If you’re designing a website this year, it’s likely your client will require a portion that’s dedicated to content marketing. Blogs, photo slideshows, video streaming, infographic presentations, podcasts, and more are taking over digital marketing strategies, as 2015 reports by the Content Marketing Institute found 37 percent of B2C marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, while 35 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. Both percentages are significantly increased from the previous year, and these numbers don’t include marketers who use some form of content marketing but have no documented strategy.
After your client has determined the best content marketing agency fit by evaluating them based on these content marketing questions, it’s up to you as a Web designer to make sure their efforts towards creating valuable content are rewarded with increased page views, more referrals, and better search engine optimization for keywords your client wants to rank for. Here are five Web design principles to keep in mind when supporting a website with content marketing goals.
1. Employ Responsive Design
In 2014, more than a third of smartphone owners used their mobile devices to go online more than desktop or laptop computers, according to research by Pew Research Center. More than 40 percent of Web traffic comes from mobile devices, CIO reports, making it imperative to make sure Web content is optimized for desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile devices. Otherwise, pinching and zooming causes users to get frustrated, resulting in abandoning the site, reduced time spent on page, and less direct traffic.
Responsive design also affects the client’s search engine reach, as Google announced in 2015 that mobile-friendliness in design will positively affect the search algorithm. Because of the variety of device sizes people might use to access content, using a “fluid grid” in Web design is beneficial because it allows the design elements to resize in relation to other elements depending on the device they’re seen on.
2. Integrate Social Sharing Buttons
One of the best ways for useful content to spread is via social media channels. Free social networks give your client marketing muscle through powerful word of mouth. Make sure it’s easy for Web visitors to instantly share content on a website by displaying social media sharing buttons.
Before slapping on 15 different social media icons on each post, discuss with your client what social networks their target audience uses, or where they’d ideally want their content shared. Simplicity rules in Web design, so if they just want to focus on Facebook and Twitter, those two icons will be the only ones you’ll need to feature on each piece of content. B2B enterprises might want LinkedIn prominently featured, while feminine beauty or shopping sites will probably want their content consumers to be able to quickly add their content to Pinterest.
3. Add Dynamic Commenting Capabilities
Commenting systems are an essential part of content marketing posts for many reasons:
- They keep people on the page. As visitors scroll through comments and engage in discussions, search engines are noticing the high time spent on page and positively reward sites whose readers stay engaged with better results.
- They keep commenters coming back. If someone comments, and they receive a response from another reader or viewer or, better yet, the writer or moderator, they’ll be more likely to return to keep discussing or to see how other people respond.
- They strengthen the community. Featuring a commenting system makes content consumers feel like they’re a part of the content, since they get to share their valuable opinions with other consumers. Comments become an interesting extension of the article and can often produce the most engaging material, prompted by the initial post.
Some commenting systems allow users to instantly show their Facebook profile picture next to their comment when they log in through Facebook. Others will email commenters when someone responds to their comment, giving them a link to click to so they can read and respond — instantly increasing page views. Yet others will allow the commenter to share their comment on their own website or on a social networking channel. Content marketing calendar Coschedule breaks down the pros and cons of eight popular commenting platforms in this post.
4. Make It Easy to Convert Content Consumers Into Customers
Content marketing gets more reach when consumers can easily get in touch with the writer/creator and brand to learn more — and purchase from the brand. Just like consumers look to social media in hopes of getting instant customer support, Web users demand instant access to content creators, who can be a direct link to sales for the brand the content supports. Additionally, relevant advertisements around the content make it even more valuable.
Converting content consumers into customers can be achieved in a variety of ways. First, design an author bio box, where authors can tell readers/viewers about themselves and what makes them a subject matter expert, and allows them to easily link to an email for people to get in touch with them. Create widgets that display related products that are relevant to the content on the bottom of the post. Include unobtrusive ad banners that are focused on helpful products that directly relate to the content, but make sure the design ensures the content is always the star.
5. Incorporate a Search Engine Optimization Plug-In
If you’re working with a client who doesn’t have an SEO budget or is new to content marketing, adding an SEO plug-in to the content marketing platform makes it easy for the business to optimize their content for search engines. More than half of average Google traffic share goes to the top three search results, reported online advertising network Chitika in 2013, which is why optimizing content for search engines is a vital consideration.
An SEO plug-in can help content creators ensure their headlines, meta-descriptions, H1 tags, and image tags are optimized for search engines. Crawlable link structures, URL structures, rich snippets, and indexable content all also play an important role in affecting how search engines view website designs. Set your client up for success by making these features that are conducive to effective content marketing a part of your Web design strategy.