For many businesses, a website is undeniably critical for reaching new audiences — and is often the first impression someone will have of your brand.
But having a website alone isn’t enough to reach and convert new customers. It’s equally vital that your website is well-designed, or you risk losing valuable leads.
Website design plays a huge role for a few reasons: First, web design can impact your website’s ability to rank on search engines for keywords related to your products or services. Additionally, web design can influence whether a user stays on your site once they find it.
And, lastly, web design will ultimately impact how many leads and prospects you’re able to convert into customers.
Good website design always begins with the question, “What is the main action we want someone to take when they visit our site?”
However, “good” website design can seem vague — what exactly do marketers mean when they say, “That’s an impressive website design”?
To uncover key design features you’ll want to include in your website in 2021 and beyond, we asked 285 people around the U.S. which elements they feel are most important for a company website.
1. According to 62% of those polled, including contact information on your website is critical.
Including contact information seems simple, but a lot of companies miss this. And it’s undeniably important — in fact, those surveyed rated “Contact Us Information” as the most important element you can include on your company’s website.
You’ll want to include the phone number, email address, or other contact medium you want people to reach you for sales inquiries — preferably in an easy-to-find location, like the header of the page.
Also, consider including a clickable “Email us!” CTA that either opens an email client or links to your contact form. And, speaking of forms, you might want to embed “Contact Us” forms throughout your site. Visitors don’t need to go on a scavenger hunt to find out how to get in touch with you. – ReadMore
A marketer’s job isn’t done once a visitor converts on a landing page. Far from it. Even the landing page itself has more work to do before we can start giving ourselves a high-five for scoring a conversion.
And what about the leads that don’t convert?
Ignore them at your own peril.
As data-driven marketers, we’re keenly aware that most visitors won’t ever convert to a lead or sale. In some industries, conversion rates are as low as 1-2%. (See Unbounce’s Conversion Benchmark Report for details.) But that doesn’t mean the 98-99% of non-converters are worthless visits. There are many ways to improve your chances of converting more visitors over time—and squeeze more value from your existing landing pages.
To unlock the full value of a landing page visit, you’ll want to track what happens to each visitor after the page view, form submission, click-through, or phone call. Measuring and feeding this data back into your campaigns will improve overall results and your ability to optimize campaigns for higher ROI.
Sound like something worth trying? Keep reading, and I’ll show you three smart ways to do it.
Why YouShouldn’t Ignore Visitors Who Don’t ImmediatelyConvert …
As I wrote above, if your landing page converts at 2%, that means 98% of visitors aren’t converting on that particular session.
It‘s a mistake to ignore these non-converting visits. Sure, many will never convert because of a disconnect in the audience, offer, or timing. That’s life. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all landing page. But taking a longer-term view, it’s very likely that some of these prospects will eventually:
Convert through other channels or sites not directly attributable to your landing page.
Convert offline via phone or at a brick-and-mortar location.
Convert after a longer consideration period.
Before you can start to take advantage of these longer-term converters, though, you need a better picture of where the visitors who do convert are coming from.
To see the full picture of conversions with multiple touchpoints, take a look at the Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels report, which shows the variety of interactions that occur before a conversion. To find this report in GA, open the “Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths” report.
The example report below shows that paid search contributes many more “assisted conversions” than “last click conversions”:
See how many conversions have direct, email, or organic search touchpoints after a visit to a paid search landing page? Those return visits likely come through different landing pages. Even though the paid search landing page did not generate the eventual conversion, data from conversion paths can help inform strategies to reach and convert visitors later in their journey.
Now that you’ve got a sense of where conversions are coming from, follow the three tips below to use your data wisely and put your landing pages to work.
Tip 1: Measure offline interactions generated by landing pages.
Businesses with physical locations or an offline sales channel can use landing pages to highlight their products and services to visitors from paid search and paid social channels.
But marketers have to be a little more creative with measuring performance if the ultimate goal is to generate phone calls or store visits. Taking this step is worth it, though: it’ll give you a fuller picture of how your campaigns drive business. – Read more
Many professional people have realized the importance of having a website. Therefore, when people start a new business, they also create a website linked to it. On this website, people have information about their business. When people want to market their business, they share the website link with others. Here are many benefits when you have your website. Some of the benefits are:
It ensures the exchange of information:
A seller and buyer have a very strong relationship with each other. They share and exchange information with each other. With the exchange of information, the seller as well as the buyer comes to know about each other. The business serves the inquiries of the potential customer due to the website. A business can also upload promotional videos and content on the website that enables the business to promote its products and services cost-effectively.
It helps reduce the cost:
These days, businesses are making a lot of profit because of their websites. Customers like the product on the website and then place the order on the spot. This way, the brand does not have to convince the customer to come to the store. Nowadays, many brands don’t have any physical store and operate via the website. This way, they save the cost.
Apart from this, many businesses have purchased cloud hosting like Magento hosting. With cloud hosting, they can use the resources available on the cloud. This results in cost reduction
It helps in the advertisement:
Every business needs some advertisement to promote its products and services. Different services such as Google AdWords help a business promote its products so that maximum customers can reach it. People are getting awareness of SEO so that they can generate organic traffic. The website becomes the main source of marketing and making a business successful if the business knows what marketing strategies should be used in conjunction with the website.
It helps outperforms competitors:
If you are running a business and you don’t have a website, you will never be able to compete with those competitors who have a website. Businesses that don’t have a website usually miss out on a golden opportunity to gain new customers that other businesses are gaining via the website.
These days, competition has increased so much. Therefore, a business should never miss a single opportunity that can take it to the road to success. – Read more
Your website’s structure is the way that content (pages and posts) is grouped. This is sometimes referred to as your website’s architecture and is all about how your content is linked together and presented to users and search engines. It’s your website’s framework.
A good website structure makes it easy for users to navigate between pages and search engines to crawl your content and understand what your site is about.
Think about it as how pages on your website relate to one another, specifically how they branch off your homepage and are grouped within deeper directories.
And planning a site structure includes considering your:
The Importance of Your Site’s Structure
Whether you have a small website or a large website, site structure is an important component for success as your site structure impacts both users, in terms of its accessibility and user-friendliness, and for search engines, in terms of crawlability and technical aspects.
So let’s take a look at the reasons why you need to take the time to properly define this for these two key reasons…
Site Structure for Users
Your website’s primary purpose is to put your products or services in front of your target audience, such as your next customer or client. That means that your users should be at the heart of everything you do.
And when we look at the reason why your site’s structure is so important for your users, we can break it down into three key things:
Site Structure Is Important for UX
The structure you choose has a direct impact on your website’s usability, and this means making it easier for users to find the products, services, or information that they’re looking for.
The easier it is for someone to find what they landed on your site for, the higher the chance that they’ll become a client or customer.
A Good Site Structure Makes It Easier to Navigate
When you carefully plan out your site’s structure to help users find what they want as easily as possible, you’re making it easier to navigate.
Since one of the key functions of content on a website is to help push prospects through your sales funnel, it makes sense that you’d want to make it as simple as possible for a user to flow through the sales funnel by improving your navigation.
A Good Site Structure Groups Content and Makes Pages Easy to Reach in As Few Clicks As Possible
No one wants to spend an age looking for the content that they’re after. A good site structure makes it easier to find pages and posts in as few clicks as possible, keeping users engaged and stopping them from bouncing.
Site Structure for Search Engines
While a good site structure is important for presenting a great user experience, it’s also a key part of achieving SEO success.
Structure your site in the right way, and it’s easier for the search engines to understand and rank your content higher on the SERPs.
The key reasons why site structure matters for search engines are:
Topically Grouped Content
Topical SEO is a big deal, and your site’s structure is a key way to showcase how different pages and posts are connected.
Often referred to as topical relevance or topical authority, grouping together related content pieces helps to position you to search engines as experts in your field, showcasing that you cover a topic in great depth.
This helps search engines understand what your website is about and give context to the keywords you should be ranking for.
Highlight Your Most Important Content
The right site structure helps you highlight your most important pages (often called pillar pages or hub pages) and position them as the pages that should rank for competitive, high volume keywords (think generic terms).
A Good Structure Makes Your Site Easier to Crawl and Find New Pages Faster
A good site structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site and find new pages (and changes to existing pages) faster.
If Google can’t crawl all of your website’s pages, it’s going to struggle to index them. However, you shouldn’t face this issue with the right structure as all content should be linked to from at least one other page.
Your Site Structure Passes Link Authority
Backlinks are a key ranking factor. To maximize the benefits from your link building strategy, you need to make sure that you’re properly distributing link authority throughout your site.
To earn high-quality backlinks, you want to have different pages answering different questions. This way, you have several pages across your domain that are beneficial to users. You’re able to acquire more relevant, quality backlinks this way, too.
The right site structure helps you to do this effectively.
Helps to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization can prevent your site from ranking as well as it could when two or more pages that have the same intent compete with one another. The right site structure can make it easier to stop this issue from occurring due to a clearly defined place on your site for a particular topic or piece of content.
What Does a Good Site Structure Look Like?
We’ve already defined that a good site structure should:
Group topically related content together
Highlight your most important pages
Keep content simple and organized in a logical hierarchy
Before we dive into how to define your website structure, here’s what a well-organized structure looks like:
See how content is grouped around key pages that come off from the site’s homepage? Content is placed in a logical hierarchy, and it’s clear to see how this could easily be expanded as the site grows.
This site architecture is based around what is known as topic clusters, and we’ll give a quick breakdown of the strategy:
Topic clusters are a group of content that revolves around a central topic and use a pillar page to link to and from. In short, topic clusters are centered around a single topic and offer multiple internal linking opportunities to keep readers on your site.
They’re an effective approach to structuring your site, helping you group topically related content together and putting in place a solid internal linking structure. Here’s an example topic cluster with a pillar page:
Using topic clusters helps you showcase topical authority, which is vital for earning top rankings on the SERPs.
How to Define a Site Structure That Works
Ready to plan out a site structure that works great both for your users and search engines? Here’s a step-by-step guide to defining your website structure: – Read more
Well-executed technical SEO means making your website crawlable. An HTML sitemap is the key to success. Search engines read your sitemap and use it to crawl your site — meaning they send a bot to the webpage to “read” it. Google bot and other search engine crawlers then determine what’s on that page.
This is the first step in getting your page to show up in search results. Basically, the HTML sitemap helps search engines categorize your website, making it more accessible for search engines and humans alike. Below, we explain just what a sitemap is and how to create one.
What Is an HTML Sitemap?
An HTML sitemap is a file that lists all the important pages of your website that you want search engines like Google and Bing to index. Indexing refers to how search engines gather your landing pages and store them in their database. The search engine refers to this database to respond to user search engine queries. If a homepage is not indexed, it can’t be found and won’t rank in search engine results.
The sitemap doesn’t just list the pages on your website. It also contains information about each page, such as when it was created and last updated and its significance relative to the website’s other pages. Creating a sitemap is a critical first SEO step for new websites. However, even if you have an older website, it’s worth making a sitemap.
Google recommends sitemaps for large websites of more than 500 pages, but most experts agree it’s worth establishing a sitemap as soon as you create a website.
Why? Your website isn’t stagnant. It’s constantly evolving. For example, if you have a blog, you’re probably adding new pages every week. As you add pages, having a sitemap will make it easier for search engine robots to find and categorize those pages.
HTML Sitemap vs. XML Sitemap: What Is the Difference?
There are two main types of sitemaps: HTML and XML. Hypertext markup language (HTML) and extensible markup language (XML) are two coding languages used to create webpages.
When it comes to sitemaps, the main difference is that HTML sitemaps focus on making the website more user-friendly for humans, while XML sitemaps are written solely for search engine spiders (crawlers).
Benefits of an HTML Sitemap
Given that search engine spiders prioritize XML sitemaps for fast crawling, you might wonder why you should bother with an HTML sitemap. After all, the spiders are what determine how and if the page is indexed and ranked.
However, don’t forget that Google also factors in user experience when ranking websites. By showing the search engine giant an HTML sitemap, you demonstrate your website’s user-friendly functionality.
Aside from making your website more user-friendly and improving its SEO ranking, an HTML sitemap has other benefits:
Organize large websites: The sitemap essentially serves as a directory for all webpages, allowing users to quickly find what they’re looking for.
Make it easier for search engines to categorize your content: To properly rank your content, search engines need to know what it’s about.
Easily add new content to dynamic sites: Sitemaps are critical for websites that change frequently. When you add a page, a look at your sitemap tells you where it logically fits.
Find internal linking opportunities: Your sitemap also allows you to quickly identify internal links, which are also critical to improving SEO.
Identify areas to improve site navigation: You can also use your sitemap to see how you can improve your website’s overall navigation. This can be handy if you have an older site with a lot of archived content that isn’t well organized.
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How Do I Make an HTML Sitemap?
Talk of a markup language like HTML might make you think, “I’m not a coder!” and immediately write off the possibility of creating an HTML sitemap. However, it’s very easy to create a sitemap, and you don’t have to be a coding whiz. There are two ways to make a sitemap: using a CMS plug-in or manually.
Whichever route you choose, once your sitemap is complete, submit your sitemap to Google Search Console for indexing. Input your domain and verify ownership, as directed by Google.
You can then access a search console dashboard. On the left-hand side, you’ll find a “Crawl” section. Click on “Sitemaps” and “Add/Test Sitemap.” The tool will flag any errors.
Once these are fixed, click submit, and Google will ensure your website is indexed.
If your site is smaller (100 pages or fewer), you can create a sitemap manually. Make a list of all the links on your website and organize them according to pages and subpages. You can also use the sitemap generator XML-Sitemaps.com.
What Does an HTML Sitemap Look Like?
Are you still confused about sitemaps? Seeing an example of one can clarify matters. Here is a peek at the sitemap for Target Careers: – Read more
Google this year changed the way they rank the website’s load speed, introducing what they call ‘core web vitals’. But, before this, let’s take a step back. Website load speed is a ranking factor, in terms of SEO, where the weighting has increased over the last few years.
This means if there are two websites ranking for the same keyword with similarly good content, Google is more likely to rank the quicker website of the two, as this is deemed a better user experience.
The question that needs to be asked, though, is what deems a quick website? Here are some of the elements you need to think about when looking to improve your website’s load time.
Core Web Vitals and Pagespeed score
Google has its own way of ranking the speed of a website, called pagespeed insights. With such rankings, these have been confirmed to influence the SEO of a website. The elements that make up the score of a page speed with Google include:
First contentful paint (15%)
Speed index (15%)
Largest contentful paint (25%)
Time to interactive (15%)
Total blocking time (25%)
Cumulative layout shift (5%)
You can also see the weighting that Google gives each to the page speed score. This makes clear that the largest contentful paint and total blocking time should be addressed first, whilst the cumulative layout shift has the least significance to the SEO of a site of the elements.
GTMetrix is a brilliant tool that should be used in unison with Google’s pagespeed insights. GTMetrix provides its own pagespeed score and YSlow score to help website owners understand where to improve the speed of their website.
The reason GTMetrix should be used alongside pagespeed is that GTMetrix includes certain elements in their scores that Google does not, such as image scaling, content delivery networks, and browser caching.
In a way, Google focuses on the speed rating of your site, whilst GTMetrix do the same, but also make clear of ‘easy win’ optimizations to check if you are doing them or not.
Perceived Load Time
Ultimately, the most important thing to consider with website load speed is the user experience and perceived load time. If you optimize your site and the perceived load time does not change, then you won’t see much difference in the SEO of the site. This is why it is important to improve not the actual load time from start to finish, but the perceived load time. – Read more
Marketers know that website usability testing is one of the most effective ways to optimize your site. Whether you’re troubleshooting low conversion rates and engagement or proactively trying to prevent them, testing your site for usability is the best way to diagnose problems (or potential problems) and find the right solution.
We’ve noticed that a lot of the guides out there treat usability testing like a one-step thing. They tell you how to make changes to your website and test them.
But based on our experience working with hundreds of thousands of companies over the past 14 years, we believe conducting a website usability study right requires 3 steps:
Getting a background on how people currently use your site
Identifying usability problems and hypothesizing about the cause(s)
Making changes, testing, and iterating on solutions.
Without the first two steps, those changes are no more than a shot in the dark. You end up with a bunch of data that doesn’t point to any clear-cut problems or solutions. In short, you end up without any actionable takeaways from the testing.
Below, we share the full three-step process for web usability testing that we recommend to our customers. Then we talk about some of the software and tools that can help you accomplish that process and pull actionable insights out of the testing process.
Why You Should Test Your Website for Usability
Before we go any further, we want to make sure we’re on the same page about what website usability testing is and why it matters. Simply put, website usability testing is a process of looking into how visitors use your website and then identifying areas of friction or difficulty for them.
While optimizing your website for conversions is a noble goal in itself, there are a few other key reasons why marketers should do website usability testing:
Testing for usability helps you better understand what website visitors are doing, including whether their behavior diverges from what you expect or ideally want them to do on your site.
Running website usability tests can also help to explain many of the anomalies you might see in your Google Analytics data — adding a layer of why to what users are doing.
Usability testing gives you a mechanism for website design decisions and overall user experience in a data-driven way. Instead of guessing your way through the development process, you can design for what you know will encourage users to convert.
Lastly, when you test your website’s usability regularly, it enables you to continuously boost conversions and better accomplish website goals.
Website Usability Testing Methods and the Process We Recommend
Now that we have that squared away, let’s get into that three-step process we mentioned before.
Step 1: Run Baseline Heatmaps and Recordings
Before you do any usability testing or make changes to your website, it’s absolutely vital that you take a step back to understand the current state of things.
It’s easy to see low conversions in Google Analytics and immediately assume your call-to-action (CTA) copy isn’t compelling enough. But there are a lot of different reasons for low conversion rates — and changing up the copy won’t solve many of them. For example, your CTA may be placed farther down the page than most people scroll. Or you may have a pop-up that blocks users from the CTA on certain devices or screen sizes.
That’s why gathering as much information as possible about how real users are currently behaving on your website is the first step. It gives you a baseline idea of how people are moving through your website and some insight into why they’re behaving as they are.
Heatmap reports show you where users are clicking and the frequency of clicks across a page.
To do that, you can run heatmap reports and session recordings on the primary pages you want to test.
If you aren’t sure about the path users take through your website, it’s best to go big here — gathering as much data as you can on your most important pages.
If you’ve spent time mapping out your conversion funnel and know where the breakdown is happening, you can focus your heatmaps and recordings on the problem pages specifically.
Step 2: Identify Points of Friction and Hypothesize Causes
Once you have a baseline understanding of user click behavior on your website, you can start to identify usability issues: areas where users are running up against friction that blocks them from taking the next step you want them to take.
At this step, you can bring in data from Google Analytics and any other website analytics tools you use. This data can help you narrow your focus on the web pages showing problematic conversion or engagement numbers.
Diagnosing Friction on Your Website
From there, you can diagnose “friction” depending on the type of page you’re looking at.
On your homepage, for example, it’s normal to see visitors taking different paths. You might see some users click on your CTA and convert right away; others will travel deeper into your site to learn more about the company and your products. Some might jump to your blog in search of case studies on how your product works for other companies. – Read more
For the past year at BiggerPockets, we have been testing ways to drive up our free membership sign up conversion rate. BiggerPockets is an online resource for real estate investors, with education and tools designed to help people seeking financial freedom through real estate investing.
I run the conversion-rate optimization program at BiggerPockets, which has been focusing on driving free membership signups for the past 9 months. In that time, we’ve been able to increase our free signup conversion rate by 81%.
If you take all of the successful tests we’ve run and group them into themes, seven core categories emerged. Below, I’m sharing these seven types of acquisition tests we’ve run at BiggerPockets, with real experiment examples and data, so you can start leveraging these with your own experimentation team.
1. Social Proof
The power of community cannot be overstated for every website. Most simply put: When people see that other people like them are doing something, they begin to perceive that action as more valuable (it must be if everyone else is doing it!). You can put this concept into action on your website by finding ways to communicate to your users what their peers are doing on your website.
At BiggerPockets, we’ve had success with this concept in a number of places. Most notably, we used it on our homepage to to drive an increase in our sign up conversion rate:
Hypothesis: If users see that other members of the Biggerpockets community are signing up, they will see more value in signing up. This will result in more users filling out the signup form.
What we tested: Added text to our sign up form that said “X,XXX” people have joined BiggerPockets this week
Results:+6% increase in sign up conversion
As a final note I will add: We have found that this concept works well on our free sign-up flows but is less likely to work on conversion for higher dollar items (E.g. our $390 BiggerPockets Pro membership). It’s important to consider your different audience cohorts in experimentation and how motivations may be different.
2. Call to Action: Lower User’s Commitment
When a user lands on your website, asking them to make a $400 purchase within 5 minutes is like proposing to somebody on the first date. Asking them to take one tiny step towards using your website is much more palatable. I recommend analyzing all of your registration calls-to-action (CTAs) to ensure you are not overstating the commitment a user is making by clicking on that button.
For example: On the BiggerPockets bookstore, we have a page which lists every book we sell (essentially a product-listing page for those familiar with retail). For a long while, our CTAs on this page said “Buy Now.” However, by clicking on the button the user was not actually making a purchase. Instead, they were linked to a page which gave the user more details about the book they were considering purchasing. We tested changing this CTA from “Buy Now” to simply “Book Details” to reflect the true commitment the user was making by clicking the link.
Hypothesis: If we change the bookstore CTA from “Buy Now” to “Book Details”, users feel like they are making less of a commitment when they click the CTA and be more likely to explore what the book is about.
What we tested: Changed bookstore CTAs from “Buy Now” to “Book Details” – Read more
When you’re trying to improve your website’s performance, it’s important to remember that you have to focus on numerous factors simultaneously.
In both life and digital marketing, we tend to give all of our attention to one or two important elements while neglecting something else that can turn out to be equally as important.
If you want to do better in the SERPs, it takes more than just SEO.
Your website also needs to be designed well, or you risk squandering all of that organic equity you have been building.
SEO and web design work together more seamlessly than many people might realize.
Their components mingle and flow together so well that, when executed correctly, your website visitors should not actually notice anything about what you have created; they should simply start navigating through your site.
So, what are those elements where SEO and web design collaborate? Check out these five ways they are used together.
Anyone who’s even slightly familiar with SEO or web design should already know the importance of making your website mobile-friendly.
In fact, if this isn’t something you’ve taken the time to do yet, you’re already a few years behind.
Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in 2015. That’s half a decade ago.
The search giant then introduced mobile-first indexing in 2017. It’s clear to see how importantly Google views mobile-friendliness, but many websites still haven’t caught on.
The number of people searching on desktops has been declining for a few years now, while the number of people searching on mobile devices has been steadily increasing.
More than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices, which means that more than half of your audience is also likely to be on their mobile phones.
Without a mobile-friendly website design, you could be accidentally alienating half of your users. That is massive.
A website with a high bounce rate due to not loading properly on a phone or tablet is going to send bad signals to Google, and your rankings could plummet.
2. Easy-to-Read Design
If you’ve been working on improving your SEO, content is likely something that you have spent a lot of time on.
Some people might not realize what a huge impact the design of a website can have on your content, or at least the presentation of it.
Poor web design can make it impossible for users to read what they came to your website to do.
Pages with blocks of content in strange places, with too many hyperlinks that don’t serve a clear purpose, essentially erases any audience that you managed to bring onto your site.
And if no one can get the information they want, what’s the point?
At some point, you’ve probably been on a website that had text that was impossible to read because of the page design.
Maybe it was a light-colored text on a pure white background or a dark color on black. Those kinds of designs recall the often terrible websites of the mid- to late 1990s.
But the issue is not always color. The text may also be too big or small, or written in a hard-to-read font.
Like websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, sites that are difficult to read on any device or desktop are going to turn people away quickly.
Web designers understand how to create websites that make it easy for users to take in your content so you get the most for your money.
White space, line length, and any extra elements such as images can all affect how people pay attention to your site. Also, remember to consider people with disabilities by going for an inclusive web design format. – Read more