21-point guide to website optimization for the busy marketer
According to one study we now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.
In May, The Associated Press (AP) re-published some intriguing statistics showing our dwindling attention span and compared the data to web user activity. Our average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2012. By comparison, a goldfish has a nine second attention span.
Additional AP data finds on average, people check email 30 times an hour. Web page viewing trends show only four percent spend more than 10 minutes on a page and only 28 percent of words on an average page are read.
That’s enough to make a busy marketer stop and think – even if just for eight seconds. This data emphasizes the importance of website optimization to capture and hold the attention of visitors in order to achieve the desired marketing results.
As a marketer, you think about setting goals for your site and mapping out key activities that need to occur to reach them. You think about ways to get found through organic search. You think about how to get that first click towards conversion and how to simplify the conversion path with appropriate calls-to-action. However, when evaluating your website it’s important for you to also think like a web user.
Web user experience
When you view your website as frequently as you do, it can be difficult to anticipate the user experience for a first time visitor. Usability testing has found the highest level of satisfaction for web users is achieved when content on the site is:
Optimizing user experience requires the right combination of content and navigation. Hitting the sweet spot will help you hold attention and gain higher conversion rates. Optimization also involves structuring your content so search engines can easily crawl and index pages and ultimately bring traffic to your website. That gives you a lot to consider when conducting web analysis.
Like most marketers, your day is filled with revenue reports, market analysis, campaign planning, meetings and checking email 30 times an hour. Clearly you don’t have time to become expert in SEO or web usability. Here is a marketer’s checklist to help with website evaluation to identify opportunities for search and conversion rate optimization.
Site-wide web optimization
Keyword strategy. On smaller sites (less than 100 pages) keywords should be mapped to single pages with no more than three keyword phrases on a page. On larger sites they should be mapped to categories. This degree of focus benefits both visitors and search engines.
Target audience. It should be clear and consistent who the site is intended for: what they want, what they need, and how they pursue their goals online.
Key messages. Have clear, consistent marketing messages on each page highlighting your unique selling proposition and reason why your product/service should be chosen.
Voice, tone and style. Draw on brand identity, purpose for your site and audience expectations to shape your voice and apply all consistently.
Usability. The user should be able to access any main directory within three clicks. Make sure there is a clear path to company information and contact information.
Navigation. Strive for less than seven navigation buttons. Link your logo to the home page. Make links visually consistent and easy to find. Simplicity is the goal.
Internal linking. Make sure links between pages have logical context from the user’s perspective. You want to maximize links to your most important pages. Parent pages should link into child pages and vice versa. Provide a link to the contact page throughout the site.
Social signals. Give visitors an opportunity to share or follow on social media platforms or subscribe to your company blog.
Page-level web optimization
SEO content – These are the SEO copywriting elements that need to be on the page:
- Header (H1, H2) keyword phrases align with title tags
- Meta descriptions include key phrase and geographic location
- Keyword density of 2-4 throughout the page
- Link anchor text using keywords for destination page ranking
Conversion content – Guides the reader through the conversion path:
- Word count is between 250-400
- Important information (marketing and call to action) is above the fold
- Copy is easily scanned, using headers and bulleted lists to break messages into chunks
- Short sentences and paragraphs no longer than five lines
- Copy in each paragraph focuses on one topic and each sentence on one thought
- Copy flows with logical transitions between paragraphs and from headings
- Linking best practices avoid duplicate or serial links
- Links to contact information are on every page
- Calls-to-action are on each page and in appropriate context for the content
The focus of a website analysis is often on full-scale SEO technical audits and usability testing. This checklist is no substitute for that. However, it gives you a solid guideline for optimizing a website to meet the challenges of driving inbound traffic, catching the attention of visitors and converting them into leads and customers.