We all know how important a website is to a business’s online strategy. Almost every business, whether B2B, B2C, non-profit, local or global needs an online presence to reach buyers in the internet age. A company’s website is its virtual storefront.
Having a website alone isn’t the key to great results. Instead, it’s the ability turn your website into an inbound marketing machine. Your website has a hefty goal and it needs to wear many hats. A website needs to not just exist, it needs to perform. It needs to attract visitors, educate them and convince them to buy. But I know what you’re thinking - easier said than done.
The Web Is No Longer Static
Today, the web is social and interactive. It’s not static like most websites tend to be. As such, a website can no longer sustain as its own island. We now need to consider integrating search, social media, content, blogging, and more with our websites. Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, fancy Flash graphics, and an expensive advertising campaign to temporarily boost traffic.
The Web Has Changed How People Buy
The reason for this shift is largely due to changing buyer behavior. Today’s buyer wishes to consume information when they want and how they want and often-times without the involvement of a sales person. And more importantly, they want to be educated and not sold to.
"Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don't view them as part of the problem." - Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting
As you can see from the following chart, websites and new forms of inbound marketing content (such as podcasts, blogging and social media) have become a considerable factor in the buying cycle.
The 25 elements that your website should have is broken down into four categories that follow the buyer's journey from stranger to customer. These four categories are:
- Getting found online
- Design & usability
How To Be Found Online
1. Off-page SEO
Every website on the internet has the goal of reaching the #1 position in search engines but because there is only one top spot per keyword phrase, not everyone can make it. So what gets a first place ranking? Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important factor to increasing your ranking results.
Off-Page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. Search engines call this authority or “link juice.” The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you’ll rank. Link building, when done right, isn’t easy since adding links to other websites is sometimes out of your control. Here are some tips to building inbound links:
- Create high-quality, educational or entertaining content. If people like your content, they will naturally want to link to it.
- Submit your website to online directories. This is an easy way to start.
- Write guest posts for other blogs. This is a win-win for both parties. People will want extra (quality) content from others and in exchange, it’s a great way to build inbound links.
- Researching link building opportunities with other websites, but always check the authority of the websites that you are trying to get links from. There are many tools online that allow you to check domain or page authority, including HubSpot’s link grader tool.
- And don’t borrow, beg, barter, bribe or buy links.