How to outsmart the fickle internet surfer
Published on November 2nd, 2011 by Dagmar King
You’re on the hunt for a birthday present for your BFF and you’ve come up with a great idea: a year’s supply of her favorite… Kona coffee. So you plug “Kona coffee” into Google and generate 1,800,000 results. After a few false starts you realize you really want to give her “100% pure organic Kona coffee” – and only a five-pound assortment once you realize its high cost. Each time you start a new search, the words you enter become more refined. Then you begin looking for the best deal. In your hunt you’ve landed on, scanned and quickly exited 24 websites before you finally settle on the one through which you place your order.
Search Engines and User Experience
Let’s turn the tables. Say you’re the one selling the coffee and you want to drive customers to your website. You may offer the right type of Kona coffee at a reasonable price, but your site either doesn’t appear prominently in search engines for “100% pure organic Kona coffee” or it doesn’t retain visitors once they arrive there.
The common search pattern described above is repeated millions of times a day and affects B2C as well as B2B marketers. In their quest to provide the most relevant search results, search engines continue to place greater emphasis on end-user experiences, prioritizing and ranking sites accordingly. Following are some patterns that search engines look for – and what you want to avoid happening on your website:
• The Bouncer. If a searcher clicks on a link to your site and bounces back to the same results page he or she came from to visit another link, the search engine may use that information against you in future results for that specific keyword or key phrase.
• The Tester. People searching for something aren’t always sure what keyword to use. If someone clicks on a link to your site but comes back to refine his or her search, it too could negatively affect your ranking for that keyword.
• The Browser. Search engines can now measure visitor interaction on your website. Many Internet browsers support toolbars. If searchers don’t opt out of anonymous usage statistics, these toolbars feed metrics to search engines for potentially all Web pages the person has visited.
Perform the Relevance Check
Does your site appear prominently in search engine results pages when it should? Check it out by identifying the top 50 or so keywords and phrases that are relevant to your brand, organization, competitors and the content on your Web pages. Then research those keywords and key phrases. A good tool to use for this is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Which keywords are you already ranking for? The objective is to find keywords with low competition – e.g., fewer than 1,000 searches a month.
Now pinpoint 10 to 15 of those keywords that are most relevant to your organization and website content. Would people actually use those words and phrases to search for content on your site? If you’re convinced the words are on target, use them in your text, text links, and names of your videos and images (ALT tags).
But don’t try to stuff your text with keywords, because it won’t work. Search engines look at how many times a term appears in your content. If it is abnormally high, it’ll factor against you. Try to focus each page on a single keyword or key phrase. Don’t try to optimize a single page for several keywords at once.
Finally, describe each page with a relevant title tag. Make sure this is a concise, plainly worded description of the contents on that page. It is the primary descriptor of page content, so a descriptive title increases the odds of a page appearing as the results of a related search query.
Focus on Visitor Retention
Once visitors arrive at your site, do you make it easy for them to zero in on what you offer and become engaged, or do your key selling and content points get lost in a sea of confusion? Remember, people don’t read – they scan. So write your page content for skimming and ensure layout and navigation are uncomplicated and attractive. For a few quick tips on making your Web pages more appealing, read the blog post “The 5 Ws of Successful Website Content.”
Search engine visibility is one of the most important components in building online brand recognition, so your investment in search-optimizing your Web pages will pay off handsomely. So will the time you take to create Web pages that are easy to use and navigate, because they can also influence your search engine ranking.
Check out Marketwire’s EasySuite 2.0 content management system. It makes it easy for you to update your website with dynamic, interactive content – without a tech degree.
Be sure to read, “4 ways to rethink how we measure our content marketing ROI.”
Be sure to download, “Presto! You’re a Publisher,” Chapter 3 in Marketwire’s free eBook, “Mastering Audience Engagement: Reinventing Your Role in a New Media World.”