What is the key to creating successful web pages?
The rapid rise and continued growth in popularity of Content Management Systems like WordPress and so many others has meant that more and more people are creating and publishing web pages. From a freedom of expression point of view this is a good thing but it also means that it is getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd.
What CMS’ like WordPress strive for is to make the exercise of publishing a web page as simple and straightforward as possible and they should, we believe be commended for that. However what we see time and again is that there are web pages and then there are successful web pages. Although both are created in the same way, they are leagues apart both in terms of their effectiveness and also in the time, knowledge and effort required to create them.
Here at Fellowship we’re passionate about building successful websites that have a positive impact on the business / organisation running them. To that end, we’ve put together the following list of what a successful web page should look like:
- It should contain content that users are actively seeking out
- It should be readable by search engines so that it can be correctly indexed by them
- It should be correctly targeted to users who speak the language that the document is written in and who reside in any relevant geographical territories
- It should be device, operating system, platform and screensize agnostic adapting itself to give the best possible viewing and interaction experience wherever it is displayed
- It should represent the author, business or organisation that is publishing it.
- It should be tracked and monitored against clearly defined KPIs
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s required practically to create successful web pages:
- Identify the core users: Who will be looking for and reading this content? This will help to shape the decision-making process for the rest of the page. Ensure that the page is defined in the correct language(s) for these users and targeted to their geographical regions.
- Decide what the search engine focus is for the page (focus keyword): What would a user need to be searching for for this page to show up in the SERPs? Ensure that you don’t have similar pages that this new page will be competing for search engine favour with. Ensure that the page’s title tag, H1 tag and meta description reinforce the focus keyword and adhere to search engine guidelines.
- Define what success looks like for the page: What do you hope to achieve with the page? What is the page’s contribution to the website and your organisation’s overall digital strategy? Is the page a key point for user interaction? Does it reinforce your brand or message or does it help to support or reinforce other content?
- Write compelling content: This content needs to read well to your users, scan correctly for the search engine spiders and be semantically marked up (HTML, the language of the web, is a semantic language which allows your content to literally be wrapped up in meaning). Obviously, the page also needs to reinforce the focus keyword that was defined for the page and it should be opening discussing this topic. The content should also be ‘on brand’ meaning that imagery shares common themes and that writing styles are consistent. If you’ve ever used the MailChimp email marketing system you’ll probably have noticed the relaxed and almost playful tone of the brand that comes across throughout all of their communications.
- Prepare any required imagery: Images are one of the toughest things for a CMS to work with at the moment. Todays mobile web brings the interesting conundrum that the devices that have the best screen resolution (smart phones and tablets) usually have the slowest and least predictable internet connections. This means that although you can provide beautiful high resolution images that will look amazing on ‘retina’ devices, their extra file size means that they will take much longer to load over mobile (pre 4G) connections than conventional (72 DPI) images. Are you able to create image variants for different screen sizes and resolutions? What is an absolute given is that the images that are served up should be optimised for web delivery so that load times are kept to the absolute minimum (Google and other search engines do penalise slow loading web pages for which badly or non-optimised images are most often the culprit). Images should also have suitable meta data attributed to them to help to give them the best exposure in search engine image searches.
- Check that all content will display correctly across all screen sizes: Tabular data most often falls into this category whereby a table with any more that about 3 columns will break at small screen widths (such as smart phones in portrait orientation). How can you get around or cater for this?
- A clear, compelling and trackable call to action: Unless your web page / website is a public service venture or an exercise in artistic expression, you’ll likely want to include a call to action somewhere on your page. If the user likes what they have seen and read what do they do next? Click the ‘add to cart’ button, ‘Like’ it, share it, download it, print it, comment, donate, call you, email you, read more? Whatever it is, how do you track it to monitor the effectiveness of the web page and it’s contribution to the success of your website? Here at Fellowship, we utilise Google Analytics’ Goals functionality to monitor key calls to action. These can then be piped to our Dashboard product for quick and easy monitoring. Whatever the calls to action are they need to be protected from abuse. No one likes spam emails or spurious form submissions but their annoyance is compounded when they skew performance results. For us, they are unacceptable.
With all that born in mind, it’s easy to see the vast divide in quality (and thus effectiveness) between a web page and a successful web page. It’s also easy to see that the vast majority of pages on the internet fall in to the former category and not the latter. The internet (or Google’s SERPs as we sometimes call it) is becoming a very crowded place but the old adage “the cream rises to the top” remains true. Quality will always trump quantity and the results will quickly become evident.
How can we help?
Whether you are considering improving your current website or commissioning a new one, we can help to ensure it succeeds. From defining the strategy and producing compelling content to implementation and ongoing measurement, our team can provide the expertise to ensure the website fulfils its objectives.
If you would like a review of your current website, email Darren now or call 01284 774775.