As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
On your website, content serves a crucial role. It speaks to your audience and guides visitors through their entire website experience. When your content doesn't accomplish that, it can take a significant toll on your website performance. Your SERP rankings may decline, you will see little to no leads, and your website pages will have high bounce rates. Sometimes, this indicates you need a new website design or new content, but that's not always the solution.
Many marketers improve the performance of their website pages using a method called content optimization. With content optimization, you can identify and adjust messaging over a period. Page by page, you can study performance and customer behavior and optimize the content to achieve better results for your site. This process requires the right approach as well as time, commitment, and patience to see it through.
Otherwise, you may still experience poor performance, and you'll dig yourself into a hole if you can't recover.
How To Approach Website Content Optimization
“You don’t optimize websites; you optimize thought sequences: What are the essential levers we need to pull to get the prospect to say ‘yes?’” - Flint McGlothlin
To write messaging that makes customers act; you need to learn what motivates them. You need to go beyond assumptions to create this kind of website copy and content. You need to conduct the proper exercises, study performance data, and ask and answer the right questions about your customer.
There's a methodical and psychological approach to optimizing website content this way. Here are the essential steps you can take to optimize your website content.
Step #1: Identify Key Pages With Poor Performance
Some pages need to kill it for you, including your homepage and lead generation pages. When these pages aren’t generating traffic or leads, they’re not doing their job, and they need a refresh. You should start content optimization by identifying each page suffering from poor performance, either with a high bounce rate, or a low click-through rate.
Rand Fishkin (formerly of Moz) did a great video that discusses all of the reasons site pages may perform poorly.
If you're a HubSpot user, you can use their reporting and optimization tools to judge which pages are declining in performance. Google Analytics can also be useful in assessing how your pages stack up. You can also install tools like CrazyEgg or Hotjar that provide additional insight into customer behavior.
Step #2: Find The Emotional Triggers
There are a lot of systematic ways to optimize a page, many that I'll discuss in this article. However, the most important thing you can do to craft better content is to understand your customer truly. You need to understand why your prospects behave the way they do, and what they’re thinking. You need to determine their preferences when it comes to content and design as well.
Once you can answer those question, you can find the triggers that inspire a customer to act. To find these triggers, you may need to revisit your buyer journey. You can assess which stage of the buyer journey each page supports, and how well it accomplishes that. You can go page by page and figure out what the user is trying to do, and whether or not the language you're using persuades them to do that. Every page needs to deliver on whatever it's promising.
Step #3: Improve Content Structure and Formatting
Sometimes, language has nothing to do with page performance. Some web pages don't do well because the content isn't intuitive or exciting to read. If your content isn't broken out into paragraphs, you’ll lose your visitor's interest because the page looks like a wall of text. If you break up these walls, add sub-headers, bold your text, or break out prominent quotes, the content will appear to be more compelling.
The experience the visitor has reading content matters as well. For instance, if your web pages are loading slowly, visitors will leave, regardless of how good your copy is. And about 79% of web visitors who experience this kind of difficulty with your site won't return.
Formatting also isn't exclusive to copy. If your pages are slow, compress the size of any photos. Double-check and make sure any videos are functioning. Each page needs to be easy to navigate and scroll through, even on mobile. If you're using HubSpot, the page should automatically optimize to fit a tablet or mobile phone, but with another CMS, you may not have this feature.
Step #4: Link To A More Relevant Offer
When assessing the strength of an offer on your website or landing page, go back to the intent. Why is the user there? What are they trying to do? The offer on a website or landing page should help them accomplish that task in a real, tangible way. If your offer isn’t attracting leads, it’s because the customer does not believe it can help them, or it’s not enticing enough.
There are a few ways to resolve this. First, you could test out different titles for your CTAs or offers. The issue may be with the way you’re presenting the offer. Alternatively, if you’re using HubSpot, you can use Smart Content to swap out the offer based on their stage. HubSpot’s smart content will switch out depending on the information the HubSpot CRM already has about a user, presenting the user with an offer that better matches where they are in the buyer journey.
There’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to help and guide the visitor with wiser contextual linking. Often, I find links in blog posts that link to lists of statistics, or articles from over five or six years ago. When writers do this, it tells me they aren't placing a high priority helping me accomplish my goal, and takes away from their expertise.
Ideally, you’ll link to content that’s already on your site. In some cases, you may not have the content, and you may need to link out to a source regardless if it’s on your website or not.
Step #5. Optimize For SEO
Lastly, go back to the keyword you're targeting per page. A keyword that's too competitive or lacking enough searches will impact the volume of traffic you’re attracting. If you choose the wrong keyword, it will affect the quality of leads.
Brian Dean of Backlinko had a revelatory experience with search intent and Google. In this video, he discusses how one of his keywords were attracting the wrong demographic, and how dropping in rank was an improvement for his site performance.
If you have all of that right, you may not be distributing the keyword correctly on the page. To start, make sure there is an H2 tag for the first headline after your introductory paragraph. It needs to include your target keyword. You should mention the keyword throughout your text, and avoid keyword stuffing. While some marketers swear by a certain percentage of keyword density, others disagree on the frequency entirely.
You can also try to attract more traffic by optimizing and formatting for keyword snippets. A keyword snippet is a preview of your text that appears in the top of the SERP for Google. To compete for this spot, compare your formatting to whichever post is outranking you for that spot.
Will Content Optimization Improve Your Performance?
When it comes to website content, it needs to be all about the customer. Because of that, you can never be hands-off with website content. You can't launch it and leave it. Customer preferences and behaviors change over time. The same material that was working for you last year may not work as well. That's why the best marketers assess and study the performance of their website pages on a continuous basis to ensure it's up to par.
If a majority of your pages have high bounce rates or aren't fulfilling their job, there may be a more critical strategy or alignment issue. When a majority of your website pages aren't performing well, the work necessary goes beyond optimizing a few key pages. We use a series of strategy documents when we craft website copy that helps us align on the core obstacles our customers are facing. These documents are all in our SprocketRocket Strategy Kit and walk us through every problem, trigger event, or barrier a customer could be experiencing.
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