How many times have you typed in a search on Google and received 30 pages of results? You scan the list of sites and then start clicking, looking for the site you think is most relevant. You arrive on the first site, quickly scan the page and think, “Nope, this isn't it.” You hit the back button. You go to the next site. “Nope, this isn't it either.” Back button. You repeat this process until you find the site you think is the one you need.Your site visitors do the same thing.

Why the chimp photo? The Internet (and especially Google) has trained us to have the least possible tolerance for sites that do not satisfy our search needs. If a particular site does not have what we are looking for, there are thousands more to look at. In a real sense, an online visitor’s attention span is shorter than a chimp’s, about five seconds, not because of intelligence (or lack thereof), but due to mental distraction and the amazing availability of different sites to look at on the Web. Your site is not only competing with others in your market, but every other site the visitor has seen and will see in the future. Does your home page match up to that competition?

You have only five seconds to earn the attention of your visitors when they land on a page on your Web site. If you don't get them quickly, they hit the back button and are gone. Your home page, normally the page on your site that gets the most traffic, has to have the answer your customer is looking for conspicuous on the page. Use a minimum of buttons, and keep the layout and graphics simple so the page loads quickly. Don’t use Flash or video.

How do you tell if the page is working correctly? An easy way is monitoring the bounce rate using the statistics program for your site. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on that page and then leave the site. For example, if 100 people go to your home page and then 65 of them immediately leave the site, that page’s bounce rate is 65 percent. If your home page’s bounce rate is over 35 percent, keep working at it—simplifying and tweaking it. Less than 20 percent is very good.

So how do you fix it? Try photocopying the page in black and white and see if you can identify the most important element of the page (most important to your customer, that is) without benefit of color. Change it, tweak it, try a version with less copy or maybe make the most important button flash slowly. Use your imagination.

Over 90 percent of car buyers will search the Web before they buy a car this year. You need to be on the Web. The good thing is it is not as difficult as it may seem. Every dealer including BHPH dealers need to have a Web site. Get started today.