This is the first article in a series entitled “A Systematic Approach to Bridal Shop Marketing“. In this topic we’ll provide an action plan for effective web site design, optimizing your site for Google, and how to increase your web site search rankings. The latest issues of Vows Magazine has an article on understanding what brides are searching for online. In this post, I’ll add some action steps that you can perform to achieve more search engine traffic.
When companies explore the idea of creating a web site, many simply have a web designer convert their paper-based brochures into a “web site”. The end result is beautiful, but the content is static and void of interactivity. Visitors to these sites typically click around for a few minutes and leave. If the site owner is lucky, they’ll convince the visitor to pick up the phone and call. However, in reality most visitors leave, never to return. These “Brochure-ware” web sites have low visitor loyalty and typically have a low conversion ratio. Why? Because these sites are full of the same old marketing speak and void of any content that engages the visitor.
In this article, we’ll outline an action plan for turning your website into a lead generation machine. If you have a website like the one mentioned above, using the techniques outlined in this article will result in more traffic and more leads.
Before you can begin converting visitors into prospects, you must have visitors. The most effective way to drive traffic to your website is through search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO).
At the core, there are 2 approaches to SEM: paid, and non-paid. Paid SEM involves placing advertisements on search result pages. These ads appear at the top and right hand side of the search result page. With non-paid SEM, your website’s link appears in the actual search results. This is commonly referred to as organic or natural search placement. Paid search will have quicker results with less traffic, but may carry high costs for competitive keywords/key phrases. The organic approach has the potential to drive far more traffic to your site at a much lower cost.
Consider the following heat map for Google’s result page:
Some interesting points here are:
- Organic listings capture 75% of the traffic
- The first page captures 89% of the traffic
- The #1 result captures 42% of the traffic
So you want to be in the “HOT” area of that heat map, huh? Well, first things first. Google must be “taught” about the content of your website before you can achieve a high ranking. To do this, you’ll want to make sure you’ve perform the following steps. These steps should be followed in order.
Step #1: Identify your keywords
Select keywords based on search volume, relevance, and competition. Use Google’s Keyword tool or WordTracker to figure out which keywords your website should be optimizing with. The key to selecting the right keywords is balancing search volume with relevance and competition. One trick I’ve used is to setup an Adwords campaign with as many relevant keywords as I can gather. Each Adwords campaign will show you the actual number of impressions per key phrase. This trick allows you to use actual data to properly select keywords.
Step #2: On-Page SEO
There is a lot that goes into On Page SEO. I’ll touch on some of the most important items and provide some resources at the end for those looking for more detail. Ultimately, the goal of On-Page SEO is placing your keywords where Google looks for them. I recommend that your website does not use a Flash intro as this usually makes it difficult for Google to navigate to your content. Any text on your website should be “readable” by Google (i.e. no images containing text).
Follow these guidelines for on page SEO:
- Page Title – The title of your web page helps search engines understand what your web page is about. The page title appears as the main text of your search result link as well as in the top left corner of the browser window. This should be no more than 60 characters (including spaces) and should include your key phrase. Separate multiple key words/key phrases with a pipe character (“|”). Here is example of a title tag: <title>Bridal Shop in Arizona |Arizona Bridal Shops</title>
- Page Description – This tag provides a description for your web page. Use your key phrases in this section twice. Rumor is that Google doesn’t weigh the description as much as you may think. The goal here is to use word that contains your keywords as well as encourages the reader to click you link. An example of a page description is: <meta content=”Anita’s Bridal was voted the best bridal shop in Arizona in a contest that included all bridal shops in Arizona.” />
- H1, H2, H3 tags – These are the heading tags that emphasize text on your web page. Use 1-3 heading tags per page that contain your keywords. The goal is to break up your text in to sections and include an H1, H2, or H3 as a heading. An example would be: <H1>Arizona Bridal Shop celebrates 25th Anniversary</H1>
- First and last 25 words of the page – Place you keywords in the first (heading) and last (footer) 25 words of your page.
- Bold your keywords – This should happen at least once.
- Italicize or underline your keywords – This should happen at least once.
As mentioned earlier, this is by no means an exhaustive list of On Page SEO techniques, but these steps are a good first step if you haven’t spent time doing this. For those interested in more information on SEO, I recommend the following resources:
Once your website has been optimized for your keywords and key phrases, you can now begin your Off Page SEO. As a general rule of thumb, 75% of your time should be spent working off of your site and 25% on your site. This means you should be working to build links to your site from others once it’s been established and optimized.
Step #3: Off-Page SEO
Many SEO experts agree that Off Page SEO is the single most important step for achieving a high ranking. Google determines your site’s relevance to a search term using a complex voting system known as PageRank. The more websites that link to yours, the higher your website’s PageRank. Links from larger sites like Microsoft.com carry more weight than links from less important sites. Off Page SEO involves getting as many credible sites linking to your site as possible.
Follow these recommendations for Off Page SEO:
- Create and distribute content – Create articles that relate to and include your keywords, then distribute them to the following 3 websites: ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, and buzzle.com. If this is too much work, use a service like isnare.com to distribute your articles to hundreds of directories.
- Create and Distribute Press Releases – Follow the same technique in the above recommendation to distribute press releases. If you aren’t familiar with writing press releases, use a service like elance.com and someone will gladly do it for $50.
- Submit your website to directories – dmoz.org, business.com, aboutus.org, and others that allow for free links.
- Link Exchange – Find others that blog about your favorite topics and ask if they’d place a link on their site to yours.
- Create a blog – Google loves fresh and original content. A blog is also a good way to build trust among your customers. What better want to get inbound links than having someone linking to your original and thought provoking content!
As your website climbs the list for your key phrases, you will begin receiving more traffic. The next 2 posts in this series will center around converting your visitors into prospects and measuring your conversion results.
Follow the links below for the rest of this series:
- Part 1: Your Lead Machine
- Part 2: Conversion Principles
- Part 3: Measuring Conversion
Stay tuned via Email, RSS, or Twitter. You are not going to want to miss this series.