How much does your website cost you longterm?

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Anyone looking at the BBC website today cannot fail to see the news story ‘Government to axe hundreds of ‘unnecessary’ websites‘. It refers to the fact that the Government are going to review all of their 820 existing websites and retire a portion of them in a bid to cut costs and save £100m.

When I was reading through the article a few figures jumped out at me (not least the £4m cost to build the UK Trade and Investment website!) If you look through the article and do the sums you’ll see that in 2009 – 2010:

  • £153,658.54 was the overall spend per website, on average
  • £114,634.15 was spent on website development alone per website
  • £41,463.41 was spent on web staff per website, on average (which according to their measuring website costs document puts the average salary at approx £30k)
  • £11.78 is the quoted cost per visitor

That’s a shed load of our money being spent on each website.

My favourite quote from the website has got to be:

“The days of ‘vanity’ sites are over. It is not good enough to have websites which do not deliver the high quality services which people expect and deserve.” Francis Maude

Here here – it’s only something that every SEO company has been banging on about for years!

So how do you go about measuring how much your website is costing you?

At a basic level you can get a rough estimate of how much your website is costing you by considering the following headings (and allowing for the lifespan of the website).

  • Planning / Research
  • Design and Build
  • Content Provision
  • Testing
  • Maintenance
  • Hardware
  • Advertising

You also need to have a way of monitoring your website and it’s traffic so having something like Google Analytics is a must to let you see who is visiting your website from where, how long they are staying on your site, how many pages etc and whether they result in a sale.

Once you have your visitor counts and costs then it’s a simple case of dividing the cost by the number of visitors, I have provided a sample below to demonstrate this. In this graph I am assuming that the current visitors would pretty much remain static and that visitor numbers would begin to increase after undertaking an SEO campaign. Or to put it another way, once you have speculated you will begin to accumulate and see the benefits of the extra expense!

Note : Obviously these costs are in no way realistic but they demonstrate the point just fine!

Annual Cost
20 visitors (No SEO)
40 visits (with SEO)
60 visitors (with SEO)
80 visitors (with SEO)
Purchase of website (one year lifespan)
£100
£5.00
£2.50
£1.67
£1.25
Content Provision
£100
£5.00
£2.50
£1.67
£1.25
Maintenance
£100
£5.00
£2.50
£1.67
£1.25
Hardware
£50
£2.50
£1.25
£0.83
£0.62
Advertising (Online, Offline, PPC etc.)
£50
£2.50
£1.25
£0.83
£0.62
SEO
£100
Not Purchased
£2.50
£1.67
£1.25
TOTAL COSTS
£400
£20.00
£12.50
£8.34
£6.24
Cost per visitor
£1.00
£0.32
£0.14
£0.08

So, hopefully you will have seen from the graph that without an SEO campaign (that ups your visitor numbers) your website could endlessly be costing your company more than necessary per visitor (in this case £1.00) and that with an SEO campaign and increased visitor numbers you can begine to reduce this per-visit cost (in this case it’s potentially reduced to just 8p).

OK, so it’s not all just about visitor numbers….

But what good is a visitor I hear you cry? What about converting those?

Well, Yes, of course the aim of the game is to convert those visitors into a sale, an enquiry maybe even a newsletter sign up but the purpose of this post is to show you how much your website could cost you through putting it online and forgetting about it or not promoting it effectively.

Think of it like this, if you have spent £10,000 getting your website up and running and you have 2 visitors in a year then that’s a lot of money for exposure to just two individuals. It may be worth asking at this stage whether the website is working for you as well as it could or whether you are online for the sake of being online. Could an SEO campaign help you gain more traffic and ultimately conversions?

With this post I hope I have shown you how spending a little on an online marketing campaign and increasing visitors to your website you can begin to see a reduction in terms of how much your website is costing your company.

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