Site design not converting — try blog-only or go corporate?

The agency I’ve been running since 2008 needs to perform better online. Over the years it has gone from Wordpress to Drupal to, most recently, Hugo. As it stands, the Wordpress site probably performed the best in terms of SEO and conversions. I’m hoping to change that. Right now.

Last year, while enjoying the flexibility of Drupal, but not ever taking full advantage as I built out the translation platform, I wanted to move to a simple, sleek, design. After switching to Hug0 for quicker site building and updating to ease the publishing workflow, not to mention the added benefit of more inherent security (static site — no logins), I initially wanted a design that showed how modern the agency is. In the end we went for this design. A single-page business site. I think it backfired.

The plan was to fill out the blog (itself a different design) with enough content to make up for the weaker SEO structure. In the end I’ve sat on an amateur-looking site for over a year. One that doesn’t reflect the work we do. It’s time to make a change. To either switch back to the corporate style or ditch the agency/modern theme altogether and simplify: make the site blog-only. It’ll be fast. The header and footer will describe what we do and offer contact options.

The decision

  • Make things more simple, or…
  • Make things more complex

The simple

The simple side loses out on the usual credibility badges people plaster their sites with. It loses out on not having a contact form too. Would our professional image suffer? The goal here is to make more sales. Yes, the number of external site calls goes from 50 to 12, pleasing me greatly. But will it affect the bottom line?

With the simple blog-only site, additional pages for each service can be created as blog posts, and linked from the headline, so that’s not too bad for SEO.

Being blog-only as a business site is a risky move, in many respects, but it could pay off by focusing my attention on updating the blog more regularly. It’s essentially sticking the business on a life-raft and forcing me to row, rather than just slowly decaying on a more comfortable boat until help arrives.

The complex

Switching to the complex layout offers a clear structure for visitors, still lets me write the blog and could potentially convert to more sales. It all depends on the execution.

If I blog well on the simpler site, there’s a chance that people will link to the posts and it’ll have more of a community/approachable feel than behind a corporate veneer. On the other hand, a landing page layout people expect to see might help to instill trust and credibility.

My initial goal was to emulate larger agencies, doing what works. I’m tempted to take my own path. One I can’t find any reference to in the search engines. There’s nothing for ‘blog-only site’ at all.

Both of the above points for the simpler site can be mitigated by merely blogging more on the complex site. On reflection, it’s starting to look like a more sensible bet to stick to the road more travelled.

Checking the data

The fact that we’ve had 700-1000 visits a month since October was a surprise to me, as I hadn’t been tracking it at all. The most visited was the front page, the least were the blog, with its paltry and boring 4 entries. So it’s doing something right. I need to keep at least what I have, in terms of keywords, before adding to the site.

It doesn’t rank well on Google, however, so that’s the next target. I’m not convinced I can do that on a simple blog-only site, not without scaring off any visitors who land there, unsure of where they are. And seeing as they’re not converting to clients anyway right now, I think improvement is probably the only possibility.

On balance, the more corporate/complex direction is probably the way to go, especially as I can’t guarantee a constant blogging schedule. Even if the intention is there right now. I can always revert back to simple afterwards too if need be. And if I do nail down the regular blogging schedule, then it’s the best of both worlds.

There, decision made. In writing, out loud, in public. Now for a few hours setting up!

A few hours later…

There, all set up. Feast your brains on the new

Comments welcome, as ever. Shares even more so.