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August 1, 2011

Conversion SEO: 4 Tips to Get Your Cash Register Kachinging

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This is a submission to the Small Biz Local Discovery Contest and part of our commitment to serve the small business community with quality Internet marketing resources. This article answers the question: “How would you advise a small business owner on how best to use SEO, PPC or Social Media to drive conversions to a local business?”

Vote for your favorite contest entry from August 1-10.

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You’ve done the work and you’ve done it well, and now your site proudly sits at the top of Google for all your keywords. Yet your click-thru rate is low and your bounce rate high. What went wrong?

Could it be that you were more focused on rank than you were on customers?

This is not uncommon. Too often we blind ourselves into thinking that all we need to do is get to that #1 spot and everything else will take care of itself.

Well, I hate to disappoint you, but if you build a website without special attention to converting visitors into customers, you might as well stand by and watch your online business wither and die in the scorching heat of competition that exists just a click away.

So what can you do? How do you parlay your golden SEO into real gold?

Here are 4 easy tips that are sure to get your cash register kachinging.

1. Craft a compelling title meta tag “calling card” with an offer or value proposition.

First, get customers to “walk in the door” with dynamite title and description meta tags that invite clicks. (Metatags in case you don’t know are what show in Google when you do a search.)

If you’ve done your SEO well, you already know that Google rewards you handsomely for keyword-rich title tags. So keep them rich, but keyword-rich doesn’t necessarily mean they are inviting or even  compelling. They just might be ho hum, or worse, repulsive. How do yours stack up?

Let’s see. Take a moment now to perform a search in Google on your keywords.

Look over the title tags on the ten listings on that first page.

Are there any there that draw you in? Any that turn you away? Does yours stand out or does it blend into oblivion? While it’s true that number one position gets most of the clicks by virtue of its location, a well-crafted title tag could pull some attention its way. Hopefully that’s you doing the pulling.

Take a look of what I found for “santa cruz chiropractor.”

local results for monterey chiropractor

In that list, are there any that are particularly inviting? If I were to choose, I’d pick that number 1 listing whether or not it was number 1. Why? Because it had an inviting value proposition:

“Chiropractor Monterey New Patient Special Free Consultation”

How can I turn that down? And notice the two most important keywords at the beginning of the title “Chiropractor Monterey,” placed exactly where Google wants to see them when deciding who to put #1.

So when crafting your title tag begin with your main keywords and your city, and then include an offer or value proposition. But first run a query on your keywords. Review the competition and make yours stand out in the crowd.

2. Use your description as your elevator pitch.

Now look at the description. Here’s where the business owner gets a 2nd chance to get a click.

“Chiropractor Monterey offers Free Chiropractic consultation for Monterey, CA residents and surrounding areas of Carmel, Pebble Beach, Monterey County.”

I have to say I’m not happy that they felt the need to repeat the keywords there. It sounds like “Monterey Chiropractor” is the name of their business, and it’s not. This does not help them to rank at all as Google does not use the description for ranking, and, worse, it makes them sound a little less personal and spammy in contrast to the next one which reads:

“At Brunke Chiropractic, our focus is the health and healing of the total body. Our commitment is to delivering gentle, natural treatments to alleviate the…”

That to me is much more inviting.

It’s hard to say whether or not it will trump the great title of the first one, but it could.

So what can you do with your meta description tag to invite clicks?

I like to say that your description is akin to your elevator speech. Instead of 15 seconds, you have about 160 characters to convince people they need you. Spend some time getting this right.

3. Make good on your meta-bait.

After you get them to your site via your compelling meta tags, you now need to deliver on your promise and you only have about 7 seconds to do so. If your visitors don’t see what they came looking for almost immediately, they’ll click away and go back to that second choice listing in Google.

So, for that first place result above, what should their landing page have for them?

Well, what did they promise? In this case, it was a free consultation. And here’s what you’ll see at the very top of the page when you click through.

chiropractor special offer

Did they deliver? They sure did. FREE FREE FREE and NEW PATIENT SPECIAL pop right out.

Your promise or meta-bait might be different, and it may not be an offer at all, but whatever it is, make sure it’s easily seen and jumps out at your visitor. Don’t bury it deep in copy. Put it up at the top where it’s the first thing they see. Highlight it in bold or bright colors. Use graphics to draw attention to it.

And coincidentally, all these tactics you’ll be using to capture the attention of your audience are the very same things Google looks for when it’s looking for  relevancy. So at the same time you’re formatting for your visitors attention, you’re also increasing the likelihood Google will rank you for those keywords.

Your goal here is to get your visitors to stick by giving them what they came for. If they bounce away, Google will take note and if it continues over time, it may begin to think your site is not relevant for those keywords, and then your site will slip in the ranks.

But, more importantly, if you can’t get your visitor to stick you’ll be losing any chance you had of gaining a customer.

4. Reel them in with a strong call to action.

Finally, after they’ve taken the bait and settled in, you need to reel them in. You do this with a strong call to action. You can see in the screenshot above how Montereychiropractor did with a signup form that was placed prominently at the top of the page. “To redeem, fill out the form or call now,” they say.

Your call to action does not always have to be a sign up form. It can be a CALL NOW message, or CLICK TO DOWNLOAD, or ADD to CART, or any number of other things.

Whatever it is you want them to do, though, make it crystal clear, easy to find, and easy to use.

So there you have it. Four easy steps to SEO payoff and to get your cash register kachinging.

And you can take that to the bank. Ka-ching.





10 responses to “Conversion SEO: 4 Tips to Get Your Cash Register Kachinging”

  1. Ev writes:

    Too bad they didn’t also list their phone number on their CALL NOW message. Thanks for the solid, action-oriented advice!

  2. Susan McKay writes:

    Great article Kathy! Excellent definition of metatags. I have a hard time getting that concept across to my clients! Good luck!
    Susan

  3. Kathy Long writes:

    @Ev, you are absolutely right! They missed an opportunity there. Never make your customer think or have to go digging for information, particularly your phone number, and especially when you just told them to “Call now.”

    Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. Sonia Morrison writes:

    Thanks for the practical examples and clearly written action steps, Kathy. Very helpful, as I prepare to launch my first book, The Heart of Caregiving, Harness Healthy Caring for family members. I don’t see your website or contact info in the article above. When and where are you speaking next? Yes yes to Kaching!

  5. Rachel Howe writes:

    @Kathy I just presented a meta-description disaster to a company I just interviewed with that someone used in a blog post pointing this out. Not only was it a bad meta description (it was pulling snippets from the page because they didnt have one) but it was published in a popular blog(bad reputation management). It may not be a ranking factor with Google, but a meta description is a must to avoid these types of disasters and to entice clicks.

    Great article…you got my vote! :)

  6. Kathy Long writes:

    Thanks, Sonia. Glad you found it helpful. And I’m happy I used the examples I did as they are good ones for you.

    You don’t have to wait until they come to your website to show them you care!

    You can reach me at http://www.katandmouse.com or (408) 694-3706.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Kathy Long writes:

    Thanks, Rachel! Glad you enjoyed it. And, of course, we see eye to eye.

    Unfortunately, you can’t always keep Google from pulling snippets from your page, but to hopefully avert disaster you can:

    1) Make a list of the MOST IMPORTANT keywords you want to target for that page. And check your analytics to see which keywords are bringing visitors to your page.

    2) Include the most important of those in your description meta tag so Google first sees them there and pulls the snippet just as you intended.

    3) For other keywords that don’t fit in your description tag or that would ruin the flow or message if you included them, make sure wherever you use them on your page that the context reads well and that there is enough copy around them so that Google will be more likely to pull a full 160 characters from there instead of from somewhere else on your page.

    4) And here’s a great tip on how to control Google even more. I picked this up from Jill Whalen, an SEO I admire.

    There is no restriction on how long your meta description tag can be. It’s just that Google limits how much it shows to around 160 characters.

    So, create multiple, 160 character description snippets, each targeting different keywords, all in the same description tag. Then if someone searches a keyword that is not included in the first 160 chars, Google will look deeper into your description tag until it finds it and then will pull the snippet from there.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    Keep in mind that you don’t have control over where Google will start or end your description this way, but if it’s going to be pulling from your page instead, you don’t have control over that either.

    More importantly, though, every meta description should really describe what that page is about. If Google thinks your description is too far off base or that you’re trying to trick the reader into thinking your page is something it is not, it will always trump your card and show whatever it wants.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! And thanks for your vote, too!

  8. danny writes:

    Great information. I’ve been reasearching ways to drive traffic and this article has given me some great ideas.

  9. Kathy Long writes:

    Hi Danny and others, if you feel inspired and able, please share some ideas of your own that you have for conversion-worthy meta bait.

  10. John Minter writes:

    Great article! Point number 2 stands out to me because so often I see banners across the top of websites that are very minimal and bland. A lot of these companies are great because I have used them before; however, poor headlines etc diminish their image for potential first time customers.



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