Using Freeloaders to Your Advantage

You’ve hit the tipping point on all you do and now your website traffic is continuing to rise, in fact you’ve never had so many visitors to your website before, but your conversions have not grown at the same rate, what can you do?

First, it is great to be successful and have a high traffic site, but if you are not converting your readers into buyers you may want to consider a new strategy to specifically market to the reader-freeloaders on your website. Much of what you will select to do will be based on your specific sales goals.

If you are a local seller and your traffic has grown, but when you look in Google Analytics most of your traffic is outside of your service area, I would enjoy the numbers and know that Google will eventually award you with improved organic placement. However, I would put your out of area readers to work for your benefit by actively asking them to Google +1 your pages or like you on Facebook. You’ll then be able to get SEO juice off of the traffic that will never convert to a sale for you.

If you sell nationally or service locally but also sell products nationally, I would take a careful look at your traffic and the pages where you think you have freeloaders. On those pages you will need to evaluate if you should follow my advice on Google +1 and Facebook or if the pages are good areas for you to advertise the products you sell nationally.

If they are a good fit with product sales, then start by creating your own banners, buttons, and links to your store to promote your own products. If you are going to provide great informational content, you should work to have the readers who like what you say move into your store to buy, Google +1 you, like you on Facebook, or be added to your email subscriber list. Which direction you take or multiple directions will depend on the information specific to your site. The key is to put the traffic to work for you! Don’t just invest your time and money into a well trafficked website, move your readers to action that will benefit your long term approach and goals.


Are You Watching Your Website Stats? Why Not?

You can’t find out if your website is working for you if you never take a look at your website statistics! It is great to have a website and every business should have one, but sometimes just having one is not enough. Sometimes you need to “nurture” and “feed” your website to help it be the best promotion vehicle in your advertising arsenal.

When I say “nurture” and “feed” your website I mean specifically know what your website visitors are looking for when they come to visit, how long they stay, and what they do when they get there. I have found in many cases by a careful analysis of website statistics will allow us to recommend new pages, optimization, and areas for enhanced engagement with readers. Here’s just one example: from the integrated web search report we get for a client we found over and over that users were searching for a specific product. Based on this information, to make it easy for them to find it and to feed sales, we created new content on the home page to speak to this need and point readers to the shopping and more information sections on the product. In other cases, reviewing Google Analytics, we have found new search terms to use for optimization of content, new terms for AdWords programs, and services that readers are looking for and possibly not finding.

One key indicator to review in Google Analytics is a page’s bounce rate. Over 75% and you have some challenges that you need to address as your readers are not finding what they want or you are directing untargeted traffic to the page with pay per click programs and may need to add negative keywords to your program to cut costs and be more targeted.

A careful review of  your website statistics can be used to really review your online health. It is more than a gage of how many visitors you have a day, the wealth of information can help you develop new services, cater to an audience, and more carefully target pay per click advertising. As Google Analytics is free, there is simply no reason you should not be tracking and reviewing what is going online with your website.


Contact Form Woes And The Solution

Occasionally we have a client who is using a low-end web host or who is self-hosting and does not have a cgi-bin or scripting enabled in order for us to install a contact form processing script. Sometimes this has lead to expensive programming charges. We do not offer programming and so we have to contract out this portion of a project adding to expenses.

We have found a service that will process the script for you on their servers and so far it looks like a clean and elegant solution to a thorny problem for some clients. Our preferred site is With a premium account for $24.99 per year, now any client can have a professional seamless contact form installed on their site without complex programming initiatives. I think that it is a very smart solution.

We have used this service on a number of client sites over the years and have had no issues in implementation or script processing. If you are in a similar situation, it is worth a look-see.


Testing, Testing, Spam Relay Open?

If you get funny submissions from your website contact form you may have wondered, “what’s going on?” Here is a sample of the type of form submission that you may be getting:

firstName2: atfkbja
lastName2: atfkbja
Street: uwTnCHgFWbtDZEameGH
City: New York
State: —
Zip: 101rand[0,
BusinessPhone1: KGR
BusinessPhone2: WoM
BusinessPhone3: mcdX
BusinessPhone4: ImTIDlComments: yggULo
<a href=”“>ncrunlbfzqmn</a>,

Even if you have a Catchpa or human verification code employed on your form, you may still get submissions like this. These robots are not actually completing your form, but rather spidering the form and then going right to your cgi-bin and acting on your form script. They are looking for a vulnerability to see if your server can be used as a spam relay. If you get forms like this, don’t be alarmed, as if you are working with a quality web host, your form script and send mail server are most likely secure, but not always.

Spammers once they find a website script with a vulnerability will use your band width on your hosting site to spew out their spam messages with your email and your website as the sender. One way to identify if your site is being used as a spam relay is that you may be getting hundreds of bounced messages back to your own email inbox with your own name on them.

As bounced messages do not always mean that your server is a spam relay, it is important to get with your web host and check first. It could be that your domain name is being spoofed but that your server is hacker and spam free. In other cases your server could be sending out thousands of spam messages with your name attached; potentially getting your domain name and server IP address blacklisted.

If you feel that you are getting an inordinate number of these types of forms, now is the time to get with your web host and ask them to check to make sure your server has not been compromised and is now acting as a spam relay without delay. It is not uncommon to get three or four of these types of forms a day, but if you are getting lots you should dig deeper by sending some samples to your web host and asking them to check your server.


What is Your Website Traffic? What’s Low?

That’s the question everyone wants to know… is my website traffic high, low or in between. For small businesses that are not start ups and have been on the web for over a year, I feel that traffic under 50 unique visitors a day is low.

If your website figures aren’t even in the double digits on the average in a 30 day period, you really need to start working to build your website traffic. Why have a website if no one visits it and if it does not generate leads for you?

Here’s another benchmark if you have over 100 unique visits a day and you are a small business your traffic is definitely in the normal to good zone. Higher than that around 200 visitors a day and you are doing great. If you have 30,000 unique visitors a day, you’d better be on a dedicated server before you give yourself a big pat on the back.

So if your numbers are low what should you and what can you do to boost them. Here are just a few suggestions to consider:

  • Start blogging but only if you can install a blog under your own domain name on your parent website’s server. That is really key! Offsite blogging won’t help you in this area.
  • Think about writing and syndicating articles at Google Knol, Go e-articles, and other sites. The key here to your traffic will simply be the quality of your writing and the timeliness of your content.
  • The easy path is to drive traffic to your website with Google AdWords or MSN adCenter (for Yahoo and Bing). When you don’t have time to do the other things this is very workable. Pay per click costs but the traffic you can generate immediately to expose the world to your services and products is well worth the investment. Just make sure you are targeted and don’t create a branding campaign that just brings your impressions and clicks.
  • Work all your angles! Do you have friends with websites on the Web? Get links back from them to your site. Consider doing guest blog writing. Tap into your network. If you are a member of a national or regional association ask if you can guest write for their online archived newsletter or blog. You want links and exposure.

These are just a few ideas to consider. Typically pay per click as it is the easiest is the route most people will pursue when they have little web traffic. Take some time to make sure your website is generating the traffic you need to feed your business.


Why Are You Letting Someone Destroy Your Web Presence?

Why would you ever let someone or some business destroy your web presence? You think that you never would right, but you may be doing so without really thinking that your are.

In one recent case one of our client’s web host had not properly secured their server. This could happen to you too. Just because your host has a high profile name does not mean that they are “taking care” of business. A web host may host 50 or more clients on one server. If they do not have strong intrusion and firewall systems in place, if one site gets hacked all sites on the shared server may be hacked.

If your website is hacked, has malware installed on it, or is being used as a zombie spam agent, you need to ask some very pointed questions to your web host. I do not advocate moving right away to a new web host unless proper security measures are not part of your existing web host’s protocol, but you definitely need to ask some “in your face” questions and get “real” answers.

I have personally found that if you are paying $10 or less a month for hosting, that typically you are not properly covered. Intrusion detection, system redundancies, and firewalls cost money, so does a security minded IT staff. You will typically not receive this type of service from many budget hosts.  Now, not all, GoDaddy has a pretty good package and they offer budget hosting, but I have run into some that are just “hack” magnets.

Once your web host and website have been compromised you can lose your organic placement, be blocked by browsers, and labeled as a site that “when visited can damage your computer” in the organic search results. For some clients, that do not check their website daily, they can be compromised for weeks before they find out that the reason they have no phone calls is that their website has been “marked as unsafe” on

There is too much to risk when it comes to destroying consumer confidence in your business when your website is spewing out malware when links are clicked in your site. I prefer to protect the online reputation I have by making sure that I have the best web host possible, that the most recent technology is used in their infrastructure, and that they are located in the United States as am I. It is important to understand that when you shop for a web host there is much more to consider than the price per month.