By Harrell Kerkhoff,
Maintenance Sales News Editor
Offering options and advice, during a recent presentation, was Fortune Web Marketing Founder/President Jennifer Stine (fortunewebmarketing.com).
She explained digitalization includes website development, search engine optimization (SEO), social media posts and email marketing. When working together, it produces what is known as “content marketing,” involving the creation and sharing of online material that can stimulate interest in a company’s products and/or services.
According to Stine, content marketing allows its architects to speak the language of their audience, and puts audience members in charge.
• The most successful organizations spend 40 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing;
• Many marketers view content marketing as an essential demand generation strategy at the top of the sales model;
• Unfortunately, far fewer marketers understand that content marketing fuels and supports the entire customer life cycle — from awareness to advocacy; and,
• It’s essential to have good content in place to properly bring the experiences of customers to life.
There are several ways to succeed in content marketing. First, it helps to have a good website. The first website was introduced to the world in 1991. Unfortunately, many websites today look like they were developed in the early 1990s.
“I could litterly present a two-hour session on how to make a website better,” Stine said. “For the sake of time, I will discuss three key areas: Responsivity, Simplicity and Navigability.”
She explained a responsive web design involves pages that look good, and can be properly displayed, on all types of devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops. That is critical because:
• 48 percent of global page views are now done from mobile devices;
• 93 percent of people leave a website because it doesn’t display properly on their specific device;
• On a responsive site, content is automatically resized and reshuffled to fit the dimensions of whichever device a visitor is using; and,
• Ultimately, it’s more important to provide a great experience across different devices than to look identical across those devices.
Website simplicity is also essential.
“We often use the term ‘Vegas Strip,’ at our agency, when looking at a poorly designed website that is overly complicated,” Stine said. “The term refers to a site that features too many colors, graphics and/or promotions. There is so much to look at that a person’s eyes don’t know where to begin. It’s easy to be overwhelmed.”
Stine’s tips for website simplicity are:
• Colors — Don’t use a lot. A rule of thump is a maximum of five colors, plus or minus two, for a website design;
• Typefaces — Should be highly legible and not too “artsy.” Typefaces must also contrast with the website’s background color. It’s recommended to use no more than three typefaces and no more than three point sizes; and,
• Graphics — Use graphics when they help the user complete a task, perform a function and/or accurately represent a product or service. It’s also important to optimize the site’s images. It’s OK to use a mixture of JPEG and PNG images, but make sure to include key words when naming each image.
“Not many people realize that they can optimize their images in such a way that directs traffic to their website,” Stine said.
Website images should be compressed, as non-compressed images can be large and may slow down the loading of a web page.
As for navigability, it’s important to keep the structure of a website’s primary navigation tools simple and near the top of the page. Also include navigation tools in the footer of a site. Consider using breadcrumbs (navigational aids) and include a search bar near the top of the site that is “sticky” (remains in a fixed position on the screen). Also include links within copy and don’t make users “dig” too deep to find something.
Stine suggests website developers make a basic pyramid diagram where the homepage is at the top, and each linked page forms the next layer. In most cases, it’s best to keep the site no more than three levels down.
Two tools — Google Analytics and Google Search Console — can be used to determine how well a website is designed and received.
“Google Analytics shows how much traffic a website is receiving, where the traffic is coming from, how long people are staying on that site, and how long the load times are for different web pages,” Stine said.
Google Search Console, meanwhile, is designed to measure a website’s “health” in terms of how well the site provides a smooth and seamless user experience. That includes page load times, responsiveness and ease-of-use, and visual stability.
While surfing the internet and visiting websites, it’s possible to come across a warning that says, “Not secure. Are you sure you want to proceed?” Stine said website owners have a responsibility to update and secure their sites.
The problem arrises from websites that do not provide a secure connection for visitors. When a browser connects to a website, it can either use the secure HTTPS protocol or the insecure HTTP protocol. If a site’s URL begins with HTTP, it means the connection can be insecure. HTTPS ensures the connection to a website has been secured.
Stine said an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate powers HTTPS. SSL can be obtained from a web developer or hosting company. The cost of an SSL certificate can range from free to hundreds of dollars, depending on the level of security a site requires. Using a HTTPS protocol can also significantly increase a website’s SEO ranking.
“It’s important a company’s website is updated with a HTTPS protocol,” Stine said.
THE POWER OF SEO:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to a website or web page as it pertains to search engine use, such as with Google or Bing.
Why SEO is important:
• 51 percent of shoppers surveyed say they use the search engine Google to research a purchase they plan to make online;
• 49 percent of users say they use Google to discover or find a new item or product;
• 60 percent of smartphone users have contacted a business directly, such as with a “click-to-call” option, after viewing search results;
• To improve site performance, the top technical SEO tactic used by marketers is optimizing mobile performance; and,
• The first 5 seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates. Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42 percent with each additional second of load time.
“People today seem to have the attention span of goldfish. Therefore, your website pages need to load in 2 to 3 seconds,” Stine said.
She added that according to HubSpot, nearly 64 percent of survey respondents said their companies actively invest time in SEO.
When a search is conducted on a search engine, the first page can include both paid and organic search results. Paid results are shown on the top of the page and say “Ad” next to them. The rest of the listings are organic.
When it comes to organic search results, the goal is to be listed near the top, and definitely on the first page, of a search engine listing.
“The best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of a Google search,” Stine said, with a laugh. “Seriously, you want your company, or product, to be found on page 1. That can be accomplished by using good SEO techniques.”
A search engine results page will include each shown listing’s title and meta tag. Stine recommended the title line involve targeted words matching search intent. It’s important to keep the title descriptive but concise.
The meta tag is that part of a company’s search listing shown below the title, describing the content of the web page. Stine said the meta tag should feature a unique description of the website, using action-oriented copy with targeted words. It should also feature an accurate summary of the website to match a searcher’s intent.
“A meta description focuses on what your company is about, and why a person would want to click on to that website,” she said. “The higher a site’s click-through-rate (CTR), the higher a search engine, such as Google, will rank that website.”
The title should be in the 55 to 60 character range, while the meta description should be around 155 characters.
When it comes to improving a website’s SEO, Stine said content should be aligned with the web searcher’s intent. There are four types of intent:
• Informational: Looking for specific information, such as, “How to clean a commercial kitchen floor”;
• Navigational: Looking for a specific website or app, such as Facebook Login or Amazon;
• Commercial: Looking for a specific product but haven’t made a final decision. An example would be seeking the best kitchen disinfectant; and,
• Transactional: The intent is to buy. The searcher has already found a specific product or service.
“When somebody is looking for a product to satisfy a specific need, that is when you want your product page to come up high on the web search. When somebody types in a problem, you want your web page that discusses solutions to come up high on the search,” Stine said. “Everybody has heard the term, ‘Content is King.’ This is true. Good content brings traffic to a website, boosting leads and sales.”
• 63 percent of companies responded that generating traffic, and corresponding leads/sales, is their biggest marketing challenge (according to HubSpot).
Therefore, regularly creating and sharing content that links back to a company’s website, or is hosted on the site, is one of the best ways to bring in more traffic;
• The majority of companies (67 percent) use organic traffic to measure their content success (according to HubSpot);
• 89 percent of content marketers used blog posts in their content creation strategy in 2020 (according to Content Marketing Institute); and,
• Searches on the web is the No. 1 traffic source to blogs across all industries (according to SEMrush).
Stine said she is a strong advocate of blogs.
“With a blog, you become the subject matter’s expert. It allows you to do what you do best — provide solutions. If you can do that, people will likely start doing business with your company,” she said.
Good content on a website can also:
• Demonstrate authority and knowledge;
• Build authority by providing the target market with valuable, insightful information;
• Boost a brand’s credibility; and,
• Better answer questions, share advice and prove your business can be trusted.
Stine also shared what she said is Google’s favorite acronym when it comes to judging a website’s content: EAT. It stands for: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. She added EAT is not viewed as an algorithm by Google, but rather a quality guideline.
“Google judges all content by those standards. That includes spelling, grammar and punctuation,” Stine explained. “For me, EAT doesn’t just apply to a website’s content, but can also be viewed as a good business principle.
“You should always demonstrate: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. Apply that to everything you are producing when it comes to marketing, whether it’s digital or print.”
Good website content also assists in purchasing decisions. Content can move people through a buyer’s journey made up of: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
“When a buyer is at the Awareness Stage, he/she has a problem that needs a solution. Good web content shows the buyer a specific company may have that solution,” Stine said. “In the Consideration Stage, the person is receiving a great experience on the company’s website. The site’s load time is good, there is a lot of available content, pricing is reasonable, and the visitor starts to do business with that company.
“In the Decision Stage, the company has won the person over. Its job is to now retain that person by continuously showing the buyer that the company is an expert, has authority and is trustworthy. The process goes full circle.”