Digital Marketing Crew
Website Design Optimization 101 is the first post in a 7 part series. Subscribe to our blog to follow the series and receive updates by email.
Website design optimization sounds complicated, but it isn’t. It’s about creating and optimizing websites that get businesses noticed in all the right ways, for all the right reasons. Follow our guide and you’ll see an increase in your sites traffic and conversions.
One & Zero has an exclusive, highly-effective approach to website design optimization. Cleverly borrowing from binary code references (hence the name, One & Zero), as a Web Design Agency we are breaking down 10 key concepts to help you optimize your site for search.
These concepts form the basis for any optimized website. A well-optimized site goes beyond keywords and links. Optimization starts with strategy and research, and includes how a site is built, the specific needs of the business, on-page and off-page SEO, strategy, metrics, and more.
1. Start with research
2. Come up with a solid strategy
3. Structure the site for performance
4. Optimize every page
5. Create quality content that converts
6. Track metrics with the right tools
7. Make adjustments based on data
8. Build quality links
9. Keep the site healthy
10. Avoid bad tactics
Simply put, a strategy is a plan. Hopefully, it’s a really good plan that results in a lot of traffic to a site, and a ton of conversions. Here’s the thing: the plan has to be laid out. It has to be actionable, and ideally, written down. Many business owners keep a general plan somewhere in their head. But a solid strategy is specific, and usually is broken out into several parts:
KEYWORD THEMES: Think through how your keywords help attract visitors and get conversions.
DIGITAL STRATEGY: From listing out specific goals for the website to messaging and content, and everything in between, is part of the digital strategy.
CONTENT MAPPING: This is about ensuring the content is specific to your target clients or customers and makes sense for each stage of the customer journey.
ONLINE SALES FUNNEL: Exactly like it sounds, the online sales funnel is the tool that “funnels” the audience through the process, starting with prospects who are converted to leads, and then leads who are converted to clients or customers.
WEB BUILD STRATEGY: Essentially, this is the plan for building out your website so it accomplishes the goal, as well as the plan for how to know if it’s still performing well or not.
If you’re in need of gaining clarity and or roadmapping your path to success, visit our strategy services page to learn what we can do for you.
Too many businesses make the mistake of using pre-designed, carbon copy templates for their websites. It’s understandable, because a template is an easy, quick way to get something going.
The problem is that templates don’t take into consideration a company’s specific strategy and needs, because they’re built long before any company comes along to use them.
Always go with a custom site that’s tailored to a client’s strategy and goals.
Website design optimization and a strong showing in a search engine results page requires a foundation that’s built with those end goals in mind. This is the best way to avoid having a beautiful site that gets no traffic.
On-page SEO (search engine optimization) is all of the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes details.
This includes things like the title of a page (what visitors see in search engines and at the top of their browser window), a header that’s engaging and enticing, URLs that make sense and are memorable, images and video that encourage visitors to stay longer, and design that works across multiple types of devices (laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.)
Clearly, website design optimization is about more than just text and links.
Good on-page SEO is owed partially to good site structure, but is mostly the outcome of great planning and attention to detail. All of the small things count – including the time someone spends looking at a webpage, how the page shows up in a search engine results page, and what it looks like on a phone.
The better optimized the page, the more likely the right people will see it, share it, and take action on it.
Creating content that converts is the easiest part of this whole thing.
This is probably the toughest part of any website design optimization project.
It’s easy to create content, but much harder to do so in a way that makes people buy, opt-in, pick up the phone and call, or share across social media.
Good, quality content that converts shares all of the same traits: it’s readable, it’s engaging, it’s compelling, and it’s targeted.
Use call-to-actions to engage visitors. CTAs are present in great, highly-converting content. People generally want to share the content, or at least save it for later reference.
In general, for content to convert well, it must be something that connects with the audience at exactly the right place in their relationship with the company.
This is why strategy is so important, as well as content mapping and developing an effective sales funnel.
Set up tools to track metrics for the website as soon as it’s live and visible to everyone. Not all tools are created equal. Some are not only more effective, but also more insightful.
To make meaningful decisions on adjustments to strategy or goals, first track and measure things that provide insight.
Examples of this include where people are coming from, what keywords are attracting visitors, and what pages visitors are looking at. Good tools also track where people decide to leave the site and the top landing pages for the site.
Great analytics tools are easy to use, easy to implement, and most of all, easy to interpret. It’s impossible to make better decisions for next steps if the data isn’t clear.
Part of website design optimization is tracking the things that are most important based on the digital strategy. Some metrics will be more important than others.
The best strategy is to decide in advance what matters most, and then make sure the tools in place adequately measure it. The worst strategy is to skip that process and just go with what everyone else is using. Always think through each decision.
Adjust the site based on the data that comes from the tracking tools. Websites should never just be built, published, and then left alone to sit.
They are living, important marketing assets. Just as any business checks in on employees to see how they are doing, check in on the website to see how it’s doing, too.
Is it getting any traffic? From where? Do people stay? If not, what’s to be done about it?
Part of good website design optimization includes deciding what to do next, based on information from analytics. Don’t make uninformed decisions based on assumption.
It’s entirely possible to test those assumptions by creating experiments. For example, start out with a particular sales funnel, and then allow user behavior to identify what to change.
Optimization is ongoing, not a one time thing.
The best sites may have gone through multiple iterations, all based on feedback provided by analytics.
Usually, businesses think about links first when it comes to optimization. Everyone wants more links, because that’s what people are advised to do.
But I suggest stepping back and thinking about the relevance and quality of links, not just the quantity.
For quality links, this means to leverage existing relationships before spending time finding new ones. There are many ways to do this well, and it’s not as complex as it sounds.
Look at ways that are mutually beneficial, such as linked testimonials, reviews, or becoming part of relevant resource lists.
Quality means being relevant, meaningful, and useful to the end user. At the end of the day, links are meant to get someone to where they want to go.
They were not designed to boost search engine rankings. People hate being tricked into going to a page that they didn’t want to see. Because of this and other issues, search engines are getting smarter about determining if a link has any value.
Also consider that, beyond any SEO value a link may provide, if people repeatedly click on the link to your website and don’t stay there because it’s not relevant, that impacts the overall value of the site.
The idea is to get targeted visitors who can benefit from the content and products or services.
For assistance with your SEO Marketing, visit our services page to learn more about our approach and how we can help you.
A website with great content and awesome design can be significantly impacted by seemingly harmless things, such as broken links and images that don’t display.
From time to time, your site should be scanned for these issues and cleaned up. Doing some regular clean up makes the site better for visitors.
Search engine algorithms also consider these things.
Beyond navigation and internal linking, keep your site healthy by monitoring its backlinks, too. A link, whether it was asked for or not, creates an association.
Always keep your site associated with other high-quality sites, and take care of bad links when they pop up. Check out this great post on how to recover from bad links from The Moz Blog.
One other way to keep your site healthy is to keep it valuable. Sites that offer useful, free tools tend to get a lot of traction, because visitors love to share free content.
A resource like that can also become a valuable part of your sales funnel.
Develop free content that provide value to prospects, leads, and customers, and in doing so, open new possibilities for site keywords.
The last key concept of our “Binary Method” to Optimized Website Design is a crucial one. Avoid bad optimization tactics! Try to stay away from outdated, underground, or quick-fix, DIY solutions that just don’t work.
As much as everyone wishes it were true, there’s just no such thing as instant results when it comes to website design optimization. Inc. Magazine wrote a great article about why you should not build your website yourself and we couldn’t agree more.
Avoid things like keyword stuffing, which is essentially placing a target keyword unnaturally, over and over in content. Instead, value readers over ranking.
Give readers something of value. Search engine algorithms pick up on this, and the end result isn’t good for the site. Tactics like that lead to penalties. But even if they didn’t result in penalties, that kind of content just doesn’t convert. Optimize well, and the content converts as well as attracts.
At the same time, DIY instant websites built on platforms like SquareSpace or WIX aren’t advisable, either.
Even if the companies that market these products claim they are search engine friendly, they are certainly not optimized, and can’t be.
Remember that optimization has to take into consideration research, strategy, content mapping, sales funnel design, and more.
Tailor your site to individual company business models, target customers, offerings, and desired outcomes.
Website design optimization can be summarized like this: start with research, stick to a solid strategy, put out great content, build quality links, and stay away from harmful practices. Then, regularly and with objectivity, measure how well your site is doing against what the initial goals were. That’s it in a nutshell.
Keep these concepts in mind, and you’ll have a website that people can find, get value from, and build a relationship with that lasts. This is the way to build great websites and reap the rewards, too.
One & Zero is a Web Design Agency based in New York City. We’d like to invite you to learn more about what we do. For a complimentary consultation on your website’s performance, contact One & Zero today.
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