Let's focus on the search engine factors you have the greatest control over: what's on the page. The goal is not to provide specifics on how to create top-ranked pages in every search engine but rather to outline the general principles of creating pages that rank well and convert search engine traffic into leads, subscriptions, or sales.
You want your pages to rank well, but not without meeting both the visitor's and your business objectives. Take advantage of the elements that make your pages relevant to search engines. They're the same elements that make pages relevant (and persuasive) to prospects.
Begin by finding the right keywords and key phrases.
Bad Keywords Nullify Everything Else
Taking time to understand customers is an integral part of effective marketing. How do your most qualified prospects use words to search? In uncovery, the first stage of persuasion architecture, identify all potential keywords/key phrases archetypical customers might use. Then, plan pages in the wireframing stage to address these keywords. How do your prospects ask questions? What is the intent of their queries? The language they use speaks volumes about them.
If you don't understand how your target audience constructs language patterns in different situations, at different times of the day, or at different times of year, you'll never fully reach your online market. Query language is tremendously important. It can demonstrate a visitor's intent to buy, her stage in the buying cycle, and what question she has on her mind. Every search query or click on a results link is an implicit question from the prospect. Your job is to answer it.
Prioritize each of your keywords using four criteria: traffic potential, prospect's intent, stage in the buying process, and likelihood to convert. This helps determine the value of your keywords.
Keyword selection is not merely a traffic exercise, but a conversion tactic. Keep both in mind at this critical stage.
The most important aspect of keywords is copy. Content (especially fresh content) is king where search engines are concerned. Let's take a step-by-step approach to copywriting for search engine pages that convert traffic.
Invisible Page Elements
Invisible elements are important because conversion starts from the search results page:
Visible Body Text
Great online copywriting seizes and holds prospects' attention by answering their unspoken questions. Answers should be relevant, address their needs and beliefs, and propel them to take the action you want:
Though not a comprehensive list of factors that help your rankings, the above covers most of the on-the-page elements that will help you rank high. Remember: A high-ranking page that converts poorly is less desirable than a lower-ranking page that converts well. If you do forget, you'll join the ranks of search engine optimists.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
March 19, 2014