Footprint Digital partnership development manager Kaya Heaton and marketing manager Alex Eade advised on how businesses can get website traffic, and how to then turn that traffic into visitors.
The MA Leaders Club met in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, last Thursday (18 May) at Banyan Bar & Kitchen.
Eade relayed to attendees how they could make Google love their website. Search engines, she said, are the “main doorways” to the web.
In 2022, Google handled 3.1tr searches globally, and this has increased by 1.1tr since 2019.
Google’s mission, Eade continued, was to create a search engine that knows exactly what you mean.
“To be successful online, you need to beat that competition to be found in a dessert of sand,” she said. Operators should want to bring their ‘sand’ to the top of pile to know that it’s visible.
Furthermore, she believed a good SEO strategy was key to improving traffic and the quality of traffic to a website. She suggested businesses should focus on its online reviews, as Google favoured well-rated places.
When a user makes a search, Google ‘crawls’, or scours, the internet to find content – then organises it with multiple algorithms so it can pull up the best results quickly. Then, it will rank these webpages for users.
Google’s algorithms rely on over 200 clues to guess what a user may be trying to search.
To make your website favourable, Eade said you should only include quality content. It was also important not to duplicate content, and internal linking was also vital.
She also advised not to use spam, and to think about user intent, as well as making your website mobile friendly.
Her main piece of advice? “Focus on the user, and all else will follow.”
To achieve online success, the marketing manager said you needed a research strategy that considered customer and competitor research to create a search-friendly platform.
She also said you needed to answer questions users were interested in. You can use Google Trends to find out hot topics and what your audience cares about.
The MA Leaders Club is open to multi-site pub operators and meets three times a year around the country for a day of business-focused presentations from top experts and owner/operators. The day is followed by an evening study tour of new and exciting venues.
If you’re interested in joining, register here.
What’s more, you should also try to get links from other trusted websites back to your site, such as Michelin, TimeOut and DesignMyNight: Google would see this as an endorsement.
Page speed was hugely important to getting traffic, she added, and some fonts, high-res images and videos could make the page slower. Reducing the use of these things also reduced the amount of carbon produced by the website.
Additionally, website content was hugely important. This included thinking about key words and phrases and considering what you wanted to rank for. These words should be used across the site.
Turning visitors into customers
Heaton then advised on how operators can turn website visitors into customers. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO), she said, was key. This was all about considering customers needs, and how to attract them to the website.
The audience and customer should drive what was going on the website, as opposed to the business owners, she added.
Operators should mull on the questions: “How can you speak to their concerns they might have before they even ask them?”
Once you’ve narrowed down to who your target audience is, the next step is to find a message that appeals to the widest breadth of the target audience, she continued.
The contact form, for Heaton, was arguably the most important part of a website, and putting in effort her could make a “really big difference”.
But she assured that the whole process of website creation was about people making mistakes. Operators should test things out to learn what does and doesn’t work.
Delegates at the conference also discussed a variety of topics including what it’s like to trade in Newcastle, current economic headwinds and attitudes towards apprenticeships, with a business rates update from Colliers expert John Webber.
Attendees also discovered the best that Newcastle has to offer as part of the conference and study tour. The MA Leader’s Club visited multiple sites including MOJO, Pleased To Meet You, Colonel Porter’s Emporium and By The River Brew Co.