If you want to make more sales, or if you want a bigger increase in traffic and readership, the bottom line for your website is growth. You want to expand your presence, increasing your visibility and brand recognition, while simultaneously offering more to keep your readers entertained.
How Websites Grow
Thanks to the phenomenon of “virality,” many people assume that websites reach a certain threshold, then explode in popularity, as if by magic. But the more common reality is website popularity growth that steadily increases over time, with fits and spurts in between. If you don’t manage this growth carefully, it could easily disrupt your long-term goals, either by spiraling out of control faster than you can keep up with or by flickering out before you make any positive growth-oriented changes.
When you’re ready to expand your website and brand presence, there are certain actions you should take to facilitate a healthy and reasonable growth rate.
Strategies for Better Growth
Follow these strategies to create a healthier growth trajectory for your business or site:
- Offer more detailed content. One of the best ways to keep your audience loyal is to escalate the detail, frequency, or practicality of your content. Offering more content more often will increase the number of people you can potentially reach, and help you stay top-of-mind with your existing audience members. It will demand extra effort (or money) from you, but it’s worth the investment if it means attracting a bigger, more stable readership.
- Generalize your audience. Most websites start out with a specific niche, and gradually work to target a more general audience. This is because focused, niche targeting will help you eliminate some competition early on, but eventually, you’ll want to target a bigger and bigger audience. In a similar vein, you may start by attracting attention from friends, family members, and other contacts in your network, in the style of entrepreneur Sam Ovens, to build a foundation before venturing out to wider and wider circles.
- Refine your design. When you first start out, your limited resources will likely inhibit the quality of your design. You might choose to go with a basic template site through WordPress or a similar CMS, or otherwise invest a bare minimum into your site design. As you start being seen by more people, it’s worth the extra money to invest in a more professional design—as long as you keep the spirit of your original branding intact.
- Build out more pages. It may also be in your best interest to build out more pages—especially if you started out with just a handful of pages to serve as a framework for your brand. Building more pages means adding more content for your readers, keeping them on your site for a longer period of time, and ultimately scoring more conversions. Just make sure your content here is worth reading.
- Offer a better navigation. As your site grows in volume and in traffic, navigation is going to become more important. Big sites can be difficult to navigate, and users are impatient when it comes to finding what they need. Make sure the average user can intuitively jump between pages of your site, and offer a search function so it’s even easier to find what they’re looking for.
- Include reviews and testimonials. The persuasive power of reviews and testimonials cannot be overestimated. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get any reviews or testimonials while your site is still new. As you gather more readers and customers, encourage your most loyal users to leave these third-party validations of your services and feature them on dedicated pages of your site. Try to capture name and location information when possible to add validity.
- Show off where your website has been featured. As your site becomes featured on major publications, you’ll want to show that status off to new users who may not have seen your original debut. Publicize icons of big-name publishers and brands you’ve worked with throughout your history to serve as trust badges on your homepage or landing page. You may also consider showing off your site’s growth metrics if you’re willing to publicly disclose them; for example, you may inform your users that you’ve seen four times as many sales this year as last year, or highlight the fact that you were featured in Forbes magazine.
These tactics can’t guarantee you’ll hit your growth targets consistently or in perfect line with your goals; you may still end up hitting a pocket of explosive growth or taper off prematurely. However, you’ll be better prepared for practically any outcome, and you’ll be able to pivot accordingly to keep your business alive and flourishing.