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With the rise of social media, user-generated content, and widgets, there are more factors than ever to consider when designing a company Web site. Throw in SEO and choosing the proper design/layout for your Web site, and it all gets very confusing, very quickly.

Which means that Web site optimization experts such as Karen Breen Vogel are in very high demand. Vogel understands how to lead organic traffic to Web sites—but, perhaps more importantly, she understands how to give those users the content they are looking for when they arrive.

Here, in a conversation that previews the session she'll be leading next month at the MarketingProfs "Driving Sales" conference, Vogel cuts through the clutter and gives invaluable advice on how to build disciplined Web site optimization programs that build on strengths and business objectives.

Q: What are some of the ways that companies can change the design of its Web site in order to make it more effective?

A: A Web site is effective if it contributes to business results based on the specific goals of the business. In order to be effective it needs to attract the right users or traffic, [those] whose actions will correlate to the specific business goals. Which means, in the case of new-customer revenue goals, the design needs to support connecting to your target market segments on the search engines, since they are the primary source of traffic on the web.

This is done through a set of techniques and guidelines referred to as SEO or search engine optimization. They range from making sure the search engines can crawl and index your site pages to structuring copy, tags, and links optimally so that the search engine also determines your site pages are focused on particular themes and can provide a searcher a good place to land, resulting in a higher ranking in the natural results page, which then results in more qualified traffic to your site.

Q: So much of SEO seems to center on increasing Web site traffic. Is that enough?

A: A Web site cannot be effective...if it does not engage this qualified traffic in the actions that correlate to business outcomes. Engagement increases when a site is designed for the visitor's needs—not as a product sales pitch.

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier