There are a number of issues that can impact the effectiveness of your web presence as a lead generator for your business. I have a little mantra that I apply to websites: Capture - Convince - Convert:
- Capture: Bring traffic to your site from search engines, social media and ad campaigns
- Convince: Encourage the visitor to stay on your site with quality content
- Convert: Provide some kind of Call-To-Action that the visitor takes so that you have at least a name and and email so you can begin building a relationship.
As you know, Google continues to be the top way to search for information, with over 70% market share. Their search algorithm (Google's highly secret application that translates what you type into the search box into a list of clickable search results) contains over 400 "signals" (says Google) to help determine how your website will rank relative to your competitors for a particular search term.
Over the last year Google has been under pressure on several different fronts, the two most notable being:
- Search Results. Users were complaining that there were a lot of junk sites showing up in search results - poorly written articles, texts that were so packed with keywords so has to make them "reader-unfriendly". As Google depends on people using their search engine to be an audience for Adwords, Google had to do something to improve search results.
- Social Media. Last year was the first time people were spending more time on Facebook than on Google properties. As well, Facebook is a "walled garden" i.e. Google can't index and rank Facebook content and is therefore missing out on measuring user behaviour inside the world's largest social media site (900 million users).
Google has responded to these pressures by carrying out a number of adjustments to their algorithm that:
What you can do to optimize your website for capturing traffic:
- devalues certain types of links that point to your website
- places greater weight on recently posted content
- places greater weight on the contextual page content and less on the traditional on-page SEO elements.
- places greater weight on links coming from social media platforms.
- Blogging on your website is important. Regular postings containing keywords relevant to your business will satisfy both the relevancy and current "signals" for search engines in addition to keep past visitors interested and coming back for more. Make sure you categorize and tag each post using your proven keywords.
- Claim your business on Google + Local. Google has merged Google Places (their local search/map service) with Google+ (their social media platform). Cross-linking between Google+ and your website is a good thing.
- Getting links from other social media to your site. Satisfies Google's new emphasis on social media.
Convincing visitors to stay on your website is the next step. They found you, now you want them to stop searching! Make sure you have compelling content that demonstrates you have the answer to their problem and that you have the information or service they are searching for.
Finally, you want to the visitor to take their hand off the mouse and move to the keyboard. This is done by a Call-to-Action (CTA). Where ever possible, the CTA chould be visible "above the fold" i.e. the visitor should not have to scroll down the page.
The visitor is ready to be told what they should do next. Make an offer, such as a downloadble information PDF, that requires that they provide their email address. This satisfies the third step - conversion. By participating in an information exchange, the visitor has become a prospect, and you now have the ability to reach out via their email and move them a bit farther down the sales funnel with a follow-up thank-you you note, a newletter, an offer etc.
By doing these three things - Capture, Convince, Convert - your website is now doing its job.