On line business news & marketing tips.

Does your current website really mean business? (Or why good SEO alone won’t save you).

Good SEO can  ring custoemrs to your site, but it can't sell your products or services.

Is your web site open for business?

Good SEO can bring customers to your site, but it can’t sell your products or services – that’s why it’s only part of the solution.

I’m  professional SEO copywriter – but I am also honest enough  to tell you that no matter how well  your Search Engine Optimisation is targeted, it won’t make up for  having a dull, uninformative, confusing or badly written site.

What  good SEO can do is make it easier for prospects to find your site by associating it with content key words or phrases that earn a  ranking on the first page of search results  - very important, since most prospects don’t get beyond the first page of results.

What good SEO can’t do is actually sell your product, company or services to  the person who lands on your site  as the result  of a search. Only the quality of your web site can do that.

The “two-second test”. Pass it or else.

Here’s a scary thought. The average site visitor who clicks onto your site for the first time decides in less than two seconds whether to investigate it further or click onto the next site on the search engine results list.

So how can you make sure your site has the best chance of passing the two second test? It’s all about grabbing the visitor’s attention very fast, making sure your reason to exist or brand difference is instantly communicated, and having a site that looks user friendly at first glance because it gives the impression of being information-rich and easy to navigate.

You can prove that to yourself if you have signed up for Google AdWords analytics, or if your site is hosted by one of the more sophisticated hosting companies that provide visitor stats. These statistics should tell you not only how many visitors are clicking on your site, but also how long they are staying there and how many pages of your site they are actually reading.

If they are just staying for a few seconds and moving on, it proves conclusively that your SEO or AdWords search words may be working, but your website is not.

Good content  vs. Visitor discontent

Content is the stuff that fills up the pages of your website. Words, jpegs, tables, videos, etc. The challenge is to make it work hard for you instead of just acting as filling.

Prospects go on line  for information that will empower them so that they are in control of the  buying decision. And they stay on your site for one reason only: to read the content in the expectation that it will be informative, accurate, easy to understand and useful in helping them to make a better product or service buying decision.

Good content is always lively, interesting and informative and   relevant to your prospective visitor. Every single visitor on your site is there for a purpose and it is up to you to supply the information your visitors want and need.

Good content is honest and sincere. Some people believe that gimmicks and formulas are all you need to succeed in selling on line – but like the free steak knives in those late night TV commercials, they may fool a few people, but not for long.

Good content should be fresh and original. If your content looks and read just like everybody else’s, or you sound just like your biggest competitors, there is no real reason to explore your site. Many novices believe that it is a good idea to cut and paste content from competitor’s sites, but all this does is give you “me too” content that Google may even penalise you for in searches.

Is your web site costing you business?

After content quality, ‘usability’, meaning  the ease with which visitors can navigate your site to find the information they are looking for,  is the make or break of a successful site visit.

In a perfect world, every visitor to your site would say afterwards “Gee, what a fantastic site. I found it so quick and easy to get to the information I wanted”. But in the real world, this is not always easy to achieve.

Boring, badly written content, slow loading pages, clunky navigation that takes too long to get you where you want to go, annoying pop ups that slow you down and broken links that don’t go anywhere  are all cues to click back to the search page and move on to the next site.

If you are an independent on line business owner like me, you probably receive one or two emails a week from SEO consultants offering to  transform your business by improving your SEO. But what’s the point of doing that and spending money on AdWords if your site is not converting  visits into sales?

Could you use a website health check?

Business is getting tougher and  the web is a lot more competitive than it used to be. So if your site is being clobbered by new competitors or simply not performing as well as it did in the past,  it could be worth fine tuning your web site presence in pursuit of more sales and new customers. The key question is  what are your main competitors doing that you are not, and what can you learn from them?

Here are the six things I would be looking at if I were rating your site against those of your major competitors:

1. Does  your site project a clear and distinctive brand identity – a strong  reason for prospects to approach you rather than a competitor? Is this clearly projected in your site banner (at the top of every page) and on your home page?

2. Does your site offer a fresh and original solution? Is your content concise, clear, relevant and persuasive? Or do you just sound like everyone else? Does your  site look interesting inviting and different?

3.How good is the user experience provided by your site? How easy or frustrating is it for  visitors to  find their way to the information they are looking for?

4.Are there any quick fixes that could boost your site’s performance or search result ratings? A stronger message on the home page? A demonstration video? An FAQ page?

5.Are there faults in your web pages that Google will penalise you for in search results? Long. boring and repetitive copy, for example. Or content that has not been updated or refreshed for years?  Or too much cut and pasted form other sites? (Believe it or not, Google can
tell ).

6.Finally, how up to date is your SEO? Have you kept pace with fast changing Google algorithm requirements which have changed  a lot of the ground rules for search engine success? Or are you living in the search engine past?

Copyright David Said,  February 2015