The Web is a Highway – Service Websites Shouldn’t be Just Billboards
According to WebsiteHostingRating.com, as of January 2020 there were more than 1.74 billion websites. That’s not pages, articles, or posts; that’s websites. The amount of content on the Internet is so massive, it’s somewhat of a technology miracle when someone enters a search phrase and gets results that are highly relevant to their search.
The Internet moves at blazing speeds, and for a website to effectively deliver prospects and business, it must be carefully planned, constructed, and marketed. If those three pieces don’t come together properly, the website is like a billboard next to a high-speed highway. Cars are blazing by with the occupants barely able to catch a glimpse of the headline on the billboard, much less the content that could spur them to buy something. By taking those three pieces and breaking them down, the site owner can become an exit from the Internet highway with signage directing visitors to the desired destination.
Carefully Planned Content
Before the first site design decision is made, the content that will achieve the goals of the site should be well defined and planned. If the business is attempting to convert site visitors to prospects that are marketed once identified, the content is crucial. The services, whether consulting, professional, automotive, home services, or others, must determine the information needs of prospects that cause them to make a purchase decision.
The first planning task is to identify the information needs of potential customers, and often the best approach is to research past conversations and emails, and also conduct research in person. The site owner is searching for the questions most asked by prospects, as the answers to those questions are the source of topics for website content.
Every services site has navigation to their services categories, content that describes those services, etc. However, assuming the site visitor knows which service they need can be a mistake. Creating the content pages with answers to the questions past customers have asked is as important or even more so than just describing services.
Avoid trying to do too much information-sharing on a single page. Create the content as landing pages that deliver a visitor to a page with very specific content relevant to their search terms or only one main topic. This helps the visitor, but it also helps with SEO, Search Engine Optimization. When a page is focused on one main idea, product, or service, the search engines find more relevant keywords, and diluting that focus with other ideas or topics is a negative.
Proper Site Construction
Chart or do a flow diagram for the website content to determine the navigation links/buttons that will help a visitor to locate the information they want with as few clicks as possible. It is easy and fast for the visitor to get frustrated and click away to find a more friendly site. There are valid reasons for the FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions, page as well. This can use the questions that were used to craft the detailed content pages. The FAQ answers would offer a brief overview and link to the details. This allows the low-patience visitor to quickly scan and find what they want.
In creating content as landing pages with content tightly focused on a single topic, search engine algorithms find it easier to rank the page for that single topic, resulting in higher rankings. As important, or more so, is that the site visitor who arrives with that landing page’s information as the answer to their needs is more likely to stay on the site to learn more.
Take the time to crosslink the site, creating a great many internal links from one place on the site to another. Any time that another topic or service is mentioned, create a link to that mentioned content. As with many of these tips, if it’s good for the visitor, it’s usually good for the search engines as well.
Once the content is placed and crosslinked, the calls-to-action should be placed. Most visitors to business websites arrive anonymously and leave the same way. If the content on the site is properly planned and written, the visitor has a positive view of the site, so it’s time to ask them for their contact information. It’s NOT the time to ask them to “join our network,” or “sign our guestbook”.
For each topic or landing page, there should be a relevant call-to-action in the form of an offer of more details, examples, special reports, etc. This is a critical process in the conversion of visitors to identified prospects with contact information. The offers should add value to the content of the page the visitor is consuming. If their questions are being answered, an offer of more information often gets that valuable contact information.
The first thought of business website owners is often of SEO for organic free search engine positioning. It’s important, but even good SEO methods can take months to produce results. PPC, Pay Per Click, marketing can be effective. Too many do not try it because they’ve heard stories of failed campaigns that cost a lot of money and produced poor results. There are reasons for failure, and the two sections above will get the website past many of them.
PPC Marketing Strategies for Success
A properly planned and constructed site with focused landing pages will get past many of the reasons for PPC failures. With this well-planned and constructed content, the next step with PPC is to create ads that will be effective at not just delivering clicks and visitors, but also delivering them to what they wanted and converting them once they’re there. Too many PPC advertisers place ads and simply link them to their home page.
Now that the site is properly planned and constructed, the PPC ads can be written with a tight focus on the content of each landing page. The advertiser doesn’t pay for the number of ads or views, only clicks. So, writing a good ad that grabs attention is a start. Then the trick is to have that ad specifically targeting a content landing page. Google, as an example, ranks ads based on many sacred algorithms, but what Google wants above all is for a searcher to find exactly what they want without bouncing off the site where they arrived.
For this reason, Google scores ads based on many factors, including how long the visitor stays on the site and where they go from that first landing page. Using what’s been presented here should keep the visitor longer, guide them to other content they want, and hopefully get them to fill out a call-to-action form for special offers or information. Ads with higher scores get charged lower click rates while getting higher search positions in the paid ad results.
Once the online marketing is in place, it’s time to take it offline. Every piece of printed material and every advertisement should direct the viewer of that ad to the website. As with PPC, it’s better to focus on a topic or service/product and to direct the viewer or reader of the ad to the same landing page that an online searcher would land on.
A consideration to keep in mind when doing this offline advertising is that, unlike just clicking a link, the ad viewer or reader will have to type in the URL (domain address) to get to the landing page. Use simple and relevant URLs they can remember and type easily.
Implementing these three processes properly will move a website from the side of the highway as a billboard to a well-marked exit to take the visitor to where they want to be, and that’s good for business.