Everyone who has a business website wants to dominate the Google rankings and get to number one, at least above the fold during search returns. Fantastic! They buy Adwords to drive traffic fast for a few bucks (sometimes more than a few) and get the analytics humming.
Problem: Then people come to a weak homepage and bounce off in a few seconds. No conversions, no money, you lose.
Small Business SEO is great to talk about, but not as easy to do to generate the results you want, and that either means inbound inquiries that you can now develop (think consulting here) or buyers that deliver cash in exchange for what you’re selling. We call those conversions.
Why so hard?
WorldWideWebSize.com estimates that Google alone has more than 50 billion with a B websites indexed worldwide, and that’s a hyper-conservative estimate. There are more than 350 billion registered domains as of mid-2011, and the number is increasing. Can you say competition?
Want the Internet to work for your business? First develop a quality site that converts, then push your targeted traffic to it. Make your site a destination worth going to. Here are 8 ways to get your homepage popping and converting.
A Thing of Beauty
Use graphics that are clear, relevant, and colorful as well as video to capture the reader’s attention and keep him there. Make sure your imagery is appropriate to your business and that videos have an attractive play button and graphic or thumbnail to click upon. Be careful here with Youtube hosted videos that provide you only 3 options for your thumbnail chosen from video stills. They may be less than flattering.
Many of the themes that you can get for WordPress sites, very inexpensively, have attractive homepage features like sliders or a spot for rotating testimonials. They draw the eye for your main site features.
Better Writing = More Read
Make sure that your copy pops with enthusiasm, attention grabbing facts, and flows well with conversational, 10th grade level grammar. Reread your copy and have a colleague do the same. Don’t overdo it with useless fill words, but do work to begin a conversation with readers as if you were speaking in person with them.
Your menu system at the top or sidebar of the page needs to be direct and understandable. I have experimented with clever ways to say things like “services” and in the final analysis, people are used to seeing that term and will click on it to see what you offer if it already isn’t clear on the homepage. Disguising it as something else nets you curiosity clicks but little conversions.
Become a Meaningful Specific
Don’t be everything to everybody. Be certain your copy talks specifically to your business value proposition and what outcomes you bring to your customers. It’s easy to overload your site with fringe products and services that you don’t specialize in but will do upon request. Leave these for the request, as they serve to confuse readers as to what you are really good at.
On-Page Keyword Analysis
Now comes the SEO. Research your keywords using any of the keyword tools (like Google’s) online for popularity and competition, both in pay-per-click (PPC) ads and in organic pages that get pulled up on a search. Search on your keywords and see what similar words come up. Look for phrases that have low competition in the Adwords universe but are searched frequently, and then test them with a Google search with “quotes” around the entire term. If you’re return is less than a few hundred thousand, you may have found a great, business appropriate phrase to use in your copy and metatags for the page.
Keeping It Fresh
Search engines love fresh content that is continually changing. On you homepage this can be easily done and even automated. Many sites will rotate in random spotlight products that change every day or even every screen refresh. If you blog frequently, you can feed your latest 3-5 blog posts to the homepage to keep fresh content. However, if you’ve only written one blog in the past 6 months, this ain’t your strategy.
You can flatter your business all you want, but customers don’t care because it is you who is saying it. You’re biased and have an obvious conflict of interest. Get customer testimonials (real ones) on your homepage that tell your story in their words. Learn how to get great testimonials by visiting this post, written for LinkedIn references, and scroll to the middle of the article.
If you have certifications and accreditations, from the Better Business Bureau to your local Chamber of Commerce to industry specific awards, show them in your sidebars or footers so people reading the site can rest easy with your legitimacy.
Call to Action
Don’t assume your visitors know what to do-tell them! If they are supposed to give you a call, make it obvious and easy that this is the best way you can help them. Place an order? Funnel them to it. Want them to phone in an inquiry? Make sure your business number is obvious in your page design.
Avoid giving them too many options on your homepage (or landing page). Homepages tend to be portals to steer people to other areas of the site where you really want them to go for conversion, so they are expected to have a few options (watch this video, sign up for the email newsletter, get your coupon here) but keep it manageable, as in single digits.
The key to this on-page SEO and conversion strategy is to write and create content with your visitors in mind first, but never forget that search engines all need to be satisfied as well to rank you higher. By being straightforward and telling your story in a clean, compelling way, your bounce rate will go down dramatically, visitors will surf your site, and you’ll get more conversions.