In my SEO courses, one of the key things I talk about at the start is the need to do good research. Having resources at your disposal to find information related to your business and your website.
Doing business online is a bit like shooting blind without the right information, you know there is something out there, but you might die from starvation before you are lucky enough to shoot something.
Whether you have a website already, or are looking to start one soon, this is a key step.
When you are looking at your markets, you need to identify who is most likely to need your services.
Men, Women, Old, Young.
Here is a good article from Webpronews on the buying habits of men and women.
I think there are some key things like:
both genders agree that ease of use is the most important aspect of usability. Pose as a visitor. How easy it is to upload/download/view/purchase? However, men prize download speed over easy navigation, while women place both easy navigation and accessibility ahead of download speed.
This can make some serious difference to the way your site has been designed, but also in the path people must pass to complete the action you are wanting (subscription, purchases etc)
And an interesting generalisation
unless your website is very niche, that when you design a site for general use, you’re really designing a site for women. If you can make it fast and easy, and leave out the purple, men will like it, too.
In addition to market research, research around keywords and key phrases is another important step on the road to making your website work for your business.
Many sites are built with no regard to how it is presented to a search engine. Consideration must be given to the words and phrases that people use to find what you are selling.
Put yourself in your buyers shoes, what solutions do you provide to their problems and more importantly, what are they searching for. By mimicking their enquiries with the search engines, you are in a better position to be found.
Tools like Wordtracker (7 day trial, but costs USD329 for a year, or USD59 for a month) are great to find out what people are searching for. Your web stats only show what your are found for, not what you are NOT found for.
For a free alternative, use Google Adwords Keyword Tool, to find words and phrases that you could include in your text on your website.
Research and information gathering doesn’t end once the site is built.
Key statistics can help you make informed decisions on changes to your website. I talk to many website owners who don’t know how many visitors they get every month, how many enquiries they get, where there visitors are coming from.
This information is critical to being able to make a difference to the way your website is performing.
Conversions of visitors into purchasers is what the website is all about. Sometimes, people spend too much time and effort getting people to their website, rather than spending time on getting those who are already there, making purchases on the site.
On a previous post I linked to a video on the same site that talked about e-commerce optimisation and making things as easy as possible for people to make a purchase.
Immersing yourself in information about your website and the markets you are attracting is the best way to arm yourself for the battle with other websites in your industry.
It could make all the difference.