Drive Traffic To Your Website And Keep It!

Image by Flood G

There’s no way around it, businesses and individuals who want to make an impact on the Internet must have a website. And if you’re an author or blogger who needs to bring the world to your doorstep, that means you.

You need a website to establish an online presence, attract visitors, provide those visitors with an overview of your business (books?), and display your products and services. If your website (or blog) depends mainly on hits from search engines to attract traffic, it can take forever to cultivate a strong following. That’s why sharing is critical to your blog’s success. Even when traffic does begin to build, you’ll need to provide good content and a great design to keep those visitors coming back.

That’s right, your website design can make a BIG difference.

User experience
A crucial factor in retaining repeat customers is the browsing experience offered to these users. A fast-loading, high-quality, branded website design has a huge impact on the impression a website will make. If a site is too busy, overloaded with graphics, disorganized or difficult to navigate, visitors are not likely to stay and digest the content, and are much less likely to return.

Web surfers have a natural tendency to be drawn to a well-functioning, aesthetically pleasing site. To pique readers’ interest, one of the best investments you can make is a professional website design, suitable for your content, with pages that load quickly and are easily navigable. A presentable website makes it much more comfortable and convenient for viewers to browse your content, which in turn makes them more likely to spend more time there, subscribe, and return.

Website architecture
A good website design makes the site’s pages easy for both human users and search engines to find. Search engines scan the content and catalog it, and assign rankings. (Need an SEO Tutorial?). For this reason, your website’s architecture and coding needs to be as organized as possible. In addition to improving SEO, a lean and well-structured site can also affect the page load speed. Page download time – the number of seconds it takes for a website page to populate – is an important element of the user experience. If pages load slowly, visitors might get frustrated and move on.

A good web developer will optimize (that is, minimize) the size of the images and assets used on the site. Optimized images are one of the elements that speed up page load times and increase the chances of keeping the audience interested. If you’re managing your site yourself, you can use plugins like the EWWW Image Optimizer to reduce the size of your images.

A slow-loading website can raise your “bounce” rate – that is, the percentage of visitors who land on your site and leave quickly. You can check your traffic gauge and bounce rate by typing your URL into Alexa. And, if you suspect your site is loading slowly and you want to know why, type your URL into GTMetric’s search box and check out their comprehensive feedback.

And FYI, many web design packages provide these services as a default.

Template-based designs
Although I used a WordPress frame and Bluehost for my own self-hosted site, template-based design services can be especially convenient for website creation. Most contemporary services simplify site creation and provide a solid foundation as part of their basic template. They often provide built-in SEO architecture and other techniques that help drive traffic to a website.

Building your own website design with services such as the 1&1 website builder is a fast way to get a professional-looking website with all techniques in place that can help you attract and retain traffic.

Customization and individuality
Using a template-driven platform to establish a website’s layout and visual hierarchy is a viable shortcut to setting up your own from scratch. Templates can allow you to personalize the site design to fit the tone and personality of your brand.

For instance, if you want to sell products directly from your website,  you could add a plugin or purchase independent software and integrate it into your existing site. Or, you can utilize a template-based e-commerce company that offers an online shopping cart as a feature.

Designing a website to be unique and memorable is by far the best method of retaining traffic. The faster and more memorable the design, the more time a user spends on a website, and the more likely they will be to return.

Readers, have any of you used a template-based platform such as 1&1, Shopify, Weebly, or Squarespace to build your website? We’d love to hear your experiences and recommendations. Please leave a comment and share!

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Image by Flood G.

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24 Responses to Drive Traffic To Your Website And Keep It!

  1. KD December 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Sometimes I design my website from scratch and other times like now, when my “free” time is very minimal I’ll do a theme and then gut it out (personalize it). I’m blessed be/c I can do my own graphic design, and know enough when it comes to programming language to do so without hiring anyone. Great post.

    • Molly Greene December 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Thanks, KD. You ARE blessed!

      • Annie Harrower-Gray December 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

        Thanks for the info Molly, theres a few helpful things in there I didn’t know. I set mine up a fortnight ago with Weebly. It must be good because I never thought a techno idiot like me would ever be able to set up a site even with a template.
        Weebly also has stats where you can check your visitors. There’s two levels, unique visitors who visit a page and those who look at more that one page. I’m not sure how accurate the graph is though as feedback to the blogs suggest different figures.
        it’s early days but one think I do notice is that whenever I write a blog, visitors increase.

        • Molly Greene December 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

          Congrats, Annie, and good to know Weebly is a good option! Yes, consistent blogging (that you share across social media) is a great way to attract more visitors.

          • Annie Harrower-Gray December 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

            Just looked at the mistakes in my post. I really shouldn’t try to type with the cats sitting on my chest. Make that rule number one for writers.

          • Molly Greene December 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

            *Scribbling* No cats. Got it! 🙂

  2. Lawrence Grodecki December 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    Thank you for the informative article.

    I use Shopify, including one of their free templates. However, I’ve also done a lot of customization.

    Shopify is basically set up for catalogue merchandising business applications, and I’m still struggling with that aspect, given that my site is largely for my art and writing.

    My bounce rate is much higher than I’d like it to be, and this continues to be a mystery, though I do wonder if it is load-time related. I’ll definitely be checking the GTMetric link.

    Other than that, if anyone wants to give me any feedback or suggestions, I’d love to have them . . . and please don’t take that as being a spammy request . . . it’s very much a design one.

    Finally, if anyone has any questions about Shopify, I’d be glad to share my experience with them, which has been an overall positive one. Is that okay with you Molly?

    • Molly Greene December 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Thanks for your insight, and of course!

  3. D.G. Kaye December 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Great info as always Molly. I am off to investigate! 🙂

    • Molly Greene December 16, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      Yaaaay! My mistakes are plastered across my blog for all the world to see 🙂

  4. Lawrence Grodecki December 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    What mistakes? That comment reminds of me Yogi Berra and his concern, “I don’t want to make the wrong mistake.” 🙂

    • Molly Greene December 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      Thanks Lawrence, but I’m famous for blogging about all the things I do wrong, then explaining to my readers not to do what I did. So don’t let your blog page load speed get too slow, *like I did*

  5. Mimi Drop December 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    I just put up my blog at using Molly’s Blog It! book. It took all the stress out of it. If you haven’t done it, buy the book!

    • Molly Greene December 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Oh my gosh – How cool is THAT? Thanks so much Mimi, I’m going to head over there right now and check it out!

  6. Mary Lou Dickinson December 16, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Am just setting up with squarespace. Have not made site public yet. A friend is helping me with her good design sense and setup skills. However, I can tell it is easy to use and to change. Will report back if I have any special insights as time goes along. Present aim is to be set up with lots of lead time for publication of next book, a novel, fall 2014.

    • Molly Greene December 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

      Congratulations, Mary Lou! I’ve heard that Squarespace was easy to work with, and good for you for rolling out your blog with a good lead time for your novel.

  7. Barry Knister December 17, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Technophobe that I am, I have to rely on others to help me find my way. I used a WordPress template for my first blog, then hired a web designer to create the next one. My current website is a very good one. Blue Harvest Creative gets the credit, and I am also grateful to them for having done the cover art and formatting for my mystery, Anything Goes Girl. It’s a solidly written book, but because (right or wrong) readers DO judge books by their covers, I really owe Blue Harvest Creative a great deal.

  8. Connie Rossini December 17, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Molly, it took me a few hours, but my gmetrix score has gone from D to A. Thanks for the tips!

    • Molly Greene December 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      Oh my gosh that’s so exciting! You did better than me, I could only raise mine to a high B – it’s mainly those large image files that mess us up. Congratulations, Connie!

  9. Victor Perez December 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Once again another useful and informative read… Thanks Molly! I enjoyed the Drive Traffic To Your Website And Keep It! Your writing is clear, direct and to the point… EXCELLENT!!! Happy Holidays! VP

    • Molly Greene December 18, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Thank you so much, Victor – nice to see you here!

  10. Donna O'Donnell Figurski December 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Thanks for the great post, Molly. I’ve been wanting to update my website. Glad to hear Weebly is friendly. I use WordPress for my blog. I love it.

    • Molly Greene December 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      Thanks, Donna! WordPress is really the industry “standard,” but for those of us too busy to take it on, it’s nice to know there are alternatives.