As a small or medium-sized business, you are likely to have a website for your business. You will also have a general idea of what you’d like that website to do for you. Fundamentally the site exists to promote your business, what you do, how you do it, the products or services you offer, and provide useful advice for how people should get in touch with you. Also included should be a good level of information that will allow visitors to your site to determine accurately the benefits of your services or products.
A content audit is the central starting point of a robust content marketing strategy. Without knowing exactly where you are now and what you hope to achieve you will have no target to aim for.
This post is designed to give you, SMEs, four fundamental areas to consider when reviewing or constructing your digital strategy.
You know what your business does and you want everyone else to know too. Not defining clearly on your website what you do, how you do it, what makes you better or different from the competition, or even the geographic areas you serve are typical failings of many small business websites.
People on the web are fickle, if they search for a wedding caterer online many results will come up. They will look at the first result, but if this first business doesn’t make it clear that they provide the exact service they are looking for the person will simply click back into the search results and look the second result, then the third, and keep going until they find the business that best suits their needs. The fact is people don’t want to spend a lot of time clicking through pages and subpages of text to find out which wedding caterer serves South Lanarkshire, is within their budget, and can provide Halal food.
It’s absolutely crucial that you give accurate and concise information that sums up your business. The site visitor will then be able to decide if you are right for them. If you are, then they will spend longer on your website and take the time to make a more accurate assessment of whether or not you can help them.
Identify 5 or so competitors and give them the “clear purpose” test. Can you tell from their landing page what they do and what makes them different?
First, you need to know what the purpose of your site is. Sales? Customer service? Education? This is one of the most common oversights for small businesses. Your website should be a part of not just your digital strategy, but your overall marketing strategy. It should serve a purpose, and you should decide early on, ideally before development begins, what that purpose is.
Your digital strategy being focussed allows you to define key performance indicators, which we’ll come on to.
So what do we mean by structured content? The way search engines work, and indeed peoples minds is that they make sense of information if it’s structured in a logical way.
Your website should be structured so that each page provides a specific set of content or serves a specific purpose. There should be no ambiguity, and if you, for example as a caterer, have different menus for corporate catering, events, weddings; then these pages should only contain the information relating to these areas. Search engines will then index your site more effectively, and help move you up the rankings for your keywords. Just as importantly it also means the user experience is much more pleasant.
Do your heading and menus reflect what is actually on the page or within that section? If not revise it. Can you move content to more appropriate pages? Can you create a new section for content that might not belong where it is now?
Accuracy, relevance, and recency
Accuracy and recency are extremely important for content marketing. If you want your website to engage with its intended audience then you need to give them up-to-date and relevant information. If you want customers to buy into you as an authority in your field then you will need your website to reflect this.
This is extremely important for your business if you sell products via your website. There’s no need to explain why you shouldn’t show products you no longer stock.
If you run a hotel or guest-house and then you’re likely to already offer information to customers on what’s going on in the local area. If this is the case you need to ensure this information is correct. Not only do you not want to mislead any customers, but you want people to see that you have your finger on the pulse and more importantly you’re offering good reasons why potential customers should visit your hotel over a competitor.
The simplest way to do this if you are a small company is to manage a blog or news page. It doesn’t matter what your business is, you will have access to information that your customers will find relevant. The more recent this information the better. As well as catering to your customer base better, you can also show Google that you are an industry expert.
Search engines favour websites that update regularly with relevant information. Give your business a rankings boost and your customers a richer experience by keeping your content fresh.
Whenever a business makes an investment you will have identified your return on investment (ROI). However, it is scary how many businesses haven’t considered this when investing in their digital marketing strategy.
To do this best you will need to have a clear idea about what you want your website to achieve. Is it straight sales via an e-commerce site, or is it inquiries, or brochures downloaded, or simply to provide information and encourage people to pick up the phone.
Whatever it is, it can generally be quantified in monetary terms. How much is a customer worth, how much can you expect to profit from each customer who downloads a brochure, or how many catering events do you need to provide before you’ve made a return on your investment on that shiny new website.
Identify your key performance indicators (KPIs). Which metrics are important and how can you measure them? And how much is each KPI worth in terms of revenue? By doing this you can determine how much your website is working for you.
Although this is by no means a comprehensive guide to auditing your website, it at least gives you some basic points to consider. By ensuring you do a regular audit you will make sure your website continues to work for you and reflect the best of your business.
Always remember who the website is for in the first place – what would they like to see?