How to Optimize a Website So Your Target Customers Actually Find You
Created by Camille Winer
If you haven’t paid attention to your website in the past year or two, chances are it’s not optimized correctly. Having a poorly optimized site can leave your visitors confused or indifferent. Worse yet, if your website isn’t optimized ideally, your customers won’t even find it in the first place.
Website Optimization: a Top Priority for SustainabLE ORGANIZATIONS
"Outdated website" is the top‑listed pain point for people who contact Yodelpop for marketing and branding help.
Here's what we've heard:
- "We have no engagement or leads."
- "Our website doesn't showcase our brand."
- "Our webmaster disappeared."
- "Our web content is old and no longer relevant (and we're too busy to do anything about it)."
If you're worried about whether your website is set up to attract the right customers for you, this blog will help you.
8 Keys to Optimizing Your Website
Below, we outline how to optimize your online presence even if you don't have a budget for a totally new site.
1. Create SMART goals for your website.
What is the purpose of your website? Which specific goals do you want your website to meet? Think beyond making a good impression, raising brand awareness, or helping people find your office phone number or physical location.
We often talk about making SMART marketing goals:
SMART website goals give you clarity about the results you want to achieve from optimizing your website.
Here are some questions to get your goal‑setting session started:
- By how much do you want to increase the traffic?
- How many quality leads do you want to get in the next six months?
- What do you want website visitors to do, and how will they do it?
- Do you want users to buy something, donate, or become clients?
- Should they call you, fill out a form, or read your blog for more information?
Be as concrete as possible when you set goals for your newly optimized website.
2. Analyze peer and competitor websites.
When you're optimizing your website, it can help to look at other websites for inspiration. Take time to study the web performance of other businesses or organizations that are successfully reaching your ideal clients.
Here's how to do a quick competitor analysis using HubSpot's free marketing grader.
- First, enter your URL to get a basic report card on how your website performs today.
- Next, make a list of other peer or competitor websites. Perhaps these are well‑known, similar‑sized businesses in your niche. Maybe they're regional organizations in your industry. Think about websites that attract the same types of people you want your business to attract.
- Run these websites through the marketing grader to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
- With each website's "report card" in mind, visit the site yourself. Make notes on what works and what doesn't.
The idea is not to copy your peers and competitors. It's to uncover what you can do better. Once you run the analyses, create a list of possible improvements and things your website can do differently (or better) than theirs.
3. Walk a mile in your visitors' shoes.
Seventy‑five percent of internet users are in research mode. They probably aren't going to fill out a contact form or pick up the phone to get in touch—yet.
Take a moment to put yourself in your website visitors' shoes.
- Why are they there?
- What are they searching for?
- What valuable information addresses their current needs and concerns?
- Do they want to make a commitment or a purchase right away?
Of course, not every website visitor is the same. Think about your ideal prospect's decision‑making process, and create content that speaks to them at every stage. The best way to do this is through buyer personas. Creating buyer personas gives you the intel to craft relevant campaigns for engaging and nurturing website visitors.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
A sure sign of an outdated website is pages that pack in too much information—often in three columns across the page. Optimized websites have content that is organized to align with your overall marketing strategy.
A few places to start:
- The homepage. Treat your homepage as a bold introduction to your brand. Use it to direct users to the information they are looking for. Make the navigation clear. Reserve a two‑column (at most) layout for internal pages.
- Site navigation. Create pages that focus on a single keyword phrase and goal. Some keywords ("Contact us," for instance) can be covered in a paragraph or two. Others require detailed information. So don't be afraid of the scroll. Everything doesn't need to be communicated above the fold. Users should feel encouraged to discover information as they go rather than being bombarded with all the details at the top of the page.
- Simple, relevant calls to action. Always include a call to action that is relevant to that page's content. Also, form cross‑links to other pages on your website when possible.
5. Add a blog to your website.
A blog is one of the most effective ways to breathe life into your website. It's also a great way to build credibility and retain visitors' interest. Businesses that blog increase web traffic by about 55%.
A blog page can be added without having to make significant changes to the website. Use blogging best practices to write about relevant topics that users will want to read and share.
- Write what users want to read. Write blogs with a real person in mind. Keep your tone friendly and relatable.
- Use keywords. Search engines gauge the popularity of keywords based on the information real people are seeking. Use your goals and intimate knowledge of your target audience to research which key phrases you can parlay into blog topics. Place those keywords in the right places: in the page and its metadata, including page titles, meta descriptions, headings, content, image file names, alt tags, and URLs.
- Stay focused. Be sure to focus each blog on one topic and incorporate your keyword phrase (and related phrases) into a post that answers the questions your ideal prospect is searching for.
- Make posts shareable. Allow users to share the content across multiple social media channels. When content is shared in social media, search engines see it as high‑quality, which can help your search engine ranking greatly!
6. Develop a pillar page that solves a key problem.
"Pillar pages are comprehensive guides to a particular topic you're trying to rank for in search," writes Sophia Bernazzani in her HubSpot blog. These pages are content‑rich. They contain text, photos, diagrams, infographics, and video embeds.
While a pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, in‑depth reporting is done in blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. For example, you might write a pillar page about child development during the toddler years—a broad topic—and a blog about healthy sleep habits for two‑year‑olds—a more specific keyword within the topic.
7. Track your optimized website's progress.
It's great to invest time and resources in optimizing your website. But to get a return on that investment, you need to continually assess what's working and what's not. You also need to be willing to continue changing and optimizing your web pages as you gain more insight.
The only way to tell if your website changes have helped you achieve your goals is to see if and how users behave differently.
There are systems to track
- the pages users are visiting,
- what they've shared through social sharing,
- which calls to action they've followed,
- what they've downloaded,
- and more.
8. Get mobile‑friendly.
Finally, a successful website must be mobile‑friendly. Websites optimized for mobile allow users to read and scroll through content without any zooming or side‑to‑side movement. The website is built to respond to whether your visitor is using a desktop or mobile device.
Not sure whether your website is mobile‑friendly? It's easy to find out by taking the Google test. Simply type your full website address into the search bar.
Don't let your website gather dust. It's essential to refresh and re‑optimize your website—the digital front door to your business—on a regular basis. True optimization goes beyond aesthetics. By creating a plan that ties closely to your goals and thinking most about who to connect with and how to best engage and nurture them, you can have a website that gets results.