Category Archives: website design

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Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website (And How to Do It)

Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website (And How to Do It) written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. So it stands to reason that it should be built with marketing, rather than aesthetics, in mind. Yes, there is something to be said for having an appealing website, and you should certainly aim to design one that has both form and function. But the mistake that a lot of small business owners make is focusing on form exclusively, and that is where they miss a major opportunity.

Your website can be the most beautiful one in the world, but if you don’t focus on its function, then it’s all for naught. If you want to build a successful website, you need to start with a solid SEO framework to build a site that is easy to find and works seamlessly with your other online marketing efforts.

Why SEO Matters

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what gets new prospects onto your site. If someone does a Google search looking to solve a problem that they have, and your business is capable of solving that problem, you want your website to be the first one that they see. Think about your own browsing habits: How often do you look at the second, third, or fourth page search results on Google? If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of results, you’re not being seen by the majority of people.

Start with Keyword Research

Ensuring high rankings on search results is why it’s critical to begin the website design process with keyword research. Start by brainstorming the terms you would search for if you were looking for the good or service your business provides. This can and should be a long list—write everything down and don’t self-edit. Google Search Console can also help you identify the terms that are already driving users to your site, which might help you reframe your own thinking on the list.

Then begin to winnow the list down to 12-20 terms; some that speak to the fundamentals of your business and some that speak to a specific intent a user might have when searching. These keywords will inform all of your website design choices from here on out.

Think Like a Search Engine

The way that a human sees your site is very different from the way Google sees it as it crawls through sites looking for information relevant to a given search. You want to make sure that as much of your content as possible is in HTML text format. Images, Flash content, and Javascript are often not seen by search engines as they’re crawling sites, so if all of the important information about what your business does is displayed on your page within these dynamic formats, it’s possible that Google is skipping right past your website when looking for relevant words or phrases.

Using a tool like Google Cache Checker will allow you to see what your website looks like to Google. If your pages are showing up mostly blank, you know that search engines are missing out on crawling the majority of your content, so you’ll want to restructure your site to be more HTML heavy.

Consider Website Structure

In addition to thinking about the way a search engine will see your site, you want to make sure you’re building a structure that makes sense for SEO and for visitors.

Creating a site map can be a helpful way to think about content and flow. What information do you want to group together? What is the logical path that visitors will take when navigating your site? How can you make it easy for users to get from one relevant piece of information to another? And how can you structure your website in a way that enriches the customer journey and encourages users to move down the marketing hourglass?

Once you’ve thought about the user experience aspect of your site, it’s time to think about structure from an SEO perspective. Creating a site with crawlable link structure is critical to making sure that all of your content is seen by search engines. There are a number of reasons why your links might not be crawlable, including if they’re for pages that are hidden behind submission forms, if the links are within the aforementioned Java content that search engines aren’t able to see, or if there are hundreds of links on a given site (search engines will only go through so many links before hitting a limit).

Create Rich Content

Of course, this effort you’ve put into creating a site that’s easy to find, functional, and appealing will all be useless if your site has sub-par content.

As I’ve said before, the goal of this content should be to establish your business as a leading authority in your field. This valuable content will serve you across the board. It makes prospects come to trust you and moves them to the try and buy portions of the marketing hourglass. When you continue to generate new, rich content, it drives existing customers back to your site for more information, keeps you top of mind with those customers, and makes them more likely to repeat and refer.

Not only that, but when your website is filled with valuable content, and you continue to add more on a regular basis, you generate a stream of information that you can use to drive users to your site. You should be housing all of your content—blog posts, webinars, case studies, podcasts, white papers, and infographics—on your website. Then, as you share links to all of this valuable content on social media or via your newsletter, you’re directing all traffic back to your site.

A website, no matter how good it looks, is nothing without a solid approach to SEO. Your website is the most important piece of your online marketing strategy, and so investing the time, energy, and money in creating a site that ticks all of the boxes for form and function is a worthwhile endeavor.

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new online security breach. From mega-retailers like Target to tech giants like Facebook, online security is a major issue and giant concern for consumers.

Building trust is a critical part of the marketing hourglass for any business, whether they’re a global conglomerate or a mom and pop shop. What can you, as a small business owner, do to build a site that not only engenders trust but also incorporates legitimate security measures? I’ll share some tips below for creating a website that users trust.

1. Looks Matter

This may sound shallow, but the easiest step in creating a website that looks trustworthy is building one that looks appealing. While I’ve written before about the importance of starting with a focus on SEO—a sentiment that I still stand by—there is something to be said for putting eye-catching trappings on top of that solid SEO foundation.

The way your site looks is important because people do judge books by their covers. Think about how you feel when you go to a website that has typos; inadvertently overlapping video, text, and photo elements; or is just plain black text on a white background. It makes you question the business immediately. Is this a legitimate company, or a scam site? Surely a real business would put effort into presenting the best version of themselves online—so why is this site not up to par?

If someone showed up to job interview in a wrinkled t-shirt and ripped jeans, you might think twice about hiring them. Same principle applies in web design: A sloppy-looking site immediately introduces doubt about your business’s legitimacy and competence into your prospect’s mind.

2. Message Matters, Too

Just as important as a clear, consistent visual presence is a clear and consistent message. Part of establishing trust with a prospect is giving them a sense that they really know who you are, what you do, and why you’re driven to do it. These are all of the questions that a good value proposition will answer. That’s why it’s critical that you take the steps to find out what motivates your existing customers to do business with you and hone in on the themes that they indicate are important to them.

Once you’ve established what it is that makes your business unique and have decided how you want to communicate that message, you want to trumpet that messaging everywhere. Your website’s homepage should highlight the value proposition front and center, and then provide visitors with a call to action that encourages them to learn more about your business.

All other online marketing, including paid ads, social media, newsletters, and emails, should be grounded in that value proposition. It is the North Star for all of your messaging.

And it’s not just what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it. Each business must embrace a tone that makes sense for what they do and who they serve. A local credit union and a children’s bookstore are targeting very different demographics, and so their marketing tones will be very different. While the credit union wants to convey stability and trust, the bookstore is likely aiming for whimsy and adventurousness.

If your business’s tone is all over the map, this again introduces doubt into your prospect’s mind. If you don’t seem to have a clear handle on what your business does, how can a prospect trust you to really step up and solve their problem?

3. Switch to an HTTPS Site

So the first two steps were about putting your customer at ease by creating a site that seems secure. But with that, your work is far from done; you now need to implement tools to build a site that actually is secure. Your first move here should be converting to an HTTPS site.

HTTPS sites are encrypted and protect you from hacking. This is important for you as the business owner, because you can guarantee that all of your business’s information remains secure. It’s also vital for your customers; if you’re going to be asking them to entrust you with their credit card information and personal contact details, they are going to want assurance that you can keep that information safe.

While in the past you may have been able to sneak by with a regular old HTTP site, starting in July of 2018 Chrome began announcing to users when they were visiting unsecured sites. Users now see a red “not secure” label in the URL bar any time they visit an unsecured site, which is a literal red flag that your site is not trustworthy.

And if that isn’t enough incentive for you, unsecured sites are also punished in Google’s search rankings, so an unsecured site might be lowering your standing in organic search results. Switching over to a secured site is a quick fix to maintain your first-page search results standing.

4. Employ Further Site Security Measures

Once you’ve made the switch to an HTTPS site, there are a few additional steps you can and should take to further enhance your site’s security, which is especially critical if you’re collecting payment or other sensitive information online.

Acquiring SSL certification is a good place to start for those running e-commerce sites. SSL sites establish a secure connection for sensitive information to be transmitted. Sites with SSL also display badges to indicate their added security, which research has shown increases conversion rates.

Aside from relying on HTTPS and SSL tech to boost your security behind the scenes, you should be making efforts from your side to ensure that you’re not inadvertently opening your site up to vulnerabilities. We’ve shared about the role that out-of-date WordPress plugins played in the massive data leak at a law firm, which got international press coverage.

When you incorporate plugins from third-party developers, you open your site up to any errors in their plugin code. These developers are good about checking their work and pushing through updates to correct for any potential issues, but if you’re still running the original version of the plugin, it’s possible that you’ve left your site open for hackers to get in through the vulnerabilities there and then move into other elements of your site.

Creating a website users trust is an important part of moving your prospects through the marketing hourglass and converting them to customers. Incorporating security elements is the key to establishing a site you know will guard your customers’ personal information, which will keep them coming back to do business with you time and again.

How to Build A Website that Generates Leads

How to Build A Website that Generates Leads written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In today’s day and age, every business owner knows they must have an online presence to be competitive. But not everyone understands how to optimize that online presence. Your website is the heart of your business’s online existence, so ensuring that it’s designed to maximize lead generation is critical to securing long-term success for your company

How do you create a website that is easily found, catches a prospect’s eye, and keeps them around long enough to decide to give your product or service a try? Let’s take a deeper look at how to build a website that generates leads.

Make it Easy to Find

The obvious first place to start is in designing a site that is easy to find. You’re not going to generate any leads from a site that is in hiding.

The first step here is making sure that your domain name makes sense for your business. If you’re not able to secure your first choice, what are your alternatives? Pick a domain name is memorable, easy to spell, and is something prospects and clients will be able to easily associate with your company.

From there, you’ll want to keep track of how people are finding your site in order to understand which social channels are driving traffic and who’s talking about you online. You can then use that information to be more strategic about where you place your marketing efforts in order to drive traffic to your site.

And you mustn’t forget about SEO in this discussion. If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of Google results, you’re missing out on catching the eyes of a lot of prospects. Keyword research is a critical part of ensuring that your business is actually being found by people who are in the market for the goods and services you offer.

You’ll also want to undertake an SEO audit of your website to make sure that your current content isn’t hurting your search rankings. Screaming Frog offers services that allow you to check your website’s current SEO status: find broken links and crawl errors, analyze how existing pages rank for SEO terms, check site speed, and more.

Give Visitors a Way to Reach Out

When a visitor comes to your site and they like what they see, you want to be sure that you’re providing them with a clear, easy way to get more information from your business. Getting strategic about where and how you ask for information from prospects can help you to generate even more leads from your existing site.

The first step is to put forms on the pages that get the most traffic. Make sure that these forms ask for as little information as possible and that they auto-populate; bogging prospects down with a million questions is a surefire way to scare them off.

You’ll also want to be sure that the forms you create make sense in the context of the other information on a given page. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, don’t put a form offering a free white paper on website design on a page that’s about print work that you’ve done.

You should also provide users with as many ways to contact you as possible. Make your phone number and email address easy to find, and consider incorporating a chat function into your site’s design. No one wants to have to go on a search mission across all of your website just to find a way to ask you a simple question.

Build a Variety of Landing Pages

Creating highly specialized landing pages is one of the keys to generating more promising leads. In fact, research from HubSpot has shown that business with 30 or more landing pages on their website generate seven times more leads than those websites that only have one to five landing pages.

The best landing pages are those that keep it simple. Depending on where the traffic is coming from, you can create a specific messaging that speaks to that particular subset of your prospect population. Make sure that your succinctly outline the problem your business can solve, and that there’s a clear way for prospects to reach out—a call to action button or a simple form—and leave it at that.

Landing pages that are cluttered with too much information or that do not clearly demonstrate your company’s value proposition can leave prospects feeling confused and returning to their Google search to consider one of your competitors. If you’d like to see some examples from a variety of industries, HubSpot has some great ones here.

Create an Eye-Catching Homepage with a Clear CTA

While each of your specific landing pages should have tailored messaging and calls to action, you’ll also want to be sure that your homepage has a general call to action that serves as a catch-all for anyone who might want to learn more about your business.

This CTA shouldn’t be for a specific product or service; after all, this is the page on your website that the general population is most likely to see first, so you don’t want to single out only one of your numerous offerings on this page. Instead, give visitors the chance to learn more about your business. A CTA that asks prospects to subscribe to your newsletter or try your service for free are great ways to catch the attention of the widest swath of visitors possible.

Once you get to know these prospects better and have a deeper sense of where their specific interests lie, then you can begin to target them with more specific offers through email marketing and audience segmentation.

Use Content to Generate Leads

Having a website that’s filled with rich, valuable information is what will keep prospects on your site and entice them to come back for more. This means that your website needs to go beyond answering the basic question of how your business can solve a prospect’s problem. It must provide in-depth content on the topic that establishes your business as an authoritative voice in your industry, and provides prospects with the assurance that yours is the team for the job.

Creating valuable content and sharing that content regularly on your site is a critical part of the lead generation process. In order to do so, you need to establish a content strategy. I have advocated in the past for a strategy that organizes your content thematically. If you pick a different area of interest each month and offer a deep dive into related topics on your blog, you’re creating value for your prospects and continuing to offer interesting content regularly that will keep them coming back.

Once your blog has become a go-to source of information for your prospects, you can target them with offers for related white papers or your newsletter that’s dedicated to a relevant topic. This helps to move these prospects further down the marketing hourglass, as you begin to establish your brand as one that they know, like, and trust.

A poorly designed website will do nothing to generate leads for your business. When you begin to think strategically about all of the elements of your website—from SEO and keyword search to blog content and calls to action—you can build a website that is fully optimized to generate leads for your business.