Last week I posted a series of articles about Destination Search Engine Marketing. Over the four-part series we asked the questions, do you deserve top search rankings? and what would sudden exposure get you? We then talked about what it means to have a business that stands out in a sea of thousands, and explained further how Destination SEM isn't just marketing as usual. One of the common themes, and one of the basics of Destination SEM is that you're not just trying to drive traffic to your website, you're trying to build a site that draw traffic and compels visitors to purchase (or subscribe, etc.) You want to create a site that not only makes visitors want to return to frequently but for your site to become the go-to site for your industry.
Today I wanted to take a break from that series to discuss, over the next two weeks, the seven building blocks of a Destination Website.
Think about something for a second. If you can't be considered as an expert on your subject, what reason is there for someone to make a purchase from you or subscribe to what you offer? For most people, they want to find people who are confident and know their information inside and out. If I'm not confident that you'll be able to answer my questions intelligently, I'll move on to someone who can.
Recently, my wife and I went TV shopping. Our first stops were Best Buy and Circuit City. We could have gone to Target, Wal-Mart or even Costco, but none of those places have employees who are exceptionally knowledgeable about those products. Sure, they know enough to rattle off the specifications, but not enough to provide an expert opinion about what those specs mean in the real world. Before we make such a significant purchase, we wanted to get the opinion of people we could trust knew what they were talking about.
And that's what we got at Best Buy and Circuit City. We found someone who could tell us about the minute differences between Plasma and LCD, why one model is better than another, what the negatives of each TV was, and so on. Getting this expert information was essential to our purchase decision.
On a website you don't always have the luxury of having your sale staff walk up to each potential customer to ask them if they need assistance. So you have to supplement that with content. Many web owners mistakenly believe that text is something you put on your site only for the search engines. This is a false assumption. While text is important for search engines, it's also very important for website visitors.
Adding content to your pages allows you to speak to your visitors in a way that simple pictures and product specifications can't. Let's look at a few things that content allows you to do more of:
More expert knowledge
You can't exactly sell yourself as an expert unless you have the content to back it up. Adding your expert insight and knowledge can propel the visitor through the buying process. As they learn more about what you offer, and read your detailed analysis of the products or services, they become comfortable knowing that you really know your stuff.
Anybody can add product specifications. Those come with the product description and many site owners regurgitate those specs onto their pages without any additional thought. But it's the website owner that actually goes out of their way to discuss the ins and outs of those specifications that is going to make the sale. Don't just provide the selling points, discuss the pros and cons so the buyer can make a truly informed decision.
If your visitors feel that they can trust the information you're providing--that it's not just sales jargon spewed back up on the screen in a different voice--you'll be able to make a connection with them that other sites don't. They'll trust you to make honest assessments of the products you sell and know that you're not just pushing something on them to make a quick buck. This expert knowledge satisfies their questions and allows them to feel safe purchasing from you.
More opportunities to persuade
Trust is one component to persuading visitors to buy, but you also have to be able to speak to their needs. You have to convince them that you're not only the place they can buy an exceptional product from, but the place they should buy it from.
It doesn't necessarily take a lot of content to persuade visitors, but it does take some decently written prose. Again, you can't just throw up some specifications. Make the visitor feel as if the product is essential to their enjoyment/way of life/job, etc. Good content will explain how the product is used to make life easier and/or more enjoyable, whether at work or at home. It'll use language that emphasizes the benefits and speaks to the readers' particular needs.
Persuasion text is important throughout the website, from the home page, through the upper-level categories and right down to the product level. It's not that each person is going to read every word of content, but that it is available for those that do. You also want to be able to provide the main selling points to any visitor that might come into the site through any particular page. Remember, not everybody enters through the home page!
More pertinent info to make the sale
Everybody needs to know the details before they purchase. What are they getting, how much does it cost, what are the features and how do those translate into benefits for me?
The more information you can provide about your product or service the more questions you're apt to answer. Certain questions are pertinent to particular visitors before they buy. The more questions you answer the more likely you are to satisfy your visitor's questions. Again, don't have the expectation that every word will be read, but the availability of the information is what's important. Visitors want to know they can see that you've got all the facts that they to make an informed decision. Whether they use that or not is up to them. Many won't, but they'll be satisfied knowing it's there.
It's important that all your content has a purpose. Is it there to inform? To sell? To answer questions? You don't want to add content just for the sake of putting words on the page. Even if those are "keywords" for the search engines. Content for the sake of content is pointless.
So how much content should you have? Well, you have to know your audience. How much content do they need?
By knowing what type of information your visitors are looking for you can then start providing that information for them. Don't write any more content than is necessary to satisfy what your visitors need. But also remember that you have different types of visitors looking for different kinds of information. Knowing the types of information that is expected by each audience will be important in meeting their contextual needs.
When it comes to creating optimized text for search engine rankings, the same rules apply. Yes, it's important to work in your keywords, but only inasmuch as that's what your audience is looking for. But don't go out of your way to create an over-abundance of unnecessary optimized content that is only there to get search engine rankings. Focus your content on the visitors and meeting their needs, incorporating the keywords they use to find you.
By focusing on providing expert information, you're letting your visitors know that you are knowledgeable about what you are doing. At the same time, you're providing them the tools and information they need to make an informed purchase decision. This information helps establish your site as a Destination Website, worthy of being returned to time and time again.
Read more about Destination Search Engine Marketing:
Seven Building Blocks of a Destination Website
#1: Expert Information
#1b: Seven Types of Expert Information
#3: Website Design
#4: Unique Value Proposition
#5: Time and Presence
#7: Trust and Credibility
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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