Why Your Website Fails (and Why Old MacDonald Succeeds)

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What is on your heart?

So you just got a new shiny website up and running, but no one seems to care. Tumbleweed rolls across your url, and no one knows your address—how will your website succeed? It is a challenge everybody has faced, and there are some pretty straight forward answers to this problem.

You just bought a property: Your website

When you launched your new website there were two things you most certainly did. You got a plot of land, figuratively speaking—that is your site address. Then you built a new shiny farmhouse on that property—your website.

How your site looks matters. In fact it matters a whole lot. Studies have shown that your site only has about 50ms before people have formed an opinion on whether it is a site to take seriously.

So you should buy an attractive plot of land, an url that fits your brand, and proceed to build an amazing house—your website—that compels people to come inside and visit. But once you have those two in place, you are in a scenario many have found themselves before you.

Far out on the countryside among tumbleweed stands now an empty house. Outside the house, you are standing, leaning on your pitchfork, and wonder why hipsters aren’t streaming to your site to buy hay and fresh milk for their morning coffee. (Don’t know if the hay goes in the coffee, but the milk certainly does.)

You need roads: SEO, Google and marketing

Let’s face it. Nobody will take their 4-wheel-drive and find their way through the desert to find your newly launched website. They don’t know where to go, and much more importantly, they don’t know why to go. You need roads and roadsigns.

A Road Going to the Wastelands

If you don’t have road signs—a.k.a ads—who will get there? And why will they go there?

SEO counts for a lot. If successful, it is like free ads. Of course it costs you time—or you pay someone else to do it—but once it is in place, it tends to stay for a long time. SEO is what makes your page clearly stand out on Google. Also other search engines, of course, but let’s be real, Google matters way more than any other.

If your SEO is good and your content is something people search for you might have some (or a whole lot) visitors right there—for free. Otherwise, you can start your journey by researching what words people are searching for that are related to your field of expertise. Start exploring by guessing relevant search terms in Google Trends.

Reach out, get, and keep the customer

Advertising is necessary. You may start up a Facebook page and regularly share relevant content to reach out to other people and in that way create your own free ads. Or you may pay for Facebook ads, Google ads or something else relevant to your industry.

There are no limitations in how to marketing, and almost all marketing has value in the long run. Exposure is valuable because people will remember your brand. Followers on Facebook can prove a great asset if your want to run a competition, or Instagram followers may be easy to collect if you find a field of passion.

What kind of marketing should you go for?

A Facebook page or Instagram account, if you want to slowly grow followers over time and tell stories and build community.

A blog with a newsletter signup, if you want to continue blogging and sending content, offers and competitions into peoples mailboxes regularly. 

Old MacDonald wrote a successful song. That is great marketing.

A YouTube channel, if you want to communicate with your followers that way.

The bottom line is. Nobody comes to your site without a road to get there, and your money, time and energy should be put equally much on the road and the property.

Another key point you may have noticed is that all the examples I gave are gathering followers slowly and keeping them, either by building that email-list or encouraging people to like your FB page—your farm kind of turned into a hotel.

Cows & ducks: The brand is clear

Everybody knows what is on Old MacDonald’s farm. That old guy did his marketing right. No mess, clear message. You will find a cow there, and it will certainly say moo. That is why people would like to visit his farm.

Why would they want to visit yours?

Cows in Action

I only came for the cows!

As you work on refining your website, you should be constantly sharpening it. Shear away unnecessary content and put your focus on what is the core of your business.

Try out new things—don’t be afraid to fail—but in the end, you will know what is the core of your business, and you will be able to push more of those 20% that matters and shear away on those 80% that don’t matter as much.

This is a process that continues, and should continue all the time in a growing business—refinement. The websites I run are constantly updated, and refined, and results are over all slowly growing. Things have to go, and information has to be simplified. The design has to evolve with the times.

But this could, and will, be an entire new blogpost, so I’ll save some of it for later.

Now have the best of luck with building your house, creating those roads, and getting visitors that pay you.

This one was written by Benjamin Antoni

Reaching about 10 years experience developing for the web, and have been doing various forms of graphic design since he discovered a copy of Photoshop in his brother's room a long long time ago. Mail him if you want work done.

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