If you’re thinking about refreshing your website, you may be wondering where to start. It can be overwhelming, especially if you have outdated content and your analytics aren’t showing the results you want. You may have even hired someone to make it look better, only to find it’s still not performing.
That’s because a hard-working website demands more than just beautiful design. Your content also needs to be strong, and getting it in shape starts with strategic planning around your positioning and your audience’s needs. This post looks at critical website strategy questions to ask, based on the proven process I use to help my clients boost traffic and engagement.
1. What makes us different?
This is the most important question to answer during the website planning process. Because if you can’t make a compelling case for why customers should hire you, why would they bother?
Differentiators come in many flavors. Maybe your product has a particular feature that nobody else has, or maybe you have a rockstar customer care team with a 98% satisfaction rating. Maybe you’re one of the few environmental engineering companies in the area run by former EPA regulators.
Don’t get hung up if you can’t identify what makes you different from everyone–being different from most is enough to make you stand out. The important thing is to highlight meaningful benefits you can actually back up. Empty buzzwords like “world-class” lack credibility and make your content look like meaningless marketing fluff.
Questions to ask include:
- What makes our product, service, team or approach different?
- What does this mean in practical terms for the average customer?
- What proof are we using to back up our claims?
2. What questions do customers need answered?
People come to your website because they need information. Some are trying to learn about a service in general, others are in the market to buy and want to know about you in particular.
Erin Kissane’s classic book, The Elements of Content Strategy, likens a website to a museum. You want a clean, seamless experience that gives your visitors the information they need, just when they need it. You want the bathrooms and coat check clearly marked, with signposts along the way directing visitors to the exhibits they came to see. What you don’t want are needless distractions or meandering hallways that lead nowhere.
Website strategy is all about careful curation, and that starts with asking why your visitors are here.
3. What are customers searching for?
In addition to answering questions once visitors arrive, you want to make sure your content aligns with the questions they use to find you. That’s where SEO planning comes in.
Even if you don’t work with an SEO specialist, free tools like Google Trends can help you determine the precise terms that will draw more visitors to your site.
For example, I’ve noticed many orthopedic specialists prefer the British spelling “orthopaedics.” And look, I get it. I think grey is more refined than gray, and I’m still annoyed that I can’t use the Oxford comma anymore. But as you can see below, orthopedics gets way more traffic than orthopaedics. So the question becomes, would you rather be right, or get more website visitors?
4. What are my competitors doing?
Finally, before mapping out your website, you’ll want to look at your competition. This part of your website strategy isn’t about copying someone else’s content. It’s about gathering meaningful insights from what your competition is doing so you can be sure you stand out (in a good way).
You might realize that your positioning is identical to theirs, or that a particular part of their website is annoying or distracting. You’ll want to evaluate questions such as:
- What do I like about this website?
- What could be better?
- Are they answering questions that we’re not?
- What kind of content are they using?
The last question helps inform your content strategy. Because if your competition is churning out white papers and blog posts, you’re going to be left behind in terms of traffic and authority if you don’t do the same. And if they aren’t publishing content regularly, the opportunity is that much greater for you to establish your organization as a thought leader.
Need ideas on how to strengthen your web presence? Email me at racheltracy [at] oncallcopywriter.com to schedule a call.