The reason why fancy restaurants are expensive is not because of their food.
Sure, they might be prepared by a Michelin chef. And they might use only premium and fresh ingredients imported from some obscure country you can’t pronounce.
If you have only McDonalds or KFC all your life, you will really notice the difference. Instead of queuing for your food, you will be lead right to your seat.
The dishes of the day are already prepared, so you do not have to squint your eyes to read the fine letters on the menu.
Your glass will be filled with wine or sparkling water even before you settle down on the plush seats. The server will show up at your side even before you realise you need something.
What they actually sell is the experience.
It seems the whole restaurant and its entire staff exist only to please you.
And that is what SEO should do for you.
I am sharing what I learned from observing the restaurant industry and how their best practices translate to preparing your website for SEO and ultimately, increase your traffic and boost sales.
Let me ask you a question.
Why are people willing to pay £100-300 for a set menu when they can have McDonald’s for under £5.00?
Again, for the experience.
But whereas those Michelin-rated restaurants sell you the experience, your website should be about results.
And this is what this article is all about.
Writing your Story
Now, how can I make your website be more productive rather than a useless paperweight and boost sales?
Here are just some of my proven successful strategies that I’ve developed over the years.
Every superhero movie has an origin story.
It is what makes the audience connect to them. It drives their motivations and explains their flaws.
In the same vein, your website should also feature your cover story.
Remember that people’s buying decisions are driven by emotion.
You need to tell them what makes your business different and why they should care.
Get them to know your team and other customers.
Most importantly, they need to realise the moment they click through your website that you offer the solution to their nagging problem.
You have a window of a few seconds for them to decide.
You need to make them count.
So, what is your story?
The story could be a tagline or your slogan.
Here is mine:
Helping great companies grow their revenues online
Did you know that:
- 10% of small businesses do not survive their first year?
- About 90% of startups fail.
- Failure is most common for startups during years two through five, with 70% falling into this category.
- Failure because of competition most likely happens when a startup has been active for three to five years.
- And in 10 years, only 3 in 10 businesses are able to sustain their operations?
Since most businesses struggle with just surviving, it is my job to help them maximise the potential of their website.
That is my pitch and my promise.
Now, it is crucial that your cover story or slogan should be short and direct to the point.
Remember, you are applying for a job.
People who go to search engines are looking for a solution to their problem.
And you are not likely the only website they visit. You only have a few seconds to make an impression.
In fact, according to CrazyEgg.com:
Less than 15 seconds is the average time spent on a website. And that’s how long you have to capture someone’s attention on your website.
One of the misconceptions that companies have is thinking that readers will spend a lot of time browsing their website.
In fact, you can count yourself very lucky if the reader will spend 2-3 minutes on your website.
That should give you plenty of time to make your pitch and convince them into taking action.
Add Videos to your Landing Page
This simple trick will immediately increase conversion by as much as 86%.
That’s because we process visual information faster compared to text.
If done correctly, you can relay your message better in a 10-second clip compared to a 1,000-word text.
Aside from promotional videos, customer testimonials are also very effective at convincing others of the value of your product.
But there is a right and wrong method to this. It is not as easy as slapping a full-HD video on your website and then expecting results.
In the hands of an SEO specialist who doesn’t know what he is doing, there are multiple ways this strategy can backfire.
There is a reason why not everyone does it.
You need a web designer and an SEO expert who can give you a unique website that highlights your assets.
The one mistake that companies make is to dumb down their website instead of carving a niche by enhancing the customer experience.
The same goes for your business.
Taking inspiration from the success of others is different from copying their business model.
You see mom-and-pop stores pop up and fold down because they offer the same products that take advantage of the new market trends.
In some developing countries, they call this the “sundry shop mentality.”
What that means is that they see their neighbour build a sundry shop and since it is the only game in town, naturally people flock there to buy goods.
So, they open their own sundry store just a few meters away. As a result, they halve the customer base.
Another jealous neighbour is not about to be left behind and so opens another sundry store, and so on.
Pretty soon, their income will not sustain their continued operations.
Granted, it can be daunting to become a trailblazer.
But the server who will anticipate your needs and go out of their way to please you has already shown you that it works.
We already established that customers will not mind spending money.
Now, it is up to you to make it worth their while.
Say NO to Sliders
Web designers use sliders because it allows them to display items, portfolio, high-quality images above the fold.
Businesses are impressed by them because they are visually appealing and dynamic.
But they are a bad idea and users hate them.
For one, they will cut your screen in half. Unless the users will click on the moving image to bring them to another landing page, their options are limited.
They have no way to go but scroll down.
There is also the problem of how much time you are giving the potential customer to absorb the moving images.
You’ve seen websites with sliders that moved so fast. Now, you have to wait a few seconds for the item you are interested in to display once again so you could click on it.
Some readers take longer to absorb information, and you are pressuring them into doing something outside of their comfort zones.
Also, users do not browse websites like they would read a book. Their eyes do not dart from left to right. Instead, they quickly scan the page to see something that sparks their interest.
The medical term is reflexive saccade.
According to Yoast:
- Only 1% of people actually click on a slider, which almost always was the first slide;
- Sliders confuse people, as you’re sending multiple offers they may or may not be interested in at once;
- People simply ignore your slider, because it triggers banner blindness;
- On that same note, visitors just don’t get the message because they will skip the messages in your slider as they consider it advertisement or promotions;
- They slow down your site, negatively impacting your SEO and conversion rate;
- Sliders don’t always work well on mobile devices;
- They push down your content, which is not smart, as Google already mentioned in 2012;
- It’s most probably as effective to use just one image instead of putting all that effort in slider plugins and images.
Instead of sliders, make sure your website has the following:
- Great content
- Highlighting the solution
- Your core message perched on a prominent position
- Videos or images
- Repeated call-to-actions (CTAs)
In fact, sliders are breaking one important rule of user experience.
Never take control away from users.
Create a Call to Action (CTA)
A call-to-action creates a knee-jerk response from your target audience on your marketing offer.
Imagine if you add the following call-to-actions:
- If you contact now, we will give you a free consultation
- Save 50% on items if you order today
- Get £500 worth of freebies if you buy
- Guaranteed 120% ROI in two months
- Subscribe for one year and get another six-month subscription for free
Unfortunately, not all websites have a CTA.
The potential customer might be impressed by your website. It ticks all the right boxes. You appear to have the solution to their problem.
But you do not say the magic words that push the sale to the finish line.
Close, but no cigar.
And since the CTA works, it makes sense to repeat it.
Paying attention to details is what I’ve adopted in my approach to SEO.
I use a combination of multiple strategies, honed by deep-seated knowledge about what my customers want, as well as my own expertise and expertise in my line of work.
For example, an SEO audit will go a long way to personalising the SEO campaign to fit the needs of the client.
It is a customised approach to get the full picture of your website and determine if it is SEO-friendly.
By that, I mean that your digital address is already optimised so that search engines can crawl and index your website, all the technical applications are sound, and how other sites are linking to yours.
But I will also look at your competition and what they are doing right or wrong. After that, it is a simple matter of nipping and tucking.
I use their strengths as a launchpad to our own SEO campaign and take lessons from their failures to avoid the same pitfalls going forward.
Follow-up Email Sequence
No, your customers are not getting off that easy.
What I do is find a way to capture their email addresses after they click on your transactional CTA.
Luckily, you do not have to force your customers into filling up any forms. The process can be done automatically.
In this way, you can continue to build communication even if and when they move away from your website.
Email marketing remains one of the most effective tools to boost conversion.
In fact, in terms of digital marketing tools, it has one of the highest ROIs as you earn $42 for every dollar you spend on email marketing.
A simple analogy of this entire process is dating.
When they click on the transactional CTA, it is similar to getting their contact details when you are trying to win a girl.
Now, when they give you their number, it signals their interest.
The last thing you do is to stop pursuing them. You are only on stage one. Remember that they have other suitors who would like nothing more than to steal your date.
You need to reach out to them through email to inform them about your specials, your promo offers, new updates about your company, or raffle events.
You can even throw in a gift certificate or two.
For instance, marketers who reach out to their email subscribers two or three times a week have seen their revenues and traffic rise by as much as 10x.
If you think that it would be too laborious for your mom-and-pop store, especially since you only have a few staff, don’t worry.
There are software tools available that can automate the process. Compose your email, set a schedule when it would be sent, and forget about it.
Preferably, you send your offer between 9 and 11 in the morning.
Morning between 9–11 am is definitely the best time to send email according to Campaign Monitor’s research. It looks like there is a peak at 10 am. Campaign Monitor sums it up by saying that 53% of emails are opened during the workday between 9 am – 5 pm.
MailChimp confirms with Campaign Monitor that sending emails later in the morning between 10 am-noon will get you the most opens. It looks like the best time to send email is at 10 am.
So, do not be afraid to email your leads.
Remember, they already bit the hook. Now it is time to reel it in.
Make Your Offer Irresistible
Black Friday Sale. Clearance sale. Everything must go.
Those are some of the budget-busters that get your credit card’s temperature soaring.
But you can’t deny that they work.
You can apply similar techniques to your website to make your offer irresistible. As a result, your customers will have no choice but to contact you.
For instance, using the word “we” rather than “you” creates an instant connection. Now, it is no longer your problem, but ours. We are in this together. You and me against the world.
“Guaranteed result” is another example of an effective trigger phrase.
Now, who does not want to get a return on their investment (ROI)?
If you are buying a weight-loss product, for instance, you would expect to see the results within the promised timeline.
Through your website, you can tell your customers the results that they wanted to get from your product.
The first step is to know what you are selling.
The next step is to anticipate your customers’ needs even before they realise it.
A 2009 study titled “The Time vs. Money Effect” showed that most people are not always motivated by the price.
For some, they are more interested in how much time they can save because of the product.
That is because the majority of your buying decisions are dictated by emotion.
95 per cent of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind
Coca-Cola has long been the subject of rumours about its secret formula. Some call it cocaine but it is probably sugar, which is equally addictive.
Nevertheless, the company still earns billions each year by leveraging on the psychological and emotional attachment of consumers to their product.
It evokes nostalgia, happiness, and comfort as the soda brings you back to simpler times when you were a kid, drinking coke with your parents and pop at the dinner table.
So, what can SEO do for you?
Here’s the thing.
Whenever you write on Google “best steak near me,” the websites that flash on your screen are not some random accident.
Companies spend a fortune to be on top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). And SEO is the get way to get them there.
Let’s look at the numbers.
- 8 in 10 will call the company after getting its details online
- SEO can boost conversion rate by 15%
- 35 (desktop) and 31 (mobile) in 100 users will click on the first website on the SERPs
- About 15% will click on the second website they see
- The third website will get a click-through rate of approximately 10%
It means that the top three websites capture more than 60% of the market while the rest is left fighting over the crumbs.
You only have to look at the SEO budget to see how companies are taking this seriously. As of 2018, for example, the global SEO industry was valued at $80 billion and it is still expanding exponentially.
If the Internet is the battleground, then SEO would be your weapon and armour to boost your chances of victory.
Add Repeated CTA
With your business website, you will deal with different customers with their distinct personalities and quirks.
What do you do with someone who is very demanding to the point of ridiculousness?
How about somebody who had a bad day and provoked you into a fight?
Or what about someone who demands to see the manager because of something you did or did not do?
At the peak of its powers, Kodak was worth more than $31 billion but its failure to read the signs led to its undoing.
What most people probably didn’t know was that Kodak actually invented the first digital camera way back in 1975.
They failed to see how it would change the landscape of photography forever.
In fact, the top brass of the company thought that it was a party trick and did not pursue the idea out of fear about how the market would react.
Of course, the strategy backfired.
They could have jumped on the bandwagon but because they failed to think quickly on their feet, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
The same goes to your website.
If you fail to integrate SEO into your website, you will not unlock its true potential.
Businesses think that having a digital address is enough and customers will suddenly come knocking on their doors.
SEO will not only drive traffic and leads to your website, but good practices will also enhance the customer experience.
It is an excellent and sustainable way to market your website and enhance your brand.
It will help improve your social signals as customers are likely to share your content on their Facebook or Twitter.
More importantly, SEO-proofing your website will skyrocket you past the competition.
But take the lesson from Kodak. Because the company waited too long to implement an idea, it could never get back up.
So, think quickly on your feet. Even as you read this, your competitors right now are already hiring SEO experts to bolster their online marketing campaigns.
When are you going to do it?
Other SEO specialists might have added a CTA to your website. But they fail to take the next step.
Remember the reflexive saccade?
Our eyes dart quickly around the website as we scroll up and down looking for relevant solutions to our problems.
You need to sprinkle those trigger words throughout your website so that the reader will come across them subconsciously as they scan the page.
If they are still hedging when they first see your CTA on top, then it makes sense to convince them some more with a CTA at the bottom of the page.
Boost Your Website Sales Today
You followed the correct steps and now you have a productive website that can translate to revenues.
But you are faced with another problem.
How to reach out to your target customers?
That is where the SEO specialist comes in.
Depending on the restaurant, the server will greet you by the door or wait for you to be seated before asking this question:
What can I get you?
While it may seem routine, it is actually a psychological tool that triggers your subconscious into making a choice.
For the most part, people know what they want. They revert to what is familiar, especially when they visited the restaurant countless times.
But there are tourists and customers who visited the establishment for the first time. Now, the question of “what can I get you?” or its variation “what can I do for you?” takes on a whole new meaning.
Now, the server is really going out of their own way to try to help you make the choice.
They will point to the restaurant’s bestsellers or the day’s specials.
More often than not, customers go by the server’s recommendations, settle their bill, and leave.
But what if you have no idea what you want? The only thing you are certain about is that you do not want McDonald’s today.
With SEO, the choices are endless. And its promise of returns can make your head spin.
For instance, did you know that organic traffic can drive as much as 40% of your revenues?
Or that more than 9 in 10 of customers search online before making a decision?
If you are a small business owner who is already sceptical about SEO in the first place, being forced to pick unfamiliar dishes is not the way to go.
Now, the server drops the punctuation to shift the question into a statement.
As a result, the tone becomes more purposeful.
It is no longer “what can I do for you?” but “here is what I can do for you.”
It means putting customers’ needs first, and not just worry about the tip.
It means anticipating what they want even before they realise it.
Servers instinctively know what the customer wants based on where their eyes look when reading the menu. They simply need a little push or affirmation to make the decision.
Others will read the body language and the overall demeanour of the customer. It takes years of experience to achieve that type of level.
Fortunately, with SEO, we do not have to play a guessing game.
We use a more accurate tool to determine customer behaviour – data analytics.
BONUS TIP: Future-Proofing Your Website
After I successfully optimise your website, I will then move on to off-site SEO. The strategy will differ from business to business.
But essentially, it involves boosting local presence and visibility to spark customer interest. A multi-pronged approach includes inbound links, enhancing social signals, and brand building.
Lastly, I will future-proof your website.
Let me explain.
Google always updates its algorithms. Reportedly, it applies tweaks about 500-600 times a year.
As a result, websites always have to play catch-up so that their traffic numbers and SERP rankings do not plummet to the abyss.
To make sure that your website will not severely be affected by any future update to Google’s algorithms, here are some ways to do it:
- Make sure your content is not time-bound and always relevant
- The navigation should be on point
- The webpages should load quickly
- It should be optimised for mobile
- Ensure the inbound and outbound links are working and from/to quality and relevant websites
- Responsive webpage design
- Writing code that can easily be tweaked with minimal effort
- Enhance customer experience
There are other ways, of course, and I will explain to you further how I can optimise your website if you contact me now.
Get a Free Consultation and Take the First Step on Your SEO Journey Now
Now, you might be worried about the cost.
Sure, I would be lying if I said that hiring SEO services will not involve some expenses. For small businesses, they might even think that it is too prohibitive.
But let me ask you something.
Why did you raise the necessary capital to start your business?
The how is not important.
You might have taken out a loan, dipped into your savings, or pooled money from your loved ones.
But you did it without any guarantee of success.
The obvious reason is that you believed in what you are selling or that you know that you have a ready market for your product.
Do you think that failed businesses do not believe in their product more than you?
Of course not.
There are multiple reasons why the business closes shop. But right up there is the failure to adopt marketing innovations.
Being a freelance SEO expert, I know the costs involved in running a small business.
I know the pains of trying to raise money to implement a strategy. I know the fear that comes with the lack of certainty that your plan will yield returns.
Finally, I know the thin line between success and failure.
Sometimes, it just needs a lifeline.
If you are a business struggling with reaching out to your customers and boosting your revenues, this is your lifeline.
Being a freelance SEO specialist, I do not have many overhead costs. It means I can pass on the savings to you without sacrificing the quality of the results I deliver.
Finally, you can expect a personal touch from my services, an experience that may not be fully replicated by a large SEO agency with multiple staff members.
If you are ready to transform your website and make it work for you 24/7, get in touch with me today and let’s get your SEO journey started.
I’m a UK based freelance SEO consultant and digital marketer and I provide results-driven online consulting and digital marketing services to SMEs. Are you ready to grow in 2020? Get in touch today!