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Web Design

Posted 18 June 2019

7 Tips For Designing A Great Website

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Design is everywhere. From the screen you’re reading this on, to the chair you’re sitting in, to the roof above your head, design influences how we interact with the world around us. Those interactions can be pleasant and even enjoyable, or they can be frustrating and confusing. The difference is good design. There are plenty of resources defining “good design”, so in this article we’ll focus on how good web design benefits your website and, in turn, your business.

Smart businesses recognize the value that quality design provides. Companies like Apple, Nike, IBM, and Coca-Cola have made design a focus and have greatly benefited from doing so. A 2015 study showed that over the previous 10 years, design-led companies maintained a significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 211%. These companies understand that design is an investment. Good design establishes your company within the market, builds trust, and spurs growth. It’s a key differentiator between your company and the competition. Good design is measurable and profitable.

So what does quality design mean in the context of websites? How can you make sure that your website offers people a great experience? Here are 7 things we’ve learned designing and building websites at DUBUB Marketing Agency that guide our design process:

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1. WEB DESIGN IS AN ART, BUT IT IS NOT ART

Design is the visual component of the content strategy. It’s interwoven throughout the entire process of building a website. It isn’t just a “finishing touch” or “making things look pretty”. Design isn’t decoration. Quality web design renders everything with intent. There are reasons for where it is positioned, what size and color it is, how it moves, etc. Those decisions are based on analytics, standard conventions, and solid user experience (UX). While aesthetics are an important component of web design, they’re not the driving force. Good design helps a potential customer understand who your company is, what you do, and why they should choose your product or service. It also makes your product or service easily accessible, so that it’s easy to convert a potential customer into a repeat client.

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2. DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE

Know what you’re designing for. Before you can take advantage of design as a method of problem solving, you have to know what problems you’re trying to solve. The next step is to decide the best way to solve them. Setting goals with trackable metrics is key to evaluating those web design decisions. Here at DUBUB Marketing Agency, we focus on 3 key things:

  • Awareness. People need to know that you exist, and they need to know exactly what product or service you offer. There are thousands of messages bombarding people all day, every day. Good web design cuts through the clutter. Not only does it help you stand out against your competitors, but it also helps you compete with every other ad that your potential customer sees that day. You need to be memorable, creative, and engaging to make it through consumers’ “attention wall”. We measure this by tracking page views and social media impressions.
  • Conversion. Once potential customers are aware of your brand, the goal is to convert them from *potential* customers to *loyal* customers. Good design informs consumers and helps them feel confident about their decision to go with your product or service. We measure this by tracking form entries, email open rates, and social media engagement.
  • Experience. The key to helping a potential customer become a loyal customer? A positive, enjoyable experience interacting with your brand online. Make it easy for them to navigate your site and find the information that they’re looking for. We measure this by looking at screen recordings to see how people are interacting with the site, as well as bounce rates, page exits, and funnels.
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3. MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION

It takes about 50 milliseconds for people to form an opinion about your website. You have the blink of an eye to convince people that your product or service is worth exploring further. According to one study, first impressions are 94% design related. Although meaningful content is important, no one is going to read it if it’s stuck on a poorly designed site. Quality web design establishes trust and credibility. If your content is easily accessible and clearly communicated, people’s snap judgments about your website are far more likely to be positive. Google’s own research affirms that the more prototypical (i.e. conventional) a website appears, the higher users will rate their first impressions of its design. Layout, consistency, typography, color, and style are all key components of a well-designed site. Your website may be the only impression you’re able to make, so it’s crucial that it’s a good one

First impressions are 94% design related. Quality web design establishes trust and credibility.

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4. FOLLOW BEST PRACTICES FOR USABILITY & CONVERSION

Web conventions exist for a reason; it makes it easier for people to use your website. It’s helpful to know what to expect when clicking on a link or on a small “x” in the corner. One of Dieter Rams’ principles for good design is that it is “as little design as possible”. Reduce the complexity whenever practical and don’t let aesthetics get in the way of usability. Make clear calls-to-action using active language, and try guide users through your site by indicating next steps. For example, instead of a vague “Learn More” button, tell people what to expect next by saying “Explore our Services” instead. Format and organize your content with a logical hierarchy. The vast majority of people aren’t going to read more than a few sentences on your site, so the more skimmable/scannable you can make your content, the better. Potential customers are more likely to convert if your value proposition is communicated early and succinctly. Use white space effectively to draw attention to important content. Strategic visuals can elevate your design and help illustrate concepts that might difficult to communicate concisely. Design for effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction.

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5. LEAVE PEOPLE TO THEIR OWN DEVICES

You need to be where your consumers are. And they’re on their phones. And their laptops. At the same time. According to a 2012 Google study, 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time. That means that their experience across these devices need to be seamless. Consistency is key. We’ve been hearing about responsive web design for years, so it’s no surprise that websites need to be accessible on any screen size. There are plenty of theories on the best way to approach this challenge: Mobile first, progressive enhancement, graceful degradation, etc. Rather than rallying for one approach or another, what’s more important is that we’re designing for the content. Part of this content-driven design is deciding what information is important at which screen sizes. For example, on a large screen using 4k video might be an optimal experience, but that high resolution on mobile devices wouldn’t add the same value, and may actually be a detriment since a video of that size would increase page load time. Quality web design takes all of this into account.

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6. RECOGNIZE THAT LAUNCHED IS NOT FINISHED

Your website has been built, tested, and launched. Hooray! Time to kick back and bask in the glory of your brand-spankin’-new site, right? Nope. Now it’s time to test, analyze, and refine your website even more. The web is a malleable medium. Your website shouldn’t be static; it needs to grow and change along with your company, the market, and your customers. Use analytics gathered to see how users are interacting with your site and where their pain points are. We use services like Google Analytics and Hotjar to understand where improvements can be made in achieving the website’s goals. Once we’ve gathered the data, we can take what we’ve learned and make adjustments. Quality web design is adaptable. Being agile and unafraid of change will yield measurable benefits.

7. LET DEVELOPMENT BE YOUR ALLY

Quality web design depends on an intimate understanding of the medium in which you’re working. Whether designers should know how to code has been a controversial topic for years. We’re of the opinion that a web designer who knows how to code has a couple key advantages:

  • Efficiency. They know how to work within the constraints of the web and how to implement best practices throughout their designs. They have a vision for their designs on any screen size, which often eliminates the need for multiple mockups or meetings and makes the developer’s job easier.
  • More creativity. Not only do they understand the constraints, they also understand how to use the tools available to them to be even more creative and how to work within those parameters to innovate. There’s a lot you can do within the browser that just isn’t possible in a static web design composition.

If you’re interested in making sure that your website is designed to produce better marketing results, get in touch with DUBUB Marketing Agency for a free consultation.

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Posted 11 June 2019

Research Shows Having A Bad Website Can Hurt Your Business

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Here’s a sad scenario.

Someone sends a prospective client your way. They’re a warm, maybe even a hot lead.

Before contacting you, they do what everyone else does — they visit your website to check you out.

But then, nothing happens. They don’t call for an appointment. They don’t email you.

Nothing. Just crickets.

What happened?

Your poorly designed website scared them away.

Instead of giving them confidence you know what you’re doing and can actually help them, your site did just the opposite. It created doubt, uncertainty and a general feeling of uneasiness about you and your company.

So they click the back button on their browser and go somewhere else — probably to one of your competitors with inferior services to yours, but with a better website.

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What Makes A Good Website?

Rather than just give you my personal opinion, we scoured the internet and compiled data on this topic from a variety of reputable sources. Here’s your Executive Summary:

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10 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Increase Sales by Making Your Website More Credible by Jayson DeMers.

Key takeaways:

  • Prominently display your address and phone number + make it easy for people to contact you via email or contact form.
  • Have your website professionally-designed. It shouldn’t look like it was built by a 6th grader.
  • Provide a good user experience when they visit your site. Make sure your content is organized and easy to navigate. Get rid of superfluous content and other distractions that don’t contribute to your overall message.
  • Display testimonials from actual customers, with their pictures if available.
  • Keep your site’s content up to date. Visitors also want to see content that is current and relevant
  • Profile the people behind your company. People do business with other people. Prospective clients want to know who they’ll be dealing with. Tell your story. Let people get to know you.
  • Make sure your content is free of typos and errors. Nothing screams amateur like misspelled words and grammatical errors.

(Source: Forbes.com)

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Just Say No: 7 Website Design Mistakes That Can Hurt Conversion by Maricel Rivera.

Key takeaways:

  • 75% of consumers admit that they judge a business’ credibility based on their website design.
  • Poor website loading speed can be extremely harmful to businesses. Most consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. 79% of shoppers reported that they would not return to purchase from a slow loading website.
  • Websites must be mobile-friendly and optimized to adapt to various interfaces. According to comScore, the number of users accessing content online through their mobile devices has surpassed those who use a desktop.
  • Website clutter is a a huge deterrent. Ex: Too many Flash animations, ad prompts, auto-play videos, background music, etc.
  • Once again, site navigation is a factor that hurts conversion. Confused, frustrated prospects don’t buy.
  • A missing or confusing call-to-action. You must let your visitor know what you want them to do next. Don’t assume they’ll know. Be direct and specific. Gently nudge them where you want them to go.

(Source: Business.com)

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10 Small Business Website Errors That Drive Customers Away by Brad Shorr.

Key takeaways:

  • Quickly explain what’s in it for them. Avoid droning on about endless features, benefits or all your accolades. Prospective clients are interested in one thing, “Can you help me?”
  • Make sure to use credibility elements such as customer testimonials, BBB and other well-known accreditations. Otherwise your visitors have only your marketing propaganda to go by.
  • Your site must be mobile-friendly. As mentioned above, more people today access the Internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers.
  • Creating user-friendly website navigation is far more complex and nuanced than meets the eye. Good navigation is intuitive and simple, and makes it easy for visitors to quickly find what they need.
  • Eliminate fluff and weak language. “We’re the best,” “we’re the cheapest,” “we’re the most innovative,” tells your reader nothing. Provide details about why your company is different or what they can expect when they do business with you.
  • Stay away from cringeworthy, cheesy stock photos that everyone uses. These make you look phony and amateurish. When possible, use your own custom images. It’s ok to use custom stock imagery if it’s professional and high-quality, but be prepared to dig a little bit to find the good stuff.
  • As mentioned above, your site needs to be mobile-friendly. Mostly to provide a good user experience to your visitor, but also for search engine rankings. In April 2015, Google publicly stated that it’ll give preference in the search listings to web pages that are mobile-friendly vs. those that are not.

(Source: Forbes.com)

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What Different Consumer Groups Really Want from Local Business Websites by Myles Anderson.

Myles Anderson surveyed 800 people in all age groups. Here’s what he discovered:

  • The 4 pieces of website info most likely to influence a consumer to use that business are: (1) Details about the business (e.g., company origins, products, services, people), (2) Business proximity, (3) Clear address and contact details and (4) Customer testimonials.
  • The 4 biggest negatives for a local website are: (1) Poor quality content, (2) No phone number displayed, (3) No prices displayed and (4) The business not being local enough.
  • Most consumers of all ages prefer to contact local businesses by phone after viewing their website.

(Source: SearchEngineLand.com)

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Posted 4 June 2019

The Real Reasons Your Website Needs A Redesign

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With the digital marketing space moving at a rapid pace, having an outdated website can have a negative impact on your business. Two question we often hear from businesses we consult with about digital strategy, is “Do I need a website redesign to compete or rank better?”, or if we recommend a redesign, “Why do I need to redesign my website?”.

These questions usually arise if the business is changing their branding or is having trouble ranking in Google – but there are many other reasons that a website redesign or revamp may be needed.

The reasons below vary in severity, and depending on which reason is identified, determines if your website just needs a quick design and structure update to a full redesign, build, and CMS migration.

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Your Target Audience Changed

Maybe you were targeting a certain demographic or user group, and with the release of a new product or service you’re shifting your target personas or market strategy.

Each type of user that your website is targeting may have specific needs, and thus, a website redesign may need to take place to align your website with the expectations of your new user groups. This can include realigning expectations about:

  • The words used to describe your products or services
  • How your website is organized
  • What content they expect to find on your product or service pages
  • The design elements and functionality of your website
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Missing or Updating Brand Messaging

It’s important to present a unified, clear, and consistent brand message throughout your website. This means your slogans, tag lines, brand voice, value proposition, mission/why statement are all important factors when determining how well your website reflects your brand and your business.

If your website is missing these core branding elements, or they are being updated, it might make sense to redesign your website to align with the improve messaging. Steve Jesiolowska, CEO of DUBUB Marketing Agency.

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Your Website’s Purpose Was Updated

If your site’s purpose or goals have changed it may require a website overhaul. For example, if you’re new goals are to provide more lead generation content you may need to restructure pages to drive more leads; or if you’ve recently added a shopping cart to your website, you may need to update its layout to be more in line with other eCommerce websites.

While you clearly don’t need to do a full site redesign each time you adjust your marketing goals or messaging, it’s a good idea to check every so often to be sure your site is still aligned with your newest marketing plans.

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Your Clients or Users Are Complaining

Working closely with your customer service team is a great way to identify issues with your current website. Your website design and content strategy needs to be addressed if your customer service team is getting calls that include people saying things such as:

  • I cant find you online.
  • Your website is not usable on a mobile device.
  • I am having trouble checking out and buying your product.
  • Do you offer product x or service y?
  • Where is your business located?
  • Where can I buy your product?
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Industry-specific Design Trends Changed

Is your website keeping up with design trends? With industry-specific web design trends changing every few years, a website that is two or three years old will seem outdated when compared to a competitor who has a website that is up to date with the latest design trends.

By no means are we saying that you need chase the newest website design trends, so when when trying to determine if a redesign due to a design trend is worthwhile ask yourself two important questions:

  1. Will changing our website design be beneficial to how our brand is perceived?
  2. Are our competitors taking advantage of these new trends?
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Your Website Looks Untrustworthy or Outdated

Whether you believe it or not, approximately 75% of people will judge the credibility of your business based solely on the design of your website.

In 1999 Jakob Nielsen identified 4 ways in which a website can communicate trustworthiness. These include:

  • Design quality
  • Up-front disclosure
  • Comprehensive and current content
  • Connection to the rest of the web.

In a recent study by the Nielsen Normal Group, they observed that the very same factors that Jakob Nielsen identified in 1999 continue to influence users today.

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Your Website Has A Bad Foundation

If you have to spend more money putting bandaids on problems than actually building new functionality and content then you most likely have foundational issues that in the long run will cost you more than if you just built a new website.

Foundational Issue #1: Your Website Isn’t Optimized For Speed

Did you know that 47% of consumers expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40% will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Google has also built website speed into their algorithm to reward websites that load quickly.

Two of our favorite tools for analyzing page speed are Google Page Speed Tool and Pingdom Tools. These tools report on a multitude of factors that negatively impact speed – all of which are usually the result of one or more of the following website issues:

  • Server Resources – Many website owners think that all hosting is created equal, and they can use a cheap hosting company – don’t. If you’re building your website in WordPress we recommend using either WPengine or MediaTemple. We’ve used them both and are big fans.
  • Bad Code – Many times businesses will outsource their development to the lowest bidder. This usually results in poorly developed code (among other things).
  • Unnecessary Javascripts – The problem with many WordPress themes is their code includes many scripts that are not used or needed. These scripts are loaded on every page – even when they are not in use – causing the page to load slowly.
  • Image Size – Optimizing images for the web can have a big impact on page load speed. If you are using WordPress there are plugins to help you manage image size. These include plugins such as WP Smush, Kraken Image Optimizer, and ShortPixel Image Optimizer.

Foundational Issue #2: Your CMS Isn’t SEO Friendly

Even with the importance of traffic from Google, we are shocked that all Content Management Systems don’t give their users the ability to optimize their websites for the search engines.

There have been many big companies we’ve done website audits for. When we talk to the CMS vendor about implementation processes, we are shocked to find that we are unable to implement even basic SEO elements, such as canonical tags, unique title tags, or H1 tags.

If Google traffic is important to your website and your current CMS is not SEO friendly, we recommend cutting ties with it and rebuilding your website in a CMS that has best in class SEO built into it’s functionality. Bill, DUBUB Marketing Agency.

Foundational Issue #3: Your Website Isn’t Responsive

According to Google, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a website that doesn’t work well on mobile, with 40% visiting a competitor’s website instead.

If your site isn’t responsive yet, the chance you’re losing leads and customers is high. Mobile users have made it clear they want to have a great UX when viewing your website on their phones and tablets.

Foundational Issue #4: Your Website Is Difficult To Use

Website usability does not just positively or negatively impact your users – it can have positive and negative impacts on the management of your website too. The time it takes you to update your website, or the money it costs to pay someone to update it adds up over time, and can cost more than if you’d just redesigned it from the start.

Foundational Issue #5: It’s Difficult To Add Functionality

Well thought out functionality should be a focus for your business, if it’s not, your organic traffic and lead generation efforts could suffer.

If your site is like most out there, you’ve embedded third-party widgets and tools such as shopping cart widgets, email marketing forms, or landing page tools. But, if you can’t easily add them, or have to pay someone to create custom functionality then it may make more sense to redesign your website.

Foundational Issue #6: Your Website Has A Poor User Experience

This might seem obvious, but you’ve probably visited a website that frustrate you – to put it lightly – when trying to use it.

Providing a great user experience while the user is on your website means that your providing the user a great overall experience; from the first time they visit your website through the conversion. Providing a great website experience involves a couple overarching methodologies:

User interface (UI) Design – having a great user interface means that your visual representation across devices, is intuitive, consistent, and aligns with your user’s expectations.

Information Architecture (IA) Strategy – having a great information architecture means that the organization of your website aligns with the expectation of your users.

Getting these two things correct could mean the difference between someone staying on your site and converting, or getting frustrated and leaving to go to a competitor’s site.

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Your Competitor’s Website Makes You Jealous

Obviously, you don’t need to redesign your website every time one of your competitors changes theirs. But it’s important to note that your business does not live inside a bubble online, so if your website is not in line with the quality of your competitors, you’re most likely losing sales to them.

Their SEO Is Better

Maintaining an edge in search shouldn’t be your only goal, but if you’re searching for your products or services, and aren’t near the top of the search results, you may need to adjust your website strategy to compete – this could involve a redesign.

They Have Better Functionality and Content

If you spend some time on a competitor’s site and realize its functionality and content meets your goals far better than your own site does, it’s time to find an agency that can build you a website that meets your user’s needs.

Their Design Is Better

If you visit your competitors website and wish it was yours, you probably need to redesign your website. Now that does not mean copying your competitors design, but it does mean creating a website that you can be proud of.

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What’s Next

Your website could be beautiful, functional, and pixel-perfect, but if you still aren’t getting the results you want, it’s not doing the job it was intended for. Your website exists to build your brand, market your business, and ultimately increase sales. If you aren’t happy with your results, it’s time to think about a redesign.

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Posted 3 June 2019

Why Companies Redesign Websites Every Three Years on Average – Or Do They?

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How often should a website be redesigned?

On average, companies redesign their websites every three years. This is a commonly repeated fact in web design circles, but it’s tough to find the source for this data.

Search Google and you’ll find a variety of opinions on how long a company should wait before redesigning their website. “Anecdotal evidence confirms site redesign every two to three years,” says one site. “Most companies undergo a redesign every 6 months to 2 years,” says another. Yet another site references a survey that found that “…a large percent of marketers (68%) feel that a website should be redesigned every 1-3 years.”

While I’ve heard many people say that you should redesign a website every three years, my quick Google search suggests that the assertions on the “facts” regarding site redesign frequency and even the sage counsel from the experts on this topic is all over the board.

So when should you redesign your website? How often should you redesign a corporate website?

The answer is easy: redesign your website when it sucks.

That’s right. If your website sucks, redesign it. It’s that simple.

How to Tell If a Website Sucks

A website sucks if:

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  • Lead Gen Is Sub-Par. If the website isn’t driving leads and new business at the rate it should, then is sucks. In this era, every business should be getting meaningful business results from their web presence. If you are not, you are missing out on sales that could be yours.
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  • It Looks Unprofessional, Poorly Designed or Downright Ugly. If you are trying to look like a powerful, thriving big company and your website looks like it was designed by a ten-year old and is so ugly that the average person cannot stand being on it for more than a second, then it sucks.
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  • The Messaging and Prioritization Is Out of Date. If your business model, your messaging, your offerings and/or your priorities have changed and your website has never been updated to reflect the change in thinking, then it sucks.
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  • It’s Impossible to Update Unless You Work in IT. If the reason your website stinks is because nobody in Marketing can easily make updates to the site, then your website sucks. Modern-day websites are built on easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS) software that makes them easy to maintain. If yours is not, redesign your site ASAP and put it on a good CMS.
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  • It Cannot Be Found. I’ve seen some decent looking sites that were built by talented web designers who didn’t understand the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The site looks great, but nobody ever sees it because it doesn’t show up in Google’s search results for keywords that actually matter. So, yeah, a site can look nice but still suck.
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Is the Decision to Redesign a Website Art or Science?

Some of the above sounds subjective, and, to a certain extent, it is. When we do marketing assessments for our clients, we conduct interviews with executives and other staff members, and one of the questions we always ask is: “What do you think of your website?”

I’m always surprised that one executive will say “I think our website is fine,” while another will say “Our website is the worst. We need to trash it and start over.”

That’s right. The exact same website — with wildly divergent views on its merit and value to the organization!

The reality is that many people are not qualified to judge how good a website is. That’s why we’ve developed a series of diagnostic projects to assess website quality — everything from lead gen assessments to SEO assessments to content audits. Since a website is only as good as its ability to deliver on a website strategy, developing website strategies is also an important part of what we do. But we are not alone. There are plenty of other talented digital marketing consultants out there who can give you an expert assessment as to whether your website sucks or not.

So what’s the bottomline? If in fact it’s been three years since you redesigned your website, there’s a high probability that you need to redesign it. But if you are not sure — or if you think the website needs a redesign but others in your organization disagree — then it would be a smart move to bring in some experts for an objective website review and assessment.

With that expert, objective perspective in hand, you’ll know exactly where you stand, what you need to do next, and how it will be beneficial to your organization.

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Posted 31 May 2019

5 Advantages And Benefits Of SEO For Your Website

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If you’re a marketer or business owner, you’ve likely been told that you should be using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) more than once or twice.

That’s because today, it’s an essential part of any successful marketing strategy.

But if you’re not familiar with this tactic, you might not be convinced that it’s worth your time or money.

And that’s why on this page, we’ll go over what is SEO in Marketing, the role it plays in marketing, and five key benefits it offers your business.

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Do You Know Exactly What SEO is in Marketing?

For starters, SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the process of improving a website in ways that help it rank in search results when users search for specific words and phrases.

If you’re not sure why this matters, just think about how you normally find the information you need during your everyday life.

What would you do if you needed to replace your TV and weren’t sure which model to buy?

Where would you look if you were on vacation and needed to find a restaurant for dinner?

How would you go about researching your options for learning a new language?

If you’re like most people, you’d reach for your smartphone or sit down at your computer and type a simple phrase into Google.

You’d search “best 55 inch tv,” “restaurants near me,” or “how to learn Spanish.” Then, you’d scroll through the results and click the one that seemed best suited to your needs.

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These results are based on what Google thinks will be the most helpful information to you, based on the keywords you entered.

But in many cases, the sites you see ranking on the first page didn’t get there by accident. They used SEO to help Google understand what their content is about.

They also likely did extensive research to determine how users like you phrase your searches for specific topics so that they could optimize their page accordingly.

And if you want your target audience to find your site, you need to do the same.

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5 Benefits of SEO

So — SEO can help you improve your rankings in search engine results.

This has the potential to make a huge impact on your company’s most important goals, like increasing your leads and sales.

But if you’re not convinced, keep reading to learn five of the biggest benefits of optimizing your site for search.

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1. SEO targets quality traffic

One of the biggest advantages of SEO is that it’s an inbound marketing strategy.

Unlike traditional “outbound” advertising channels, which involve reaching out to consumers whether they want to hear from you or not, inbound methods center on making it easy for your audience to find you when they want information.

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These traditional methods, like cold calling, spam emails, and interruptive ads, are done solely with the advertiser’s goals in mind.

And many consumers find them downright annoying.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is much more customer-centric. Instead of interrupting consumers as they’re watching TV or listening to the radio, it involves creating helpful resources and making helpful information more easily accessible.

Then, when users are ready to spend some time researching your industry or learning more about their options for a specific type of product, they can find you on their own.

This is not only much more convenient for consumers but also results in more qualified leads for your business.

In fact, in HubSpot’s most recent State of Inbound report, 59% of marketers said that inbound practices provided the highest quality leads for their sales teams.

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After all, who do you think is going to be more receptive to your marketing efforts: Someone who sees your ad on a billboard during their commute, or someone who comes across a list of tips you published while searching for help online?

The answer is clear.

When you focus on attracting users who are actively looking for information related to your industry, products, and services, you’ll be much more effective in reaching your target audience.

Plus, this gives you the opportunity to reach your audience while they’re already considering making a purchase or contracting a service — increasing the chances that your marketing messages will translate into sales and leads.

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2. You don’t need to pay for ads in SEO

Google’s organic rankings are based entirely on what its algorithm determines to be the best results for any given query.

This means that once you’ve created a page that the search engine deems worthy of directing their users to, it can continue to attract traffic to your site for months (or even years) after you publish it.

Of course, researching and writing high-quality content requires an investment. That investment will either be in the form of time, if you choose to create it yourself, or money, if you choose to hire a digital marketing agency to create it for you.

But once you’ve made that initial investment, there’s no ongoing cost to keep attracting traffic to your content.

You might need to update the page every few months, depending on the nature of the topic. You also might need to add to and improve it if your competitors decide to target the same keyword.

But when it comes down to it, your valuable spot in search results is free of charge.

This is a major difference from PPC ads, which involve a cost every time a user clicks and visits a page.

To give you an idea of what just how big of an advantage this is, just consider that the average cost per click (CPC) across all industries is $2.32.

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With SEO, you have the potential to avoid paying this amount and earn traffic to your site with no ongoing costs at all.

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3. SEO gets more clicks than PPC

Although PPC ads appear above organic rankings, 71.33% of searches result in a click on an organicresult on the first page.

It’s difficult to say why this is, though the most logical conclusion is that users trust Google’s algorithm. They know which spots advertisers are paying for, and they choose to instead visit the pages the search engine has determined to be the best.

Of course, this is just conjecture.

But regardless of the reasoning behind it, the fact is that the majority of the clicks for any given search go to an organic result.

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4. SEO helps PR

Although SEO and PR may seem like entirely separate marketing strategies, you can use them together to maximize the results you see from each.

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The biggest connection between the two lies in link building.

Earning links from reputable websites is a main component of any SEO strategy. This means that one of the biggest parts of an SEO professional’s job is to identify opportunities for placement or coverage on industry blogs, news publications, and other relevant sites.

And considering that a PR strategy revolves around getting prominent publications and influencers to talk about your company, this presents a huge opportunity.

When you use link building research to find new ways to get your brand in front of consumers, you’ll be much more effective in distributing content to potential customers and clients.

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5. You can move ahead of the competition

Today, SEO is widely considered a staple of any marketing strategy.

In fact, 61% of marketers say that improving their SEO and improving their online presence is a top priority.

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This means that your competitors are likely already taking steps to establish high rankings in search results.

And with an SEO strategy of your own, you can keep up with — and ideally, move ahead of — them to stay competitive within your industry.

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SEO vs. SEM

As you learn more about increasing your company’s visibility in search, you may come across another term for the process: SEM. And while some marketers use this interchangeably with SEO, it’s important to understand the distinction between the two.

SEM stands for “search engine marketing,” and it refers to anything you do to earn placement in search engine results pages. This means that it’s an umbrella term that includes both SEO and PPC.

So although SEO is a form of SEM, it’s not the only tactic involved in SEM.

Keeping this difference in mind while you learn more about search visibility will make it much easier to spot resources that focus on paid tactics — and determine whether those are resources that you want to spend your time reading.

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What Is the Job of an SEO Specialist?

While some basic SEO tasks can be undertaken in-house with the help of some online resources, the best way to maximize your results is to hire an SEO specialist.

But what do these professionals offer that you can’t do yourself?

And what do they actually do that makes hiring them a worthwhile investment?

Their primary goal is, of course, to increase their clients’ visibility in search results for queries related to their industry, products, and services.

But to accomplish this goal, there are a few key steps an SEO specialist will take.

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1. Site assessment

The first step in the SEO process is a complete assessment.

Whether a site has ever been optimized before or not, they’ll evaluate all of the factors impacting its rankings, as well as where it stands in the results pages for the company’s most important target keywords.

They’ll also look for any major issues impacting user experience, like page load times, navigation setup, and site structure.

Finally, most SEO professionals will also take a client’s competitors into consideration during their site assessment. They’ll identify other sites targeting similar keywords and the same audience, then evaluate what they’re doing well.

All of this information will help them determine what changes need to be made. Then, they can prioritize these changes based on which will have the biggest impact.

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2. Ongoing optimization and testing

After their assessment, an SEO will get to work on the priorities they’ve identified. They’ll do keyword research, optimize pages for the keywords they select, and fix any usability issues.

This initial optimization process alone often takes a few months — but it’s important to recognize that it doesn’t stop there.

That’s because SEO is a long-term strategy.

For example, just take a look at the following graph of Kinsta’s year-over-year traffic.

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While they saw some marginal gains in 2015 and 2016, their traffic started to really take off in 2017. And those results were entirely due to their ongoing SEO strategy.

That’s why when you hire an SEO specialist, they’ll identify new opportunities to improve your site on a regular basis.

They’ll optimize your on-page factors, look for ways to earn new links for your site, and continuously test the changes they’re making.

An experienced SEO professional will also make it a priority to keep up with industry changes so that they can make sure your site stays ahead of algorithm updates and up-to-date with the tactics other marketers are finding effective.

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3. Reporting and analysis

Finally, an SEO specialist will regularly monitor and analyze their results.

From a client standpoint, this helps you make sure that you know exactly what kinds of results you’re getting for your investment.

But beyond that, regularly checking in on key metrics like traffic and conversions helps them get a clearer understanding of what’s working — and what isn’t — so that they can continuously improve their strategy.

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3 Myths About SEO

There’s a wealth of information available online about SEO.

Unfortunately, not all of that information is entirely accurate.

So as you learn more about this important marketing tactic, there are a few common myths you should be aware of — so that you can stay away from any SEO “professionals” perpetuating them.

Myth 1: Keyword optimization is the most important part of SEO

The idea that keywords are the most important part of SEO isn’t an outright lie — but it’s certainly outdated.

Ever since the rollout of Hummingbird in 2013, Google has increasingly prioritized user intent over the exact keywords they use.

That means that today, you don’t need to focus as much on specific words and phrases.

To be clear, keywords are still an important part of SEO, and keyword research can help guide your strategy.

But as you incorporate them, make sure to do so naturally, and write your content in a way that prioritizes addressing the intent behind them over using the same exact phrase repeatedly on your page.

Myth 2: Optimizing a site is quick and easy

If you come across anyone promising SEO results within a matter of weeks, run.

Many of us might wish that this were possible, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, it generally takes four to six months for an SEO strategy to start showing results.

So while the idea of fast and easy results might be tempting, don’t fall for it. Find an SEO professional that offers a clear outline of their strategy and a realistic timeline for results, and you’ll be more satisfied with the outcome.

Myth 3: You should focus on keywords with high search volume

Many site owners new to SEO make the mistake of focusing their efforts on keywords with extremely high search volume.

After all, wouldn’t it be awesome to rank on the first page for a keyword that gets searched tens of thousands of times per month?

Well, yes.

But for most sites, that’s simply not a realistic goal.

Considering how difficult it is to rank for these keywords, focusing a strategy on them is unlikely to produce any significant rankings — or traffic — at all.

Instead, it’s much more effective to focus on longer, less competitive keywords.

And in case you think that these keywords aren’t worth your time, just consider that long-tail keywords account for 70% of searches.

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So while each one might not have the potential to bring in thousands of visitors every month, a strategy built on several long-tail keywords certainly does.

And since it’s easier to rank for these keywords, the chances of seeing positive results within a reasonable timeframe are much higher — making them a much better investment of your time and budget.

Google’s Ranking Factors in 2019

Today, Google’s algorithm takes hundreds of factors into consideration when ranking results for any given query.

SEMrush’s Ranking Factors research reveals a few of the most important of these factors.

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Of course, this is only a general overview of the factors you’ll want to consider when optimizing your site.

For more information, check out our in-depth explanation of on-page and off-page ranking factors.

Quality Content

Another term you’ll come across often within the SEO industry is “quality content.”

The meaning of this term is fairly straightforward, but its importance really can’t be overstated.

As Google focuses on providing its users with the best possible results, great content has become increasingly important.

While keywords still play a role in SEO, Google is less concerned with the particular keywords on a page than the quality of the content it provides — and that means that you should be concerned with content quality, too.

Achieving high rankings is no longer as simple as writing keyword-optimized page titles and headings. In fact, the average length of a first page Google result is now 1,890 words.

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So as you look for ways to improve your site, take a hard look at the content on your site.

Is it providing real value to your target audience?

And is it providing more value than the pages you’re competing with?

If not, even the best keyword optimization won’t help you. Instead, it’s time to focus your efforts on improving your content in ways that will help your audience find the information they want.

2 Tips to Increase Your Organic Traffic With SEO

When it comes to increasing organic traffic, rankings aren’t the only thing to consider.

Here are two tips you can use to increase your traffic levels — without necessarily changing your rankings.

1. Look for ways to increase your CTR

Generally speaking, the first few results on a page will earn the majority of the clicks.

But that’s not always the case. And if you can find ways to attract more clicks even when your pages rank lower than you’d like in search results, you can increase your traffic without outranking your competitors.

First, use Google Search Console to identify pages with particularly high CTRs.

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Then, determine what you’re doing well with the title tags and meta descriptions for those pages — and adjust the rest of your pages accordingly.

2. Look for ways to earn Featured Snippets

In one Hubspot study, pages appearing in Featured Snippets saw double the CTR as pages appearing as regular results.

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So if you’re able to earn a spot in Featured Snippets, you can increase your CTRs without necessarily climbing in the regular organic rankings.

And considering that 70% of snippets come from results that aren’t ranking in position one, this is a great way to get a boost in clicks — and potentially even more clicks than the top result.

Conclusion

Today, SEO is an essential part of any marketing strategy.

So, to answer the question of, “what is SEO in marketing?,” the simplest explanation is that it’s the best way to improve your online visibility and reach consumers as they’re actively searching for information.

It also presents a wealth of benefits that no other digital marketing tactic can offer.

For many marketers, the biggest draw is that it enables them to earn new customers without paying for ad space. For others, it’s that organic results earn even more clicks and attention than ads.

Beyond that, the right strategy can also help you improve your brand’s PR and move ahead of your competitors.

And considering all of these clear advantages, there’s no reason not to optimize your site.

If you’re ready to jump straight to the technical explanation, you can check out our resource on how to do SEO to rank and convert better.

But we recommend having a solid understanding of how search engines work before you make any changes. So if you want to start from the beginning, you can find all of the information you need to establish a strong base in our resource on how Google search works in 2019.

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