We get a lot of traffic to our "Contact us" pages on our website. There are two reasons for this:
1) We have it in our side navigation
2) We get about 60% of site traffic from Google
We have a website which is not yet really transactional, though it will be come 2013. But, as we know from previous Socitm stats, 57% of website visits are for information only. So, it doesn't really make sense to heavily promote the Contact us pages - it gives the customer the immediate option to life the phone and call us. We want them to visit our website and self-serve.
What can we do?
We can remove it from the right hand navigation.
We can reduce the traffic coming from Google to these pages. What I am not going to do is upset the customers by making the Contact us pages impossible to find on Google. But what I have done is take advantage of demoting pages in Google's Site Links.
Google Site Links
Google Site Links are the links shown below some of Google's search results and are meant to help users navigate your website.
Our biggest referring keyphrase is our council name - Central Bedfordshire Council. Try Googling that. You can see the Contact us page coming up as one of the Site Links. It is screaming to the customer "pick me". But I don't want them to go there, I want them to visit the main website and self serve.
Google Webmaster Tools
Demoting the links to say to Google "don't show these" is relatively straightforward if you have Google Webaster Tools available for your site. The explanation of how to do this is on the Google Support website. It will take time for this to disappear from our listing in Google and then I can measure the success over the coming month - the aim being more clicks on the home page or other site links and less visits to the Contact us page. It's a small step to increasing site traffic and deacreasing the calls to the customer services centre. But every little change like this helps.
Do a Google search
I did a check of a few other local authority websites this morning. I'd check yours and see if you are getting the same result when performing a Google search for your council's name.
At the same time take a look at your Title tag for your home page! I need to change ours - Welcome to Central Bedfordshire Council - it's not a doormat....it's a website so why the WELCOME!
Though a look at Edinburgh shows the telephone number as part of the website title - maybe thats deliberate!
Brighton's home page is prefixed with home page - Brighton & Hove City Council.
I'd ve interested as ever in any other council's approach to "Contact us" information. I am not going to make CBC an Easyjet with it being impossible to find a number - I just don't want to make it the first, and most obvious option.