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 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 algorithm du jour and begin to climb 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 next Florida, Hilltop or Bourbon algorithm earthquake is going to hit.) But what does it matter if you reach 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 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 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 new visitor to stay and hang out. That’s all you get. It’s 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 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 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 lines to wow your “date” for you.