Companies have different goals for what goals their websites should address. Some are looking for a site that will serve as a reference for clients they’re bringing in through referrals and outbound marketing (e.g., postcards and fliers). More companies now are realizing that the traditional yellow pages are dead, and if they’re going to attract new leads through inbound marketing, their websites have to step up their game.
The obvious question, then, is how exactly does one generate leads on the Web? If you build a contact form, will they come? Of course, the competition is intense, and competitor websites are growing ever more sophisticated. An action plan is required to create a site that is compelling to visitors who find you and to search engines who help get them there in the first place.
So, to help understand the strategy behind all of this, here are six fundamentals for winning leads online:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is about employing the right tactics to create high-performing pages, but it requires fresh content to keep the site in shape. Search engines love content; in fact, they feed on it. Moreover, recent changes to Google’s all-important PageRank algorithm put a higher premium on original content.
Here’s how it works. When a homeowner searches for kitchen remodel youngstown, Google looks through all the pages it has found the words kitchen and remodel, especially the ones where those words appear next to each other. It analyzes a number of factors to rank the pages based on where on the page the keywords appear and in what context. Google also heavily weighs the number of relevant links from other sites that link to each page, viewing them as votes for the page. Then it filters the results for pages associated with the place youngstown, which it recognizes as a location-based keyword (more on this in a bit).
In just 0.33 seconds, nearly one million pages are listed, and the homeowner will review perhaps the first three. If they’re not convinced by those results, they may look at up to ten. They will rarely venture on to the second page.
Therefore, your challenge is to create compelling, keyword-rich content that is well constructed to convince Google of your relevance, meanwhile noteworthy enough to persuade a human visitor to share it with others, by linking to it on another website or through social media.
Keyword-rich, well-constructed content + external links = optimal Google PageRank.
Ensure the best webpage performance by reviewing a checklist of the factors Google cares most about. Trust is a big issue. When displaying a search result, Google wants to be certain the pages are really dealing with the keyword, so the more obviously the page is advertising its relevance to that keyword, the more Google feels it can be trusted.
The most transparent placements for keywords are also, therefore, the most powerful for PageRank: URL, domain name, page title, headings, images and body text (roughly in that order). The page’s description, as stored in a META tag in the header, is displayed in search results and also used when a link is shared on Facebook.
The Website Grader tool at http://websitegrader.com/ can run a check on your site and advise on where it needs some fine tuning.
Yellow Pages are dead, but those local listings are not dead, they’ve just moved online. There are two principle tasks that should be done with regard to directory listings:
To claim your Place record, use Google Maps to search for your business listing. Click to open the page displaying the detailed record. Click the “Edit this place” link and follow the instructions to verify your ownership of the listing, then review and update the details, including categories, photos, products & services listings, hours, locations and payment methods.
On your website, it’s important that your business location is displayed in plain text. Some sites post their locations or hours in an image or Flash animation, but those details can’t be read by search engines, and therefore can’t be found by customers looking for local service providers.
A blog is a great way to meet the challenge of fresh content. Publish a new entry at least monthly and, preferably, weekly. Even if it’s only two or three paragraphs long, the effort will pay off over time.
Let your friends and followers know when new posts are added, by sharing a link and a teaser through Facebook and Twitter. If it’s enticing enough, they may help you out by sharing it with their contacts, netting you new eyeballs and potential leads.
Share-able content is helpful or noteworthy and can sometimes come in lists. You’ve probably read posts like “3 Rules of Finding the Right Contractor” or “10 Must-Haves for Kitchen Remodels.” These get shared because the reader is planning or knows someone who is planning home renovation and wants to be the one who helped someone else get their project started on the right foot.
Your website’s quote or contact page should be monitored on an ongoing basis to measure how successful your site is in converting visitors to leads. Try different approaches to encouraging contact through visually appealing graphics or must-have content, like case studies or ebooks. Now create an alternate landing page and test both versions of the page to measure effectiveness. Rinse and repeat for a super-charged lead-generation magnet website! If it’s not being measured, it can’t be improved.
Drive traffic to your landing page through compelling calls to action, inviting site visitors to create a deeper relationship with you through educational content, including videos, newsletters and webinars. Once you have established contact with the lead, maintain an information exchange with them, and when they’re ready to move on their project, you will be the one they trust with the job.
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