A brand’s website or blog should be its ROI hero, but in many cases it ends up being a public relations liability.
Critical. Frustrating. Necessary. Aggravating. Rewarding. Disappointing. Creative. Dated. Fast. Slow.
This rollercoaster of emotions might sound familiar if you’re working on the design or redesign of a website or blog.
By far, one of the most critical components of today’s marketing is an organization’s website; the digital entrance that represents a brand’s aesthetic, culture, personality, mission, vision and business proposition. But as important as a website is to a brand, for many organizations it is the most ignored, dated, and neglected marketing item.
A recent survey reported by WhatUsersDo reveals:
- 60 percent of brand owners rate their website as average or below average.
- Despite the stated goal by 78 percent of those surveyed being “extremely” or “quite” committed to delivering a quality user experience to customers, an alarming percentage of brands admit knowing that their website will disappoint their customers.
Website Identity Crisis: Project or Asset
"Too many, for too long, have been conditioned to think of the website as a project. This is one of the most common reasons websites fail to fulfill their potential,” Murtagh said. “If a brand’s success relies upon the performance of a website – in any way – it is imperative to embrace the website as a business asset, vital to the sustainability of the brand."
Drilling down the long list of best practices of building a better website covered by Murtagh in her book, highlighted are some of the top tier reminders when it comes to leveraging the social media and organic online publicity from your website; which will in turn impact a brand’s search results!
Here are six social PR secrets designed to help brands build a better website or blog.
1. KPIs Matter
Ask yourself the question: What do you need your website to deliver? The answer could be in the form of news, email sign-ups, unique visits, enrollments, etc. Key performance indicators (KPIs) give you the power to quantify the bottom line results and performance of the domain.
"When the website/blog is proactively managed to deliver measurable results related to specific business goals, rather than serving as a marketing communication that is merely updated from time-to-time, the website becomes an asset rather than an expense," Murtagh said.
It's also helpful to share these KPIs across all business channels within a company from SEO to PR to HR to customer service. Don’t keep the KPIs as the marketing department’s secret. Share it to build it.
2. Every Page is a Home Page
Given today’s search and social influence, chances are your actual home page isn’t the main gate into your domain.
Both design and content directly impacts the ability of the website pages to appear in search engine results, which can greatly enhance visibility to target audiences. When content, including images and video, is organized and optimized to serve the visitor, conversion is more likely.
3. Money on Mobile Visibility
Have you checked what your website looks like on a mobile device? Brace yourself, this could be a shocker.
In case you missed the mobile PR memo: Your website’s performance on mobile is no longer an option. The status is this: Mobile devices are outperforming laptop and desktop for Internet activity, and it is imperative your brand’s website either render efficiently on mobile devices or that you create an alternative user experience on a dedicated mobile site or mobile app.
A few stats to back this up:
- 73 percent say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load on a mobile device.
- 51 percent of mobile Internet users visited a website that crashed, froze, or resulted in an error.
- 38 percent of mobile users have encountered a website that was not available to view on the mobile device.
- 75 percent said they would be less likely to return to a website they couldn’t visit via mobile (KISSmetrics, 2012).
If your brand isn’t set up for mobile, this could be a PR crisis called “unnecessary lost visibility.” You’re letting it slip through your mobile fingers.
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4. Content vs. Copy
Yes, there is a difference. A brand’s digital copy should communicate the value proposition and what makes you different from the competition. Examples of copy include:
- About Us Page
- Services Page
- Products and Catalog
- Guarantee Page
- Executive Team Bios and Facts Sheets in the Company Newsroom
Content is best defined as what helps support and tell your brand’s story and news. This could be visual or text based.
Content is more of a subliminal means to communicate a brand’s value proposition and could come in the form of press releases, testimonials, infographics, product reviews, or editorial style articles that might offers tips and helpful resourceful information.
The common denominator between website content and copy – both should be optimized and published with a social strategy in mind. For example, your brand might not be active on Pinterest, but make sure your content and copy is “pin worthy” with an above average image or video.
5. Location, Location, Location
“Geo-location is important to every website at some level,” Murtagh said. “Without a degree of localization, your website essentially competes against every website in the world, especially in search.” Ugh!
“It is amazing how many brands are not taking geo-location seriously,” said Joe Laratro who offers these mistakes to avoid for brands looking to gain search and social visibility:
- The company’s contact information is on the home page but is part of an image versus HTML.
- Not including physical address in the footer not using schema mark up.
- Not writing the content of the website in a geo-centric manner.
- Making sure you claim and regularly monitor your Google+ listing.
“Over the years, I have seen far too many website designers, agencies, and programmers omit even basic location data from websites,” Murtagh said.
6. The Company Online Newsroom
The online newsroom can play a big role in a website’s content strategy. Today public relations resides on your company website or your blog. Unlike the past, press releases, press kits, images, social networks, fact sheets should all be headquartered on your website within a social/public relations online newsroom. The online newsroom provides a way to deliver news 24/7, not just for journalists, but also for visitors of your website.
More than a couple of pages, the true definition of a website according to Murtagh’s “Million Dollar Websites” book.
A digital environment capable of delivering information and solutions and promoting interaction between people, places, and things to support the goals of the organization it was created for.
Check out your website or blog and see if it meets the mark of today’s digital expectation. Is it leveraging the social media and public relations potential?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!