Archive for March, 2010
Which is more important for content, the ability to communicate directly with visitors… or the search engine rankings it creates?
On the one extreme, imagine a website (or blog post, etc.) that is complete nonsense gibberish. Maybe envision something written in Chinese characters, assuming that’s a language you don’t understand. Now let’s say these random bits of code or symbols somehow rank quite well with the search engines, the very first organic result in fact.
What have you accomplished as a business or organization in this case?
Sure, loads of people may stumble upon your website, but once they get there what do you think will happen? Do you think they will “convert” to customers?
On the other end of the spectrum, imagine a block of written text that is so eloquent, so persuasive… that once a visitor reads it, they instantly want to become a customer, or donor, volunteer, etc.
However, because of the way it is written, it actually has zero SEO value. As such, it is invisible to the search engines, and no one who doesn’t already know your website exists will ever find it.
What has your business accomplished here? This example is marginally better than the first one; at least you could tell folks about your site!
Now yes, both scenarios are on the extremes, and unlikely. But they illustrate an important point. A typical business should NEVER just design or write solely for SEO, because the whole purpose of (most) sites is NOT to simply get visitors, but to have them DO something once they are there.
And the reverse is also true, you should never completely forget about SEO, either. This means following some basic guidelines in your web design and structure, and making sure to include the right keywords within your content, among other things.
Get the balance between SEO and readability/functionality correct, and you have a website that can help you accomplish your organization’s goals now, and in the future.
You have probably heard many sources online, including Hat Trick Associates, talk about the future of the Internet and how vital web content has become to the search engines and your SEO efforts of your website. Ideally, you want new content on your site every single time the Google crawler or one of the other large engines index your website. So a common question we hear from clients is, what is more effective for growing my website and doing more business in the future: Using my online marketing budget on advertising, or using those same resources to create more fresh content?
The answer may surprise you! Here are more vital web content-related statistics:
- More than 8 out of 10 Internet users look on search engines first to find information on the products or services they want to buy
- Up to 86% of searchers will ignore paid listings, or other advertising they know has been purchased as opposed to organic results
- On the flip side, 64% of the top natural (organic) listings will get click thrus
The reasons are fairly simple – people typically want to feel as if they have “discovered” the solution to their problem – the product, service or brand that they need – on their own. Which is why natural search results convert 35% higher than Pay Per Click campaigns! That’s a significant difference.
That doesn’t mean that web advertising should have no place in your marketing mix. But how many folks spend thousands upon thousands of their marketing dollars on Pay Per Click or Pay Per Impression campaigns, and then spend very little, or even nothing whatsoever, on their ongoing content? The answer is: many more than who actually should! And that is certainly a business mistake.
Email newsletters and other marketing is quite cost-effective, timely and very flexible. But these benefits will do you no good if you don’t have anyone to communicate with in the first place!
How can you grow your email list(s)?
The first step of course is utilizing all the addresses you already have. This means the friends, colleagues and other business associates who reside in your email contact list(s). You should also go through that pile of business cards you’ve been collecting since 1996* in your top drawer.
Next, ask all of your contacts on social media sites to join your list as well. Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn accounts, etc. Offer them something of value if they join your list. A special discount or other giveaway could work well.
Lastly, continue to build from there. Make it a point to ask for email addresses from new customers, members, clients, participants or donors. If you provide price quotes as part of your business, add these folks as well. Periodically re-contact your social network, since most people continually add new folks to their networks.
And for those with a large customer base already, create ways to add the email information for all the people you do business with. An “Enter to Win a Cool Prize” contest, with an email address needed “to notify the winner” could work well.
Just remember, your database of email contacts is one of your most valuable resources – don’t abuse it! Provide interesting content, thoughtful commentary, and value… like special discounts, coupons or exclusive information, and you shouldn’t have any problems.
*Don’t actually include email addresses from 1996! (if they even still function, that is…) There is no “law” written in granite regarding your old contacts and using their email addresses. But one rule of thumb is: if you’ve done business or spoken with the contact within the last 2 years, they’re fair game for your new list. But every business, and list, is different!