Less than 30 seconds.


Thirty seconds is not a great deal of time, its only half a minute after all. You can’t boil a kettle let an egg in that time frame nor are you likely to pick up and read a book or magazine for such a brief period, yet that is the maximum time 87.9% of visitors to my site spent there. Or, to look at it another way, only 12% of visitors spent more than half a minute looking at the pages on my website.

This sounds pretty bad, and it is. Having expended a great deal of time and effort putting the website together it basically gets ignored, so one can’t help but feel both deflated and frustrated at the same time and of course one wonders what is wrong with your little baby, and the answer is ‘nothing’.  The fault lies not in the content but in the fact that we don’t actually read what’s on the web. Last year Time did an analysis of visitors to their website and found that 55% of them spent less than 15 seconds on a page, and this is a website that has wide ranging news content written by excellent journalists. What hope then for the rest of us?

Probably not a great deal and it does throw into doubt many generally accepted notions about web based marketing. Overall, in the seven or eight years that I have had my own website I can count the number of enquiries it has produced on one hand. I concluded a long time ago that it is there to support sales efforts made elsewhere rather than act as a lead generator. That was always the myth of websites, that once you were online the orders would come tumbling in, but in reality unless you are a purely web based sales operation totally focused on selling a known product over the net then they can be hard to justify  as a direct sales tool.

Sales leads though are not everything. If a company has an informative, well designed and simple to navigate site then I personally find it reassuring and would be more inclined to do business with them. From that point of view It is better to regard them as more a shop window than cash till despite the profusion of shopping carts and Paypal portals. Indeed, I was rather amused to find one dealer with a shopping cart arrangement for machines that cost in excess of €100,000 and surprise surprise, the system wouldn’t let me place an order for a 25 tonne excavator for next day shipping! Half hearted attempts at web design like that do not inspire confidence in the site owner.

The other great conclusion I came to, and I am not alone in this, is that you need to drive people to your website as search engines, how can this be put politely, are not all that they seem. So for the small business you are best off to do it yourself and one way to do that is to get yourself into paid for printed media. Fair enough, I have an interest here as I write for various publications, but at the end of the day if you spend five or six euros on a magazine with 50 pages of editorial content then my guess is that you will spend more than 12 minutes in total reading it, and you might even take an interest in the ads while you are at it. I know I do!