Forget SEO ? It?s All About Conversion!
Which SEO hat do you wear? Is it white or black? Or perhaps it's a subtle shade of gray. Well, wherever you are on this spectrum, if you are like 99% of the SEO-fixated webmasters out there, you are doing all you can to get visitors to your site. Where you used to optimize your keywords meta tags, you now worry about anchor text and XML site maps.
So, you finesse your site, schmooze the algorithm du jour and begin to climb the slippery search engine rankings pole. But this is where you have to leave your SEO tricks behind and start thinking conversion.
Whoa there! Conversion? That's all about making sales on shopping sites. My site's a forum! I don't sell anything. What has conversion got to do with me?
Everything, my friend. Everything?.
You want visitors to come your site, right? That's why you climb greasy SERP pole, after all. (And why you lay awake at night wondering when the next Florida, Hilltop or Bourbon algorithm earthquake is going to hit.) But what does it matter if you reach the peak, but no one clicks through to your site anyway?
The fact is that you have to convert prospective visitors even before they arrive. You have to pique their interest, tweak their curiosity and make sure they click your link and not the other guy's. And all you have to use are words. No technical tricks will help you now ? your only tools are plain ol' words.
The SERPs will show words from two of three places. Two of these you can control and one you can't:
1.Your title tag.
2.Your meta description tag.
3.A directory description.
(For example, Google is known to use DMOZ descriptions in their SERPs, and Yahoo uses their directory descriptions in theirs.)
Now, there's not much you can do about how Yahoo or DMOZ editors describe your site, so don't worry about number 3. But do what you can do: Place your value propositions clearly in 1 and 2, and use them to lure searchers into your website.
So you have to convert people before they even get to your site. But that's not all?. You want them to stay, right?
No, this has nothing to do with being blinded by bright lights on the road to Damascus. Nor am I telling you to go and make a 100% animated website.
This "flash" is that split second, that tiny window of opportunity that opens up when a searcher arrives at your site and decides whether they have actually found what they are looking for? or not.
Typically, you'll have a couple of seconds to persuade the new visitor to stay and hang out. That's all you get. It's the ultimate in speed-dating. So, how do you wow your "date"? Do you show him a page of scraped "content" interspersed with Adsense ads? Not if you want this to be a lasting relationship.
Follow these tips and be sure to impress your "date":
1. Have a clear theme
Ranking high for "blue widgets"? Then be sure your visible title, copy and images are clearly focused on them.
2. Have a clean design
Imagine you are taking a first date to a movie. Do you pick her up wearing your pajamas in a dirty, trash-filled car? Or do you clean the car, wash your face and dress to impress? Of course you want to impress her, so you make sure you look (and smell) good.
It's the same with your site: Clean design, a nice text size and pages that don't scroll from here to eternity are going to float your first-time visitor-date's boat.
3. Write clearly and focus on your "date"
Waffle on about yourself and your date will get bored. She wants you to be interested in her. And in terms of your site, that means giving her what she wants to know as quickly and succinctly as possible. This comes down to your ability to write and communicate. So, if you are like Steve Martin in "Roxanne", make sure you get a someone else (a copywriter) to compose the lines to wow your "date" for you.
OK, so let's say you have successfully wooed your first-time visitor date. He's here and he has decided to stick around. You're going steady, getting to know each other a little more. That's all you want, isn't it?
No, it isn't! You want to pop the question, of course!
You've made all this effort and spent money on getting your "date" this far, so you want to get the most out of your investment, right? You want to hear those sweet words, "I do":
I do? want to click your Adsense ads. I do? want to become a forum member. I do? want to buy that cool digital thingy.
So how do you turn a whirlwind romance into a successful proposal? Try these ideas for size:
Have clear navigation
You want to make your date dizzy with excitement, not frustration! Make sure you have clear, consistent, well-labeled navigation and make your visitor-date's time with you a pleasure, and not a reason to reach for the Advil.
Have a clear proposition
What do you want your visitor to do? Buy something? Sign up for something? Join something? Whatever the point of your site is, it does have a point, right? So don't beat about the bush, and don't hold back waiting for the right moment: Make your "proposal", and make it clear and direct.
Happily Ever After?
You thought that was the end of the story? Wait a minute, it's not over yet! I thought you were in this for a long-term relationship, not a one night stand?
I know, you were thinking that having made all that effort while you were dating, you could ease off now that you're "married". But don't you know that the real rewards start here?
So what are the secrets of a long, blissful relationship with your visitors?
1. Feed them!
You convinced him to come visit once. But how often will he come back if all you give him are the same old leftovers? Cook him up something juicy and delicious, and have him salivating for more:
Enliven your content with new, relevant pages and, not only will you set the search engine robots drooling, but you will also find you have a hoard of visitors coming back for seconds. And in this age of fast-(visitor)-food creation tools called blogs, there's really no excuse anymore.
2. Shower them with gifts
Everyone likes a gift - and not just on birthdays, anniversaries and at Christmas:
Money talks, and if you are selling anything through your site, then discounts and other offers to previous visitors and customers will draw them back like magnets. Throw in tempting freebies as well and you will have a potent marketing mix.
3. Send them "love" letters
Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship (like my wife and I were for a year and a half), knows that if you can't be together, the next best thing is a letter or email. For your website, this means an interesting ezine that is light on sales pitch and rich in information.
4. Start a family!
Not literally! But you can create a "family" atmosphere by adding a forum where your visitors can interact with each other ? not just with you and your site. People are social animals, so use a forum to keep them coming back.
OK, so perhaps I overstated it a little in my title. SEO is not dead, so don't forget about it quite yet. Just remember that it will only get you so far: If you want to actually achieve anything with your site, then you need to focus on conversion like a laser.
About the Author
Stephen Munday lives in Japan. His most recent project is a Japanese name translation website where you can get your name in beautiful Japanese calligraphy.
This article is © Stephen Munday 2005. Permission is given to reproduce this article in whole with the URLs correctly hyperlinked.
Five Tips for Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization sounds so daunting for most young companies. Who has time for dealing with metatags and keyword density when you're trying to get a company off the ground? Below is a simple list of five things you can easily do to improve your visibility on search engines.
Five Tips to Improve Your Chances with Google et al.
"Dear David: I just created a website on baby toy safety. What should I do to make sure gazillions of people find me through the search engines?"
How to Get the Ranking You Always Wanted!
Is your web site well ranked (In the top ten search results) in the results? If not, you need to read this and get the ranking you always dreamed of getting with your web site! I will show you how to get your web site a top ten ranking in the search engines with these few easy-to-do steps.
No Cost Search Engine Marketing
As a matter of fact, I recommend NOT wasting money on pay inclusion in
most cases because it doesn't offer enough of an advantage (and many
times the fees give you absolutely no advantage - the only exception are
the few sites that guarantee placement within a specific timeline). Focus
your online marketing and gain positive and targeted traffic without
paying out for "expedited listings" or "submission software."
Writing Search Engine Friendly Webpages
In order to tap the huge stream of targeted traffic an internet search engine can provide a website you need to master a few common sense principles when crafting your webpages.
Google Gunning For Directories?
Why is it that webmasters are so quick to blame Google if their website falls down the search rankings, or out of the rankings altogether? Can it never be their own fault?
Make The Search Engines Love Your Site
Most webmasters have no idea on how to make a search engine friendly web site. If you are one of them this will all change by following these steps below.
Directories and Their Importance for Search Engine Rankings
Spamglish; A Search Engine Comedy With A Language All Its Own
When the movie Spanglish hit the screens in 2004, it was dubbed "A comedy with a language all it's own." I don't think the producers even knew they were slipping a lesson for website owners who want better search engine listings into the movie.
Google has an Achilles Heal - Will Their Competitors Notice?
Even though Google Revenues continue to soar, the hidden problem that may stifle growth and may even allow Yahoo or MSN to overtake the paid search market in the future lies in two critical phrases: Customer Support, and Customer Training
The First Search Engine Marketing Method: Content That Meets Customers Needs
For your business web site, good search engine rankings and high user traffic depend on relevant content. More user traffic will mean more sales leads and then more sales. Beyond any technical tricks, content that meets the users' need for three types of information is the best guarantee that search engines and users will find your site. The Google and Yahoo page rankings favor sites that have articles of about 1000 words and that use keywords relevant to the user's search.
SEO - Get Your Site Out of the Google Sandbox Fast!
Is your new site sitting in the infamous Google "sandbox"? There is a way to get it out fast, as well as getting all of your other pages indexed!
5 Simple Steps to Great Search Engine Rankings
Having your website rank well in the major search engines is crucial to a successful Internet business. However, the information on doing so, which abounds on the Internet, can be perceived as complex and contradictive. Many website owners end up overwhelmed by all the data and simply quit and move on to other areas of promotion. By following the handful of steps presented in this article you will be well on your way to solid rankings.
Do You Submit Your Website To All The Search Engines?
There is really only one search engine to worry about submitting too and that is Google and you should only submit one page your main once and maybe a sitemap a week later but never more than once a week. If you have a link coming to your new site from a site that is currently listed in Google then Google will find you quicker.
Duplicate Content Penalty - How to Lose Google Ranking Fast!
Duplicate content penalty. Ever heard of it? This penalty is applied by Google and possibly other search engines when content found on your website is largely the same as what is found elsewhere on your site or on other websites across the internet.
An Ethical Alternative to Doorway Pages
Definition: A doorway page is content created specifically for the purpose of garnering high placements in the search engines.
How to Boost Your Traffic and Profits with Content!
Are you aware of how vitally important and valuable CONTENT is to your online business? In fact, content can do more to build your business and profits than just about any other resource or service available.
Choosing a good domain name isnt always so simple.
So you need a domain name for your brand new internet business. You may even have some cool ideas for a new domain name combination that will really impress your friends. Question is, is your new domain name going to help your business or hurt it?
Using Meta Tags Wisely to Attract Search Engines and Visitors
There are certain tricks and techniques in SEO industry, which can fetch you real quick and top ranking in short run and get banned for ever, which I am discussing in this article. Before optimizing any site, always follow code of ethics and never spam.
Googles Back Door... Get Your Website Indexed Quicker!
It's the buzz word's going across the internet marketing guru's strategy
platform at the moment?Google's Sitemap to index your web pages
within days if not hours.