This is the year to slice through web marketing superfluity (it’s also going to be the last time we use the word superfluity in a blog post — hold us to that). To start, we took the giant pile of online optimization advice that gets shuttled around from expert to expert, and boiled it down to our top 5 website strategies for 2014, effective immediately. We’re saying this not based on buzzword-based hearsay, but rather an unflinching look at the past few years of client visibility performance. Here we go:
1. Build a Responsive Website
A quick test: Pull up your website in a new window. Now grab the right side of that window and drag it all the way to the left. Does your site content adjust with your browser size? Or check it on your smartphone. Does it fit the screen in a clean, logical way, or is it just an ultra-mini version of the site someone would see on a big screen? If you have to squint and scroll, you don’t have a responsive site, and that’s bad.
A responsive site is one that scales and adjusts to fit the screen of whatever device happens to access it. You can prioritize the content and functionality that remains visible as users adjust the view, navigate features, access content, and just generally interact with the site itself.
This is arguably our most important point for 2014. Everyone’s mobile, and more and more people are accessing your site via smartphones and tablets than they are notebooks and desktops (remember those?). You need good user experience (UX) for a mobile visitor. If they can’t use your site, they’re going to click over to the competitor’s they can. Your audience has evolved; your site has to do the same.
2. Find and Maintain Message Consistency
How quickly does a visitor get an ironclad sense of who you are and what you do? if it takes more than a few seconds, it’s time for an overhaul.
Your organization has a mission, a need it meets, as well as a distinct personality and appropriate voice. You probably have a sense of the former, while needing to refine the latter, and as that gels, you can ensure that the substance of your messaging, as well as the style, is on same proverbial (and literal) page no matter where you’re found.
Think about the last time you read your own website, suspending company connection and instead thinking like a first-time visitor. Like many sites, you’ll probably find that it’s been packed with content during the past few years, and in need of revision and refinement. As an organization grows and capabilities evolve, it’s easy to presume that adding more explanation to your site will suffice. More often, however, it dilutes or distracts, leading to visitor confusion.
3. Get Smarter About Social Media Participation
We’ve said this too many times, but like a parent at the steering wheel threatening to pull the car over and do something about your inappropriate behavior, we’re going to say it again because we know what’s best for you.
Want to be relevant to your industry? Then do the work required to be relevant. You need to blog. You need to blog original content. Target the influencers who matter. Get noticed and build credibility. You need to amplify that original content across the right marketing channels. Not sure which ones best suit your needs? Don’t worry. If you make a point of knowing what’s happening in your industry (and you certainly do) you already have a bead on what to say and where you can say it.
You can rant, prognosticate, review and preview. You can write, podcast, vlog, host webinars — whatever, just get in the mix. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it has to be original, relevant and valuable. And by valuable, we mean it has to back your brand, support the sales team, drive traffic to the offer, or illuminate some distinction that sets you apart from your competition.
Guided by that commitment, you’ll almost certainly shape content to engage the audiences that matter. Those are the people who will validate your relevance by sharing your content, quoting you, linking back to your blog — that all adds up to extra delicious visibility goodness.
Think this sounds like a lot of work? By yourself, it is. That’s why we do what we do. Let’s talk about it.
4. Optimize SEO
The SEO landscape is not really a landscape. It’s more like a rolling ocean continually subject to the tides of Google algorithm revisions. Last year, Sergey and Larry fought hard to reclaim Page 1 from SEO vendors — and they won.
The variable they’re now demanding? Relevance. Your content need to have a practical applicability, an intrinsic benefit – and others need to feel that way about it too in order to earn top-dog status. That means it needs to be linked to by sites of comparable interest and audience. You can’t bury your global IT or healthcare link on a quilting-bee club site in Duluth, Minnesota. [That link…didn’t help them]
If you’re shelling out thousands per month for a link building firm that won’t tell you where your links are, you’re probably doing more harm than good. So, start with an unflinching SEO assessment. Let us perform an Obstacle Analysis that shows what’s keeping you from being found, and what might actually be hurting even your best-intentioned efforts.
The days of carpet-bombing links are gone. You need a relevant guided missile. That’s how you find your target, and get found.
5. Measure Your Marketing Effectiveness
We’re marketing guys, and we’re sick of hearing other marketing guys tell you you can’t measure marketing effectiveness. That accountability dodge is done.
Just a few fundamental tools — Google Analytics, Sprout Social, SurveyMonkey, Unbounce, etc. [those links help them] will reveal whether or not your 2014 efforts are having an impact. You can track follower growth, watch response rates, check site traffic stats to the hour and know with certainty whether or not you’re reaching the right audience, and driving them to the right place.
If anyone tells you that marketing measurement and analysis can’t happen, tell them your friends at Peaktwo want to meet them behind the bowling alley after school for a little jiu jitsu lesson.
So, what’s next?
For us, it’s as simple as three evaluations:
An SEO Obstacle Analysis, a Content Messaging Assessment, and a Site Performance Audit.
They’re fast, relatively low cost, and reveal an accurate picture of whether or not your online marketing is working, and what you need to do to make it as effective as possible.
This is where we tell you to give us a call or shoot us an email if you want to learn more. And as always, the coffee’s on us.