They say the new world is digital. Only it’s not really new anymore. For most, it’s a staple ingredient of everyday life. It’s business as usual. This is your 101 guide to web management and search engine optimisation.
Mobiles, TVs, laptops, tablets, desktops. There are billions of these little windows all over the world. They’re open pretty much any time of day. On the one side are everyday receivers, on the other side are the broadcasters: a direct transmission between consumer and brand. Little wonder marketers focus on digital.
Only today, it doesn’t just reach us through our screens, it’s permeated into all aspects of life. Now our homes, sportswear, cars and cities are smart. We talk to our devices and they talk to us. The internet of things (IoT) connects the world and everything in it by data.
The digital marketer must always keep her eyes open to new opportunities. Let’s start with the web management basics…
—Neil Turok, mathematical physicist
3 essential steps for web management
Sell your brand in three seconds. Ready? Go…
Not easy, is it? Like it or not, that’s how long you get online. All that research. All that branding. All that effort. And you get three lousy seconds.
That’s because it’s become second-nature for people to make instantaneous decisions about how they navigate the web. A quick scan is all it takes to decide if your site has what they need. There are no second chances or second glances. Three seconds is the time it takes to look, scroll and click the back button. If you want more time, you have to earn it.
It’s worth the effort.
According to Statista, global e-commerce sales are expected to top $4.2 trillion in 2020 and reach more than $6.5 trillion by 2023. That’s why 63% of businesses say getting traffic and leads are their top marketing challenges (Hubspot).
The truth is, there’s more to it than that. Your website is your new shop window. It sits at the centre of all your marketing with everything else pointing to it in big neon-lit signs. Here is where you’ll be judged against the competition. Here is where your business will win or lose. The question is: what can you do to wow your visitors?
1) Think about the UX (user experience)
Not only does your website need to look amazing, but it needs to be user-friendly too—no matter what device it’s viewed on (yes, that definitely includes mobile). It should be designed to communicate relevant information in a clear, helpful and compelling way.
Make sure your website caters to all audience types. This should be clearly signposted on your homepage, sending users on the right path straight away. Get into their heads and think about what they will be looking for.
Map out the various scenarios as user journeys and ask yourself how effective your UX user experience) and UI (user interface) designs are. What might they find annoying? What might make the experience more streamlined or interactive? Are there any delightful little surprises and giveaways that might keep them engaged and encourage them to take the next step?
2) Focus on conversion
Each page should have a function (to entertain, inform, persuade) and it should nudge users along the customer journey to the point of sale or contact. By incorporating a strong call to action on each page, you can keep users moving in the right direction.
Focus on landing pages that convert. If your social media goal is to send your audience to your website, design a landing page that is built to convert. This should feature clear benefits and the relevant product/service information they need to make a decision. To help, you can always give something away for free, such as a download, in exchange for contact details.
Publish engaging content
No matter how incredible your website is, if it just sits there, it’s dead in the water. Most digital marketing campaigns rely on fresh web content, such as blogs, news or videos which they can link to. Creating brilliant content will not only drive leads to your website, but it will also improve your SEO (more on that next).
For flexible web management, you’ll want a robust Content Management System (CMS). I use WordPress as it’s highly functional and offers a vast amount of templates and plug-ins which make building, hosting and managing your website a cinch. It also integrates with other marketing platforms and systems resulting in lean, efficient and streamlined campaigns. Better yet, when it comes to revamping the design, all that content will switch to your new theme without the hassle.
Search marketing and web management
To get people to visit your website, you need to be visible on the search engines. Welcome to the murky world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
In the internet olden days (2000 ad.), you could use black hat SEO tactics to boost your rankings. These included sly tricks like stuffing your web copy with keywords and getting link farms to connect to your website. These days, your website’s SEO ranking will be penalised for such foul play. That means less visibility, less traffic and less sales.
Here’s some SEO advice I’ve taken straight from the horse’s mouth (Google [sorry Edge]).
“We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can.”
When auditing a website, Google says you should consider the below questions.
Content & Quality
“Does the website offer original, high-quality content that isn’t just copied from somewhere? Are the page title and description appealing and do they reflect the content? If you were a webmaster, would you share the content with friends?”
This is Google’s big focus. After all, their goal is to provide users with appealing content, not market your business (they have Google Ads for that). You can do this by publishing high-quality blogs, news and videos. Long-form blog content still ranks better on search listings. Aim for web page content that lands between 1,850 and 2,500 words.
“Is the content trustworthy? Does the page contain errors? Would you, as a webmaster arriving at the page via Google search, trust the website you find?”
Google supports credible websites. If your content references and links out to other relevant authorities, this is a good sign. The more people that use and share your content, the higher your expertise score will be. Where possible, aim to get relevant backlinks by sending your content to digital media agencies and bloggers.
Presentation & Production
“Does the content seem to be well researched and well-produced – or does it seem to be mass-produced fodder? Are there too many ads? Does the page load appropriately on all devices?”
Avoid copying other website’s content. This tactic will only backfire to the detriment of your SEO score. Instead, focus on your specialities. Refer to your messaging architecture to break your website into niche topics of your own. This will give your website a clear structure, making it easier for search engine spiders to crawl, index and rank your content.
You should also prioritise quick website loads times. Make sure that images are optimised, files are compressed and the server’s response time is reduced.
“Does the website offer added value when compared with its competitors? Does the content fulfil the user’s expectations?”
Once again, being different is key to your success. Think about providing value at every step. This might look like a free video tutorial, an explainer blog series, how to whitepapers or interactive games.
Remember, while Google might not admit it, keywords still play an important role in your web management SEO strategy. You can discover which ones are most effective by using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner. Then sprinkle these across key elements of your pages, such as headers, subheaders, links and page descriptions.
Your pages and posts should also have a focus keyword. For instance, in this article mine is ‘web management’. For an article of this length, I should use it approximately eight times. For good measure, here’s another sneaky one–web management.
Pro tip: rather than using the same keywords over and over again, try to use similar and related phrases.
Algorithms and quality score
Google’s super-complex SEO algorithms will interrogate your website’s performance based on all the above criteria. This will calculate a ‘quality score’. The better the score, the higher up those Google rankings your site will be.
And, for a few on-the-go, in-platform hints and tips about SEO friendly copy and tactics, install a plug-in like Yoast to your WordPress website. This will score your content using a traffic light system, making it pleasantly simple to crack the SEO basics. For a more advanced approach, check out the Google Search Console or take a crash course with the Google Digital Academy. There are plenty of highly specialised SEO agencies available to help you gear up to anything more advanced than that.
The thing with organic SEO is that it takes a lot of time. Planning, creating, connecting, coding—then waiting for Google’s algorithm to index your site. There’s a quicker way to the top of the SERPS, but it doesn’t come for free.
Pay-per-click does exactly what it says on the tin. By allocating a budget to Google Ads you can ensure that your website or landing pages feature at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages) without all the effort.
The key to pay-per-click is ensuring that the ROI is greater than the initial cost. If you can achieve this, they’re a scalable gold mine.
Campaign types are centred around Google’s advertising networks: the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, and the YouTube Network. Each of these ad types let you set a goal for your campaign and target customers with a range of criteria.
Google Search ads
These ads present your webpage in a typical search, with a header, description and various callout extensions. You should build out your campaign into various ad groups and then identify high-scoring keywords for each. Each ad group will then contain at least three ads where you can test their effectiveness over time.
Google Display ads
Display ads let you advertise on other websites using banner ads. The main purpose of display advertising is to deliver general advertisements and brand messages to site visitors. Display ads come into their own when running a retargeting campaign. These identify previous website visitors and serve them ads as they navigate other online content.
These are short videos which display on YouTube during advertising breaks. They’re a great way to get your video ads to a highly targeted audience as they watch videos.
The future of web management SEO is voice search. It’s estimated that, by the end of 2020, more than half of all searches will be conducted by voice. Voice search drastically changes the UX, meaning that users no longer need to type their search queries. Nor do they even need a screen. Programmes such as Google Assistant, Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa are all leading the way.
Search engines are changing the way their SEO algorithms react to voice queries according to the changes. To get ahead of the game, consider how you can adapt your content.
One of the key things to remember is to write the way that you speak. When users search on desktop, they use short, bullet-pointed phrases, such as “best phones 2020’. But if they use voice search, a user might ask “What are the best phones available in 2020?”
Look to include these longtail keyword phrases into your copy. They work perfectly as headers, subheaders or leading questions in opening paragraphs. These phrases should be short and simple as voice search results are typically written at a Year 10 reading level.
With 22% of all voice search queries focused on location, you should consider local content too. Adding words like “near me” or “in Sheffield” will improve your chance of getting picked up.