by Adam Yakish

Today I’m going to address an issue that’s coming up more often than not lately: site auditing. Almost invariably our clients, both prospective and current, have/had no current, accurate, or otherwise useful data about their sites. Furthermore, most of the time a prospect only has a superficial idea about what they want or need. The sales response from an agency that doesn’t have a clue will usually go something like this, “No problem, we’ll get you up and rolling today and you’ll begin to see a return on your investment immediately.” Seriously? No viable data + No plan = immediate results? I guess I missed that tweet. We still haven’t arrived at the crux of the problem though. Having neither data nor plan is not really a problem. Good tools can be placed onto the site to begin to sort through and organize various types of traffic. Plans can be carved out. Testing can begin.  However, all of these things require patience and time.

So what’s the average time it takes to collect good base data to begin making decisions, especially if no useful historic data exists? Three months. How long will it usually take to organically optimize a site and significantly increase continuous and qualified traffic? Five to seven months. And how long will it take to gather substantial data on product line pages, test different content on these pages, and optimize sales and leads? Three months. And this three months is most likely going to come after the first three months of collecting base data and watching behavior on the site. Otherwise money spent on a site renovation/redesign is speculative and potentially wasteful.

All that being said, what’s the average time you could expect a project started from the ground and executed correctly to really begin reaping optimized returns (optimized being the operative word)? A solid six months. If you think down the road, next year, next quarter, whatever, you are going to dive into a serious online undertaking, take the time to get some tracking up on your site now. Google analytics is free and it’s a good tool. Yes, you may have to pay somebody a one-time fee to set it up for you, but it shouldn’t be much. And even if it’s not a really comprehensive set-up (no filters, etc) a good analytics analyst is going to be able to sort through navigation summaries, advanced segments, etc, and have at least a decent picture of how people on your site are behaving. Then, when you bring the project to an agency, burning with excitement about finally making some real damn money online, maybe the response, “You’ll be seeing return on your investment shortly” will be a bit closer to the truth.