The state of engineering and scientific B2B websites 2016 (2)

Yesterday I wrote that if I had to show just two charts to management about the performance of the company website, it would be the ones which showed how well you’re doing at attracting people who might become customers, and how well you’re selling to them once you’ve got them to the site.

Let’s look at the business of measuring how well you’re attracting people who might become customers. First of all, as I mentioned yesterday, it’s essential to forget about the visitors who decided your site didn’t have what they were after, or who are in places where you don’t sell products. Let’s call the ones who might be of interest our ‘quality’ visitors.

I know everyone likes to know if their website is typical. Unfortunately, in the technical B2B sector, we’re not typical, and a lot of the stuff you might read around the web doesn’t apply to us. My representative at Google called before Christmas to recommend that we look at launching a special campaign for one client, to take advantage of the huge sales potential at this time of year. I pointed out that the company sells complex component finishing machinery. The rep said: “But everyone sees a massive sales uplift in the holiday season, right?”

And that typifies the problem with much of the stuff you’ll read about online marketing.

Still, let’s see what we can do. I have access to the website visitor analytics of nearly 100 engineering and scientific companies, and in almost every case, between 50% and 90% of ‘quality’ visitors come from Google searches, either from the ‘natural’ results or from search advertising. It’s not uncommon for the next highest source of ‘quality’ visitors (usually another search engine, email marketing or ‘URL type-ins’) to provide less than 10%.

So, if you do nothing else, set up a segment in your website visitor analytics which just includes people who looked around the site a bit and who are in the right countries. Or (cheeky hint) start using us to help with your online marketing, as this is how we report to our clients as standard.

There’s no typical proportion of visits which come from Google ‘natural’ search, because it depends on how much you’re spending on ‘buying’ visits. Some of the companies for which we manage Google AdWords campaigns can be doubling their website traffic through the advertising, so in their case, search advertising might represent 50% of visits and Google ‘natural’ results a further 30%. Others get massive traffic anyway, and even buying 2,000 visitors a month through Google AdWords only represents an additional 10% on the total. For them, Google ‘natural’ results might account for 60% of traffic or more.

However, I’ve been looking through some reports, and I’d say that it’s normal for the Google ‘natural’ results to account for 70% to 90% of quality traffic, if you ignore advertising, email marketing and unattributable (‘direct’) visits.

This makes search engine optimisation (SEO) as important as ever, and I’ll have plenty to say on that subject as ever this year. I still feel that millions of pounds a year are being thrown away on SEO management services which do nothing, and that unless you have thousands of pounds a month to spend on the very best people, you’d be better off allocating the money elsewhere.

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