The Accidental Website Visitor

Apr 4, 2011

"It's very important that you don't attract the wrong type of person to your website. I dealt with a specialist government health website some years ago. Its objective was to help medical researchers find research grants. It had a customer satisfaction survey on its website and was getting very poor ratings. The reason for this was it was attracting the wrong type of visitor. Lots of people were out on the Web checking up health issues and a small percentage were ending up on this website. However, this small percentage still represented far greater numbers than the core target audience of medical researchers. These accidental visitors got frustrated with the website because it didn't have the information they were looking for. Some of these irate people were filling out the customer satisfaction survey and seriously skewing the results. The website was in a Catch 22 situation. For years, it had trumpeted traffic figures to senior management. (The customer satisfaction survey was a recent development.) The first step in solving the problem was convincing management that volume was not a good metric. Volume is a deeply negative metric for web success. No other metric encourages worst practice more than measuring success based on number of visitors."

"To stop attracting accidental visitors the web team stripped out general health phrases from their content and deleted a whole bunch of pages, keeping only the pages that were directly related to medical research grants. They de-search engine optimized. They used more technical, scientific terms which were perfectly understandable to their medical research audience. Over time their traffic dropped by 80 percent, while their customer satisfaction rose dramatically. They had a smaller website and that allowed them to better manage it and have more up to date, higher quality content. Medical researchers were much happier. Those looking for general health information were much happier because they weren't ending up on the wrong website."