Tuesday, 17 February 2015

How to keep your digital estate on-track


Digital Marketing Managers are tasked with looking after an ever increasing number of online assets. 

Here are my tips for the key functions to monitor - keeping performance on track and ensuring a seamless online journey for customers.

Website Content

Content is still king, and runs through the centre of digital marketing planning. Make sure you monitor:

Titles -  optimise titles for the keywords or phrases your target audience is searching for. Remember to carry out competitor analysis as part of your keyword strategy.

H1, H2, H3 - tags should be used for page headings and sub-headings to increase on-page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts. It's a simple rule that is often overlooked. This rule should also be applied to any PDFs that will end up published to your website. Check out these tips for structuring website content before you start to write.

Font size - should be large enough to comply with accessibility guidance, and avoid the need for pinch and zoom on mobile devices. 

Credibility - frequently updated content will prove to external search engines that your site is actively managed. It will also demonstrate to visitors that content is current and therefore more likely to be credible.


Blogs - what better way is there to maintain a stream of current content that will prove a long-term source of incoming traffic than through blogging? The more engagement your blog posts receive, the better your SEO results!

Lead capture - embedded into your content should be both micro- and macro- conversion opportunities (link follows, form completion, call-to-click, newsletter subscription, purchases, and so on).

Analytics - ensure you establish a baseline for your content before you implement changes, so you can see how effective they have genuinely been.

PDFs - content that doesn't need to be in PDF shouldn't be as it can disadvantage your SEO efforts in a number of ways. I talk more about this in an article I published in June 2014.

User Experience

Conducting both qualitative and quantitative analysis of how users interact with your online estate will provide you with a wealth of insight that can be used to inform continuous improvements to your digital assets. Make sure your plans include some or all of the following (depending on your size and capacity):

  • user experience testing workshops
  • content rating and review software
  • online surveys
  • mouse tracking studies.

Domain management

Effective domain management still pulls a lot of punches with search engines. It is also an important part of your branding, so deserves special consideration:

Age - domain authority demonstrates to external search engines that your website belongs to a credible organisation with longevity. Secure domain names as soon as possible, and retain them after retirement as part of brand guardianship.


Sub-domains - an effective way to maximise marketing efforts across a number of channels is via the use of sub-domains: http://subdomain.domain.com. This way, traffic generating activity benefits one central digital space, and both can benefit from the SEO advantages this brings.

File structure - remember that the file structure following your domain extension provides search engines with important information about your websites content. The closer your keywords are to the root of your domain name, the better - for example:

...com/ladies-shoes.html

is much stronger than

...com/our products/shoes/ladies-shoes.html

All too often file structures focus on generic functional keywords (about us, contact us) instead of product and service offering (ladies shoes, ladies sandals, and so on).


Social media

Social signals are very important off-site search engine optimisation factors. The more engaging your content (that is, the more it is shared, bookmarked, liked, and commented upon), the more credibility it gains. Greater levels of engagement also contribute to a high landing-page quality score which will lower your Google pay-per-click costs!

Brand guardianship - not every social media platform will suit your requirements - this depends very much on your product, service, and industry. But even if you don't plan on using a particular social media you should claim the vanity URL (before somebody does it for you). If you do this, it is a good idea to populate at least the landing-page with basic information which points back to your website.

Integration - be sure to automate posts where it is sensible to do so. For example, you can configure Blogger to automatically post content to Google+, or post tweets to your Facebook Page. The important factor to monitor here is that you post content in a format appropriate to the platform - you will need to re-tweak your content in order to do this effectively.

Cross-refer - most people use more than one social media platform, so remember to provide clear links to other ways that people can follow you, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Conversation calendar - creating a conversation calendar will help to keep your content flowing and will ensure that you don't miss opportunities to capitalise on the buzz around planned events in your industry.

Remember, there are a host of free tools out there that allow you to schedule your posts in advance (such as Hootsuite and SocialOomph).




Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

Compliance

Meeting statutory and best practice guidelines demonstrates to search engines, as well as your target audience that you mean business, and are safe to do business with!

Schedule in time to review your governance policies to make sure they remain up-to-date.

In the UK and Europe, you may want to include compliance with:
About the author
Claire Cresswell-Lane is a UK based, CIM Chartered Marketer specialising in digital marketing strategy and communications. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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