How To Maximize the Effect of Your Business Website
It was a long time ago when a simple online presence sufficed for most professionals. Today, increasingly aware, tech-savvy audiences require innovative marketing practices to reach them effectively. Similarly, innovative webmasters seek to best use all the tools at their disposal to maximize their operations’ efficiency.
Getting the best your business website can give is not an easy endeavor, however, as it entails many processes. From analytics and introspection to competitor analysis, it is a lengthy process spanning across all stages of the customer’s journey. Therefore, let us outline it, step by step, as a starting point toward success.
The fundamentals of getting the most out of your business website
To properly analyze a thorough website optimization process, let us delve into the three main phases of website functions. Namely, these are discovery, engagement, and conversion. These phases will dictate the proper optimization tools: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), web design, and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), respectively.
SEO entails a series of practices that, as the name implies, are aimed at optimizing websites for search engines. A wide range of factors is in the mix, from loading speed, security, or the strength of the site’s backlinks. In doing so, it adheres to Google’s 200+ ranking criteria for better visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Naturally, it also fundamentally overlaps with Google’s Page Experience Update.
Search engine visibility, ideally along with other methods like pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, drives lead generation. However, one must then ensure the following step: lead acquisition. While SEO also delves into engagement, web design focuses on the user experience (UX). It is the UX that cements the audience’s retention rate. A clean, refined, concise web design will encourage audiences to navigate SEO-ready content, yielding potential conversions.
Finally, conversions are the final goal of most business websites. They may be media engagement, newsletter signups, completed purchases, or any other predefined desirable action. On this front, CRO is a series of practices that seeks to optimize conversion rates, complementing SEO. Namely, where SEO drives traffic, CRO drives conversions from it. Thus, to maximize the effect of your business website, CRO is something you should consider as well
SEO: the discovery phase
Having outlined the basics, let us now explore each set of practices in some detail. These will overlap and inform one another at times to avoid duplicate entries in these cases.
Starting with SEO, let us cover the most crucial fundamentals.
As SEO revolves around search engine visibility, it hinges on proper keyword research to inform content creation. The need for this research does not mean you must prioritize search engine visibility over your human visitors’ needs. Instead, it entails finding the most cost-effective keywords to rank for, delivering value to target audiences and visitors. Keyword research will thus vary from one business to the next, concerned with factors like:
- Main keywords vs. long-tail keywords
- Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords
- Locally valuable keywords
These sets of keywords are the cornerstone of content creation. Search engines prioritize delivering value to users, which begins with keywords of choice.
In turn, keywords will solidify content relevance and value. SEO famously holds that “content is king”, and rightfully so – strong content enhances SEO, engagement, and final conversion rates.
Thus, as regards content creation, SEO focuses on on-page elements such as the following:
- Keyword density and keyword “stuffing”
- Formatting (headings, subheadings, bullet lists, etc.)
These qualities, along with self-evident ones like a lack of grammatical and other errors, best solidify content. They enhance the overall UX by delivering scannable, digestible pieces of valuable content. For search engines, they yield engagement signals which boost the perceived value of the products or services.
Next, SEO—or, to be specific, the subset procedure better known as off-page SEO—delves into the world of backlinks. In brief, backlinks are all the links situated on other websites but lead to your own website pages. If an inbound link has the Follow tag, it will affect your page’s authoritativeness score. Alternatively, the NoFollow tag prevents the score from being influenced. Regardless of the score and the SEO tags, backlinks come with multiple benefits, SEO-wise and otherwise:
- Increased brand awareness and visibility
- Referral traffic
- Enhanced engagement signals for search engines
Such benefits make building backlink profiles so valuable, even for professionals who do not specifically practice SEO. Thus, to fully take advantage of your business website, you should strive to build a healthy backlink profile.
Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA)
Having referenced PA, this is an equally crucial metric in which SEO engages. For clarity, the PA score was developed by Moz in response to Google’s ranking factors. However, the term has seen wide acceptance by digital marketers, and many now regard it as a best practice.
In brief, PA gauges the authority of individual pages, while DA gauges collective domain authority. Moz explains that “the best way to influence a page’s Authority is […] by getting external links from other high-authority pages, which in turn act as “votes of confidence” for the authority of your page.”
Finally, before visitors get to engage with your content comes a loading time. This factor is still sometimes dismissed by businesses as too trivial, but not by visitors. Moreover, Google/SOASTA research found that loading speeds impact bounce rates, discouraging visitors from staying. Specifically, bounce rates relate to site loading speed. Recent reports confirm the old notion that if a page takes over three seconds to load, risks having high bounce rates.
To address this, SEO incorporates such practices as:
- Image compression
- HTTP request reduction
- Redirect reduction
- Browser caching
These, and practices related to web design, seek to improve loading speed and, by extension, the UX.
Web design: the user experience
With SEO enhancing visibility and lead generation, UX design will complement it, fostering retention and driving conversions. Here are some of the numerous UX factors related to the well-being of your business website:
Responsiveness and visual consistency
Initially, Core Web Vitals helpfully outlines three key metrics as regards responsiveness and visual consistency. These are the following:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- Statically reserving space for ad slots
- Avoiding intrusive dynamic content
- Setting size attributes to on-page media elements
Notably, this set of practices also overlaps with mobile-friendliness, another innate quality of SEO.
Mobile-friendliness is equally crucial toward getting the most out of your business website and affecting SEO and UX. Far from a passing trend, there are multiple reasons for this increasing significance, including:
- Search Engines - Google indexes mobile versions of pages before desktop versions
- Traffic - mobile users now generate more traffic than desktop users
- Local visibility - people do “near me” searches using mobile devices
Thus, mobile-friendliness has yielded mobile-first web design. This practice caters explicitly to mobile devices by offering cleaner UIs, easier navigation, and more responsive pages.
Ease of navigation
A key element of UX, on mobile devices or otherwise, is the ease of navigation. For visitors, it allows for easier navigation to pages of interest and increases the value received. For webmasters, it increases retention rates and potential conversions. Finally, for search engines, UX produces engagement signals through the “pages per session” metric.
To enable easier navigation, consider offering visitors the following:
- A clean header menu
- An HTML sitemap
- Robust page categorization
- Rich, but not overwhelming, filters where applicable
- Internal links to related content
Such practices can visibly enhance UX, benefitting both parties.
On the subject of ease of navigation, optimal URL structure also yields UX improvements. This endeavor is twofold, as it affects both SEO and overall clarity and perception of value.
SEO holds that header titles should match the SEO titles. Therefore, a visitor should see a page titled the same as the search engine result they clicked on. In turn, UX design dictates that the page URL should also reflect the page’s information. Put differently, a URL should be:
- Readable; avoid unreadable symbols where possible
- Descriptive; try to best match the header title to the URL
- Structured; try to best align the URL structure to the customer journey to the page
In doing so, you may ensure a better UX through more visual clarity and URL accuracy.
Finally, as regards UX, live chat remains a precious, cost-effective website asset. Among live chat benefits of note, consider the following:
- Perceived professionalism; live chat fosters trust with visitors
- Enhanced customer support
- Enhanced customer retention rates through an improved UX
Live chat may not suit every business. It is, however, an invaluable asset to consider.
CRO: the conversion phase
Finally, conversions are all the practices toward getting the most out of your business website by directly addressing user’s search intent. It is on this step where visibility and engagement may lead to tangible revenue benefits. As the name implies, CRO addresses this crucial phase through three main stages: 1) analytics, 2) landing pages, and 3) CTAs.
Analytics; qualitative and quantitative
- Initially, CRO delves into the analytics of two forms; feedback-based (qualitative) and data-based (quantitative).
- The former is straightforward, as it involves collecting direct feedback from users. One may gather feedback through such ways as:
- Social media posts
The latter, however, depends on complex data on user activity. To acquire it, you may use such tools as the following:
- Google Analytics
- Other third-party traffic and activity analytics tools
- Site heat maps
Landing Page Optimization (LPO)
With user and activity insights in hand, one may then engage in LPO. But to properly outline it, let us briefly outline its definition.
A landing page is the immediate page a visitor “lands” on after searching. It is thus the page that both informs visitors’ first impressions and attempts to convert them. LPO practices seek to match page content with the user search intent to maximize potential profitability. This approach overlaps with SEO, both conceptually and, as LPO includes:
- Presenting demonstrable value - landing pages should immediately offer value relevant to the user search intent
- Limiting on-page actions - landing pages should focus on a primary CTA instead of confusing visitors with multiple ones
- Offering social proof where applicable, landing pages should offer reviews, testimonials, and other social credit to foster trust
Understandably, LPO also overlaps with the practices above, such as loading speed optimization, design, and content quality. It also spearheads CTAs, which we will cover just below.
CTAs and inciting urgency
Finally, CRO hinges on optimal CTA copy and placement. CTAs are the penultimate asset toward conversions, so they require utmost care.
To optimize CTAs, CRO dictates the following:
- Clear, alluring copy: CTAs must present their propositions. Avoid business jargon where possible and highlight your proposition’s value.
- Visibility: CTAs should always be visible. Ensure the page layout and media elements do not obscure them and that CTA colors do not bleed into the background.
- Urgency: CTAs should incite urgency wherever possible. Sleeknote found that popups with countdown timers outperformed ones without timers by 113% - the same psychological principle applies to CTAs.
In summary, getting the most out of your business website hinges on addressing three distinct phases of the visitor journey. SEO addresses search engine visibility and reinforces on-page value, enhancing lead generation and acquisition. In turn, UX-focused web design augments it, increasing engagement and retention. Finally, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) optimizes conversion rates, allowing for higher final revenue. Each of these includes a plethora of practices, as outlined above, which holistically improve website efficiency.