Defense contractors who successfully arm their websites to attract visitors and develop business have a deep understanding of their buyers and the website experience they need - and, they set up their website pages properly.
Zeroing your website (known to civilians as website optimization) has to do with getting the right people to your site, as well as what to do with them once they get there.
While optimizing a website does deal in part with search engines, the more important aspect is about website visitors. (More on the search engine part later.)
Website visitors are important because the more of the right visitors you have, the greater the opportunity for developing contacts, business and contracts.
But the important distinction about website visitors is that you want more of the right visitors, not just more visitors.
There are 3 primary aspects of website optimization: 1) buyer personas, 2) user experience, 3) and on-page SEO.
The secret sauce of getting more of the right visitors is based on buyer personas.
According to Adele Revella of Buyer Persona Institute, "Buyer personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo."
Buyer personas are an archetype of your ideal customer, and help you to refine your marketing activities. As you develop a clearer picture of just who your buyer personas are, it can dramatically focus and direct all your marketing activities.
For website optimization, buyer personas help you to
- Create a website experience that "speaks" to them
- Use the right lingo
- Create marketing content that interests them
- Guide visitors along a specific path on your website
- Encourage meaningful alignment for your entire company
Buyer personas help you to know who you're marketing to. As a result, understanding your buyer personas saves time, money and resources.
If you're like most defense contractors and have multiple personas, get started by prioritizing them. Focus first on the most influential personas and the products and services that most appeal to them.
Website User Experience
After you've honed your buyer personas, the next step is developing the user experience.
As much as possible, you want to give your website visitors a feeling - show your visitors that you understand them and care about their problems.
The user website experience can be broken down into three main areas:
1. Content - Give 'em what they want! Answer their questions and then guide them to the next logical step in their research phase (and your business development process).
2. Design - Keep the buyer persona in mind when designing the site, not the website designer or your CEO. Keep the design simple (think Google's home page), simplify the website navigation and color schemes.
3. Optimization - Use the keywords your buyer persona uses rather than the ones your company and industry does. There is often a difference.
With the big guns of buyer personas and user experience properly aimed, you can then proceed to on-page SEO.
There are currently over 200 determinants of page ranking by search engines. Unfortunately, an increasing number of those factors are out of your direct control, also known as off-page SEO. In fact, search engine industry leader Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz estimates that 85 percent of page rank determinants are off-page (e.g. social sharing, inbound links).
However, there are five key areas of on-page search engine optimization that you can control and which are critical toward optimizing your website's ability to get found by search engines and searchers.
- Page Title - (That's the line of copy at the very top of your browser) Include your keywords here, think of it like a magazine title. This is more important to the search engine than the website visitor, but don't overlook this.
- URLs - Include dash-separated keywords here to help the search engines.
- Page Headers - These are more important to the search engine user than the search engine. When the visitor gets to your page it signals that they've reached the right place, in part because they likely were using search terms similar to what appear in the page's headers.
- Content - This can be text, video, images, slide presentations. It is your chance to fully and comprehensively discuss the topic for which the visitor was searching. Don't stuff keywords here (you won't fool the search engines), but do include synonyms and alternate phraseology for the searched topic.
- Meta Description - This is the short description visible on the search engine results. It has no effect on the search engine algorithms but the person searching often reads it before deciding to click on your link.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced in zeroing your website for marketing?
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