As a business, running a website in and of itself can be a full-time job. As this is often the case, companies (both large and small) will hire or dedicate staff members to exclusively handle website-related tasks.
One of the most important components of managing and maintaining a website is to make sure that your site is regularly being updated and that your audience is well-researched — both of which will help to improve the relevancy of those updates and your search engine rankings.
The research portion can take several different forms, but regardless of what method you might use to collect information, you should collect it under the following guidelines:
• Go to websites where discussions and activity surrounding your topic or niche is already taking place. Message boards and forums are ideal places to find out what your potential audience is saying, what they’re interested in and how it can be developed and integrated into your website.
• Engage the readers of your own site. Most of the time, companies will do this with a poll, questionnaire, an email campaign or even in-house feedback tools. Those who frequent your site will likely have the most valuable feedback for you, which will provide useful information about how you can improve your site, both in terms of structure and content.
• Find someone else in your niche who’s doing well and imitate them. While you mustn't plagiarize, you should become familiar with sites who have a strong following and solid rankings. After all, they do have these for a reason, and if you can figure out what they’re doing and apply it to your own personal situation, you’ll have a chance in reaping similar benefits.
When it comes to researching and improving your website, there’s no really “wrong way” to gather information, but generally speaking, these three methods will yield the most useful information and results. If you are running a business and trying to appeal to a certain group of people and potential customer base, you need to go where they are and take some good notes.
If you’re able to translate that into a functional website that offers useful content and engagement, you can expect an improvement in traffic as well as rankings.
Here are the main areas you’ll want to focus on once the research is complete:
Knowing what users want to see is important when it comes to developing pages and content, particularly if your business makes use of a blog or similar functionality.
Before you decide on specifics, consider what those in your niche are talking about, what they’re interested in and what questions and/or answers seem to drive the highest amount of engagement.
This might require a more direct conversation with your website’s viewers, so don’t be afraid to use your website and/or social media accounts to get a feel for what kind of features people might be interested in.
In many cases, people will let you know what kind of features or tools they want to see and use. If you can grab ahold of that kind of information, be sure to take their requests seriously — it’s incredibly valuable, especially when you have several people calling for the same thing.
Changing Site Structure
You can have all the greatest content in the world, but if people can’t find it quickly, it’s going to be tough to get a high level of engagement. Search around online to get a feel for how other successful websites are displaying their information, and don’t be afraid to implement a similar structure to your own page.
However, before you even think about making any changes to your site, be sure to do your research and make it a discussion item before you make changes. Again, knowing what your audience wants is extremely valuable, and if they like how your site is currently structured, they may be a bit upset if you change it overnight.
Making Research Work
Knowing the wishes, habits, needs and interests of the audience you’re trying to market your website to is really the best way to increase rankings.
It might seem like a bit of an indirect approach, since we’re not talking about keywords, SEO and all that optimization-related jargon; but getting actual people to spend more time on your site, while still finding it more relevant and useful to their own needs, is the best way to market your site, improve traffic and get the attention of search engines.
It’s the organic approach, but if you’re able to put the time in with research and make some good notes, you will find that it can yield highly positive results.
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