In our society today, a website is a required part of any company’s marketing success. There was a time when a website was optional and even today some point to social media profiles as being sufficient. But I think relying on a social media profile in lieu of a website, even a very small one, is short sighted.
Social media profiles and networks will come and go. They exist in a “walled kingdom.” To fully experience a social media profile, you normally need to be active on the network. You will have customers who are not active on that network. When you create your business with a Facebook page only, you limit your reach to that network of social media users. You are also building on “rented land.” Facebook and other social media platforms are going to push you to spend money for advertising by reducing your marketing effectiveness. Lastly, it also hurts your ability to show up on search engines. Search engines prefer real websites because they help them to index information and present the most helpful sites to their users. Some of our top things we look for in a good website:
1. Important Information: Many people visit websites solely for the critical information like: address, phone number, business hours, and other contact information. This information should be READILY AVAILABLE, especially if you are a local business.
Additionally, we think there are a few more categories of essential information:
What do you do? What service do you offer and why should the customer buy it from you.
What does the process look like? How does working with you work? It helps answer a lot of questions the customer might have.
What do others say about you? Including reviews on your website can help provide social proof that doing business with you is a good idea. More detailed testimonials might also be helpful. And consider including headshots, photos, and project summaries and outcomes.
Be sure you include your accreditations and connections to important associations to show your legitimacy.
2. SSL- SSL or “SECURE SOCKETS LAYER” is now a standard in the website world. Google released an update in 2018 that made SSL a standard for websites. An SSL is a way for companies to help secure their website activity and establish secure network links for users. The short version is that SSL is good for your site security and Google will lower your search ranking without it.
3. CTA- What is your call to action? When building a site, it’s good to consider what you want a visitor to do. For our site, we have two: download our digital marketing checklist and schedule a meeting. We are not selling anything directly on our site, but we would love to build a relationship with a potential customer.
4. Mobile Friendly- This has been the standard for years now but it still needs to be said because we still get asked in the proposal process, “Will this work on my cell phone?” Web traffic is always increasing from mobile devices so if your site does not work well on a mobile device, you are missing out on lots of traffic.
5. SEO- SEO or Search Engine Optimization has evolved a lot over the years. Originally, SEO was done through blunt options like keyword stuffing. For example, if I put the word “marketing” on my homepage 1,000 times then I would be the top result in Google right. But today, there are some clear things you should do to have good SEO, in no particular order:
A. Site Structure
1. Tags- This is an SEO Classic. Make sure your meta tags are set up on at least your major pages. A meta tag is a short description that Search Engines use to get a quick description of the purpose of that page or site. It’s best if all your pages have well written meta tags.
2. Mobile Friendly- Though this should be standard now, Google will lower your rating if your site does not work well on mobile devices. If your buttons are too big or your text gets cut off, Google can detect that and will penalize you for it.
3. H1 H2- H1, H2, and so on mean Header 1, Header 2. It is a way to break out information for those who are not seeing the styling on the website. For multiple reasons, including accessibility (the ability to access the website by those who need to use screen readers), it is important to have your text divided by H1 and H2 and more definers. It helps a screen reader (technology that reads websites to individuals with visual impairment) or a crawling bot (programs used by Search Engines to learn what your website is about) realize what is most important on your page.
4. A site designed for humans with SEO in mind. You can certainly make a site that is only designed for SEO. In fact this used to be the standard for SEO. But this is no longer the case. Google has really focused on website structure and content that work for humans. They take signals of how people interact with your site to see if it’s worthwhile or not. Keep SEO in mind as you design but as a secondary function.
B. Site Health – When you think about site health, one thing to think about is: how many of my internal links are working correctly or have other errors. If your site has broken internal links due to articles missing or domains being changed, that hurts the health. Is my SSL Certificate active and working on all pages, how is the site’s load speed? Is your written content helpful? If your website is useful to humans, it will help on SEO. You might have been able to rank #1 for shoes in the past by cheating SEO but still you only sell socks. If people are looking for shoes and come to your site for socks, they will have a bad experience and it will hurt your results in the long run.
C. SSL- A Secure Socket Layer certificate is a security device that helps protect website traffic from prying eyes. Having an SSL is important now. It is almost like a badge of, “we know what we are doing” for Google. It also offers security value for your website which is why it started in e-commerce, but thanks to Google’s influence, it has become a global standard.
D. Backlinks- Backlinks are one of the most valuable things you can invest in for your business’s SEO rankings. Backlinks are links from other sources that help establish your site as authoritative, safe, or legitimate. Some easy examples of acquirable backlinks: Chambers of Commerce, Social Media Sites, blog submissions to other sites. Adding these backlinks over time will help your ranking on search engines and help increase your domain authority which is how valuable your site looks to search engines.
E. Google My Business/Google Search Console- Google, while difficult to navigate some of its SEO algorithms, also provides free tools to help with the search results.
Google My Business: If you can do one thing after launching your site to help with SEO, it would be to fill out your Google My Business profile. This helps Google surface you and you even get to customize it.
Search Console- This is another fantastic, free tool by Google. You can submit sitemaps to help speed up the crawling by Google’s bots. You can also get notifications about site problems for SEO. This is a great free application.
F. Site Speed- Becoming more important to Google is site speed. Google knows that experience is important to how useful a site so loading quickly affects your ranking. Google actually has its own PageSpeed Insights tool that you can find via a Google Search.
G. NAP Info is Correct- NAP information is Name, Address, Phone number. You want to make sure that the NAP information is consistent across your site and consistent with your Google My Business listing. If you are labeled as 742 Evergreen Terrace on your site and 742 Evergreen Tr. on Google My Business, you have a problem, make sure they are the same.
H. SEO Tools – We love AHREFS (ahrefs.com) as a tool that helps us manage many SEO research options. It does cost some money, but if you are serious about SEO improvement, you will need to invest in AHREFS or one of its competitors.
6. Content – Who is the content on your site for? It is for your customer. I repeat: It is for your customer. You need to think about what your customer wants and needs as you prepare content for your website. Frequently people will want to focus on things that they care about, not things that their customers care about. Why should they care about you? What do you provide for them? It’s the benefit not the technical details. A pest control company provides a pest free environment, not necessarily ACME Formula 1027 Pest Control Spray. You might be very proud that you use ACME but unless that means something to the customer, it’s not worth covering. However, if ACME is all natural and environmentally friendly, and won’t hurt your kids or dog if they accidentally consume it, that is a benefit that would be worth mentioning.
Content also needs to be laid out in a way that is easy to use. If you have some information that is accessed all the time, like location or phone number, make that easy to find and “above the fold.” Above the fold means that it is visible when someone loads the website without scrolling. This term originated with newspapers because important stories were always printed above the bisectional fold of the newspaper, being the area that is shown first to the customer.
We encourage you to think about the personas (or avatars or customer profiles) of your customers and to think about what is important to those customers.
7. Imagery – Avoid stock photos if you can. People can spot them from a mile away. Real photos taken of a company create more authenticity which is a valuable commodity in our era. Keep your customer personas in mind as you develop imagery for the site. If your customer base is largely teenagers, you probably do not want to exclusively feature senior citizens on your site imagery. Site imagery should reflect your customer base and what their aspirations are.
8. Analytics – If you are running a website without Google Analytics on it, you are doing it wrong. Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that does a fantastic job of measuring website traffic. But beyond website traffic, it can also help show where traffic is coming from, what pieces of the website visitors are interacting with, and potentially where conversion traffic is coming from. This information can prove pivotal when deciding where to invest future dollars for the growth of your company.
This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on Amazon.com.