Get More Sales Through Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Engagement
It's confusing. Your Web site ranks on page one of several Google searches,
you've placed a Google ad, and yet your company isn't seeing any extra
First, it's no small feat to get listed on page one of a Google search. Nice work.
Second, you need to be familiar with the phases of the search satisfaction
process. And if your prominent search position isn't doing it for you, you need
to know where the disconnect is happening.
There are four phases of the search satisfaction process:
In Search, users enter a keyphrase and is presented with results. That's all that
The user then moves into the Selection phase by choosing the result that they
think will best suit their needs. If none of the results look appealing, they loop
back through the Search phase, changing the keyphrase in the hope of
improving the results.
Once the user selects a result and is taken to the Web site, they go into the
Engagement phase. If the Web site isn't interesting, the user will loop back
through Selection and choose a different Web site to go to. If none of the Web
sites are engaging, the user eventually goes back to Search and enters a new
In the Fulfillment phase, the user clicks on one of the calls to action on your
site and makes a purchase, shares a blog post, registers for a service
or...whatever it is you want them to do.
In this guide I'm going to take you through the steps of search satisfaction, and
show you how to improve your chances of taking your customer to the next
The...final...frontier... These are the voyages...of the Website...Insert Name
Here...its continuing mission, to explore strange new keywords, to seek out new
sites and new blog comment sections...to boldly go...where no bot has gone
As any thirty-five year old man living in his parents' basement will tell you,
these aren't the words that form the introduction to Gene Roddenberry's Star
Trek. Of course, that guy's also going to insist that Donnie Darko is the deepest
most meaningful movie in history, and if you disagree, you just didn't
understand it. Seriously, you're going to want to punch that guy.
However, it's likely that that guy can tell you everything you've ever wanted to
know about Search Engine Optimization. You would probably only understand
every fifth word, though.
As important as SEO is, not all search results are created equal. Search engines
show results in two sections:
• paid search results, and
• organic search results.
Paid results are generally shown at the top of the search, but can be costly if the
price-per-click budget isn't carefully managed. Organic results are based on an
indexing of your Web pages for text patterns, key words, and phrases that can
be used to rank the page in search results for those keywords. You can optimize
your pages to appear higher in organic search results by paying attention to
how you create your page and content.
In this guide I'm going to talk specifically about organic search results, because
any idiot with a credit card can get ranked #1 on Google's paid search. But
that's an expensive way to do business.
Organic search, and much of this guide, comes down to one word: content.
They say "Content is King," but it's not true. Search and Social (the ability to
have your Web site found and shared) are the twin rulers of the Internet -- but
content is the power behind the throne.
Copywriting for SEO
When you write for the Web you’re trying to serve two masters, and it can be
tricky sometimes. First and foremost, you’re writing for humans, so your work
must be readable. I’m sure you’ve received spam emails that someone had
removed every pronoun and preposition and just sent you whatever was left.
That’s bad SEO copy. If your text isn’t readable, no matter how much a
computer loves it, no human will ever read it.
Second is that you must also write for computers . When you know what kinds
of keywords your site visitors are looking for, you can incorporate those, and
other related phrases, into your writing.
So how do you strike the right balance?
Laura Lippay, partner at Nine by Blue (and former Technical Marketing
Director for Yahoo!), says "If I had to weigh usability against SEO, I'd always
choose usability. I think about whether what I'm writing is beneficial for my
readers, because if it is, they'll share it and they'll link to it."
But that's not to say that you should ignore keywords in your copy -- search
engines use these words to figure out what your page is about, and to categorize
and index it. But to include keywords, you need to know which ones. And
chances are, your copy already includes some of the most useful ones.
To illustrate how build keyword optimization into your content, let's say you
own a business that repairs flat screen televisions. Take a few minutes to think
of all the things your customers might put in their search engine when they try
to find a tv repair company. Getting ranked on the first two or three pages of
search results is important to give your Web site the best opportunity to be
viewed by searchers. But getting ranked for keywords that are related to your
business is more important. If you repair televisions, it's not helpful to you to
be ranked on page one of Google's results for "screen door repair." You'll
ideally want to be well-ranked for words like:
lcd tv repair
lcd television repair
flat screen tv repair
fix my tv
fix my flat screen
fix my lcd
tv not working
...and so on.
Now, you can either use all of these phrases, or you can go to the Google
AdWords Keyword Tool and start plugging in search terms.
The term "television repair" yields 551 results.
You can sort the results by monthly global searches, monthly local searches, or
keyword competition. Keyword competition is a good reflection of how much
you might need to pay per click in a paid search.
Since you probably don't take tv repair jobs from other countries you'll want to
sort by local searches.
"LCD tv" was searched 1,220,000 times in the last month, while "samsung tv"
was searched 673,000 times. Other manufacturers also appear in the list, so
perhaps it would be a good idea to make sure you identify the manufacturers
whose products you repair in your text. Either way, using the most-searched-for
terms is the best place to start.
So maybe your site copy might read:
Do you have a flat screen tv that doesn't work anymore?
Don't think about throwing your broken tv away before you bring it to ABCTV
Repair. We'll take a look at your lcd television and give you a free estimate of
how much it will cost to fix your Toshiba, Sony, Philips, or Samsung flat
Hopefully, to most readers, this short description reads very naturally, and
would encourage them to have their tv checked out. To search engines,
however, it's a wonderful list of keywords and phrases (highlighted) that will
direct Internet users straight to your Web site.
Regularly adding new content to your site, and optimizing site copy aren't the
only things that can help you climb the search engine rankings; what goes on in
your site's code is important, too. Alt Text and Meta Tags for page elements
like images are important to help search engines categorize and index those
elements. Page titles and section headers should have meaningful titles that
include keywords, too. But if you have the chops to create the code for these
things, you probably already understand SEO for coding.
These are the parts of SEO that you have some control over, and from which
you'll see quick(er) results from your efforts. However, there are longer-term
actions you can take that slowly improve your site's ranking in ways that are
more effective over time (such as generating inbound links to your site.)
Methods for generating inbound links on other Web sites, but the method can
be summed up in a sentence: comment on other sites where you can leave links
to your own site. When search engines look at those sites, they'll see links to
yours, and that's important in helping search engines figure out how trusted
your work is.
And let's not forget the reason for all this work: getting people to your Web site
so that they'll buy something or share something.
So you made some tweaks, and you feel like your site is search optimized now.
Once your site places well in search engine results, the problem isn't placement,
Showing up in the first page or three of search engine results ought to get your
site some organic search traffic. But now that all eyes are on you, why aren't
you getting that traffic?
Let's take a look at what search engines show to searchers. After searching for
"flat panel television repair" this is what Google showed me:
For most searchers, it's the few lines under each result that will earn you clicks
or get you skipped over. For most sites, this text comes from the first paragraph
of the content on the page. Attraction in search results is about grabbing the
attention of readers, and giving enough information for readers to want to read
more. It should give enough information that searchers know that your site is
the right site for them.
In the Attraction phase, the user will select the results that they think best meet
their needs, and if no results look like they're suitable, the user will go back and
search with different search terms.
Just like dating, not everyone is looking for the same thing, and what's
attractive to one person is not going to be attractive to another. When it comes
to online search, the same thing applies. Attraction depends, to some degree, on
what searchers are looking for. A searcher looking for information on wild
flowers may not be attracted to a site that discusses growing orchids in hot-
houses. The trick, if there is one, is to know your audience. Know what they're
looking for, and engage with them on their terms.
Simply looking at what your customer-base might search for if they were going
to buy your product or service isn't enough. You need to make your pages
attractive to users who simply want to be better informed, or who might want to
alert their friends to something. For instance, users looking for information
about wild flowers might be looking for trails and meadows where wild flowers
might be abundant, how to plant a wild flower garden, how to make wild
flower arrangements, how to remove wild flowers from your lawn without
killing the grass...it's a big list of questions that users might have; and while
you can't answer all of them, your site might want to provide links to resources
that can answer the questions you don't.
Attraction isn't so much about giving your audience what they want, nor is it
about making your audience want what you're giving -- it's about finding the
audience that wants what you have, and engaging with them to make that
Engagement and Fulfillment
Your site is optimized, the page descriptions in your search results are
attractive and now you're seeing an upturn in traffic on your site...but where are
If you're getting people to your site and you're not seeing an increase in clicks
on your calls to action, there might be a problem or two:
• Your calls to action aren't obvious
• Your site is too confusing in general
• Your content isn't compelling
• Your product isn't interesting/good value
I know, they're all bitter pills to swallow, but any of them might be true.
Web pages, like newspapers, have a “fold.” What appears on a user’s screen
when the page first loads is considered to be “above the fold.” The rest of the
page is “below the fold.”
The most popular Web sites don’t have a “below the fold.” And of the sites that
have longer landing pages, the most successful have a prominent, easy to see,
call to action above the fold.
A call to action is just marketing-speak for the #1 thing you want your site
visitor to do. On Google’s home page, there’s only one thing to do: search.
Does your Web site make it clear what I should do when I land on its front
page? A lack of direction causes confusion, and confusion causes Web
searchers to click their “back” button and return to their search results.
Are your menus arranged in an order that Web users are familiar with. Most
users will expect Contact Us and About Us to be at the right hand side, with
Home on the left. How about the rest of your page? If a user isn’t being
directed to do something, and they can’t easily figure out what they want to do
for themselves, they will leave the site and go to a competitor.
Statistics show that customer loyalty is less about delivering great customer
service than it is about being the first service provider.
So get your call to action front and center. Make it obvious what you want your
site visitors to do, and they'll probably do it.
If you're not creating your own content you will want to change that -- you
don't have to write it yourself, but collecting non-unique, non-exclusive articles
from content farms doesn't help your SEO, and most of these articles are so
jammed-full of keywords that they're unreadable. They're not written by subject
matter experts, and they're not written by someone with your best interests at
heart. If you can write your own content, that's the best solution. The next best
solution is to have an expert write it for you. You, and nobody else. Exclusive,
shareable, compelling content is what you're looking for.
Put yourself in the position of a reader -- do you want giant articles with
nothing but text, or do you want an easily digestible "Top 5" list? Looking at
this ebook, I'd have to admit: irony isn't dead.
Finally, all the marketing in the world can't save a bad product, or compensate
for a product whose price is misaligned with its perceived value. Would you
buy a radio alarm clock for $500? Or a bottle of water for $20? No matter what
marketing you throw at those products, you're unlikely to sell very many. The
flip-side of that coin is a well-priced product that has limited appeal. A $0.59
bottle of water probably won't sell at an event where bottled water is being
given away for free -- ordinarily $0.59 might be a good price, but when it's
competing with free...
Content isn't king. Content that can be searched and found, and which is
compelling and easy to share, is your goal. Content is the power behind the
dual thrones of search and social.
So go connect with your visitors, engage with them, give them every reason to
be advocates for your business and they will be.