Image of a hierarchy of website pages, with Homepage at the top, and About, Products, and Contacts as sub-pages beneath that
SEO, Websites

Site Structure for SEO

Site structure is a very important but often-overlooked element of search engine optimization. It’s also one of the least understood. In this post, we’re going to demystify the basics of site structure. If you don’t manage your own website, you may want to send this post to your webmaster, but even if you’re not up on the whole HTML thing, it isn’t hard to grasp the basics of site structure.

Image of a hierarchy of website pages, with Homepage at the top, and About, Products, and Contacts as sub-pages beneath that

Why site structure is important

Good site structure help’s Google’s “spiders” – tiny bots that index websites and tell Google which pages are relevant for which keywords – find all your pages and posts and figure out which ones are the most important. It also prevents you from competing with yourself for search engine rankings – if you have multiple pages or posts about similar topics, good site structure will help search engines index them properly so your pages aren’t competing with each other for rankings (and therefore making both lower than they should be).

Site structure isn’t just important for SEO, though. Good site structure also provides a better user experience. When everything is properly structured and organized, it’s easier for visitors to your site to find the information they’re looking for and navigate the site in general.

Elements of good site structure

A balanced pyramid

A good site’s structure is pyramid-shaped. Your site is at the top; beneath that are your main pages (between 3-7 of them) like About, Products, and Contact. Beneath each of those are sub-pages (e.g. for About, the sub-pages may be Our Story, Our Mission, and Our Team). The best pyramid structure is balanced – if you have three sub-pages in your About category, aim to have 2-4 (but ideally 3) sub-pages for each of your main pages, as well.

URL structure

Try to have your pages’ URL structure mimic your site’s pyramid structure. Using the example from above, the URL for the Our Story page (which is under the About page) should be something like http://www.yoursite.com/about/our-story; similarly, the Seasonal Products page that’s a sub-page of your Products page should have a URL something like http://www.yoursite.com/products/seasonal-products.

Main menu

Your site probably already has a main menu at the top that links to different pages. The best main menu has links to each of your main pages, with dropdowns that link to each page’s sub-pages when the link is moused over or clicked on.

Internal links

Internal links basically means your pages link to each other. A good rule of thumb is to try to have a (relevant) link to at least one other page on each page. Often, people find it easiest to link to a page’s sub-pages or to its parent page (the page that it is a sub-page of).

Simplicity

Don’t overcomplicate it! Simplicity makes it easier for search engines to index your site and know how to rank it. And the more complicated your site’s structure is, the harder it will be for visitors to find things, which leads to frustrated visitors, a high bounce rate, and low sales for you.

Analytics, Websites

How to Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is Google’s robust system for analyzing the data connected to your website. It tracks website visitors, traffic sources, visitor behavior, and more. If your business is data-driven in any way (and we’ve never encountered a business that wasn’t), you need data on your website’s performance just as much as you need data on your social media performance, and Google Analytics is a great way to get it.

So let’s dive in.

How to set up Google Analytics

If you already have Google Analytics set up for your website, feel free to skip to the next section. If not, here’s how to set it up.

  1. Go to analytics.google.com and log in with a Google account.
  2. In the bottom left corner of the dashboard screen, click “Admin.”
  3. Click the blue “Create Account” button towards the left side of the screen.
  4. Fill in the required information, then click “Get Tracking ID.”
  5. Accept the terms and conditions.
  6. You will be taken to a screen with some HTML code. This code needs to be inserted into the header of your website. If you have a WordPress site, there are many good plugins that will insert the code for you. If not, send the code to your webmaster.

Once you have that code in your website’s header, you’re good to go! It may take some time for data to start showing up in the Google Analytics dashboard, but once it does, you’ll have all that data sitting in your Google Analytics account ready for analysis.

How to use Google Analytics

Once you have Google Analytics set up, the next step is being able to find and use the data. Accessing the data is easy – just go to analytics.google.com and log in with the Google account you used to set up. That will take you to the Google Analytics dashboard.

Screenshot of the Google Analytics dashboard

The dashboard has lots of data for the past seven days. The first chart compares traffic over the past seven days to the seven days before that. Other charts break down where your traffic came from (organic search, direct, etc.), how many active users your site has had, your user retention (Yoast has an excellent article about that report), visiting times, user locations, devices your site was viewed on, and most popular pages. Most of these charts have a blue link underneath them to give you a detailed report.

Screenshot of a chart with a blue link at the bottom highlighted

There is also a lot more data in the menu on the left. Clicking on any of those options will expand a list of reports you can get about your website visitors, from audience demographics to conversion data. In fact, there’s so much data that one of the business decisions you’re going to have to make (unless you have an employee dedicated entirely to data analysis) is which metrics are important to you.

Some good options for data to track when you’re new to analytics data are traffic amount and sources, bounce rate, day of the week and time people visit, and conversions. Those will give you a basic picture of how your site is doing and give you an idea of where to focus your future efforts.

Text that reads "About Us" with a green pencil underlining it
Websites

Common About Page Mistakes – And How to Fix Them

The About page is the second most visited page on your website (second only to the homepage). After reading your pitch on the homepage, assuming they’re still interested, their next step in researching this potential purpose is the About page – they want to learn more about you and what your company is all about.

It’s important to have a compelling About page if you want visitors to stay on your site, possibly reach out to you, and maybe even make a purchase. But if you’re not experienced with writing About pages, it’s easy to fall into some common mistakes. Here are a few – and how you can avoid them.

Not telling a story

We humans are story-driven creatures. We find stories interesting and compelling. One of the greatest ways to have an engaging about page is to tell the story of your business – in a creative, well-written way, of course.

Skipping the pictures

Humans are also very visual. Pictures – especially pictures of other humans – are engaging to us and inspire trust. Add at least one picture to your About page. This could be your company’s founder, head shots of all the company executives, or a group shot of your entire team if your business is small. (Also make sure to caption it so people know what they’re looking at.)

Making it too long

There are very few cases when your About page needs to be long. And most of your visitors will have short attention spans. They want something they can skim and get the gist of without having to read a ten-page essay. Cover the important information, but don’t make it too long.

Using jargon

Sometimes an industry-specific term can’t be avoided. But for the most part, your About page should be as readable as possible by the average person. That means avoiding technical terms, jargon, and business babble and just giving straight talk about who your business is and what you do.

Thinking your About page is about you

This is probably the most common pitfall to fall into. Your About page is telling people who you are, obviously it’s about you, right? Well, not so much. Your About page is really about the people who visit your site and read it. Don’t focus on you so much as what you can do for visitors and how you can solve visitors’ problems. Prove why your business benefits the reader, and they’re that much more likely to stick around and consider purchasing.

Websites

Website Design for Capturing Leads

The entire goal of marketing is to turn the traffic – people visiting your site – into customers. And often, the first step towards turning that person into a customer is turning them into a lead. A lead is someone who’s shown they’re interested in what you have to say by providing their contact information (usually their email address). Your sales team can then nurture that lead through the buyer’s journey all the way to making a purchase and becoming a customer.

One of the most important things your website should do is capture leads. And since the homepage is statistically the most-visited page on your website, your homepage should be optimized for capturing leads.

How do you do that? With the upside-down homepage.

upside-down home page

We can’t take credit for this idea. We actually learned it from Growth Tools, who has AMAZING Facebook Live broadcasts talking about all sorts of website- and marketing-related things, as well as some great tools for growing your business. But you won’t really hear about this idea unless you catch one of their Facebook Live videos about websites, so we wanted to take this idea and add our own twist to it.

What is an upside-down homepage?

The basic idea is that you take a traditional homepage and flip it upside down. The part where you ask for the contact’s information is at the top, and the navigation links are at the bottom. The basic elements of the upside-down homepage are above the fold, social proof, pilot story, call to action, and navigation.

Above the fold: Everything you can see on a webpage without scrolling down.

Social proof: Proof that you’re not just some random person and what you’re offering is actually good. This usually comes in the form of customer testimonials.

Pilot story: This is some of your best content. Use a customer’s story of working with you – or, if you don’t have that, tell the story of your business’ values. With this, you want to show a visitor what it will be like working with you.

Call to action: The thing you want visitors to do – namely, give you their contact information. This is usually done in exchange for a “lead magnet.” They provide their email address, and in exchange, they get useful information that they can’t find anywhere else (this is often in the shape of an ebook or whitepaper, but videos can also work).

Navigation: The links to the rest of your side. Testing has found that putting this on the bottom of your page increases conversions with your call to action.

How does an upside-down homepage work?

Usually, the first thing on the page (above the fold) is the call to action with the lead magnet clearly stated. This makes it the first thing people see and they’ll know what valuable content they’ll get from giving you their email.

The next thing on the page (above the fold and extending further down) is the social proof. That’s followed by the pilot story, and then the navigation at the very bottom.

This works for several reasons. It eliminates distractions – by having only one action on the page and a clear reward for it, the next step is obvious for the visitor. The website visitor who sees too many possible actions often does none of them, but the website visitor who sees a clear next step and a reward for it is much more likely to do it.

The social proof shows that you’re not just a nut job with a website and you can be trusted with their email, and the pilot story sets expectations for what communicating with you will be like. Then navigation at the bottom lets them explore more of your website if they want.

Many websites have collected a lot more leads by using this strategy. Some call it the best-converting homepage they’ve ever had. If you want to see an increase in the leads you get, your first step should be to optimize your homepage for success!

website basics - picture of a laptop displaying WordPress
Websites

Website Basics for Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing, everyone is focused on timing posts and creating content to post and integrating paid ads into their social media strategy. Websites hardly ever factor into the equation – but they should.

website basics - picture of a laptop displaying WordPress

Why are websites important?

Your website is your “home base.” It’s not subject to the whims of social media algorithms or the continuing decline of organic reach. It’s also where you can put detailed information about your business and your products or services and collect leads.

Often, the purpose of your social media posts is to drive traffic to your website, whether it’s because you wrote a new blog post you want people to read, you’re trying to convert people to leads, or you want them to make a purchase.

How do you optimize your website?

We’re actually going to be talking about this through August and September, both on the blog and on social media. (So now is a great time to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn if you haven’t already!) Here are a few of the topics we’ll be covering:

  • Important website terms
  • Elements every website needs
  • How to create a homepage that captures leads
  • How to write a great about page
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – we’ll actually be spending most of September on this

What skills are necessary for optimizing a website?

The short answer is, “it depends.”

Do you have a company (or freelancer) who built and maintains your website for you? Or do you have someone in your company other than you who handles the website? If so, the only skills you’ll need are communication skills to tell them what you want done – they should know how to handle everything else.

If you manage your own website, it can be a little trickier. Each platform (the system your website is built on) has different skill requirements for making changes. Different levels of skill are required for modifying a website in WordPress (which is pretty intuitive and has lots of tutorials online) than for changing the code directly (which, unless you’re an expert in HTML, you should probably hire someone to do for you). On the other hand, some of the changes – like writing an about page and on-page SEO – only require good writing skills.

Overall, a lot of the optimizations we’re going to recommend in our website discussion are pretty easy to make. But if you need help implementing, Ely Social will be happy to help you modify your website!