The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
Who cares? No seriously. When you pull up your web site, when you get right down to it, who cares? Nothing created in the history of the world was widely loved and accepted by all, except maybe Susan Boyle. Your web site is no exception, and it’s about time you asked yourself, who actually cares about my web site?
Who are your primary web visitors? Ok, now that you know who they are, are they also your customers? What do you want someone to do once they come to your web site? Sometimes the best looking web sites have the worst conversion ratio. So I’m going to ask you again, who cares?
Are you selling a product online? If so are my questions answered before I have them? How do you ship? Are there related products, what is your policy on returns? If you are advertising a physical store online, how hard is it for me to find the map? How much text are you throwing at the user, how many people do you think will actually read your eight paragraph introduction about just how awesome your store is?
The truth is, nobody cares. People are in a hurry nowadays and when they visit your site, they want to laugh, they want to answer a quick question, and they want to move on. How can you make your web site into a product destination? What struggles do your customers deal with every day? Have you ever considered making fun of yourself? Maybe publish a cartoon unique to your business?
The new e-consumer is much more likely to stay on your web site if you give them something of value to stay there for. If you could tell the funniest story about your business, what would it be? Could it be told via a Sunday Comics style cartoon? Where could you put this on your site? Would it be funny to the average consumer?
Start from the perspective that nobody cares, and start serving individual groups of people. Target the groups you’re going to want to take actions. If you could attract a group of people to your site, would they tell others about it? Why would they? What do you need to give them or share with them or offer them on your web site that’ll cause people to spread the word? The answer is probably a lot easier than you think.
So stop creating content from the perspective of yourself, start creating content for the person that doesn’t care. Who are they? How can you make them care? How can you make your web site stand out? Don’t confuse a hit with a customer, give them a REASON to stay.
The name of my business is “Image Freedom” and as I write this I am the #2 entry for “Image Freedom” on Google, and #1 on Bing for my homepage, #2 for my Blog. Imagine if I didn’t rank for that keyword? For a good long while I didn’t, and I noticed a big uptake in contact since I’ve made the change.
Why? My keyword is “San Antonio SEO” right? People aren’t going to know who I am if they’ve never heard of me!
Wrong. A buying decision isn’t always reached immediately and it is very important that you rank for YOUR OWN NAME because of this. If I visit your site, I may see that I like your site, I like your product, and then I might get distracted, write down the name, remember the name etc.
The key here is that when I sit back down, I may not have saved your bookmark, but I probably remember your name, or close enough to it to search for “image freedom” or “image seo”. Every possibility needs to bring that person to your site.
This is the conundrum. You want to have a very Keyword Heavy name, but if your name is so keyword heavy that your competitors start coming up when someone searches for you that could be bad for business. I get a lot of searches for “image freedom seo” or “matthew egan seo tips” and “matthew egan image freedom” so it is very important that I have accounted for the possibility that I can’t always control how someone will search for me.
I know I know, more to worry about, but the good news is for most companies ranking #1 for your own name is pretty easy. This is all a part of the keyword analysis process, establish ways that people could search for you, and make sure you have a strategy targeting each possibility. You won’t always get #1 for every search term, but sometimes the tiniest bit of effort, a few well placed links with the right text as the clickable link (this is called anchor text) and you’ll start showing up #1 on some of the easier phrases.
So much emphasis is put on that one huge keyword, for me “San Antonio SEO” but if you’d heard of me, seen me speak, met me at an event, and you searched “matthew egan seo” I damn well better come up or that time spent shaking hands will be for nothing!
Would your site by any other name smell as sweet?
Ok, maybe that is over the top. =)
We’ve been talking a lot about Analysis lately. I wanted to put my hypocrite hat on for a little bit here and talk about the value of Instinct in Analysis. When you sit down with your data and you you’re assigning values to various realities of your project, the cause effect analysis often leaves you with gaps, with area’s you’ll have to make an educated guess with, and that marketers instinct comes out.
What makes Lady Gaga popular? Why do we still love Britney Spears after she went crazy and cut off all her hair? Why will we all eventually forgive Tiger Woods and start slapping our logo all over him again? Because the instinct is there, the faith is there that even though they slip, their instincts will lead them back towards success.
There is absolutely nothing special about Lady Gaga. If anything, she is the biggest marketing success of the last ten years. I’ve always wondered how much of the “gaga image” is actually her, how much of Stefani Germanotta shows through at the end of the recording? There are stylists, producers, publicists, media analysts, an entire army of professionals with psychology degrees able to say “this is what will get the reaction we’re looking for.”
They have the instinct, and they pair their instinct with analysis to find that exact right way to be obscene, the specific events they should attend, or NOT attend. Which bloggers to flirt with, and where to go from there.
Watch the video. This is vintage Gaga, Stefani Germanotta. Someone said to the poor girl, “you’re not a purple cow darling, sorry” and she was re-imagined as this new person. A producer named Fusari came up with her stage name from the queen song “Radio Ga Ga” and only because of a text message autocorrect error was “Lady GaGa” sent to her phone instead.
There was instinct. That instinct made it work, that instinct was true. That instinct has sold millions of records.
So if Lady Gaga was created practically by accident, and truly the efforts of numerous experts and analysts, at the end of the day someone had to take that data and formulate a plan. What does Lady Gaga have to do with your own analysis vs. instinct? That is up to you.
Have your instincts been true? Have you let failure cast doubts upon your instincts? I know very well educated people who have the instincts of a blind mole rat. I also know people who barely finished High School who can craft thought into form and those are the people I’m going to put my money on. Which are you?
Analysis is important. Running on instinct alone is foolish, but at the end of the day, the ability to take that data, take those sales figures, those audience reports, that keyword metric, and say “based on this information, I believe this is our next step.”
What is your next step? Are you going to be a Stefani Germanotta or a Lady Gaga?
Do you trust your instincts?
There has been a lot of talk lately about the landing page. I want to preface this article with a little bit of my own mission statement. As a blogger, and as an optimizer I have a lot of friends and social media contacts that are interested in SEO but don’t really know where to start. My goal for 2010 as I’ve covered before, is to make the basic SEO techniques readily understandable and accessible to everyone. So if you’ve got a great understanding of SEO, my blog is probably not for you, but if your head is already cocked in that HUH!? angle, keep reading.
I have a web site. Most businesses do. A lot of what I see, as maybe an internet snob but more accurately as a web developer, is that web sites are created BEFORE an Audience Analysis has been done. Take a moment to think about who might visit your site? What are they looking for? Have you asked your customers why they visited your site, what they hoped to take away from reading your pages?
How easy is it to get directions to you if you have a physical location? How obvious is it what you do, or what your site is about? Do you give someone an actionable step they can take to contact you, or purchase a product, or request a consultation?
If you have a web site that is mostly just text on a page, that is ok, but what takes web site VISITORS and turns them into converted web site CUSTOMERS is a well planned out landing page. When I arrive on this page, what is it you want me to do?
If you log onto the new Image Freedom Web Site you will see that I have moved away from the “hit you with text” approach to a homepage. There are a lot of different theories about your homepage, but I subscribe to the idea that when I visit a site, I want quick and easy answers, and I want access to a next step. Is that next step a contact form, a video, a phone number? Whatever that is, it needs to be easy and obvious.
So using my own site as an example, you’ll see that I included a welcome letter, first of all. This is something I decided to do after attending the Business Building Boot Camp hosted by @AliciaSanera. This welcome letter focuses on building a relationship between the new visitor, and myself. I stopped trying to sound like the smartest guy on the planet, I stopped trying to hit the new user with a ton of information, and instead I sent the message “Hi, my name is Matthew, and I’ll tell it to you straight”.
So my landing process, comes from a place of invitation and welcome. Now that the reader has seen they’re dealing with me, a real person, someone who will be invested in their success, they’re more likely to go to the right and contact me for a consultation. Very soon we’ll also be adding some SEO for Newbies videos to that page and those videos will also end with a request for action, “click here to contact us” “click here to learn more about X” and what have you.
So think about, as you’re working with your web developer, or you’re building a web site yourself, what is it you want your visitors to DO once they arrive at your site? A little bit of planning goes a long way here, and helps us move away from the “OMG WALL OF TEXT” mentality of web development.
One message, one invitation, one call for action. That is the recipe for success.