How to Build a Marketing Optimized Website

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Rion Haber | Feb 01, 2023

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a new or growing brand is attracting visitors to and converting them on your website. With billions of online properties, getting started can sometimes feel like an uphill climb. So what can you, a proverbial David in a world of online Goliaths, do to get noticed? The first thing is to spend a little time understanding how search engine optimization (and now AI-Driven chat engines like ChatGPT) and conversion rate optimization are related. More importantly, how an integrated digital strategy that leverages them against each other can impact your ability to stand apart, get noticed, and drive new business.

If you’re looking for a quick SEO or CRO “how-to” guide, this isn’t it. There are gobs of wonderful step-by-step posts out there that cover the basics of each discipline, but I’ll let them speak for themselves. Rather, this post is about the force multipliers – all the things I wish someone had told me about ranking a new, newly relaunched, rehabbed, or rapidly growing organization’s website and actually getting customers to convert throughout the entire funnel. Those things that have often been the difference between our ability to accelerate the ranking and profitability of our client’s sites from years to months:

Let’s dig a little deeper.

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“How long until I start getting new business from my website?” It’s a common refrain and, in light of that, I’m going to rip the band-aid off quickly. Age is a pretty important ranking factor. Why? Well, for one, it tends to signify that you’re more than a fly-by-night operation. Secondly, there’s no replacement. You can’t fake or in any way manipulate the date a URL was first indexed. That makes it a somewhat unique signal and one that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but is something you should be aware of before going in.

This isn’t to say that younger sites can’t rank or convert in their early days. With the right strategy they definitely can. Don’t let great be the enemy of good here though. Even if you’re in the preliminary stages of business planning or planning a change to your business, grab your URL and put up a small landing page that briefly explains what you’re working on with a method of contacting you. Build on it iteratively. Those months can make a huge difference when you’re ready to get started.

“In order to drive traffic as a new organization, you’re going to have to play to the fact that no one is looking for you by name yet, using  focusing first on your area of expertise and second on your brand.”

Introduce Your Brand

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Imagine walking up to someone at a party. You approach, extend your hand and say “Hi, I’m Bob, it’s great to meet you”. Instead of engaging in conversation, they either don’t say anything or offer their name and just stand there… staring at you. It’s surprising how many new websites make the equivalent mistake by not using the tools – including metadata, heading tags, various types of markup, and other content that search engines give them to introduce themselves and tell both humans and robots a little more about who you are.

This isn’t just an exercise in vanity, though. It’s a major ranking factor in how search engines decide to serve content and the primary basis on which humans decide to consume it. Equally important as a new website is understanding that many of your prospective new customers and clients have never heard of you and generally don’t care about your name until you’ve proven that you can serve their needs. In order to drive traffic, you’re going to have to play to this fact, focusing first on your area of expertise and second on your brand .

Establish a Toe Hold

As a new or relatively new site, search engines (and customers) are just getting to know you. While you likely sell more than one product or service, the fact is that you’re not going to rank on all of them overnight. Trying to do so out of the gate can actually cause confusion with both human and search engine audiences. For new sites, the key is to pick an area of expertise – represented by a keyword or phrase (preferably one that groups your products or services together under a common banner and has some search volume) – and stay laser focused on it.

Once you’ve established yourself in the space, you can start going after longer tail variants and building campaigns around adjacent subject matter. Building a strong toehold helps consolidate your limited authority around a single piece of subject matter and drives the type of expertise that makes you a trusted authority – a core metric at the root of your online marketing efforts. Outside a couple of very competitive ecosystems and even with a relatively new site, you can usually rank well in a tightly targeted keyword, if you stay focused and pick your battles.

Match Your Audience's Intent

“Intent” is the glue that holds search and conversion together. To succeed you have to anticipate your audience’s objectives and follow through with content that addresses it, from the top of the search funnel all the way to the point of purchase. Specifically, the opening statement on your landing page (commonly known as a H1), should be directly related to the title tag that shows prominently in search engines listing. So if Google shows “Get Marketing Agency Help” the first thing on the landing page should explain that you’re a marketing agency and how you can help.

While you can (and should) add context to help the visitor differentiate between you and your competitor’s value propositions, it’s crucial to remember that at the end of the day, you only have about a second to convince a searcher to click on your listing and three to five seconds to convince them that they’ve made it to the right place once there. This is the time to tell the visitor exactly what you do and how it benefits them.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is “does my landing page content directly support the claim I’ve made through my search listing or advertisement ”. You’ll never match this 100% of the time and all web properties experience some amount of bounce rate. What we can do is make sure that the content’s purpose is consistent, clear, and compelling, from the time a customer first views your listing to the time they buy your product.

Make Your Case

Search engine rankings are – in essence – a debate about why you are the best solution for a customer’s immediate need for a product, service, or information. In order to win, the on and off-page content of your landing page should present a structured argument, stating your supposition (Title Tag & H1) and adding various proof points along the way (Heading Tags).

For example, this post states that it is the best resource for new websites to “get found and convert new customers online”. It then goes on to support that hypothesis with nine numbered sections that explain how you can accomplish it. Each subsection’s title explains a larger part of the whole. You should think of each section on your landing pages and each page on your website as supporting a central argument for why you offer the best result for searchers on the keywords and phrases you’ve targeted.

Deliver Relevant Content

Now that you’ve decided on your market and calls-to-action, it’s time to build your content. “On-page content” helps add depth and nuance to your site, but it’s important to understand that you’re writing for two audiences simultaneously; robots that control search engines and human readers that the content was meant for. Of course, the former is meant to mimic the latter, but human speech is nuanced and computers often have to interpret your text a bit more literally. This creates a challenging juxtaposition for you, the marketer: How to build content that sounds natural and authentic, but also offers some clear signals about your expertise.

The best SEO copywriters display an unmatched skill for bending copy around various key words and phrases, leveraging concepts like latent semantic indexing to their advantage. It’s a unique skill though and one that can take a while to grasp the nuances of. In the meantime, you’ll likely have to make some choices about how aggressively search engine driven you want your content to be. In the beginning and until you’ve begun building more significant authority, I almost always recommend weighting this about 65/35 in favor of search engines.

Build Your Digital Footprint

By now, you’ve probably heard the term “backlinks”. Backlinks – AKA links to your website pages from other websites – are the single most important ranking factor for new websites. You can think of them as a “recommendation” from a trusted third-party to a search engine about the veracity or your expertise on a subject. While an explanation of backlinks and an emphasis on their importance is a part of every beginner’s guide to SEO, these resources are never as clear about how you go about attaining them.

The bad news is that developing backlink inertia is a tough road to hoe for most new websites. Stick with it though. The more you get, the easier it will become. Here’s some suggestions to get started.

It’s important to note that anchor text – or the actual text that your website is linked with – is extremely important and should match up with those toeholds you defined in earlier sections in order to raise your profile on them. Don’t be afraid to ask those linking organizations to adjust which text the link is attached to.

Align Your Message

Oftentimes when we think about the buyer’s journey, we do it from the perspective of proactively influencing the purchasing decision. Alternatively, a helpful exercise can be to flip this and examine the areas that may be stopping your customers from taking the next step. Tools like Google Analytics, Hot Jar, and Crazy Egg can be critical to understand where visitors exit your websites and why.

Neither approach is right or wrong; they should be used in a complementary fashion. Once you do start drawing enough traffic to create a usable signal however, it’s a short hop to using it to develop a more succinct user profile, by asking what’s blocking your buyer’s path to purchase. This can become a powerful starting point for an iterative practice that helps closer align your audience, their intent, and the overall messaging strategy.

For most businesses, a website is the hub of their marketing ecosystem. That makes it all the stranger how many of them focus on beautiful user interface and experience while giving little thought to the broader digital marketing funnel. Catalyst Integrated builds marketing enabled websites that consider both SEO and CRO an active part of the website design and development process. If you’re thinking about building or updating a new website we’d love to help you.

Bet on Search Engine Optimization

For most businesses, a website is the hub of their marketing ecosystem. That makes it all the stranger how many of them focus on beautiful user interface and experience while giving little thought to the broader digital marketing funnel. Catalyst Integrated builds marketing enabled websites that consider both SEO and CRO an active part of the website design and development process. If you’re thinking about building or updating a new website we’d love to help you.

Looking for help building a new optimized website? We can help.

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