Website Design and beyond: Making Your Website Work for You in Today’s Online World
More than a quarter of a century ago, the internet quietly sprang to life. Back then, only a handful of people actually knew what it was or where it was going. In just a few short years, though, it reached a level of fame reserved for only the world’s most elite phenomena.
As is the case with so many items and concepts, the World Wide Web quickly skyrocketed from its initial low-key scale to a fully commercialized state of affairs. In the early stages, creating a website and being seen online didn’t generate quite the same driving force we’ve come to live by today, but as you’re well aware, things soon took a turn.
A Multi-Faceted Industry Is Born
At present, more than a billion websites are up and running. For businesses hoping to thrive in today’s online environment, this means the internet is an incredibly competitive place. Those days when simply having a website was enough to get a company noticed are long gone, replaced by lofty expectations from consumers and stringent standards from search engines.
In the midst of the relatively quick online evolution having taken place over the years, an entire industry has emerged and branched out into a number of different fields. Each plays its own significant role in spurring a website from obscurity to the tops of the SERPs, and all work in tandem to keep it hovering above the competition.
For some, the idea of website design conjures up thoughts of unique, brand-driven graphics; custom pictures and videos, easily readable layouts and eye-catching fonts. While these aspects certainly carry their own weight, they barely scratch the surface.
Underneath it all lies a far more in-depth realm where hidden coding fosters all the elements seen by online visitors. At the same time, underlying coding also serves by appealing to the search engines as long as it’s implemented correctly. Coding impacts a broad range of web design components from loading speed and user-friendly navigation to what the public sees when your site appears in the SERPs.
Search Engine Optimization
As the name indicates, search engine optimization essentially entails presenting a website designed with search engines’ specifications in mind. Google, Yahoo, Bing and their counterparts lie in wait for the public’s search queries to be submitted. Each of those questions sends out crawlers whose mission is to scour the web for relevant results.
During their quests for appropriate feedback, those crawlers consider an array of fundamentals. They look for clean, up-to-date coding, quick-to-load pages, keyword-rich written content with ample pertinent information, relevant headings and image captions and potentially simple-to-scan content arrangements among other components.
Websites appearing to make the cut are propelled to the tops of the SERPs while those falling short are pushed to the end of the line. That being the case, SEO is vital to website development as well as other branches of the industry.
Social Media Marketing
With billions of potential leads showing up on scene every day, social media has become an increasingly effective means to an end. Having a presence on the social media outlets most likely to be visited by your target audience members gives you virtually unlimited exposure.
As an added bonus, these venues are also nice opportunities to take advantage of certain other aspects so highly regarded by search engines. Though social media marketing and our next point of discussion converge on a number of levels, it’s also grown into a sector all its own.
Content encompasses everything displayed on your website, including pictures, videos and the all-powerful written word. Of course, if no one ever sees any of this, all the thought and effort put into its creation and placement is an exercise in futility. This is where content marketing comes into play.
Quite a few pieces make up the content marketing puzzle. Written content should be one of several primary focal points here. Analytics and in-depth research offer a portal into which keywords are most effective at catching the attention of search engines as well as your target audience members. Along those same lines, they’ll provide insight into which keywords appeal to those in various stages of your sales funnel.
Aside from having the right keywords in your arsenal, it’s important to generate well-written, informative content. Working those phrases unearthed through research into captions and headings will go a long way toward boosting relevance as far as search engines are concerned. Being sure the images being captioned and information underneath each heading actually matches what the reader is being led to believe he or she will find is crucial to the overall visitor experience.
From another angle, search engines place a great deal of importance on links to other areas of your online persona as well as those connecting you to other credible entities within your general industry. In truth, material regarding your company or highlighting your expertise fall into the category of content as well; for example, think back to the previously mentioned social media marketing.
When all these bits and pieces of content offer consistent quality and relevance while providing value to readers, they perform the immeasurably beneficial service of marketing your business.
Marketing beyond Content
Content and social media marketing are instrumental in building and maintaining an online presence, yet they still only paint a fraction of the bigger picture. In today’s online landscape, having a site capable of conforming to prospects’ needs is critical. This means making sure your website is able to accommodate modern mobile lifestyles; in short, you need either responsive design or one of its alternatives.
On top of that, it’s important to speak to the reader. Optimize for the human element rather than just the search engines. Make your content easy to find, read and understand. Put a little personality into it, and provide plenty of non-advertorial information. People want to learn about products and services, as well as the companies providing them, without being bombarded by blatant advertising.
When the internet first surfaced, none of this really mattered. Low-quality content stuffed to the gills with keywords showed up in first place on the SERPs simply because they appeared to be relevant. Since only a relative few websites were actually available, the public could only choose to visit these sites anyway or give up their searches altogether.
As the online world crept closer to its current magnitude, search engines intervened to improve the user experience, continually sending the public’s expectations to new heights. Websites able to meet all those ever-rising standards reap the rewards of their efforts while those falling short fade into the background.
Website design, SEO, content and social media marketing and all the other components involved in building and maintaining a strong online presence will continue to evolve along with search engines and public mindset. Because of all this, simply having a website will not suffice; in fact, success in the online realm takes an experienced and professional touch from all these angles and beyond.