Yikes! I just realised my website needs drastic attention. SEO actions and content plans need revising. Get behind the scenes with my experiment.
If my business website was my garden it would be overgrown with weeds right now!
Yes, there were some good things planted a while ago. Traces of beauty. And it used to provide some nice sustenance and joy to look at. But the 'long cold winter’ of my attention span being focussed on other business priorities - means I need to get stuck in and sort things out!
It's time to bring my agency website back to life!
[N.B. This is part 1 - in what’s likely to become a few posts on this topic. Due to the nature of agency website life saving it’s not a quick post. So I’ll add in the links as these are done. Make sure to subscribe to my email list here to get updates of when new posts on this topic are done]
Like many digital agencies today, there’s always room for improvement when it come to your agency website. I should know. I’ve personally reviewed and researched over 4000 agency websites in the past 36 months. I’ve covered the details of this research in my State of Agency Reports in the past. And my own needs some attention.
So ... How’s your website doing?
Well, I have a two sided approach on this topic which I’m going to be sharing with you in my behind the scenes vantage point. I think you’ll get some value out of what I’ll be sharing and why. :-)
My own website needs to move from services based approach to a product sales model.
I’m starting a new role as a head of digital for a fledgling agency. Which needs to establish itself, scale and build its reputation. Currently its website is literally just a few pages of case studies, and an about us page, with contact details. I want to turn it into a 'lead machine' for inbound and outbound plans I have in mind for them.
Approach 1: My own website
The main reason for this focus and update here is that I’m moving away from a service based business model (consulting and support) to one that offers products for agencies to help their growth. I’ll cover this in more detail in upcoming posts.
First, here’s a bit of context about my own website.
It’s built in Wix!? (Yes I know - but hear me out!). I’ve used a range of platforms like wordpress, virb and square space before - which I just didn’t enjoy! :-p
I can code decently enough using HTML and some PHP - but I don’ want to be maintaining a code base or anything complicated.
Wix has been great for quick updates, page creation and general page speed. It's non-code-heavy and some decent plugin and preset tools. I can adapt what I need to, without too much headache.
Price wise it’s been cost effective, and we pay either a yearly amount, or run monthly. With around £10 per month, plus the ongoing yearly cost for our domain. My business runs on Google, so GMAIL and all other tools are around £10 per person per month. As it’s just me and a contact@ account this keeps overheads low. Especially for things like file transfer, word docs and spreadsheets. I used to pay for Microsoft products - but found I don’t need to with Google’s tools. So I enjoy saving where I can. No point paying for these if you don't need them.
It’s had a decent time to be online. Which can help with ranking.
Originally in 2016 my wife and I were working on it. She put this together whilst I was working on some data services. She’s from a journalistic background and she makes great writing look easy. She can hack some code together - so it’s a website that’s been functional throughout it’s time. I figure this length of time might help when I ramp up it’s SEO and content - as it’s an older site.
FYI - My wife previously built and ran a food blog on google sites. And using all her own content and images and generated over 1 million unique pages views in 2 years. Which is impressive given she did most of this on a pretty crappy HTC mobile phone (pre-Iphone 4 time if you can remember that). Her keywords used to outperform big names like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fernley What's his name for similar recipes. So our content has always been written to have some decent longevity!
In 2017 she focused more on social media (as a Facebook specialist) and then ran her own consultancy with its own website.
Since then I’ve had the reigns to the website. Which is a good and bad thing. It got attention when I wasn't busy with other things.
Posts and updates have been worked on around the client services (quiet periods) that service based business involves. To be honest, I've not had a plan for what to produce longer than a month or so ahead of time.
This coming year, I want to shake up its revenue generating potential through a move to offer products, instead of services. As I’m starting a new role full time (approach 2) I’ll need to work on generating the content on weekends and making use of SEO as a longer term growth plan.
What’s in place currently?
Years active = 5 years (or 60 months)
I used to know a peptides business websites that was awful to look at but outranked loads of competitors due to it's age online. Not sure if this is still a ranking factor but it's not a new website.
And content has been steadily added over time. Maybe it'll help when I change things around. So I'll look into whether this is something that can be measured.
69. These are how many pages are listed in google results (I just used site:www.data-hive.co.uk results to run a quick check). But I know there’s a bunch more pages not listed for SEO.
These pages are where I’ve built custom content and steered clients towards as a way of keeping services more secure. I’ve also put a bunch of pages on there hidden where I’ve tested out things, like embedded tools and calculators. So I really need to do a review and audit then move things into a better arrangement. I'm sure what I've tested in the past is making a negative impact to my plans.
Domain Authority = 16
Which I feel is weak, but better than 10 or below.
I’m aware there’s only a few backlinks due to my focus on servicing clients, and not focusing on attraction of a wide range of audience. This is one metric that will grow due to the change in product focus and the content ideas I have in mind. If I do things correctly.
I’m from a data background so one thing we did back in 2016 was put GA in place for long term reporting. I check in time to time, but as traffic numbers were always low - there wasn’t any direct focus for growth or A/B testing.
With a move to product and sales though - this GA account will need a review and change for my focus. GA will be a tool I need to utilise for this growth, with clear goals and reporting set up. With a bunch of other tools to support my plans.
I’ll cover these tools and processes with more detail and links as and when they come up in the process.
Last 16 weeks visitor numbers:
Here's a snapshot of my traffic from Jan 2021 to now. You can see there’s two big anomalies (spikes) in the traffic data. These two spikes are not traffic that’s been targeted. So I’ll check out what’s the issue behind these. Likely it's some BOT activity.
I estimate that the website is getting 15 - 20 people per week on average over the past year. Which might sound like a bad thing - but this is down to the fact that much of my audience engagement focus was to build my email list - for ongoing marketing of my services.
The website was alway more of a way to prove who I was, rather than a traffic source.
Email list growth:
My biggest goal was building an email list - which was done through outreach on the reports. These pages linked to landing pages. So the traffic would spike around when reports were launched. Then tail off.
But my emails range from monthly to weekly over the 4 years. And for services based business I feel these do better to build trust over time.
My email list overview:
Currently this email list is around 300+ agency related people (mix of owners and team members). And I’ve spent much of last year filtering and removing people (it was around 500 before this point).
I get decent engagement on average = With a 66% open rate (around 200 people).
And from the range of call to actions I’ve been sending - I get a regular 5% click through rate. Not world changing, but it’s been dependable for what I needed as a solo consultant. If I'm scaling this, I'll want to keep or improve on these numbers.
For my move to products though, this is not nearly going to work for my goals!
Unless I refocus on a few new measurable goals that is.
These will dictate the approach for content and SEO development in the coming 6-12 months. SEO is not a quick channel. But I’ve experienced it being built properly in business I’ve worked in (as a senior role). I know its true value is greater over time.
Here are my new goals for my own website:
Increase relevant traffic to agency related content
Create engagement from these visitors to view my product pages to drive new sales
Scale up the subscribers on my email - but retain the engagement and click through rates for product purchases and up-sell opportunities
Generate sales of products on a monthly basis that increase over time
Measure the data clearly on what’s working and what’s not
How to apply what I’ll be doing to your own agency website:
The 5 goals above are pretty similar to most agencies website goals. And I mentioned how I’ll be steering the growth of a new digital agency I just joined (based in Manchester). I’ll share how I’m approaching this too. I’m interested to compare and contract the two approaches. So I can share what’s working and what isn’t.
The agency website goals are:
Attract attention from relevant audiences through targeted 'value up front' content.
Create engagement to contact pages
Scale an email list for ongoing marketing of services and information (build trust)
Generate leads into a marketing and sales process - turning these into new customers
Measure the data on what’s working and what’s not
I’ve build lead generation funnels and page for previous clients, so it’ll be interesting looking at the commonalities of product versus services as I work through these 5 goals on each approach.
I’ll be sharing in detail how I’m working through these 5 goals and relating them to agency services.
What to do for your own website today!
Like any life saving technique, you need to quickly assess what's going on. Remember your airway, breathing, compression (ABC).
Here’s three links to info and resources I’m starting my research and approach from.
Check the results of pages being crawled in results be using = site:www.yourwebsitename.co.uk (I’m looking for missing explanations, bad titles, old forgotten pages etc. Then I’ll make a list of places to start for my next post).
Read this list of SEO actions from Backlinko (that’s what I’m also referencing for my own approach as I'm a big fan of Brian who runs this):
Check you have your Google analytics set up correctly. If you haven’t do this now. You’ll need some data to come into your GA account in order to work with!
Set up a free AHREFs account, connect your website, and get their monthly report delivered to your inbox with issues, warning and hints on what to fix. I allocate about hour to fix key issues in the report each time I get the report. It’s been really helpful.
In the next post I’ll cover my plans for what content I’m going to develop, and how - plus a couple of nifty free tools to help do this. And outline some plans for reporting on impact of this growth experiment.