Is Your Website Working For You?

We've put everything you need to make your website a traffic-generating machine.

Read the whole thing or jump to a section by clicking below!

 

RE-Evaluating Your Website

When it comes to the success of your business, we promise you need a website, and if you don’t think so, well this content download probably ain’t for you. Your website is your virtual storefront, the irrevocable first impression of your business, and the evidence of your business’s legitimacy. Most of all, you need it to reach your customers — whether they’re down the street or halfway around the world.

Shockingly, a recent study done by Statista reported that by 2020, mobile commerce will account for 49.2% of all e-commerce activities — compared to 34.5% in 2017. Basically, if you don’t have a responsive website that is mobilefriendly, you’re going to be missing out on about 49% of possible sales for your business. Even if you’re not selling product through your website, not having a site that is mobile responsive means your customer will go to someone else who does have a mobile-friendly site.

Having a great, mobile responsive website isn’t the key to great results, but you better believe it’s the first step in the right direction. Your website needs to wear many hats. A website needs to not just exist, but perform. It needs to attract visitors, educate them, and convince them to buy. This means that to see all the results you’re really hoping for, you need to turn your website into an inbound machine. But we know what you’re thinking — easier said than done.

Today, the web is social and interactive. Integrating search, social media, content, blogging, and more with your website will help you achieve your growth goals. Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, fancy Flash graphics (please, no flash!), and an expensive advertising campaign to temporarily boost traffic.

The reason for this shift is largely due to changes in buyer behavior. Today’s buyer is much more independent. They want to consume information on their own terms, especially without a pushy salesperson in their ear. And most importantly, they want to be educated about their options and not sold to. As you can see from the following chart, websites and new forms of inbound marketing content (such as podcasts, blogging, and social media) have become a considerable factor in the buying cycle.

If you check out HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report, it reports that inbound marketing is more effective in reaching today’s buyer. This report states that inbound marketing has a 62% less cost per lead compared to traditional marketing.

Seems like a good deal, right? What might not be apparently visible here is the role your website plays in the inbound process. We’re here to tell you it’s a big one. In most cases, traffic from handy tools like blogs, social media, organic, and paid search end up converting into leads or sales on your main website. Without a website acting as an online basecamp, you don’t have anywhere to send your new business for more information. See why we think websites are kind of a big deal?!

Having an effective website that contains key elements is crucial to driving more traffic, leads, and sales.

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Getting Found Online

Ok, so let’s say you’ve built a great website. But a great website isn’t so great if no one visits it. Getting found online is so important to your success, we dedicated a whole section to it. We’re starting with the very top of the funnel of your inbound marketing strategy. More specifically, with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is an absolute must-have for any website strategy, but it takes hard work and consistency when aiming for the top spot. These tips will help get you on your way to increasing your organic (non-paid) search engine rankings. 

Building Inbound Links

Every website on the internet is competing for that #1 position on a search results page. There is only one top spot per keyword phrase and you want to make damn sure that searchers see you first. So, what earns the first-place ranking?

Off-Page SEO is all about getting other web pages who know what they’re talking about to link to you. Search engines call this authority. The more links you have coming from other reputable sites, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you’ll rank.

Link building done right isn’t easy, since adding links to other websites is sometimes out of your control.

Here are some tips for building inbound links: 

  • Submit your website to online business directories - This is an easy way to start.
  • Create content that is high-quality, educational, or entertaining - If people like your content, they’ll remember it, and if they remember it, they’ll link to it.
  • Write guest posts for other blogs - This is a win-win for both parties. People run out of steam when it comes to writing blogs, so if you can write quality content for them, they love it and you build inbound links in the process!
  • Research link building opportunities with other websites - But, always make sure the website that you’re trying to get a link from has good authority, as a shady site won’t only not help you, but could end up hurting you. There are lots of tools to help you check authority, but we recommend HubSpot’s link grader tool.
  • Whatever you do, don’t borrow, beg, barter, bribe, or buy your links - The search engines will catch on and it will hurt you. Fun Fact: you CAN be banned from Google, so earn your links honorably. (Our rule of thumb? If mama would disapprove, don’t do it). 

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On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

So now you know about the importance of off-page SEO, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. To make sure you’re a ranking machine, you must also utilize on-page SEO. This consists of choosing important keywords and placing those within the content elements of your actual pages. These on-page elements include Headlines, Sub-headlines, Body Content, Image Tags, and Links.

Often times, on-page SEO is referred to as “keyword density.” All too often, businesses will do too little on-page optimization, or the opposite, they will do too much (we call this keyword stuffing). It’s important to include your keyword as many times as necessary within a page, but you don’t want to go overboard with it either and overload your page with keywords.

To do your on-page SEO right:
  • Pick a primary keyword for each page and focus on optimizing that page for that word -  If you put too many keywords on one page, it will become oversaturated, and then search engines like Google won’t be able to determine what it’s about. This is super common on homepages.
  • Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline - These areas of content have greater weight to search engines, helping you rank higher.
  • Include your keywords in the body content -  but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are relevant to the rest of your content. If your reader can pick out your keyword, you’re not making it organic enough.
  • Include keywords in the file name of images - (e.g. mykeyword.jpg) or use them in the ALT tag.
  • Include the keywords in the page URL - and keep the URL clean.
  • And lastly, write for humans first, search engines second - Always prepare your content for your audience and then look to optimize it for search. Content written for search engines will sound weird, your readers will notice, and the ever-ready walls will go up.

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Title Tag & Meta Tags

While this may be the least sexy component of SEO, it’s still important. A meta tag is a line of code that is contained in the background of a web page. Search engines look at meta tags to learn more about what the page is about.

Even though meta tags aren’t as powerful as they used to be, they still help you in your quest for good SEO. Back in the day, websites abused meta tags to increase their rankings by including far too many keywords. To stop this, search engines got smarter and now give more weight to inbound links and page content for ranking instead. But just because they give less weight doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Make sure to use meta tags on all of your pages to give your SEO a little extra boost!

If you’re thinking, “But I’m not a web guru,” don’t sweat it. Most website editors and content management systems enable you to easily edit meta tags without coding knowledge. If you don’t have an editor, you can simply open a web page file (ending in .htm, .html, .asp or .php) in Notepad or a plain text editor and the meta tags will be found near the top of the text.

Here is an example of what meta tags look like in an HTML document:
  • Title: The title of the page seen at the top of a web browser, also the main headline displayed in search engine results. <title>Prime Incorporated Inbound Marketing</title>
  • Description: A concise description of the page. <meta name=”Description” content=”Prime Incorporated is not just an inbound marketing firm, but a relationship company specializing in building brands.”>
  • Keywords: Words that identify what the page is about. Keep to less than 7 keywords per page. Keywords in meta tags are not visible in the search engine results like Title and Description. <meta name=”keywords” content=”inbound marketing, building brands”>\

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XML Sitemaps

The general incentive behind an XML sitemap is to help search engine crawlers (or “spiders”) sift through your pages more efficiently. An XML sitemap is simply an .xml file containing a listing of all your pages and when they were updated. Think of it like a subway map. It shows the overall structure of your website and where your pages reside.

It may sound complicated, but creating a sitemap is easy. You can find sitemap generators online that will create the .xml file for you. Once you get the .xml file, simply upload it to the root directory of your website (e.g. www. website. com/sitemap.xml). If your website is updated regularly, make it a point to update your XML file at least once a month so search engines have the freshest data.

Adding an XML sitemap is a component that is commonly overlooked by many business owners. And while it may not be the deciding factor in improving your Search Engine Optimization, it will certainly help you out in the long run.

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301 Redirects

Have you ever clicked on a link that’s broken? Chances are you’re either the luckiest user on the internet, or you have. And it’s annoying. When this happens, you’ll typically see a “404 message” or “Page Not Found.” A lot of times this is caused by a page being moved to a new URL and not directing the old link to the new page. Think about the opportunities you are losing when your customers or potential buyers want information that they can’t get to. If you choose to move a page on your website, make certain that you use a permanent 301 redirect. In common speak, it’s a method used to change an old URL to a new one.

In addition to keeping visitors happy when navigating your website, permanent 301 redirects are also important for your site’s SEO. If a user can’t find a page, chances are search engines won’t be able to either. This means that any of the SEO status that the old page had earned is lost. To keep the SEO flowing to new pages, set up a 301 redirect for pages that have been moved so search engines know where to find it.

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The Importance of Design & Usability

Now that you’ve got some good traffic coming to your site, you need to focus on keeping that traffic there. Bounce rate is a great indicator of how people are interacting with your site. A bounce rate will tell you when a person enters your website and then leaves without interacting with any other pages. There is not one set bounce rate that is average, because it varies by industry. But, generally speaking, bounce rates are between 45% to 55%.  The lower your bounce rate, the better, but only you can set your own baseline to know what works for you and your business. Here are some tips you should consider to improve user experience and decrease your bounce rate. 

Remember, your website represents you and your business. When people see it for the first time they’re thinking:

  • Is this site credible?
  • Is it trustworthy?
  • Is this a professional company?
  • Is this company stable?
  • Does this site make me feel welcome?
  • Am I in the right place?

You need to ask yourself these questions when designing your own website. We will be the first ones to tell you that it’s not ALL about the design, but it is the first thing people notice, so put some effort into your website’s design to make a good first impression.

In fact, an in-depth study from the Stanford University and Consumer Web Watch titled “How Do People Evaluate A Website’s Credibility? Results from a Large Study” found that a website’s design was more important than credibility indicators like having a privacy policy, awards, or certifications. Most visitors to a site will first notice the aesthetics of a site. While this isn’t the only factor that consumers look at to determine credibility, it is the first factor. If the site fails on this factor, consumers will go somewhere else to get their information and services. Think about it. If you land on a webpage that looks like it was designed in Hanson’s heyday, is your first impression that the company is relevant and trustworthy, or dated and lacking?

To help you, we have these tips for great website design:
  • Proper use of colors - Use the right colors for your audience to draw attention to select elements. Don’t try to make everything jump out. The result will be just the opposite – nothing will stand out.
  • Animations, gadgets, and media –  Avoid anything unnecessary. Using Flash animations because they look cool is the wrong strategy. In most cases, it’s best not to use animated background or background music. Only use media and animations to help support content and information. We do not support using Flash animation for a number of reasons; Flash is not supported by Apple devices, it has security issues, is slow to load, and provides no SEO value. We suggest using HTML 5 and Javascript for your animations.
  • Layout - Create a clear navigation structure (refer to Navigation on page 7) and organize page elements in a grid fashion (as opposed to randomly scattered). Also, don’t be afraid of white space (seriously, it’s your best friend) and avoid clutter!
  • Typography - Make sure your website is legible and your type is consistent. Use fonts, font sizes, and font colors that are easy to read. For easier page scanning, use bullet lists, section headers, and short paragraphs.

Remember that your wise words and great content are ultimately what your customers are after. A well-designed website might convince visitors to take a closer look, but they won’t stay long if your content isn’t useful. Use your design AND content to get and keep people’s attention. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make that first impression count!

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Maintain Consistency

It’s best to keep elements on your site consistent from page-to-page. Consistency translates to easily absorbed, which is good for your customer and ultimately good for you. Elements include colors, sizes, layout, and placement of those elements. Navigation should remain in the same location of your layout throughout your website.

You should typically have three types of layouts for your website: one for the homepage, one for content pages, and one for form pages. For example, your homepage will have a different layout than a landing page, but your different landing pages will have the same layout. Keep the elements in these layouts constant. This will help keep your visitors from feeling lost.

Using the Right Images

If your website is just text, people are going to get bored, fall asleep, out of their chair and possibly injure themselves. Yikes! Who wants that on their conscience? If you want to keep your reader safe and coming back for more, you need to have images on your website, but you must be smart when deciding which ones to use.

Marketing Experiments performed a test comparing the use of stock photography versus real imagery on a website and each of their effects on lead generation. They found that photos of real people out-performed the stock photos by 95%. Why? Because stock images tend to be forced and unnatural. Take care to place meaningful images on your site. A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure that your picture is saying the right things and not sending your visitors running.

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Navigation

One of the biggest factors to keep visitors on your website is having a good, solid navigation system that supports all search preferences. In fact, more than three-quarters of survey respondents from a recent HubSpot study say that the most important element in website design is ease in finding information.

If people can’t find what they are looking for, they will give up and leave. There’s too many other options out there for them to sit around burning time on a site they can’t navigate. To keep visitors from fleeing, a site’s navigation should:

  • Keep the structure of the primary navigation simple (and near the top of your page).
  • Include navigation in the footer of the site.
  • Use breadcrumbs on every page (except for the homepage) so people are aware of their navigation trail.
  • Include a search box near the top of the site so visitors can search by keywords.
  • Not offer too many navigation options on a page.
  • In most cases, it’s best to keep your navigation to no more than three levels deep.
  • Include links within the page copy and make it clear where those links go to. This is also great for SEO!
  • Avoid use of complicated JavaScript and especially Flash for your navigation. Many mobile phones can’t see Flash, meaning they won’t be able to navigate your website. The same applies to web browsers that don’t have an updated version of Flash installed.

The overall rule with a proper navigation structure is simple: don’t require visitors to have to think about where they need to go and how to get there. Make it easy for them.

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Accessibility

Make sure that anyone visiting can view your website no matter what browser or application they are using. To gain significant traffic, your site needs to be compatible with multiple browsers and devices. People are surfing the internet more than ever before, mostly on their phones. Make sure to get those visitors by allowing everyone to view your site, no matter what kind of system they run or which browser they use.

 

Creating Quality Content

We’ve already mentioned the importance of good content, but here is where we finally get to tackle the nitty-gritty. Content is one of the most important aspects of any website. With the rise of inbound marketing, content has become front and center in the minds of marketers and consumers. It is what people are looking for – and it helps with the search engines, too! It’s what drives visitors to your site, makes them stay, and turns prospects into customers. Take a look at these next must-haves for creating killer website content:

 

Messaging

There are four basic questions you need to ask yourself about the content on your website:

  • Will people know what I do within seconds?
  • Will they understand what page they’re on and what it’s about?
  • Will they know what to do next?
  • Why should they buy/subscribe/download from this site instead of from someone else?

Ideally, you want your visitors to know the answers to these questions right away. It should be obvious what your site is about, what they can do there, and why they should take action.

On your homepage and most important pages (they are all important, we get it. But pick and choose your top few), consider these helpful tips in delivering the right message:

  • Create a few headline and sub-headline ideas for your most important pages - To combat question #4 (why should I buy from you?), use a powerful value proposition, and steer clear from generic clichés, corporate speak, and other buzzwords and empty terms your readers will skim right over.
  • Make sure to include clear calls-to-action and next steps - Include links in your body copy, next step links at the end of the copy, and calls-to-action wherever it’s appropriate. Include a little direction and you’ll be glad you did.
  • Test your copy - For the most accurate indication of a winning headline, use A/B testing to determine which variation drives the most conversions. You can use tools like HubSpot’s A/B Testing Tool, Google’s Website Optimizer, or services like 5 Second Test.

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Educate and Offer Value

Even though the purpose of a corporate website is to provide information about your products and services, not everyone is going to be ready to buy the first time they visit your site. Even though it might sometimes feel like it, remember it’s not all about you. Make sure you are constantly answering the important question: What’s in it for them?

  • Offer more than just product content -  Provide e-Books, whitepapers, videos, and other forms of content that is educational and that visitors to your site will actually care about. This will nurture prospects through your marketing and sales funnel until they are ready to buy. Plus, they’ll be receiving valuable information along the way and not just a sales pitch.
  • In product-specific content, write as if you are speaking directly to your audience - Use words like “you,” and “we.” Be transparent. Make yourself sound human. Speak their language.
  • Write your product content as if you are helping them solve their problems – because you are. Avoid “we are the best” speak and instead use “this is how we help you….”

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Be Clear and Not Clever

For years, advertising has tricked us into thinking that catchy and creative headlines and phrases work well at capturing our attention. They might have for a while, but not so much anymore. For one, being clever often comes at the expense of using keywords in your headlines, which is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss. Even more so, we consumers have gotten smarter and we’re tired of advertising trickery, marketing cliques, and surreptitious methods of persuasion. We don’t want to be lied to, gimmicked, or fooled. We just want the truth!

Wouldn’t it be easier to get to the point in our content instead of trying to persuade others?

If you focus your content on being clear, not clever, you will find that more people will place their trust in you. And quite honestly, trust is the best thing you can have with your consumers. Be careful not to make things more complicated than they need to be. Use simple words that are easy to understand, since your goal is to be understood. Just be clear with what you want people to do on your site. You will gain more fans and followers in the long-run.

Blogging

Blogging is without a doubt one of the most important assets to any inbound marketing strategy, and it’s a perfect complement to your website.

Here are some reasons why you really need a blog:

  • It creates fresh content and more pages of content, which is great for SEO.
  • It helps establish you as an industry authority and thought leader.
  • It helps drive more traffic and leads back to your website.
  • It’s a great channel to converse and engage with your audience and customers.
  • It’s an excellent way to let your business’s personality to shine through as you develop a blogging voice.
  • It’s a great way to get valuable inbound links!

Blogging doesn’t have to be hard, and it certainly isn’t as difficult as you think. There are plenty of blogging tools you can use to get started. If the ability to create content regularly is your main concern, there are inexpensive blog writing services (called Content Marketplaces) that will help you get going. Still need proof blogging works? Here are some stats to hammer the point home:

According to Hubspot, businesses with 401-1000 pages of content get 6x more leads than those with 51-100.

Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.

Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.

 

Make Content Shareable and Social

Social media websites have seen exponential growth in the past decade and continue to grow larger every day. When someone “likes” a post, product, or blog entry, all of their friends see that post. Talk about reaching a large audience!

As a business owner, not having social media today is like throwing a party and only inviting your mom. If you aren’t on social media, you’re missing out on the thousands of people who want to come and join you and would if given the opportunity. It’s easy and a great way to generate some awareness and reach your customers

Make it easy for people to share and socialize with your content and resources. There a few quick things you can do to make your content more shareable and increase your traffic flow:

  • Add a sharing widget or plugin to every page on your site - This will enable visitors to share your pages via all the major social networks. Tools like AddThis or ShareThis are easy to install and provide you with analytic tracking as well.
  •  If you’re on a blogging platform like HubSpot or Wordpress - there are plug-ins available that enable people to share your articles plus auto-publish content to your social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Use Multiple Forms of Content

Content is more than just the written word. Media and utilities are excellent forms of content that can turn a text-heavy site into something that pleases the viewing preferences of multiple audiences.

Content takes place in the form of:

  • Imagery (including infographics)
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Online utility tools (e.g. Website Grader)
  • Games
  • Webinars
  • Any other creative ideas you have for a content offer
Experiment with different types of content. You’ll be able to find what works best for your business and it will create a fun experience on your website.

Customer Testimonials

No matter what you’re selling, potential buyers like to see confirmation that you’ve made other customers happy. Testimonials, customer reviews, and case studies are powerful sources of content for moving prospects even closer to the final buying stages. Provide authentic customer stories, but don’t hide them behind a form. You want your customers to see that you’re being transparent about the kind of experiences others have had with your business. It’s also good to leverage online sites that provide reviews like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, or Google.

 

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Incorporating Lead Capture Into Your Design

Now that you know what it takes to drive traffic and engage visitors with great content, the next step is to get your visitors to convert from a prospect into a lead. You don’t want them abandoning ship without leaving some information, or you’ll lose the opportunity to nurture them until they are ready to buy.  

Effective Calls-to-Action

 

The goal of a successful Call-to-Action (CTA) is to drive a visitor to take the desired action. Even if this is a new term, you’ve run into them a lot in the form of “Buy Now” or “Subscribe” buttons to name a few. CTAs are typically kept above the fold (you know, the visible part of your website before you have to scroll) or in clear sight on a page so visitors know where to take the next step. CTAs are the key to lead generation, but they need to be done right to convert traffic into leads.

CTA Positioning

 

Think about where you are going to place your CTAs. You don’t want them littering your web pages and overwhelming your visitors. It will do the opposite of what you want because no one will know when or how to convert. Remember to segment your CTAs depending on where the customer is in the funnel. Place your CTAs above the fold and don’t forget to test, test, test!

Landing Pages

You created CTAs that are going to drive some leads, but now you need to send those links to landing pages.

Landing pages, sometimes called “Lead Capture Pages,” are used to convert visitors into leads by completing a transaction or by collecting contact information from them. Landing pages consist of:

  • A headline and (optional) sub-headline
  • A brief description of the offer/CTA
  • At least one supporting image
  • Supporting elements such as testimonials or security badges (Optional)
  • And most importantly, a form to capture information

Landing pages are a necessary tool to implement in order to capture leads. Landing pages direct your visitors to one particular offer without the distractions of everything else on your website. Visitors are on a landing page for one purpose: to complete the lead capture form!

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Forms

Forms are the key to a landing page. Without them, you have no landing page because there is nothing for the visitor to do on that page. Forms come in handy when it’s time for people to sign-up, subscribe to your site, or download an offer. The form information (names, emails, title etc.) will come in handy when you want to follow up with these leads later with marketing emails or a phone call, depending on your campaign.

You might be wondering how much (or how little) information you should require with a form. There is no magic answer when it comes to how many fields your form should contain. But the best advice we can give you is to collect only the information you really need.

The fewer fields you have in a form, the higher your likelihood for more conversions. This is because with each new field you add to a form, it creates friction (more work for the visitor) and fewer conversions. A longer form looks like more work and sometimes will be avoided altogether. On the other hand, the more fields you require, the better quality those leads might be. The best way to determine what works best? Surprise, you should test it!

 

YOU MADE IT!

Creating an engaging website is one of the most important tools to a successful inbound marketing campaign. Inbound marketing is the key to filling your sales funnel with qualified leads and your website is where education, engagement, and conversion take place. True inbound success comes from the integration of SEO, social media, frequent blogging, interesting content, irresistible CTAs, and inviting landing pages that will drive traffic, create leads, that result in sales. Follow our recipe for success and your website will be on its way to generating qualified leads for your business.

 

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