An organization’s website should serve as the foundation for all of its marketing efforts. But simply having a website—no matter how beautifully designed and technologically advanced—doesn’t necessarily generate demand. In order for a website to function as a sales prospecting and/or deal-closing tool (and every website should) it must be strategically planned and developed and then managed with discipline toward specific goals and objectives. Here are the keys to an effective website.
Get found online with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is achieved through a complex set of tactics that collectively improve your website’s rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). A properly optimized website will show up near the top of organic search results for key phrases that are most important to your business.
How SEO helps improve search rank:
- A website that engages its visitors (through more pages visited and overall time on site) is ranked higher than a site that loses visitors due to questionable SEO tactics or irrelevant content
- An optimized website will draw a greater percentage of qualified visitors who are actively interested in what you have to offer, creating an upward spiral of relevance and pagerank
- Writing visible copy and underlying web code that are focused on a very specific topic helps search engines “understand” what a page is about so the page can be correctly indexed for organic search relevance.
- Writing clean and minimal web code minimizes the filesize of web pages, making them load quickly while minimizing data consumption, especially on mobile devices—one of many metrics search engines use to establish pagerank.
Improve your business with a mobile friendly website
A mobile-friendly website provides a visually appealing and functional experience on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile screens. There are a number of ways to create a mobile-friendly website. The most popular is with a responsive layout. A responsive layout allows the same web page to be arranged and scaled in different ways for various screen sizes. The website senses what screen it’s being viewed on and adjusts the layout and text styling accordingly.
Two ways a mobile-friendly website helps your business
- Mobile-friendly websites score higher in Google search results because they serve all users
- A better user experience will increase engagement and retention
Use website landing pages to increase online conversion rates
A landing page is a web page that is designed specifically to receive traffic driven to the page from off-site digital marketing efforts. Ideally the landing page will elaborate on the copy of the “traffic-driver” ads and deliver on the ad’s promise. A well-built landing page will compel the page visitor to take a desired action such as “Buy Now” or “Sign up to our email newsletter.”
How landing pages increase online conversion rates:
- The connection between the ad and the landing page creates a one-two messaging punch that helps to complete the transaction
- People directed to the page find what they expect to find so they stay on the site longer and are more likely to respond favorably to a call to action
- The ROI of digital ad campaigns is improved because of the direct link between the ad copy and the landing page (fewer paid clicks by irrelevant targets)
Measure, analyze, and optimize for continuous improvement
Most website owners utilize some form of website visitor tracking. Google Analytics is the most popular, and it’s a very powerful tool. Best of all, it’s free! But the power of web analytics lies in knowing which metrics are most important, understanding how to interpret them, and following through by implementing optimization tactics to improve the website’s performance for stated goals and objectives.
Here are three ways that website analytics can help improve your overall online marketing results:
- You can learn a lot about your audience’s interests and preferences by looking at which content on your website they find most engaging
- With conversion tracking enabled, you can accurately measure the ROI of online promotional efforts from social media posts to digital advertising campaigns
- Regular review of search queries can tell you what phrases site visitors used to find content on your site and those queries can be used to continually improve your SEO
Use clear calls to action to increase conversion
If you invest time and resources to get qualified traffic to your website, the last thing you want to do is to leave site visitors wondering what to do next . A clear call-to-action (e.g., “Buy Now” “Make a Reservation”) on every page makes it easy for a visitor to fulfill the need that drove or drew them to the site. Think about what action you want site visitors to take (e.g, call, click, buy, reserve, join, etc.) and ask them to do that on every page of your site.
Rules for an effective call to action (CTA):
- Make CTA visually prominent, using bright, and/or contrasting colors
- Use clear language so visitors know what will happen next (e.g., “Buy Now” “Download our free guide” “Sign up for our weekly promotions email”)
- Include a call-to-action on every page of your site; you never know which pages a visitor will view
Keep your website fresh and relevant with a content management system (CMS)
A website that is outdated and stagnant can mislead or frustrate prospective customers before you ever get to tell them about your wonderful product or service. A content management system (CMS) allows a site owner to edit the content of the site without any special knowledge of web code (HTML, CSS, jQuery, etc.). A site that is clearly up to date with current prices, happenings, seasonal references, etc. is much more engaging and gives visitors confidence that the information they see is accurate and current. In addition to improving the experience of visitors, a frequently updated site will be ranked higher by search engines.
Here are three ways to improve website performance with a CMS:
- Keep content fresh and seasonally relevant to engage visitors and give them reasons to come back
- Incorporate important search phrases into site content to increase search relevance and rank
- Create campaign-specific landing pages to increase conversion rates (see above)
There was a time when most websites were little more than online brochures. That time has long since passed. A website should be considered one of your most valuable capital assets and should be treated with as much focus and allocation of resources as a company’s physical property and staffing.