Friday, March 29, 2013

How to Create an Inspiring, Fully-Optimized Website

Last week, we discussed how website optimization, also known as SEO, has evolved with the Internet to  to  help online businesses deal with the byzantine challenge of marketing to a global audience. And yet, as discussed, the reason website optimization remains relevant is because it relies on the timeless marketing strategies. Marketing is  about communication, and from the beginning of commerce the art of attracting customers has remained the same: it’s about what you say and how you say it.

What you say has to do with the actual content of your message,  the specific words, phrases, and design elements you use to express your online business. If you're looking for a few essential tips for creating fully-optimized content, check out last week's post. What you say is often an intellectual exercise--defining the precise words and images that will attract your customer.

In terms of website optimization, attracting visitors to your site is only one part of the equation. You also need to inspire your visitors to return! One-time visitors might be incidental, or accidental; perhaps these visitors were looking for something else. But repeat-visitors probably indicate well-informed visitors—visitors who might become actual customers. So how can you create fully-optimized content that is also attractive? How can you engage your visitor's imagination, inspiring return visits?

How you say it deals with the emotional content of your optimized website, how your words, phrases and design elements inspire your potential customer. When a visitor first views your site, he or she will  experience an emotional response, and this response has as much to do with how you say it as what you say. Consider these crucial questions:

Is your website user-friendly? 

Do the colors and style of your visual elements immediately inspire confidence, or happiness in your customer? 

Is your language enthusiastic, positive, and evocative?

Are the promises you make about customer service sincere? 

Are you conveying your humble desire to show your customer the obvious benefits that your product or program has for their business? 

A well-trained website designer and/or website optimization specialist can achieve some of this work for you, but to truly inspire your customer you, the website owner, need to cultivate a well-honed aesthetic sensibility. To do so, you might browse websites that you find visually appealing. Look at these websites with a keen eye, and try to answer the questions above.

Consider the first question: Is the website user-friendly? Speed and reliability are crucial website features, and you should consider both equal in importance to your products and services. If your website loads quickly, visitors will easily navigate between pages with blasting speed, and there will be no need to visit any other website for the same product or service. Search engines also investigate this type of website performance, and even if your website has been optimized for content, you might be penalized for poor performance.

Once you have a vision for exactly how your product should be presented, you must convey that vision to your website designer and/or website optimization specialist. In turn, you should take care to choose a website designer and website  optimization specialist who have created naturally-optimized websites that you find visually attractive.

If you provide your customer’s imagination with positive impressions the mental image he or she forms of your product or service is bound to be positive as well.  Because of the way the human mind works, your customer is free to create any image of you, so naturally he or she will tend to create one that appeals to and suits him or her. This fact has to do with the power of imagination. So, if you can learn to get your customer’s imagination to wake up and notice you in a positive way, you will have the most powerful ally of all on your side in your effort to work with your customer for mutual benefit.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Website Optimization: A Timeless Marketing Strategy

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might be a new term for you, but webmasters have practiced some form of optimization since the mid-1990s , when, as Wikipedia notes, “the first search engines were cataloging the early Web.” Since then, of course, the Internet has dramatically changed society, escorting all of us into a Brave New World of mind-blowing inventiveness and social transformation. Website optimization has evolved, too, to help online businesses deal with the byzantine challenge of marketing to a global audience. 

And yet, the reason website optimization remains relevant is because it relies on the timeless marketing strategies. Marketing is simply about communication, and from the beginning of commerce the art of attracting customers has remained the same: it’s about what you say and how you say it

Below we will discuss the first part of the basic marketing ethic—what you say—as it applies to website optimization.  Next week we will discuss the second part of this marketing ethic: how you say it. If you have any questions about any of the topics discussed on this blog or any The Organic SEO Blogs, please leave a note in the comment section below!

In terms of website optimization, “what you say” has to do with the specific words, phrases, and design elements you use to express your online business. If you can identify your potential visitors, or if you want to build your website for a specific visitor, you must include in your text specific language and details that will appeal to your audience. Well-written content and the thoughtful use of keywords can dramatically increase your search engine exposure. On the other hand, beginning at your title page, details such as the font, color, and graphics can greatly influence your visitor.

If you want to create stellar, fully-optimized content, read the tips below.

Accessibility is Essential!

You must be sure that your customer understands every sentence and detail that you present on your website. Remember, not everyone in this world understands your product like you do. You are the expert. Your challenge is to convey your expertise in a way that inspires confidence in your website visitors.  When you use jargon words or phrases that may not be familiar to your customer, he or she may lose interest—and just like that, you’ve lost a potential sale! If you truly understand your customer, you can adapt your text and design elements to suit his or her understanding and needs.

If you’re searching for a website optimization specialist, make sure you ask this very important question: "Who will create the content?" A high-quality specialist will hire a professional writer to work with you to make sure that "what you say" is accessible to your customer. On the other hand, a high-quality SEO specialist should be able to create design elements that appeal to the specific aesthetic sensibility of your customer.

Clarity is Crucial!

All SEO specialists understand this basic rule: to create a truly effective website, you must present your business with crystal-clear clarity. The more concise you are the easier it will be for your customer to understand the value of your offering. “What you say” comes from your brain—your intellect—and the job of your brain is to get your basic message across, plain and simple. (Next week we will speak about the emotional content of your message). And remember, do not beat around the bush; state your message quickly! Your website represents your business online. Careful attention to details will make your website attractive to visitors, and your product or service will be viewed with absolute clarity.

Keep it Interesting!

Interesting and informative content will attract potential customers, but a website that has been thoughtfully optimized for text and design elements should not merely attract potential customers—it should maintain the customer’s interest. The point, of course, is to cultivate informed and involved potential customers who will become actual customers. You must do more than merely describe your product! You should teach your customer something new—and possibly include him/her include him or her in the learning process.

In this respect, “what you say” takes into account that usually the customer cannot actually see your product in-person for himself, especially if your product is an idea or concept. A consulting business, for example, falls into this category. In this case, your product is purely theoretical, so it is up to you to engage your customer with text and imagery that he or she is sure to understand. For example, you may focus on the benefits of your service for prior customers—how your company has worked in the past, and with whom. Thoughtful and honest testimonials and reviews can be helpful.

If your product is more tangible with definitive characteristics—nuts and bolts for example—then your explanation should include how it works and how and why this product would be beneficial, useful, and profitable for your customer. If you can accomplish this with clear language and colorful and evocative design elements, your customer will become interested and more likely to buy your product.

In order to help your customer form an appealing picture of your product, include in your text common comparisons that your customer can relate too. The better picture that you build in your customer’s mind, the better chance he or she will have of understanding your product’s use and value, and the better chance you will have for making the sale!

Website optimization will significantly improve your website’s visibility, attracting a great deal of new traffic to your website. Your website will be seen by more people, improving your company’s success and exposure. But remember, "what you say" must be accessible, crystal-clear, and truly informative!

Check back next week when we discuss the emotional content of your message in how you say it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

For SEO, Content is King

SEO might be one of the most misunderstood concepts on the Internet. In fact, most people do not even know that SEO is an abbreviation for "search engine optimization." Even those who do know about SEO, often misunderstand its practice and purpose. A recent joke from Twitter proves the point:

Of course, this tweet is merely a lighthearted attempt to poke fun at SEO, but the implication is clear: SEO is about the manipulation of keywords (often referred to as "keyword stuffing"). Unfortunately, for some SEO professionals, this is true! A search engine’s job is to deliver accurate information, and search engines rigorously investigate the content of all websites. For this reason, a website’s content is crucial. Search engines like Google are hungry for new, exciting, and informative content. You never know what a visitor has in mind when browsing your site. You can only hope that your content, including the text, images, and video, will transform your visitor into a customer.

Natural (or organic) website optimization promotes a holistic view of content. A natural SEO specialist will understand that you cannot create content for search engines alone; you must create content for people too. Natural content benefits visitors and maintains visits to your website. Natural website optimization earned its name because its elegant simplicity makes sense: create “natural” and genuine content and your site will attract visitors.

For this reason, it is crucial that a website's content is relevant to its specific product or service. Certain wayward SEO specialists practice "keyword stuffing," where keywords are excessively loaded into a site’s content. To maximize relevancy, a developer might also apply alternative text to every image on a website with a similar set of keywords. This practice is unethical, and ineffective. A sophisticated search engine, like Google, can easily identify keyword stuffing techniques.

A high-quality SEO professional eschews keyword stuffing in favor of well-written, thoughtful, and relevant content. The best SEO professional will employ a professional writer to create exciting content for your website. If you're thinking about hiring an SEO professional, make sure you ask the following question:

Who will create my content? Remember, for SEO, content is king!