By Noelle Salerno, Consultant, Avalanche Consulting

Your website is one of – if not the – most important marketing tool in your toolbox. For most audiences, it is the first place they will interface with your community. It reinforces your brand and shares important information about what it is like to live and do business in your region. It is important to update your website on a regular basis to keep data fresh and ensure messaging is aligned with your marketing goals.

As strategists, we are often asked to evaluate the effectiveness of our clients’ websites. As a follow-up to last month’s article, we share five additional questions that arise when we review economic development websites.

  1. Do people know where you are?

Include a map of your region that helps answer questions such as: Where are you located? What interstates are you near? How far are you to major markets? You would be surprised how many EDOs miss this step!

  1. Can a visitor clearly navigate your site?

Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. What information do they need and how easily accessible is it on your website? Require the fewest clicks possible to get to this essential content.

  1. Can people easily contact you?

Don’t make your target audiences go on a scavenger hunt to contact you. Make your Contact page easy to find and include all staff names, phone numbers, and emails. Including a picture of each staff person is even better! If you’re concerned about website crawlers that will add your email to a spam list, a simple HTML code from your website developer to block this should do the trick.

  1. Can visitors access your site on their mobile device?

Nowadays, a majority of website visitors use their smartphone. Make sure your website uses adaptive design, which enables the webpage to automatically adjust based on screen size.

  1. What happens when you Google?

Follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Continually refresh your content. Properly tag and label images and video. Include relevant keywords throughout the site. Actively participate in social media. You’ll notice that following marketing best practices will support SEO, so content and navigation should be built with target audiences in mind, not search engines.