Today, businesses can’t afford to ignore the potential of the internet. But simply having a functioning website is no longer enough; if a business wants to grow they need a website that is a lean, mean, money-making machine.
1. Strong foundation
Clear navigation is crucial, so work out exactly how each page will fit into a logical user journey. Use analytics data to identify how visitors reach the site, which pages they read, and how and when they convert.
Once the site structure is in place, ensure URLs show a logical hierarchy, which makes it simple for users and search engines to understand how pages fit together.
2. Be kind to robots
No matter how hard search engines try to emulate human behaviour when assessing sites, they are still robots, so sites need to ensure relevance and content are signposted in a robot-friendly way.
In addition to a logical URL structure, websites also need semantic markup, metadata, canonical tags, titles and so on set up correctly to aid SEO performance. For an in-depth how-to, I recommend this guide by content optimisation specialist Sean Craddock.
3. Quality vs quantity
Research shows nearly nine in ten organisations now use content marketing to engage and convert their audiences. However, the technique’s surge in popularity has lead to many organisations sacrificing quality in favour of quantity. Don’t fall into this trap. Customers don’t want more content; they want unique, relevant and useful content. So identify your buyer personas and create content with them clearly in mind.
“People want to do business with people,” explains David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR. “We’re human, and we crave interaction with people who know us. When you build content especially for your buyer personas, you build a relationship with people before you’ve even met them.”
And, crucially, remember that “content” doesn’t necessarily mean a blog. Visual communications in the form of videos and infographics are experiencing a surge in popularity and should form part of any intelligent content strategy.
4. Calls to action
Identify what you want visitors to do on your site, and then make it easy for them to do this. Want more newsletter subscribers Then stick a sign-up button in a vibrant colour prominently on all pages. If your objective is increased social shares, ensure social sharing icons are obvious and work well across devices.
Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personality into your website. Of course you don’t want to alienate potential customers, but in a noisy, crowded online marketplace, you need to be special to stand out. The truth is that while most people like a cheese sandwich or vanilla ice-cream, nobody loves it. And only when your content, site and brand are loved by your target audience will they become passionate about it.
Karen Webber is marketing director at content marketing agency Axonn Media.