If you’re embarking on a website redesign or developing a completely new site, a website strategy should be at the top of your list. Essentially, a website strategy makes sure that your website supports your business goals. To get there, you need to think about how you’re going to drive people to the site, engage them once they’re there and eventually convert them to a lead or customer.
While a lot of things go into a new site, here are three things that we think about here at Ervin & Smith when we’re working on a website project:
Navigation + information architecture.
By definition, website navigation is the organization of links on your website that show users where to go and how to use your website. Information architecture is the structure of your content, that includes labeling and URL structure to improve site usability. It’s all about balancing what you want the user to do and what the user needs to do. To get to an optimal sitemap and navigation, we oftentimes use data from Google Analytics, keyword search data and any other usability information that we can get our hands on (heat mapping, conversion data, etc.)
You’ve probably heard this more than once, but it’s advice worth paying attention to – and repeating – especially because relevant content is one of the key drivers of whether or not Google or other search engines will serve up your content. Your site needs to have high-quality, helpful content.
Every piece of content has to tie to a business objective and a user need. To turn this vision into reality, start with what you know about your audiences and define the tasks they will be looking to accomplish on your site. A few good places to find data about your audiences include:
- Website analytics
- Customer feedback channels
- Comments on your blog or social channels
- Survey results
- Sales teams
Look at this data for clues about what your visitors like or where they feel content is missing. But don’t stop there! Defining your target audience’s needs and goals also involves understanding where they are in the buying life cycle. This is where developing ”content with context“ comes into play. Someone who is in the research phase is going to be looking for very different content than someone who is ready to make a purchasing decision – and developing a thoughtful mix of content that will entertain, educate, inspire and convince your audiences is important to keep them moving forward and engaging with your brand.
Keyword research has changed significantly in the past few years. It used to be all about finding the one keyword and putting that on your site 500 times. Today, it’s a lot different. And harder.
With machine learning and advanced algorithms, keyword targeting is more about content relevance to the search query (i.e. user intent) and understanding semantics. It’s not enough to just stuff a bunch of keywords on a page. You need to present quality, meaningful content that answers your visitors’ questions, engages them and entices them to explore your site further. To get a better sense of which keyword groups to focus on, we recommend:
- using SEO tools (Moz, SEMRush, etc.) to ensure you’re targeting keywords with traffic potential (not just volume).
- incorporating semantically related words and similar keywords into your content.
- focusing on content relevance to the keyword and fulfill the user’s intent with your content.
There’s obviously a lot more that goes into a successful website… like design, clean development and a launch plan. We like to call this part “the fun part” but none of that is possible without first taking the time to build out a website strategy.