While digital marketing always evolves, one element of success remains consistent: A website is often the first opportunity for a business to connect and engage with its potential customers.
With websites, the adage first impressions are lasting impressions holds true.
Think of it this way: If you walked into a store and that store didn’t fully stock their shelves, you would likely turn around and head to the next store. After that experience, would you consider returning to the first store?
Much like the in-store experience, your website’s functionality and conversion capabilities will dictate the success of the rest of your marketing efforts.
If you struggle with identifying the ingredients that make up an effective website, start by looking at the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is the process of establishing a website’s Authority, Relevance and Trust (ART) with its users. Google defines users as being either a person or a search engine, “which helps other users discover your content”1. Whether the user is qualified or unqualified, or the search engine is Google or Bing, the goal is to connect users with the best websites that provide the information requested.
A few basic elements that influence ART and will also help improve a website’s visibility on search engines are:
Content – It’s stated in Google’s most updated SEO Starter Guide that content is very likely to have the biggest impact on a website’s success.2 Most effective is high-quality content that serves the needs of a business’s audience and answers many frequently asked questions before they’re asked. You can expand the content’s reach by building quality links to relevant, trustworthy sites and premium publishers, who can position it before an established audience and increase positive interaction, boosting a business’s credibility and brand lift. Content agency Digiday defines premium publishers as those whose audiences actively seek out the content, not through purchased traffic or link bait, but through trusted and ongoing connections (think established news outlets).3 And, of course, sharing and re-purposing content on social media platforms continues growing because it’s effective.
Think mobile – According to ComScore, people spend approximately 70 percent of their digital media time on mobile devices.4 As a result, Google factors in each website’s mobile compatibility in its rankings. Ease and convenience attract consumers, so requiring them to manually adjust pages to fit a mobile screen will cause them to bounce (leave a site). Responsive web design solves this, enabling a site’s layout to adjust to any screen, rather than requiring development of separate sites for mobile and desktop users.
Security – Businesses who collect information from consumers on websites must protect their security with an HTTPS connection. Doing so bolsters confidence among users, confirming that they can provide sensitive data—names, addresses, phone numbers and payment details—without fear that it will be compromised. Even if a business’s site is not an e-commerce store, experts recommend utilizing HTTPS as Google takes it into account within its ranking algorithm.5
Opportunity to convert – While not a factor that impacts SEO, it will impact a website’s overall performance. Here are three conversion must-dos:
- Contact information must be easily accessible, rather than requiring prospects to click around to find it. The best places for contact information are the homepage and footer. Some brands have improved conversions by 50 percent by including specific calls-to-action, such as “Email Us” or “Call Now” in their site footer.6
- Web forms must be responsive for mobile devices.
- For retail businesses, mapping must be set up to enable prospects to easily input their starting location and get directions to your store front.
There are many additional factors that influence search rankings and website performance, but addressing these items provides a solid foundation for any business’s marketing efforts.
Remember that SEO results don’t happen overnight. Like a 401(k), consistent input and patience are the best approach.
Businesses who partner with a qualified SEO provider can benefit from the expertise, resources and knowledge of the latest trends – all of which are required for optimizing website traffic and conversions. Our team of dedicated SEO strategists are eager to assess your site and provide recommendations that will lead to tangible results. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today.