This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will run next month.
Studies indicate that more than 70 percent of Web traffic arrives directly from search engines. As a result, more and more vendors offer solutions to improve a company’s search position.
Every marketing executive knows the statistics: The top 10 search engines account for more than 90 percent of all search traffic; 80 percent of search site visitors will not click past the first page of search results; 50 percent of search site visitors will click on the top 10 sites rather than scroll further down a listing page. As a result, these executives take great steps – and pay significant money – to ensure their sites are highly ranked.
However, while these marketers are investing resources in SEM and SEO, they are losing potential profits from a site that is incapable of handling the traffic and, more importantly, an inability to provide a call to action for visitors. Though the emphasis has been on tactics to ensure strong placement in search engines, companies often fail at what to do once the search results produce a flood of visitors to your site.
This two-part series explores six steps to ensure success in your search marketing and make the most of the influx of traffic to your site.
Step 1. Identify the user. As visitors reach your site, it is vital to know what they want and why they are there. The SEM and SEO strategies paid off and your prospect is reading pages and pages of online content, but now what? Once a visitor is on your site, you have a small window of opportunity to gain as much information as possible. These steps will help identify the users:
· Analyze your Web logs. Check which search engines users come from and the words that brought them. Keep track of phrases you see often. It is important to understand how your users evolve.
· Demonstrate search phrase reinforcement. As you see patterns or trends, use them as a guide to map keyword-rich content to specific pages. This improves relevance and increases length of visit. The users are bombarded with your brand and offerings only while you have them captive.
· Demographic research. Build profiles of users and prioritize them so that you know whom your content speaks to and avoid ignoring certain audiences. Neglected users include partners, media, investors, analysts and prospective employees. It is important to note that existing customers and prospects are the main target, so focus on them first!
Step 2. Lure the user. Once you understand who visits your site, it is important to provide the information they seek. The method in which you provide the information is almost as important as providing the information itself. It is important to do so in an easy-to-navigate method and create a first impression that establishes credibility for your Web site and the content it contains.
To create that crucial credibility, follow these tactics:
· Create a brand. Your site will be defined by its look and feel, not the content. Ensure your brand speaks for itself; don’t try to become everything for everyone. One good qualified lead is better than five bad ones.
· Improve the relevance for targeted search phrases. Be cautious, do it only if you have the content to support it – if you have the content, your users will travel for it. If you fake them out with promises you can’t keep, you likely will lose them for good.
If it feels like you are “keyword spiking” your content, take a step back and organize a content strategy. This strategy may include cross-linking opportunities, improved keyword density, consistent voice, calls to action and common sense!
Step 3. Demonstrate to the user. Don’t expect visitors to know how to navigate your Web site. Visitors likely will be unfamiliar with it, especially if they are coming from a search engine link.
A search engine can dump a user in any section of your site, so ensure that all pages have a noticeable link to your site map, home page, etc. It is also important to employ the following strategies on each page so that no matter where users land, they can navigate themselves through the site easily.
· Make it clear. Tell visitors what the site is and what information they should expect to find throughout the Web site.
· Make it usable. Do you provide the right information? Search engine visitors are there because your site appeared at the top of the search engine list. When they click on that link to your site, you must be able to identify the content they are looking for in their first moments there.
· Provide valuable content. Your content is what attracted users to the site, and it should be what keeps them there. Don’t fill your content with keywords just to be ranked high in the search engine rankings. If visitors cannot easily find the content that directed them to your site, they will quickly leave.
· Define functional and practical navigation. Once users read the specific content they are looking for, it is important to provide a clear, consistent navigation that lets them move quickly and efficiently through the rest of your content.
These steps put you well on your way to taking full advantage of the increase in your site traffic from your SEM efforts and increasing ROI and profit. Next month, we will explore the final three steps to complete the full-circle approach to ensuring success in your search engine efforts.