When a company decides to hire SPROUT Content as it’s inbound marketing agency, we are always honored. It’s a big decision not taken lightly by either side. Just as they vett us to make sure our team is the right fit to meet their inbound marketing goals, we have to make sure they have the mindset and tools available for inbound marketing success.
One of the essential tools required for inbound marketing services to work is a well designed website that takes into account users and search engines. Without this foundational marketing asset, it’s not worth investing in SEO, blogging, lead nurturing, landing pages, eBooks, videos or any other inbound marketing tactic.
We don’t like taking money from businesses that won’t see a solid return on their investment with us. And neither should any other inbound marketing agency. So, before hiring an agency to put an inbound marketing strategy into overdrive, start looking at your website design to make sure it will be an ally to your inbound marketing success by following this checklist:
1. Evaluate Your Navigation
A core element of inbound marketing is to drive more traffic to your website. Once this traffic begins to pick up and people who likely hadn’t heard of your company or services in the past start to arrive, will they know where to go? What to click? How to learn?
As much as we believe in keeping things simple, make sure you aren’t condensing your navigation and burdening visitors to guess how to participate in your site. Your navigation should naturally take people on a journey where they can easily find all that your company offers.
One test to see if your navigation is setup to draw people into your site pages is to check the top viewed pages from the last 6 months in Google Analytics. It’s common for a home page and about us page to have the most views, but traffic should be filtering into all the pages outlined in your navigation from there. If high priority, important pages are getting very low traffic, it’s likely that they aren’t being found easily and a good chance your navigation needs to be revisited before beginning inbound marketing.
2. Do a Technical Review
It’s important to make sure your website is in the best shape possible to improve the user experience from extra traffic that will be coming your way. A few key issues to tighten up are:
- 404 errors - run your site through a SEO spider tool like Screaming Frog to discover them and set up redirects
- Mobile optimization - make sure your site is mobile optimized and has a responsive design by running it through this mobile optimization test.
- Site speed - Google puts emphasis on site speed when evaluating SEO health. Clean code and properly optimized images are essential for your site to load at an acceptable speed. You can test the speed of your site here.
3. Align Your Meta Data with an SEO Strategy
A boost in organic keyword rankings is an inbound marketing goal for all of our B2B partners. The most successful way to ensure positive results in the crazy world of algorithms is to have the following foundations in place to make sure on-page website content, internal linking and blog topics support a SEO strategy that you can track:
- Clean URL architecture that correctly describes the hierarchy of each page and matches your keyword targets
- Unique title tags for every page, under the recommended 65 characters
- Engaging meta descriptions
- Corresponding H1 tags
- Images with alt text aligned to your keyword strategy
One way to keep this information organized is to create a document (excel is fine) that maps your meta data so inbound marketing strategists and content specialists can use it for reference.
4. Create Opportunities for Conversions
Have you ever visited a website with decent content that draws you in and makes you curious to keep investigating, but no clear call to action on how to learn more? Don’t be that website. Make sure your design leaves room for calls to action (CTAs) on every page. Otherwise, you’re wasting a huge opportunity to gain leads and connect with visitors, which is the essence of doing inbound marketing in the first place. A few ideas to consider are:
- Create a section on the sidebar that can be used for a eBook promotion
- Add space on the middle of the page where a visual CTA can be added
- Utilize the top right hand side corner of your website, above the navigation, which is prime real estate for action buttons like “request a consultation”
Along with making room in your design for conversion opportunities, is to make sure you have a tool in place to easily set up CTAs, landing pages and conversion forms and also be able to connect and nurture the leads that come in. Of course, we’re partial to Hubspot but there are ways to piece this information together.
5. Find a Good Place for Your Blog
Location, location, location is not only a key factor in the success of selling a house, it’s also a key factor in the success of your blog performance. As you review your navigation in step 1, keep in mind that your blog will play a big role in your inbound marketing strategy. Consistent blogging boosts SEO and builds authority, so make sure your design includes the visibility for your blog that it deserves:
- Add “blog” to the top tier navigation or in a highly visible section of the site
- Make sure social sharing is activated properly for each post to allow for easier distribution from visitors
- Include an area within the blog design for a trackable CTA
- Although your blog might have a different URL, align the blog navigation with your main website navigation for a clean user experience
Your website is the essence of your inbound marketing strategy and can work for you, or against you, as you invest in premium content to increase visits and engage users. Give it a chance to work in your favor by starting from a strong foundation.