|By Ardath Albee||
|September 7, 2009 09:30 AM EDT||
Many of the buyers who visit your company’s website probably originate from a click generated by a search result. Most marketers have done a great job managing from the home page inward. But, how many marketers spend time optimizing from the back of a website to the front? Consider that an interior page can often be the first introduction many of your buyers have to your company.
Are you certain of the impression you’re making? Could it be stronger?
Stop now and go to a search engine and type in your company name, product, or a keyword and take a look at the search results. Notice anything?
Most likely, only one of the links takes people to the home page of your website. All the other results invite buyers and visitors to enter your world through a back door.
Click on some of the search results links, wipe your mind blank [I know, it's a challenge], and ask yourself, “if you arrived on that page by chance, what kind of initial impression would the website make with you?
Can you pick up your company's story in mid-stride? Do you understand where you are in the scheme of things and, is there a clear path to either take a few steps back to catch up or easily move forward on your exploration of the topic?
Your content should be connected so that you aren’t jarring your buyers from their focus. If they have to all of a sudden stop and think about what’s next, it’s likely they’ll become distracted and hit the back button to return to the search results that they are praying will deliver a link that immediately answers their needs.
The big question is—how engaging is your website when entered from the back door? If your experience leaves something to be desired or you have to click more than once to find related, relevant content, then you should re-think your website content strategy.
Below is an evaluation audit process for assessing the strength of back door entry for your buyers:
Start with the search results.
- Are the pages that returned for your website relevant to the search term entered?
- How well do your page descriptions entice people to click through? Can they be improved? What are you promising?
- Can you make better choices for keyword/phrase optimization? Does the content deliver on the promise it made by returning on the keyword or phrase the buyer used in their search? Stuffing your content with keywords for the sole purpose of driving search results ranking without thinking about how that content answers buyers' needs will do you more harm than good. Remember that you only get one chance to make a great first impression.
- Take a look at your website's referral statistics and learn how buyers are finding your website. Evaluate origination sources and then prioritize your optimization efforts to attract more from the best ones. This may require rewording your content for to increase relevance for a specific audience, but the results will be worth the effort.
Next, look at the pages the search returns link to:
- When were these pages last updated? Will the information still be considered current and of high interest?
- How does each page invite people into your company's story?
- Assess the options for your buyer. Where can they go next? Where might they rather go?
- Are there clear choices related to the subject matter or topic that motivated the buyer to visit your website in the first place?
- Can you improve buyer response by freshening the content? Do you need to add links that extend the story they've stepped into the middle of to gain a longer duration of attention?
- Is it obvious how they can interact with you?
Back door optimization takes some effort. Don’t try to do it all at once. Start with your most highly visited pages and work your way down the list.
Many people will visit your website or learn of your company for the first time because of a search result that directs them to an internal page. That's the beauty of search. For savvy folks who've figured out how to reduce the shoveling they have to do to get the information they want, it’s become the preferred process for conducting initial research. It’s also a huge opportunity for you to engage them. Lose that buyer now, and you may lose them forever.
Take a look at your bounce rates for specific pages. Are they higher than they should be? Since the objective is to pull your website visitors farther into your world with each click, high bounce rates on key pages are indicative that change is in order. You not only want them to stay, you want them to invest time in learning more about how you can help them solve their problems.
Depending on the topic or search, they'll want proof that validates the assertions your content makes. In a complex B2B purchase situation, they’ll also want more information about the subject that motivated their visit. And, if the content is all about your company and not about their problems, the impression you make will not be engaging.
Marketers spend a lot of time and effort making sure the company’s homepage looks great. The advances in search technology means that every page needs to pass the context test. Making sure each web page is engaging is a given. But make sure you consider what impact each page will have if it’s the first stop for your buyers who arrive through a search result link.
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