This is a guest article contributed by Jennifer Bailey*.
If you’re running an online business, you’re not alone. Millions of other online entrepreneurs are out there trying to earn livings. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to get educated about search engine optimization(SEO) and social media. You also need to know how to design your site to be as conversion-friendly as possible. If terms like “SEO” and “conversion rate” throw you off, take heart: It’s easy to get on track. You could also enlist the help of a digital agency, such as Ingenium.
Keep it Simple
Drawing visitors to your site is just the first step in the online sales process. After all, they can just as easily click themselves away from your website. That’s a lot less likely to happen when your site has a clean, stylish design. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, you shouldn’t ask too much of your visitors. If they have to jump through a bunch of hoops just to get to the shopping cart, you are doing it wrong. The simpler and less cluttered your site is, the more likely someone is to stay and explore; the easier you make that visit, the more likely they are to become customers.
Entice Visitors to Click
The language that you use in your site’s copy has a profound effect on how visitors react. Within seconds of landing on your page, visitors need to be enticed into clicking their mouse buttons. Those clicks represent legitimate interest that can be used to gauge the success or failure of your site’s design. You can encourage clicks by using terms like “sign up now,” “learn more here” and “send a comment.” Those words are action-oriented and will spur visitors to click the associated link; from there, it’s much easier to turn them into customers.
There are many other ways to improve conversions on your site. Play around with its color scheme to see how color affects its conversion rate – you’re sure to be surprised by what you discover. Heat mapscan also give you a feel for how various design changes affect the way in which people interact with your site.
Include Calls to Action
Calls to action are absolutely crucial when it comes to generating online sales. Visitors want to be told what to do – they don’t want to be left in the dark. If your site leaves them scratching their heads, they won’t understand the point. In that case, they will leave without buying anything. Once again, the terminology that you use will have a strong impact on prompting action. Phrases like “buy now” and “add to cart” provide clear instructions. You need to pique a visitor’s interest and get them to close the deal as quickly as possible.
The content on your site should always be rounded out by clear calls to action. After explaining a product or service, include something like “click here to place your order now” or “learn more about this service here.” Links within the calls to action will lead people to the next step in the process, which should be simple and streamlined.
Good SEO relies heavily on relevance. The search engines aren’t going to rank your site too well if it doesn’t use relevant keywords. If the backlinks that connect to your site aren’t relevant, your ranking will suffer, too. At all times, keep the importance of staying relevant in the back of your head. Just because another site is willing to link to yours doesn’t mean that you should take the bait. Every little decision matters, so use common sense. You want to attract people who are looking for what you sell, after all – there’s no use in tricking anyone. Reading websites like SEOMoz, SEOBook or SEOMoves will make it easier to see how your campaign is faring; for a reasonable annual fee, you can log in to its simple interface to keep track of your site’s statistics and other data.
Keywords are at the heart of any successful SEO campaign. Once you’ve selected a great batch of keywords and key phrases, make sure to use them properly. Don’t stuff your content too full of keywords, because that will get you in trouble with the major search engines. Instead, use your keywords as naturally and relevantly as you can throughout the content on your site. Don’t forget to use keywords and key phrases in your anchor text, which is the text that makes up a hyperlink. Sprinkle keywords into titles and headers, too, to keep your site well organized and easy to scan.
As you become more adept at SEO, you will be able to use it to improve your site’s conversion rate, too. For example, you can play around with a variety of different widgets to attract a more targeted audience. Title tags are also important; like so many aspects of SEO, however, that importance is changing. Instead of stuffing them full of keywords, for instance, more people are using them to bolster their branding to great effect.
Make it Easy to Connect
Social media has dramatically transformed the process of marketing online. If you’re not already plugged into popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, it’s time you got on board. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is to connect with prospective customers; such sites also make it easy to keep existing customers happy. It’s simple enough to add social media buttons to your website; similarly, you should link back to your site from all of your social media profiles. Like anything else, you can easily keep track of how successful or unsuccessful your various social media buttons are, which will help you optimize your site even more effectively.
There’s no question about it: Running a successful online business takes a whole lot of work. By being familiar with basic concepts like conversion rates, calls to action and social media, though, you can increase your odds of achieving phenomenal success by a considerable degree. A small amount of extra effort can really pay off, and it is smart to pay attention to emerging trends. There is no finish line when it comes to running an online business; with top-notch SEO best practices, you can stay ahead of the competition.
*Jennifer Bailey is Social Media Manager for PrivateJetsCharter and realizes the importance of SEO relevance in web design. Photo credit: Bartelomeus