4 Factors for Finding Website Traffic Success (Part 4)
Website design, site architecture, new content and SEO all play an important role to any website's success. Unless you are relying on all your traffic from paid ads, your website depends on these four factors to generate the best possible targeted organic traffic from search. Search engines are using a combination of these four factors to rank your website and the less compliant you are, the lower your results. Bottom line is that consistantly integrating these four components on every web page you create will return targeted visitors who are searching for your products and services.
There is no black magic to successfully attracting customers via the Web.
RAND FISHKIN | FOUNDER, SEOMOZ
In my last post I showed how slalom ski brands were ranked over time by two free website marketing tools, MarketingGrader and WooRank. This post (part 4 and closes the series) will dig much deeper into the components each of these tools view as important for website traffic success. I'll break down each by the four factors for finding website success mentioned above, and then announce the brand I believe is clearly beating their competitors in Internet Marketing.
Brief Industry Summary: Towable watersports is a very small niche within the sporting goods industry. High-end competitive slalom skis are a small segment of towable watersports, but with the exception of wakeboards is the segment with the highest marketing budgets for Connelly, HO, O'Brien and Radar. For the B2C brands (Goode, D3 and AM), high-end slaloms and ski bindings are the only products they sell in a short seasonal window between March and June.
Marketing Summary: Marketing high-end slalom skis is no easy task. On average, competitive skiers replace their skis every two years and many do so every year. Purchases usually occur in early Spring or early Fall, before and after the competitive season. A new slalom ski and bindings can set you back $2K these days, so most skiers prefer a test ride before shelling out the big bucks. Grass-roots efforts by manufacturers and skier word-of-mouth testimonials tend to be as effective in creating ski sales as national advertising. The B2B brands rely on their retailers to help market their products while the B2C brands know they are in control of ultimate sales.
All of these brands have great looking websites that do a respectable job showcasing the products they sell. But how effective are these websites? Are they just online catalogs?
Let's look at the free data collected from MarketingGrader and WooRank to learn which brands are using internet marketing for their business success.
Consistent SEO provides a great opportunity to drive free targeted traffic to your business website. It is obvious after looking at the chart above that under the hoods of all of these great brands websites is industry-wide neglect for SEO. HO Sports is leading the pack, but with only minimal SEO effort. They have the best Alexa Score which is based on several factors, but primarily traffic volume and quality of inbound links. Alexa scores change daily and the chart below shows the brands scores over time.
The website design chart above and the site architecture chart below review website coding elements. Website design above does not include comparisons on which website has the coolest image slider or other awesome jQuery, CSS3 or HTML5 animation components. It doesn't include a layout critique, best use of calls to action or other lead generation techniques. The website design chart does tend to deal more with elements that relate to graphic display compared to the architecture site below.
As the above chart demonstrates, the brands all have plenty of room for improvement. No brand clearly stands out as a dominating force either. Non of the brands are optimized for mobile devices which is a bit surprising since their end users are mobile ready. This is certainly an opportunity for increased traffic and user engagement for all of these brands. A few brands have introduced free apps, but a website that is mobile optimized can provide app level performance without a requiring a download.
The website architecture chart above specifically addresses the site code that improves usuability of the website, primarily relating to speed of the site. In the past year Google has emphasized page speed loading time is important and slow websites will be penalized.
This chart is the "bluest" of the four charts meaning that all the brands are doing more items correct. Connelly seems have the only slow website of the group, and they are the only one using gZip which is designed to speed up websites. Fixing this problem may require them to switch to a faster server, remove some features from the home page or optimize their photos.
Google analytics is included at the bottom of this chart, but has nothing to do with site performance. However, it is by far the best free tool available to analyze website performance and therefore hard to believe that two of these brands aren't using this technology.
Other free tools that can help address many of these problems are Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
New web content is a critical component for a successful website. Changing your website often will increase visitor returns, reduce your bounce rate, and increase the number of times the search engines crawl your website to search for your new content. When nothing changes, the search engines may only crawl your site once a month or even once a year. Creating remarkable content that is shared with others is the name of the game.
New content includes changes to existing website pages and adding new website pages. Linking social media features to website pages also adds new content to your website. If your website is as complete as you want it, the next step is to add a blog. Each new blog post counts as a new page of your website and provides new SEO opportunities. A critical mistake that some brands make is not linking their blog to their website domain (OBrien & Radar). If your blog is not connected to your domain, you will end up with a second website that doesn't provide any benefit to your main website.
Looking at the chart, all but AM Skis has a blog. Goode looks like the only brand regularly contributing new blog posts (on average) every 3 days. Connelly has all of the blog elements installed correctly but doesn't use it effectively. HO hasn't used their blog in two years. Should they remove it? I suggest not since each post is a live page that may still draw website traffic. However, if HO consistantly adds new blog posts they would benefit with increased traffic.
Social media integration within your blog and website will draw website traffic and improve your search engine rankings too. Not much is going on in the chart above, but HO is the standout that is being talked about on Twitter and replying to their mentions.
AND THE INTERNET MARKETER OF THE YEAR AWARD - SLALOM SKI INDUSTRY
GOES TO HO SPORTS!
HO wins the gold for best internet marketing for the 2012 season. As you may remember they were the runner-up behind Radar Skis in the social media challenge reviewed in the first and second parts of this series. Although they did not have the top scores from MarketingGrader or WooRank, they were also close. HO collected the most blue checks in the charts above (24). HO has the best Alexa score which is a strong indication of the highest website traffic.
Can HO do better? YES! Blog posts carry a lot of weight in both of these grading tools and if HO increases their blog efforts they will easily improve their rankings. With 24 out of 42 possible elements evalated in the charts above, HO has lots of room to do better in 2013.
CONGRATULATIONS HO! Also thanks to all the readers that reached the end of the slalom ski industry series. Next up is wakeboards followed by the top wakeboard and slalom boat brands.
If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends! You can also read the first 3 parts of the series to get the full slalom ski industry competitive analysis.
Social Media Marketing Comparison: The Slalom Ski Industry
Slalom Ski Industry Fans, Followers and Subscribers
How to Analyze Website Success of Your Industry Competitors
Did your brand win? Should I have awarded gold to a different brand? Any other suggestions for these 7 slalom ski brands?
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