requests for advice on a website in relation to Adwords. In my opinion you can't even begin to answer any question related to Adwords optimisation without seeing the landing website - how can you? It's like advising a store owner on how to improve their sales without ever visiting the store.
So, if you're just thinking of starting with Adwords, or have been advertising for years, or anywhere inbetween, now is as good a time as any to spend some quality time on your own site and ask yourself those tough questions.
Interested in trying AdWords? Check out http://goo.gl/9kgXy4
AdWords Management Consultant, a Google Partner, based in Dorset, UK, but working worldwide... I'm very proud of having been a Top Contributor for AdWords since 2006 and enjoy being able to help others improve and develop their AdWords usage. I now work primarily as an AdWords Manager & Consultant. You can read my eBook "AdWords Preschool", just search on Amazon.
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