Nearly every business has its own web site these days. In recent years, having a web site has become as instrumental to your businesses’ success as a business card and letterhead. The question, however, is this: how effective is your web site in generating new business?
Much of the answer to this question is based on how you show up in search engine rankings when someone searches for the products or services you offer. Every business owner wants his or her business to appear at the top of the list when someone conducts a search. That’s difficult to guarantee without a price tag through services such as Google AdWords for example. But, there are strategies you can employ to improve your search engine rankings at no cost.
Here are a few pointers:
- Write for web site visitors who are scanning first, and reading second. Most web readers scan pages for relevant content rather than reading through paragraphs word by word. Guide the reader by highlighting the salient points in your document using headings, lists, and typographical emphasis.
- Think of your web site visitor as a hummingbird who flitters about in a garden from flower to flower. Most of your guests will stay about 8 seconds before deciding to leave or stay. In those 8 seconds, most readers will read about 20 words, though those words may not be in any order. What are the most important copy elements when thinking about the 8-second visitor? Here they are: page title, heads and subheads, bolded keyword phrases, introductory sentences, and lists.
- Remember “above the scroll.” Above the scroll refers to content at the top of a web page that visitors can see without scrolling down. Be sure to put your summaries and keywords in this part of the page. Readers will scan this content before scrolling down, or going deeper into your site. This is prime real estate in your site so use it well.
- Research the keywords. Do some research to find out what types of words people use in searching for services or products like yours. Tools are available from Google and others that can help. As an example, go to googlekeywordtool.com and click on the top left link for the Google Keyword Tool. The tool provides search statistics with the keywords you entered. This information can help you pick keywords most likely to match what customers are seeking.
- State the facts and avoid exaggeration. I searched a number of business web sites and found the following useless headlines:
“The nation’s leading wildlife control firm”
“The carpet cleaning experts”
“Your winning team”
While these may be adequate branding statements, they do nothing to help search engine rankings. Think about it like this: no one will search for “your winning team.” Rather, a consumer will search for something concrete and specific that meets their immediate.
Lastly, in developing web page copy, assume an objective voice instead of an overly promotional voice. Focus on using keywords that consumers would use in searching for the services you offer.
Mark L. Hendrickson, Bookem Creative