How long have you had your website? When did you last really look at it, from a visual perspective? When did you last read it through? Do you know which content generates the most audience interest?
I get it. Most small business owners fully understand the need to be present online, and put a good amount of effort into making their best showing with a decent website that ensures their customers can learn about services and products, and get in touch. They launch a blog, and post for a bit. Things are great. And then time passes.
You sure aren’t alone if this sounds like you. But don’t despair. Tackle the steps below one at a time–over as much time as you need–to get a handle on what’s working and what needs fixing in terms of your website content.
An excellent place to start assessing your current website is by looking at the metrics and evaluating what works and what doesn’t for your niche market. As I hope you know, Google Analytics is a popular—and gloriously free—option for tracking inbound traffic. If you don’t have it, get it.
If the thought of looking at website metrics seems intimidating (I know, believe me!), consider this. Some 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting or making a purchase with them. So take note: if your user sessions and time on site start to decline, you can expect fewer opportunities for new business. You need to know how to get in there and see what’s working and what’s not.
Without proper knowledge of your online audience, after all, growing can be tough. You might offer the quickest screen printing in the city or have the best rates on sporting goods, but if no one can find your site they won’t know it.
Where to begin? Where else: Google. They offer a great, free, online course that will give you the basics in a couple of hours. I took it. It’s worth it.
Most small business owners know, at least generally, who their audience (customers) is. You know what particular industry you cater to, at the very least. But if that’s all you know, you might be missing huge chunks of the market within that industry because a) of poor SEO performance, and b) the content and copy you’ve published isn’t connecting with the audience you need.
Get familiar with personas. Know at least one of your most important customers as well as you know your brother, sister, or best friend. Create some content for that person, keeping in mind the action you’d like them to take as a result of consuming that content (buying something? signing up for a newsletter? getting in touch?). Good metrics can parse this information out and improve things like the bounce rate and SEO rankings. If your metrics show a large percentage of views from Facebook or LinkedIn, using ‘how to’ videos might be a great option for drawing more eyeballs to your page. An injury rehab office could include tutorials for preventing strains on their Facebook page or follow a famous athlete in their steps to recovery. The data from the video postings would support an overall picture of your audience.
Effective websites use various forms of content to maximum impact, from podcasts and videos to email campaigns and newsletters. All content from your company should tell the same overarching brand story, and express the same core messages and narrative threads. What does this boil down to? Reinforcing a consistent message or story in every piece of content you publish. And a quick way to find out if a message is working is to perform a simple content audit. Take a year’s worth or content, or maybe just the last month’s, and plug it into a simple spreadsheet that looks something like this (and read the excellent post published on Moz, too, detailing a more thorough content audit).
Short of time? A shorthand way to see what’s connecting is doing a quick check on comments, likes and shares on your website, as well as on any social media channel you’ve used to promote your blog or website content. Engagement matters more than ever.
Figuring out your hits and your misses–especially in the context of what you want to achieve from your content marketing–is a great place to start looking for improvements.
Most businesses don’t have the time or staff to create new content in multiple formats on a daily basis. By taking the steps above to figure out what works best and zeroing in on those topics and formats, you’re likely to see almost-immediate improvement.
For many small businesses, re-using blogs from older posts and updating social media with topical articles is an easy way to keep the site fresh. Blogs that showed high click-through rates could also be re-promoted, or repurposed. Popular content could be the basis for building on future content as well. Articles on reducing tax burdens for construction projects, for instance, may indicate customer interest in money saving tips. It might lead to a minor rethink in the underlying business model too, or at least give your business another avenue to investigate.
Just by doing a little website inventory, small businesses with an online presence can double down on what’s working for them, and cut loose anything that’s not. Focused content is the key to effective marketing.
If you have questions on refreshing the content on your website, do get in touch.