Your website is integral to the success of your business.
First off, your website is your online shopfront. Your website will often be the first touchpoint a potential customer has with your business – so it needs to make the right impression. You would not expect potential purchasers to trust your brand, feel reassured by your expertise, or forge a solid connection with your business if your shopfront was unfinished or providing inaccurate or little useful information. You should think about your website in the same way.
Your website should be well designed and should feel trustworthy. It should be easy to navigate; you want to entice users to stay on the site, look at more pages and learn more about you. And, perhaps most importantly, your website needs to then drive these engaged users to become leads and generate profit.
Just like any other shopfront, your website should be consistently maintained and improved, evolving with your business. These changes and improvements should be based on data gathered in analytical platforms.
Driving traffic to a site that has been neglected or not properly thought through is like pouring water into a sieve. It impacts the way your brand is perceived, your visibility in search engines and volume of organic traffic, leads and revenue.
But fear not! You can revamp and update your online presence at any time. And there’s no time like the present to give your website the TLC it deserves. To help get you started, we’ve put together this guide on the three essentials to get your website into top form to accurately reflect your brand identity, values and service offering…
ESSENTIAL #1: Design and User Experience
According to Google, it takes a user 0.05 seconds to form their first impression of your website; that’s before they’ve even read anything.
The truth is this: a well-designed, functional website drives outstanding performance. The design of your website reflects your brand and influences the way your audience perceives you. The last thing you want is for your website to appear amateurish or give your audience a reason to question your credibility.
Fonts, colours, imaging and messaging are all vital components of your brand identity, so they should be chosen carefully and used consistently across your website.
The layout of a website should be simple and impactful. It should showcase your brand identity and cleverly draw the user’s attention to the most important areas. Your website should be easy to navigate and enable the user to easily find the information they’re looking for.
By using high quality, high resolution images and videos, as well as informative, engaging content, you can showcase your business offering to users. A great user experience translates into conversions.
Good design impacts user experience. Together they impact brand credibility and trust. Trust impacts SEO and conversions – so if your website isn’t driving conversions, there’s work to be done.
ESSENTIAL #2: Content
There is a fine line to be aware of when it comes to website content.
Website content includes on-page copy, blog posts and targeted call-to-action copy, such as pop-ups and sliding call-to-actions. Too little copy leaves people unclear and uncertain about converting or contacting you. Too much copy can leave them feeling overwhelmed.
Your website content should reflect your brand identity by using the messaging, language and tone that resonates with your audience.
Your content marketing should capture your offering, USPs, touch upon your audience’s pain points and how you can help them overcome these.
Website content should be guided by both broad-match and long-tail keyword research to ensure you appear in search results. But writing copy for search engine optimisation is a fine art – it must be aligned with the intent behind searches. If your content appears on a SERP (search engine results page), you need to be confident that your content is contextual and imparts value every time a user visits it on your website.
Our client in the IT sector began quickly ranking for a specific service they offered after we reworked the content on the service page and created one blog post for them on the matter – in the two years their site had been live they had never ranked for this search term.
You can use tools such as AH Refs to carry out keyword research; in fact, we recommend you carry out this keyword research every six months. Then you can add to or tweak content to remain in line with your audience’s search trends.
Content should also be well structured and formatted on the page. This means using the correct title tags (found in the CMS of your website) to make sure it’s easy to read. The aim is to encourage users to read content in its entirety and influence conversions.
Blogs posts should be posted at least once a month, coming from a well-researched content strategy. Content marketing is not a short-term strategy, neither is it a passive strategy. While good, informed content will naturally drive organic traffic over time, to amplify results you can drive traffic to it using email and social media marketing. To avoid disappointment, don’t expect a blog to drive leads as soon as it’s posted; content marketing is a long-term, multifaceted strategy. Marketing guru HubSpot found that 76% of its blogs monthly page views were from older posts, because over time it gets shared, linked to and clicked on.
In fact, one of our clients has seen the volume of unique pages views to their older posts increase by as much as 225% year-on-year.
It’s important to note that your onsite copy is one element that influences user behaviour on the site. Onsite behaviour, such as time on page, bounce rate and number of pages viewed, contribute to your position in the search engines. The more positive the behaviour is, the better signals sent to the search engines. In turn this improves your SERP positions and volume of organic traffic.
ESSENTIAL #3: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
SEO is critical to the success of your website. Organic search traffic consistently dominates web traffic and, for most businesses, makes up the largest volume of website traffic and sales. SEO, or search engine optimisation, gives your business a competitive edge and increases your visibility in Google and other search engines.
Visibility is so important because it’s widely acknowledged that users are more likely to click on a business that appears on page one of the results pages and, further to this, the top five results.
One of our clients has experienced movements of up to 88 places for relevant keywords over 12 months, moving them up to page one in the SERPS, thanks to a combination of onsite strategies, including SEO and content marketing
According to Search Engine Watch, results on page one garner 92% of all traffic, with traffic dropping off by 95% for page two. In its simplest essence, SEO is a set of practices that helps your website to appear in these top results.
SEO is not a quick win solution but takes knowledge and dedication to ensure that you overcome competitors and algorithm changes to maintain search engine visibility. A good SEO strategy will also contribute to achieving a great user experience and usability of a website.
SEO can be split into three main sub-topics;
Technical SEO – responsible for crawling and indexing
Technical SEO includes configuration work to ensure the website can be crawled easily by the search engines and technical processes to ensure a site’s visibility.
Technical SEO includes (but certainly isn’t limited to) ensuring that:
- a site is optimised for mobile
- the site architecture is SEO friendly
- the secure HTTPS protocol is in place,
- the website has a primary and secondary navigation in place (including breadcrumbs)
- site speed is optimised
- 404 pages and redirects are in place – but not too many.
On-page SEO – optimising the page and its content
On-page SEO refers to the content on the site. Pages aren’t read by search engines like they are by humans. They need to be optimised using elements such as internal linking, meta data, structured data mark-up, website structure and keywords to send signals to the search engine crawlers that this is a website – or page – of interest.
Off-page SEO – promoting the website and increasing its authority
Off-page SEO is the art of digital PR and link building. In order to build links that add true value to your site, they must be from trusted, authoritative and relevant sites to give out the right ‘trust signals’ to search engines. To do so, you must give other websites a very good reason to link back to your website: could you offer an expert insight on a topic? Do you have some new data or created a piece of interactive content that would be worthwhile sharing?
To be successful, link building campaigns require team collaboration and thorough research to help build great links.
*BONUS ESSENTIAL*: Lead Generation and Conversion Rate
You thought we’d leave you without touching on one of the most important points of all?!
Conversion and lead generation – the holy grail. We all want a website that turns visitors into sales or leads. Thankfully, there are specific strategies that can be implemented to improve the volume of conversions that your website achieves.
Pay close attention to your conversion rate or number of leads generated. You can make changes that will increase this number (and ultimately revenue) without spending time and money driving more traffic to the website. The focus here is on converting the traffic you already attract.
Conversion optimisation tactics could include navigating users to a page with a high number of conversions or assessing how visitors use your website. Then you can ensure contact forms and important information is in the right place for it to be seen
Other conversion rate optimisation strategies include:
- Optimising the site’s load speed
- Implementing Apple Pay or Google Pay to capitalise on impulse browsing
- Optimising contact forms by the right placement, making them shorter or more targeted
- Using the right imagery
- Using dedicated landing pages for targeted campaigns
And there you have it! There’s plenty more where that came from.
However, we hope this guide has given you some food for thought and areas for consideration when it comes to improving how hard your website works for your business.
If you’d like any more guidance, or to chat your website and marketing plans through, get in contact with a member of the Media Matters team to discuss your business growth plans, and the essential role that marketing plays in this.