When you reach the point where you realize (or admit) that you need help in order to improve your website’s performance, where do you go? That’s a difficult question to answer, unless you really know exactly what parts of your site’s performance and promotion need help.
We’ll assume for the moment that you haven’t received a penalty notice, but have just realized that business has fallen off, and you’re not sure why. You’re doing the same things you’ve always done, but traffic and/or sales are down drastically, and you don’t know why.
A Site Audit May Be Needed
Normally, a full-blown, page-by-page site audit won’t be required, in order to spot the main problems. Often, an experienced eye can spot some indicators with a quick glance at a few on-page items and your analytics, in combination with your responses to a few key questions on a discovery form.
If you have a very small website, say, less than 50 pages, most professionals can tell you after a quick walk-through, most of the things that need to be fixed, in order to whip your site into shape. Depending upon what they find, that should give you a pretty good idea of what sort of talent you need to hire.
If your site is large, a more detailed audit will probably be called for, to gather enough information. Again, the audit results should tell you whether you need extensive coding, new content, a lot of conversion rework, etc.
Who to Hire
If your computer melts down, you’re not going to take it to a software specialist to replace the power supply. So if your website has a terrible conversion process, you shouldn’t hire someone to bring you more traffic.
It just makes sense to fix the problems that will bring the most benefit, right? So think about this:
Suppose you’re getting 10,000 unique visitors per month, and have a 1% conversion rate. That equates to 100 sales. If you manage to increase your traffic by 50%, without changing your conversion rate, that will mean 150 sales.
But if first, you fine-tune your conversion process and can improve that to 1.5%, the 10,000 visitors will deliver 150 sales. Then you can go after more traffic, and when you get your visitors up to 15,000, you’ll be seeing 180 sales. Together, that would mean an 80% increase in sales.
What’s important to realize is that improving your conversion rate can be accomplished more quickly, and often with less cost, than increasing your traffic. But it’s equally important to remember that there are two different skill sets involved.
So if a poor conversion rate is your real problem, you need to hire an SEO consultant or content specialist that can increase that rate. Address all the issues with your site that can make a difference, but prioritize them in terms of ROI. That doesn’t mean you can’t work on several different issues simultaneously, but hire the right specialist for each job.
An agency may have all the specialists you need, in-house, but a solo consultant will very rarely be proficient in all aspects that need attention on a site. Most are really good at one or two things, competent in a couple more, and may only know the basics in one or more. The most reputable consultants will suggest a more capable colleague to handle areas they’re not really good in.
First, find out what needs to be done, set priorities, then be sure you’re looking for the right skill set for the job.