In our recent articles we’ve been looking at the many aspects of content marketing: blogging, email marketing, social media, SEO (search engine optimisation), image creation and lead magnets, to name but a few.

But this week we’re going to take a step backwards and ask a very important question…

Are you even ready for content marketing?

Before you can get started on content marketing, there’s one very crucial thing you need to have in place. It serves as your bedrock. It’s the foundation that your content marketing is based on. In fact, it forms the very roots of your marketing strategy, and without it you’ll have nothing to grow your business from.

So, what is it?

A healthy website of course!

How do we define website health?

When we talk about the health of your website, you may be forgiven for thinking we mean the state that it’s in, perhaps how up-to-date it’s kept or how popular it is. Of course these things are important, but there’s much more to it than that.

It’s not even about how fast it loads either – that comes into it but it’s actually the last element you should focus on, as we’ll see below.

Gone are the days when a website was an exciting new marketing tool, a way to stand out from the crowd, or to show the world you’re ahead of the rest. In today’s rapidly-advancing technology-driven society, it’s imperative that you have a website. In fact, you probably won’t get anywhere without one. But more importantly, it’s imperative that you have a healthy website.

So, what exactly do we mean by a healthy website?

It must be aligned with your business and your marketing goals.

What’s your business plan? Do you have a marketing strategy? How about a corporate identity? Or brand values? You need to ensure these are consistently represented throughout your website.

It needs to be written for your customers – it must make sense to them.

Who is your audience? How do they behave online? What appeals to them? Your website should be designed, built and written with your customers – not just your business – in mind.

It should be well organised.

Is your main navigation simple and clear? Is it easy to find your way around? You need to ensure pages aren’t hidden too deeply in your site architecture or they’ll never be found. Is your homepage clear and easy to read? Can a new visitor see exactly what you offer within 5 seconds of looking at just your homepage?

Each page should have a clear goal.

There’s no point having pages on your website that don’t serve a purpose. Every single page must have a clear goal, whether it’s to direct readers to the next logical page, to get them to sign up to your newsletter or to encourage them to book a free consultation.

Each goal should be measured.

It’s all very well having clear goals but if you’re not tracking whether these goals are being met, you have no idea if your website is successful.

You should be publishing regular, high quality content.

Google loves changing content. You must publish regularly if you want to keep pushing those search rankings, as well as keeping your audience engaged to grow your email list.   

Each page and post should have an appropriate keyword focus.

We talk a lot about SEO and search rankings, and everyone wants to be No.1 on Google. But No.1 for what? There’s no point being No.1 on Google for “best cook in Bristol” if you run a yoga studio in Birmingham! You need to specify your keywords for every page and blog post so that Google knows what to focus on.

Finally, your site needs to be optimised for speed and performance.

One of the most common things that slows down websites is the images. If your images are too big (and most images are), they’ll take too long to load, resulting not only in your readers getting bored and looking elsewhere, but also a drop in your search engine rankings. Did you know that website performance is one of the many factors Google uses to rank a page? For top tips on how to sort out your website images, check out our article A picture says a thousand words… but not if it takes too long to load! A guide to creating images for your website

In today’s modern world people can be visiting your site from any number of devices with any number of screen resolutions, so your website needs to adapt to these different devices. This is called responsive design. Google can tell when a site is not responsive and this is one of the factors that determines your search ranking.

5 steps to a healthy website

So, how do you put all this into action? Simply follow our 5 step guide to a healthy website:

Step 1: Sort out your navigation

When it comes to website navigation, less is more. The fewer pages you have, the quicker your readers will be able to find the information they need. The trick here is to get the same message across but in fewer words.

Cut the waffle! Can you condense what you’re saying into fewer paragraphs. Fewer pages? As long as the key information is still there, this will actually help to engage your readers more.

What is the minimum number of pages you can feature in your main navigation? Can you cut this down even further? Think about the key message and core details you want to get across. Maybe you can cover everything you need to say in the following 5 pages:

  • Home
  • About
  • What We Offer
  • Blog
  • Contact

It’s common practice these days to have a footer menu in addition to the main navigation, so any additional information can go in here, e.g. FAQs, testimonials, case studies, etc. You might even choose to have your blog in the footer menu and not the main navigation.

It all depends on your business and the information you need to get across. But remember: always keep your customers and potential customers in mind. A good test would be to ask someone who knows nothing about your business to visit your website, navigate around and see how quickly they can grasp who you are, what you do and what their first impressions are.

To help you organise your website and manage the SEO data on each page, we’ve created a Website Content Audit spreadsheet. This is an invaluable tool if you’re planning a website redesign, or just wanting to fill in the gaps of your existing site. And it’s completely free! Just sign up to our blog below and you’ll receive the Content Audit Worksheet via email. And for more info on how to use it, check out our blog post Prepare for a redesign with a website content audit.

Step 2: Create clear calls to action

A ‘call to action’ is a link or button that calls your readers to take some kind of action. Every single page of your website needs one very clear call to action. Some common examples are:

  • “Check availability”
  • “Buy now”
  • “Read our FAQs”
  • “Meet the team”
  • “Sign up to our blog”
  • “Schedule a meeting”
  • “Contact us”

When planning your website architecture, you need to identify a clear goal for each page. You can then create your calls to action around your goals.

Make sure there’s one call to action on each page and make sure it clearly stands out.

Step 3: Set your keyword focus

If you’re using a WordPress website, there’ll be an SEO section for each page. Whether you’re using the standard All In One SEO Pack, Yoast SEO (formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast) or the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, the data fields are essentially the same:

  • Page title
  • Page description
  • Focus keyword

It’s important to fill in this data on every page and every blog post. But it’s the focus keyword that particularly requires your attention. You need to choose a word or phrase that’s not only relevant to the content on that page, but is also relevant to your audience. What will they be searching for?

You might think the phrase “anatomical alignment” is very relevant to your physiotherapy business, but if no-one’s searching for that phrase there’s little point having it as your keyword focus. On the other hand, you don’t want to choose terms that are too popular, otherwise you’ll never get to page 100 on Google, let alone page 1!

The trick is to use niche terms that are relevant to your business, but that people actually search for. This is where the Google Adwords Keyword Planner is invaluable. In a few short clicks it’ll tell you the popularity and competition level of any word or phrase. So you can use this to help you find the most appropriate keywords for your business and for each page of your website.

To help you organise your website and manage the SEO data on each page, we’ve created a Website Content Audit spreadsheet. This is an invaluable tool if you’re planning a website redesign, or just wanting to fill in the gaps of your existing site. And it’s completely free! Just sign up to our blog below and you’ll receive the Content Audit Worksheet via email. And for more info on how to use it, check out our blog post Prepare for a redesign with a website content audit.

Step 4: Install Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the best ways to track and analyse your website. Remember those clear goals we need on every page? Well, now we get to track them. By installing Google Analytics on your website, and linking it with Google Webmaster tools, you can monitor:

  • web traffic
  • behavioural trends
  • page popularity
  • blog categories

Which will give you essential insights into how your audience behaves, where they come from and what appeals to them.

The most important tool in Google Analytics is the goals. Setting up both primary and secondary goals is essential for your monthly reporting.

An example of a primary goal is a visitor clicking on the submit button of a contact form if you run a consulting business, or a visitor completing the checkout process of your online shop.

Secondary goals are also really important to keep an eye on. Some examples include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Scrolling to a certain point on a page
  • Watching a video
  • Visiting more than 5 pages on your site
  • Staying on your site for more than 5 minutes
  • Clicking a specific link

But remember: you don’t just want to be reporting on your website. You also need to keep an eye on how your email marketing campaigns and social media accounts are performing. At Wildheart we create a dashboard that allows us to track key website, email marketing and social media metrics, so our clients have the full picture of how their marketing strategy is doing.

If you’re not measuring it, then it’s not marketing.

Step 5: Optimise, optimise, optimise!

If you’ve managed to nail all of the above – phew, well done! Now it’s time to optimise.

We mentioned images as being a big factor in slowing sites down, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As websites have become more fancy they require more code to run, and this can have a huge impact on performance.

There are lots of technical and geeky ways to solve these performance issues. We won’t go into detail here, but some of these include:

  • Page caching
  • GZip compression
  • Browser caching
  • Google Font optimisation
  • Minification of CSS and JS
  • Deferred script loading
  • Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Did you make it through all the techy jargon in that list? Well done! The good news is that getting started is pretty easy: you just need to benchmark your current site performance using these 3 free tools:

Unfortunately, that’s the only easy part of optimising your site! But fear not, if you run a WordPress website then we recommend you buy WP Rocket – a premium caching plugin that speeds up your site. We think it’s worth every penny – or cent, as it’s priced in US dollars and costs just $39. Of course, we can set this up for you.

Need more help?

If you’re still feeling confused about whether your website is fighting fit or under the weather, don’t panic!

Wildheart Media is here to help you. Our content marketing packages are the perfect solution. We’ll do all the heavy lifting for you, ensuring your website is as healthy as it should be, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best.

Why not book a free consultation and we’ll walk you through the details.