Over the last 22 years, give or take, my career has focused on digital marketing, e-commerce, growth, digital sales operations, business development, and more all with a high focus or sole focus of digital. A little less than a year ago I took the leap into consulting. During this new adventure, I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time reviewing websites – hundreds of them actually. I’ve looked at all kinds of industries across B2C, B2B, B2B2C, and DTC. Common threads have appeared throughout this process and I’m betting at least one of these is an opportunity for you to make your site better and improve digital performance.
These 10 things are highly common areas for digital improvement:
Make Your Site Faster
Websites are slow and don’t rank well because of it
It’s 2022 and people that run websites still aren’t prioritizing site performance and load time. Seriously. I’ve seen more sub 25 ranked websites from https://pagespeed.web.dev/ than anything over the past few months. One of the most iconic brands out there ranks at a big fat 2. Speed matters. Speed kills. Speed ranks. If you want to ignore the fact that speed leads to better SEO ranking, better conversion rates, and has been proven through research to generate more profits for e-commerce businesses then I’m sure your competitors will be pleased. If you want to win, most of the things to address site performance aren’t really that hard to achieve – they just need to be a priority over shiny new ideas that are unproven.
- Go to https://pagespeed.web.dev/
- Test your site
- Address anything where your site ranks poorly using the provided pointers
Disavow Bad Backlinks
Companies aren’t watching their domain toxicity
Ahh the dirty administrative like work of SEO, disavowing bad websites from linking to your good and lovely website that you count on having a good reputation that translates to high ranking that will improve digital performance, and that leads to increased revenue and profits year over year. Guess what? Google measures your reputation, or more specifically your website’s, in part, by who links to you. If bad websites link to you, you get judged for “hanging out with them” so to speak. This is one of those it’s so easy to fix kind of things that it’s amazing that anyone would have a highly toxic domain profile. Have you checked yours out lately? This is a sure fire way to improve digital performance.
Do Images Right
Everybody’s images on their sites are being handled WRONG
Images are the wrong size for the device they’re being served to. Images are old formats. Huge images load in competition with other items on the site. Big off-screen, below the fold images are prioritized to be loaded immediately. I could go on. Basically every site I’ve reviewed recently, or their competitors (most frequently both), has page performance and speed issues related to images. Images have to be sized appropriately. Images should be delivered in modern formats like AVIF or WebP – using these formats will result in faster loading – which, guess what, will improve digital performance. Finally, deliver the right size images for the device that’s calling for it – you don’t need to send a full desktop size image through to a mobile device.
Surface Your Content Better
Companies have their content buried on their sites
I’ve recently looked at multiple websites that have large portions (we’re talking 40%+) of their content buried more than 10 clicks deep. I could show you major websites that have spent a lot of time and effort on creating content only to have it be 40 and 50 clicks deep into a website. In other words – Search Engine spiders/crawlers are NEVER going to find this. You might as well have just hit delete immediately after writing it. Internal linking is critical for content success – it’s got to be quick and easy to find. Pagination is one obvious and effective strategy here, but so is intra-linking articles, creating top articles lists that live on category pages, and more. Need help figuring this out – ping me, I’ll point you in the right direction.
Use “New” Social Channels
Brands are effectively ignoring social channels they don’t understand or believe their customers aren’t on – even though they are.
You should all go look at this chart and commit it to memory. The TL;DR version of this is – yes, your customers are on TikTok, Snapchat, and elsewhere. I bet you’re spending more on Facebook than you are on YouTube, right? If not, good job. If I’m right you’re not focused on the fact that for all age groups under 65, all genders, all socio-economic indicators, YouTube is the number one used social platform. Did you know that half (okay 48%) of all people 18-29 are on TikTok? Did you know that nearly 20% of people 65 and older use Pinterest? Don’t disregard unfamiliar social channels, there’s opportunity sitting there for the taking. In studying traffic generation strategies and the channel mixes of hundreds of sites, I can safely tell you this – the likelihood that you’ll face lower competition on social channels outside of Facebook is extremely extremely high.
Use Non-Brand Search
Companies are myopically focused on their branded search keywords
While not as stark a contrast as you’ll find in the other topics there are still a very large number of brands that have paid search campaigns that are almost 100% focused on their brand terms. Yes, you should do this – but not as your only paid search effort. Paid search can be highly competitive and expensive so it’s critical that you have a highly-experienced team running this. It can be either agency or in-house but getting top performers on that team is critical. You need to optimize terms, bidding positions, page quality, negatives, match types, and more. Are you just doing RLSA, are you using DSA. How are you researching, what competitive intelligence are you using, are there even enough people bidding to trigger an auction – there are tons of things to consider. In all of this though you need to target keywords that are non-brand. SEO won’t get everything, and it won’t get it as fast as paid search can. For a healthy e-commerce business paid search, as a source, can range from 20%-30% of your total revenue. Below this? – ramp up your efforts. Above this? – you probably need to spread your marketing efforts to other channels. I frequently see sites having gaps from their competitors that number in the thousands of keywords – both for organic and paid. Paid search is a great way to immediately address organic gaps – you’re not going to write an article today and index in the #1 position tomorrow, so use paid search to capture traffic. Go search something like “tires near me” and see who pops up – you’ll probably recognize them, and it’s the perfect example of companies not just focusing on brand keywords.
Do Email Better
Email is poorly used by many many brands
Oh email, you’re treated so brazenly, haphazardly, and as such a taken-for-granted medium. Companies send you out without checking what you look like in multiple browsers and clients, with spelling errors, saying things like “test” with nothing else there, they send you wayyyyy too much, far too little, with no relevance, with such high relevance it’s scary, and more. Marketing emails have been around since the earliest days of e-commerce, you’d think we’d have it right by now but….we collectively don’t as e-commerce professionals. (I’ve been there – I’ve sent mistakes out to huge lists, I’ve emailed unsubscribed people, etc) Something so seemingly straightforward is so frequently such a mess. Email shouldn’t be an afterthought, or considered so easy you’ll take care of it last, or assigned to someone that has 50 other things to do – it needs to be highly intentional, owned by a core team focused just on that, and have exacting standards and testing. There are tons of best in class examples, there are free/cheap tools for testing, there are very experienced professionals available – you don’t have any excuses anymore. Quit sending broken emails. Quit not testing how something looks in top platforms. Test your cadence. Test your subject lines. Develop a pre-send check list. Use a service to track your competitors – steal their ideas and test them too. Did you know you can put programmatic ads in email too? Email is still a big part of e-commerce. Please also make sure your unsubscribe works, really works.
Make Site Search #1
Companies are hiding their search bars
For the love of God, I’m literally here trying to find things on your site – why are you making one of the most powerful tools hard to find. Don’t make a tiny box with a magnifying glass hidden somewhere the main presentation of your search functionality. Go look at best-in-class examples of search like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, etc. By the way – did you know you can create a way to put your search right in your organic search results listings on Google? Search bars should be big and right in the top center of the page. Make them easy to find and use – have search suggestions, auto-fill, history, and more. Be best in class here and you’ll win.
Use Structured Data
More than a decade after introduction, Schema, Microdata, and Structured Data still aren’t used well by many, many websites
Some of the biggest brands out there aren’t using it, or aren’t using it well at all. Seriously, you’d be amazed. More than 64% or searches don’t progress to a second page – they’re zero click, they end after the search. Why you ask? Schema and Structured data I answer. Click on a phone number to dial a business – schema and structured data. See a top 10 list, a How-To tutorial, a definition, etc… – schema and structured data, structured data, structured data. Review stars in a product search – schema and micro data, in stock call out – schema and microdata. There are hundreds…I won’t go on, but you should. Your site should be filled with them. Please. It will be better for all of us. Just go here and start: https://schema.org/. You’ll probably even get a ranking boost from it, and improve digital performance, especially if your competitors aren’t doing it (and based on what I’ve seen I’d put money on it that at best they’re doing it poorly if at all).
Switch to GA4 Right Now
Companies are burying their collective heads in the sand regarding Google Analytics 4
A year screams by in e-commerce businesses. You have 10s, if not 100s of projects to work on, product improvements, hiring, promotions, and more to look after. If you use Google Analytics and you haven’t elevated revamping your analytics to project number one – you’re going to be in panic mode at some point in the next XX months. Your analytics team might already be there. It’s not as easy as it may seem to switch over. You should start now, don’t wait. (p.s. – we can help here)
Seriously, don’t wait. Use a tool like Builtwith.com or Similartech.com and search the number of people using Google Universal Analytics and then do the search for Google Analytics 4 and you’ll see the disparity. Great job early adopters!
Need help with how to improve digital performance, launching a website, evaluating a digital business, optimizing your performance marketing or anything digital?
We do all this and more here at Nimble Gravity. If you don’t have the bandwidth, headroom, staff or expertise to drive change and growth for your digital venture, reach out and let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org