Saturday, April 16, 2005

Getting Traffic & Making Sales

Getting traffic to your website is one of the most important aspects to a successful web business. But what you do with that traffic is equally important, and should be given just as much consideration as your traffic generation techniques.

SEO Copywriting

When you are optimizing your web pages to rank well in the major search engines, you should also be sure that you are optimizing for the human eye. The Title of your web page, for example, should be compelling and specifically interesting to your target market - as well as the description of your page that is listed in the search engine results.

For example, the main page of my site is currently ranked #6 on Google for "Learn Internet Marketing" and displays as follows:

Learn Internet Marketing Strategies Free at Self-Starters Weekly Tips!
Join one of the fastest growing online communities to learn internet marketing strategies, grow your business, network with seasoned marketers and peers in ...

Another listing on that same page of results reads:

Marketing - Marketing Strategy - Marketing Plan - Marketing ...
Learn about marketing careers, the stages of developing a marketing plan, how to begin marketing research, create a marketing strategy, and how to market ...

I'm not claiming my listing to be perfect, but you can definitely see the difference between these two examples. Stuffing your Title (or any of your ad or page copy for that matter) with keywords does not read well, and won't capture the searchers attention.

Instead of "keyword stuffing", you want to mix a bit of Copywriting in with your SEO and come up with titles, headers and content that makes sense to your visitors - and that will encourage them to continue reading at your site.

(If you dont know the topic, or if you dont write something halfway educated on it, you are going to offend visitors or send them off to look for a more in-depth or up-to-date site)

I'm of the opinion that ALL of your words are just as important as your chosen keywords.

Aaron Wall, author of the SEO Ebook, says: "The key focus of any web page should be on readability". More snippets from this section of his book:

"Use the keywords in headings and subheadings throughout the page - this heading should capture the person's attention and tell them they are in the right place."

"Think of these headings like you would a heading in a newspaper."

"In addition [to the seo benefits] descriptive sub-headings improve the scanability and usability of your website."

Once you get visitors into your web site, you want to let them know right off the bat that they are in the right place - and even a quick scan of your page will assure them that you have what they are looking for. This is done through the use of well-written headings and sub-headings on your pages.

You should also include a strong call-to-action at the end of your content pages. Once your visitor reads your content... what do you want them to do next? Whatever it is, make it obvious and link to it with compelling text that will encourage them to go to the next page (on your site, or off).

A good rule of thumb is to perform a search using your Primary Keyword Phrase (the main phrase you are optimizing any given page for) and then take a good look at the competing results. Is their information better than yours? More in-depth, or presented in better formatting?

Look and learn - if you can spot how their page is better than yours, you know where to begin on improvements to your own page ;)

The best resource that I know of on the topic of SEO Copywriting is Karon Thackston's Step-by-Step Copywriting Course. You'll also want to pick up a copy of her report titled How to Increase Keyword Saturation Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy . If you dont feel like you need both, I would recommend getting the second one (focusing on keyword density) as it teaches some very creative ways to include your keyword phrases within your copy without sounding odd or "keyword stuffed" (aka spammy).

One of the things that I learned when I read Karon's material last year, and admittedly didnt know, was that the search engines dont read punctuation within your copy. This means that you can separate your keyword phrases with periods, bullet lists, even new paragraphs. Here's an example, using the keyword phrase "search engine optimization":

Your goal is to rank well in Google's search engine. Optimization consists of...
  • Learn the techniques to rank well in every major search engine
  • Optimization Tip Sheet included for easy reference

In both instances, or even if you start a new paragraph altogether, the search engines still read the three words together as a complete phrase. This may seem obvious, but it's not something most of us automatically think of when writing our copy and trying to fit the same phrase in several different times.

That's just one of the great tips that Karon shares. In addition to her guides & reports, she also offers a free ezine titled Business Essentials that I highly recommend. She has a terrific writing style which makes it very easy to read & understand... and can turn any site owner into an SEO Copywriter ;)

The goal is to rank well... but also to make sales. Traffic is absolutely useless without good copy and the other elements that it takes to convert visitors into buyers.

Two more great resources for you on this same topic:

Finding niches & creating content for them
This is a new topic at the SSWT Forum, and you are welcome to join in with your own tips & suggestions... and to ask additional questions too if you like.

SEO Website Builder
This piece of software caught my attention earlier in the week, and looks to be a great all-in-one program for those of us that build large content sites or affiliate-based sites. I'm just trying my hand at it on a new site I am developing so I will keep you posted as to how that turns out ;)

If you are new to SEO, or unsure about doing it manually across all of your pages & sites, this would be a perfect match for you. It also takes all of the headaches out of site design - no HTML knowledge or SEO skills are needed to use this program for creating websites.