The Gobi Desert has always had a notable place in history. It was once part of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire on land, stretching from Eastern Europe down to the Sea of Japan and north into Siberia. Many historians claim that Genghis Khan knowledge of the desert paid a significant role in the foundation of the empire. Others argue that aside from belonging to the Mongol Empire, the Gobi Desert was also a crucial location along the Silk Road. In fact, several important cities along the Silk Road are now in the Gobi Desert.
The Gobi Desert extends between northern China and southern Mongolia, covering over 1,000 miles from southwest to northeast and 500 miles from north to south. In the part that runs into China, travellers can stumble across remains from the Great Wall, half buried in the sand. Every year the southern edge that dips into China expands, overtaking grasslands and over surfaces through dust storms. Indeed, there was a time when the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road cities stood firmly outside the desert. However, with time, the Gobi has taken over its surroundings, increasing desertification and affecting the ecosystem. The efforts to overcome its progress are lacking. As a result, large areas in China are abandoned.
But what does the Gobi have to do with your website? A Gobi website is a site that affects your business ecosystem dramatically, hacking into areas that would typically be profitable – such as China’s agricultural grasslands – and leaving devastation in its tracks. Just like with the Gobi, it takes a lot of strategic efforts to reverse the damages. But thankfully, there are obvious areas where you can focus your activities.
Nobody stays on the site
Your website serves multiple purposes. However, regardless of what you intend for your visitors to complete – a signup form, a transaction, or even reading your latest article –, your key objective is for them to stay long enough on the site. Tools such as Google Analytics provide valuable information regarding your visitors and the way they explore the site. Typically, a healthy site is considered to have on average 30% bounce rate – however, depending on the kind of business, 50 to 70% bounce rate might not be cause for alarm – alongside a decent engagement rate or duration of the visit. But when your bounce rate peaks over 70% and the average visit time in only a handful of seconds, you’ve got to identify the issue rapidly. When your visitors don’t stay on the site, you are basically losing money. A common issue that is associated with a high bounce rate is a technical fault that prevents the site from loading correctly or that accidentally redirects visitors. Your site admin would normally receive a notification from the server in case of an unexpected problem, which makes it easier to fix. However, other issues such as layout weaknesses or security concerns will require dedicated A/B testing before identification.
They stay, but they don’t want to buy
Another previous indication of site health you can get from Google Analytics is your conversion rate. Your conversion can be a variety of positive actions, from signing up to the newsletter to making a purchase. While more experienced businesses tend to have an extensive list of conversions, new SMEs often struggle to identify what is a positive action. As a direct consequence, they typically focus their attention solely on online orders and miss out on huge lead potentials. When you rely primarily on conversions to keep your business afloat, you need to make sure that you fully understand what you want your visitors to do on the site, and also how you can increase website conversions without driving more traffic to your website. In other words, you need to make both your website work for your visitors, but also your conversion tracking strategy too, so that you can make the most of your website.
You’ve been hacked and you don’t know it
Who would anyone want to hack a small site? While this might come as a surprise for new business owners, small sites are more likely to be targeted by hackers than international companies. The reason is apparent: Most hacking attempts are automated and can, therefore, target weak spots until they find an entry point. Typically, a small site is more likely to be vulnerable. When your site has been compromised, the hacker has a range of options to disrupt your presence. Some hackers choose to redirect some of your in-site links to a separate website, which drives visitors away.
You ignore your disabled audience
As a business owner, you know how important a responsive design can be. You want to keep your website accessible to all visitors, regardless of the device they are using. However, while accessibility is a known concept when it comes to screen sizes, too many businesses fail to consider the full impact of a non-accessible website. Indeed, visitors with disabilities still need to gain access to your site to convert; however, failure to build a platform that works for them can be dramatic. People with visual impairment, for instance, need to be able to use a screen reader on your site – however, as screen readers tend to read the HTML code too, you need to make sure you put all the necessary information and tags to create meaningful content.
Nobody gives a damn about your pop-up advertising
Website pop-ups have a terrible rep online. While they make sense from a marketing perspective, they need to be appropriately calibrated to be effective. An annoying pop-up that appears as soon as visitors hit the page is disruptive. As much as your visitors might be interested in your offer, the first thing they want to do upon landing on the page is not to sign up to your newsletter. From pop-ups that force the visitor into signing-up or engaging because you don’t offer an “x” to close to pop-ups that appear on every page, web users are quick to step away and go to a competitor site.
If you want to stop your Gobi website from desertifying your business impact, you need to focus on the elements that disrupt visitor experience, from failure to guide them through the conversion path to obnoxious pop-ups that ruin the visit. The only way to stop the Gobi website from expanding is to give your business ecosystem a chance of fighting back.