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Website Optimization 101

Website Optimization 101

June 9, 2008
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" You don't give web surfers what you want them to have … you give them what they want. "

This article is first in a series to help you learn how to pull in targeted traffic from the search engines and improve your marketing approach to convert that new traffic into sales. In this month's article, you will learn how to properly focus your web pages to the specific content you offer. This is the most critical step you can take to improve your website and impact your online sales. It is the difference between your website being profitable or not.

The most important rule to learn is:

You don't give web surfers what you want them to have … you give them what they want. Get this rule into your head so it becomes second nature to you, and you will be well on your way increasing your online sales.

There are many vital steps to search engine optimization (SEO), but the most important SEO rule is to speak the user's language — or more accurately, when you write, use keyword phrases that match users' search queries. This is important because search engines arrange websites according to how well keywords on the websites match a person's query. It all boils down to relevance.

Making the search listings is a crucial first step, but it's not the only step — users must also click your entry, which means your page's title and descriptions at the search engine results page (SERP) must accurately and compellingly reflect your website's content. Then, when the clicks come, you must have a good conversion rate.

There is much more to website success than simply being found, but it is the first step.

Click!

OK, they clicked. You got them at your website. Now what happens next?

You must make sure your surfers' expectations get a fast payoff.

The first thing you have to give them is what they came for — what you advertised about your site on the search engine. Provide that for them, and you are better than halfway to converting them.

Next — human behavior on websites, for the most part, is consistent and predictable. There is a short-but-significant list of impressions that must be met in the blink of an eye. Well, OK, maybe two or three blinks. Nonetheless, as the old adage goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

You have only seconds to sell yourself. Make sure your site:

  • Has what they're searching for.

  • Is up-to-date and professional.

  • Has simple navigation, is easy to use and has an organized layout.

  • Has contact information in support of your products or services.

If your site provides these things, surfers will feel your website is legitimate, which equates with sales and conversions. If you fail any of these, you drastically reduce your potential profits.

Your potential customers should not have to dig through a mountain of clutter on your pages in order to buy from you. Most won't do it; they'll just hit the back button and keep looking for a website that will give them exactly what they're looking for in an easy-to-use format.

Too often I see websites trying to accomplish too many, if not all, their objectives on their homepage. They have all their merchandise in a virtual pile on one page and there is no organization to any of it.

This virtual pile is confusing. There are too many choices and most times a good number of the choices are not what that surfer was looking for to begin with. So if they cannot quickly and easily find what they're looking for they abandon your website.

A cluttered pile also creates friction, even to the most devout surfer who might dig for a bit to find what they're looking for. Friction is whatever gets in the way of a smooth and uninterrupted flow of events — anything that gets in the way of your call to action.

The bottom line is: You are far better off to have 50 landing pages in a site with each one focused on one agenda than you are having one page with 50 different agendas. If you have 50 focused pages then you have 50 doors of opportunity at the search engines. If you have one page cluttered with irrelevant objectives, then you have one crappy shot in the dark at the search engines. So how do you sort it all out? The first step is to be realistic about what you actually offer. If your page titles and meta tags are targeting broad single word terms like "porn," "sex," or "XXX," you are way off the mark. In all honesty, that is not what you offer. Those single-word terms have very broad definitions — those encompass the whole scope of the market. Few sites actually offer it all.

Many of you likely have niche content or products. Your niche is what you should focus on to draw in quality, targeted traffic.

This means your page titles, meta tags and page text content need to be specifically focused to exactly what you offer on that page. If you offer naughty nurses, be specific — say "naughty lesbian nurses," "naughty nude nurses" or "naughty Asian nurses."

Be sure also to have unique page titles and meta tags on each of your pages specific to that page's content. Do not repeat the same titles and tags on all your pages.

With correctly focused keyword phrases describing your content, your website will come up high in the search results when surfers query for what you offer. The more accurately you describe your content, the more quality targeted traffic you bring to your website.

Quality targeted traffic is what you're after, not the generic traffic you buy from another website. Generic traffic does not convert well, but quality targeted traffic does, because you have what makes them happy. Remember — happy visitors buy.

The bottom line is this: Keep it relevant, keep it simple, and present it in an easy-to-navigate structure. Your conversion rates are certain to increase significantly with this focused approach.

The purpose of business is not to make a sale but to make and keep a customer. Provide what they're looking for, do it professionally and they will keep coming back.


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