The secret to online success lies in turning website visits into sales.
Naturally some would also argue that there’s an equally great benefit in building an online brand and reputation. Whilst this may be true in the longer term, the bottom line is that sales count, particularly when times are tough. The more a business sells, the more its chances of survival these days. So how can small businesses ensure that their online visitors stay long enough to consider purchasing goods or services? How do they avoid that curse of the modern online age – bounce rates? Well, the obvious answer is to make the website appealing: now you might think it’s perfectly up to the task, but high bounce rates are the clearest indication that the website is not performing as well as it could.
So, what can be done to fix this problem?
Well, if you have the available budget you can always get expert help from a specialised web designer or an SEO consultant. However this is a non-starter for most small enterprises as they don’t have the cash to spare, particularly at the moment. So what’s the alternative? How do you reduce bounce rates and convert visitors into customers? Well, the simple solution is to keep your content fresh and relevant, optimise your website for the search engines, and integrate your website with social media.
Optimise your website.
SEO can be a complicated process, involving both on-page and off-page optimisation. It’s probably, in fairness, a job best left to the experts, but there are simple things you can also do yourself that will ensure that your site more visible to both potential customers and the search engines: simple steps like the following:
Identifying relevant keywords for your business.
Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers: what sort of keywords would you be searching for? Make a list of all the keywords that are relevant to your niche and check them out on Google AdWords. Which are the most frequently searched for and most popular? These will be the most appropriate keywords for your business. Now obviously you may have to tweak them a little, as you don’t want to be competing with the market leaders in your field, but with some imagination you can still optimise around those keywords.
Use your chosen keywords on the website.
When you’ve worked out your keywords, use them on each page of your website in both the page content and the meta-data; that is the title, description and keywords of the page. Search engines use these to determine what the page is about. You should also aim to create links on other pages of your website to the targeted page, using keywords in the link title.
Building external links.
If another website links to yours it gives credence and indicates that your site and content are both relevant and useful. It will also help to improve your website’s rankings on the search engines. However, whilst external link building is crucial to SEO, it’s should also be borne in mind that it isn’t the easiest thing to do as your fortune is to some extent in other people’s hands. Generally it’s better for SME’s to concentrate on those aspects of link building where they have some degree of control: so focus instead on the likes of Facebook, Google+, Twitter feeds and your blog, making sure to link to your website from all of these channels.
Content: keep it fresh and relevant.
Your aim as a business is to attract visitors to your site and then to keep them there. So obviously you need to make your website worth visiting. If you still have difficulties deciding what is fresh and relevant, then have a look at some of the websites you enjoy visiting. What do they offer that’s different? What makes their content so appealing? You should then identify the content on your website that you consider to be the most useful and concentrate your efforts on this, and then integrate this fresh and relevant information into your blog, Twitter stream and Facebook profile and any other feeds, so that it will automatically update your website when you post content elsewhere.
Post unique and informative content in articles and videos. These will demonstrate that you are at the forefront of your industry and are a voice to be listened to. You should also make it easy for users to comment on the content you’ve published: in that way you’ll be in a better position to engage with them and build relationships. If you provide the information the users want it will drive more traffic to your website and ultimately result in reduced bounce rates and, touch wood, more sales.
Social media integration.
If you truly want to engage with your customers, then your content needs to be shared through social media channels. It’s an important message because the more your content is shared via social media; the better your website is likely to perform in the search engines. This will hopefully ensure that your website receives a greater the number of referrals. Social media interaction can help to build lasting relationships which ultimately will turn visitors into customers and ultimately brand ambassadors. So it’s important to make it as easy as possible for visitors to read and share your content with others. That’s why SME’s should include social media toolbars on their homepages so the visitors can find all of your profiles, and also add sharing buttons to content on your website which will encourage people to use them.