Business owners usually do not manage their own websites due to the lack of resources and the skills required. It is also not their core competency to do web related stuffs. The more proactive site owners will outsource the operations of their website whereas some will just pay the one time set up cost and leave it on auto pilot mode. If you belong to the latter class of owners, we recommend that you start paying more attention to the importance of a website to a business, especially in this digital age.
For owners who outsource the management of your website, there are many things which you should be asking your vendor. Even if you may not have the web skills to manage your site, you should still exert the control over it.
1. What Is The Service Level Agreement
This is basically the terms and conditions of the contract. You have to know what services you are paying for and your entitlements. For the rate you are paying, does it include the following:
– How many updates can you make to your website.
– What types of updates can you make i.e. add a page, blog post, uploading images.
– What type of report will be generated for your review.
– Guarantees website up time and malware free.
– What are the penalties when the vendor do not adhere to SLA.
– Though this is rather extreme, but if your website is down for extended period without your admin knowing, then they certainly are not doing a good job.
2. Request For Traffic Report
This is an important performance index of your website. Business owners must know the number of visits to their sites and the corresponding page views. This will let you know if your site is a white elephant or not. Do request for a monthly or quarterly traffic report from your webmaster. This report is easy to generate with many free online tools such as Statcounter, Getclicky and Google Analytics. The traffic report will give you a sense of the online exposure for the site. There are two major types of traffic, search and direct referrals.
3. Website Keywords
Knowing the number of visits to your site is one thing, but knowing the keywords which brought the traffic will help you take your business to the next level. In fact, keywords can tell you many things you do not know about your website.
First of all, it shows what the search engines love you for. What are aspects of your websites that search engines think is relevant for their users, thereby returning your site in the search results. With the keywords, you can find where your website is ranking and perhaps boost it up the rankings.
Secondly, if you have an offline marketing campaign going on, you can gauge its success through online response. If your marketing efforts are successful, you can see brand name search for your business. For example, the name of your business is Smart Sam Specs, brand name search includes “Smart Sam” or “Smart Sam Spectacles”.
4. Keyword Campaign Reports
If your vendor is using search engine marketing to promote your website, ensure that they provide a report for the keyword campaigns. This report should include the basic KPIs such as Impressions, Click Through Rate (CTR) and Cost Per Click (CPC). It sums up your payment in exchange for the number of clicks to your website. Through this report, you can also mine for profitable keywords which you can target in your SEO campaign. By SEO campaign, we mean to get your website ranked naturally in the search results instead of using sponsored ads.
5. You Can Also Be A Webmaster
Business owners may not have the skills to manage their websites but you can still track the health and performance. Google Webmaster Tools offers an easy to use interface that keeps owners updated on the health status of their sites. It has an email notification feature that will trigger a notice to you when it detects faults i.e. crawl errors or malware in your website.
How useful is this? We have a client whose website is attacked by malware, Google detects it, warns the users and will not direct traffic to the site. We informed the client who then requested their web admin to investigate. Having a webmaster tool to raise an alarm to you whenever a problem arises will be useful. You just have to redirect to your admin to follow up.
Build a mutual understanding with your web administrators and convey your expectations clearly to them. Engaging a web admin is not just paying them to keep the website alive. Utilize their skills to help you understand your website better so you will know how to improve it in the future.