Why is education important? That’s a nice philosophical question that sociologists often answer by saying it provides an opportunity for a child’s parents to go to work. But if you focus on education you will get tons of website traffic. The reason? Apart from just “passing time”, education is the most important reason that people go online.
According to a survey from Ruder Finn, 100% of us say we go online to “pass time”, but 96% of Internet users claim that the main reason they use the web is to educate themselves. The second most important “real” reason for using the Internet – mentioned by 92% of people in the survey – is to connect with other people. Shopping and buying things comes way, way down the list with only a third of people using the web for this purpose.
For anyone involved in running a website this study has implications for your future development. If you look at the list of reasons for going online in this study you will see that research and sharing things with others are also very high. Furthermore, discussing things and being part of a community also reach the three-quarters mark in terms of reasons for using the Internet.
What these figure suggest is that if your website is geared towards education and allowing people to discuss and share their learning with each other you are onto a winner.
Take a look at the Top 20 Websites in the world and you see three themes emerging – search, sharing and education. Most of the Top 20 are search engines – but the remainder are sites like Facebook and Wikipedia. Clearly, sharing and learning are really important to people.
This means that if you want your website to attract people, you need to consider teaching people something and allowing them to share what they learn and discuss it. So, if your main purpose is to sell a product, such as a mobile phone, you would get more traffic if your website were mainly educational – teaching people about use of mobile phones, maybe helping people understand “text speak”. That way, you would be likely to get three times as many visitors as simply having an ecommerce site selling mobile phones. And with all that extra traffic you’d probably be able to sell more anyway.
In other words, if you focus your website on your products and services you are bound to get less traffic and therefore sell less, than if your web site is educational. Add to that some kind of community or discussion group and you will attract even more people to your website. So the question you need to get answered is “what subject can my website teach people about?”. Focus on that and you will dramatically increase your traffic.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+