One of the best practices for website conversion also lines up (often) with better rankings on SRP (Search Results Page) – simple language, and good readability scores.
The issue is that once you get someone to your site it needs to be easy to read. There are exceptions, but how often are the buyers (of your product or ideas) really looking to work hard to understand what you have written? Of course Google is no genius either (although many that work there are). It is designed to look at your site as others without sophisticated degrees and high end language skills would look at your site. Of course, I am like many who like to slip into the shorthand of our vernacular and the jargon of each industry. But I do so at my own peril. And increasingly, at my own laziness. MS Word has had analysis of the reading level of your documents for at least a decade. But there are also online tools available as well. They are often for free, that are quick and easy to use.
Understand that the Wall Street Journal writes its content for 11th grade. Most novels are written at the 8th to 10th grade level (remember we had to read them in high school). However, take a look at most websites, they are written for graduate level. How many websites have you seen with humongous long words, utilizing complex sentence structures reminiscent of academic papers that put everyone to sleep (bad example intended)?
Here are a few based on a quick search (until I get back to finding the best in class):
- There are also community based resources, where humans can comment on your writing such as http://www.reviewfuse.com/
- A collection of some the favorites are http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/writing-reader-friendly-check-8-readability-testing-web-tools/
In fact, the readability of a website is important enough that Google will allow you to control what sites you see in the results based on reading level in their advanced search options: http://www.google.com/advanced_search
Improved readability will also improve your site traffic in other ways – happier readers will recommend your site more often. Easy to read writing allows your content to be shared with a wider audience. Those that can understand more complex writing can still understand your simpler text, and those that don’t have 10 years of reading Shakespeare will also be included. It also makes it easier for all to read and digest quickly. Just because a lawyer can read complex writing in statutes does not mean he or she prefers to read tangled prose to learn about your ideas.
So simplify your writing and widen your audience.
If you don’t believe that readability can help your site, do a little test and then let me know the results in the comments section.
A client asked ‘I am ranked well on my keyword search term, but I am not getting many calls for my service – what gives?’
In the years of working with businesses even before the Internet, one of the biggest issue I have found, is that many businesses do not understand their solutions from their customers perspective. They look at their business from the supplier/seller side. They try to sell the best drill, forgetting that customers want to buy holes. They sell the best shoes, forgetting that customers are buying a fun run, or how to win the marathon, or how to get a date. It has been a problem for so many businesses that 95% will never celebrate their 5th birthday So how to translate this wisdom into Internet sales?
Create a more complete keyword list
Understand your ranking well may be in the wrong category. The customer IS searching for the right term, if you are not ranked well in that term it is your issue, not the customer’s. This is another place where the customer is always right. So a few questions and suggestions:
- Make a list of all the different keyword search terms your perspective customers would be searching for you .
- Then take some time, ask some friends and double your list of keyword phrases.
- Now call your best 2 customers, ask them how they would search for your product or service.
- Then feed it into Google’s keyword suggestion tool – https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Now you have a list of keywords phrases. This usually is a much longer list than most businesses start with. This is part of what you hire experts for – to develop this list. The trend is to use longer phrases, as the shorter ones are usually more generic as each year passes. The short ones are more competitive, even if they get more traffic. But start with the longer ones, as they are usually easier to rank higher on, and also often incorporate the shorter phrases.
Now optimize each page of your site for a different phrase.
Are there any geographical indicators in your keyword phrases? If so, then think like your customers and consider that they consider themselves the center of the universe, not you and your business. They are probably searching from their home, not your business as the center. If your business is technically located in Warrenville, then cover the surrounding area. This is especially important if you are located in a suburban area where one town blends into the next town at the end of a strip mall and many customers many not even know where the town lines are. If you are in a larger city, don’t forget to refer to the city and the neighborhood names. Again focus on your customers location, more then yours. So optimize or add text that indicates you serve them –
Serving the Western DuPage lllinois area including: Lisle, Naperville, Warrenville, and Boilingbrook for dental patients like you for over 10 years. Supporting the Lisle Lions Football team and the Naperville Hockey Booster club.
Change this up on the different pages (but be truthful of course – lies will kill you more then poor rankings). You can put a tag line at the bottom of each page, you can have different descriptions in your description and TITLE tags, you can describe your location with ALT tags on the photos of your location, you can talk about your staff and the towns they live in. All of these help Google and your clients understand that your business is in their neighborhood.
Of course you need to optimize your titles to include your keyword search phrases in a way that attracts your customers to want to click on your site. If you were looking at these page titles on a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which would you click on?
- About Us
- About Joe’s Lawn Service
- Joe’s Lawn Service
- Joe’s Lawn, Kingwood
- Kingwood TX’s best Lawn and Garden Maintenance service keeping your yard sharp, and your pocket book full since 1998.
Who are you more interested in considering – you or your customers?
Once you have these in place, make sure you have Google Analytics or some way to measure your traffic to determine if the problem is – not enough people getting to your site, or not enough people taking action on your site. Without numbers, it becomes very easy to solve the wrong problem. Especially if the real problem is harder to solve.
The TITLE tag is one of the most important part of any webpage. That is what tells your browser to put up at the top of the screen between the BluE and ‘- Internet Explorer’ or the Firefox logo and ‘-Mozilla Firefox’ or after the compass in Apple Safari . It is even in a distinct color from the rest of the browser. This is what gets listed in the tabs of your browser to help your visitor get back to your site while switching between the others sites competing for your attention. The TITLE tag is also a trusted part of what Google determines your webpage is about.
But most importantly, this is the underlined, Bold and Blue text that shows up in Google’s’ results page (SERP) – This is where you get to 1st sell your potiential visitor that they need to click on the link and come visit YOU! This text is your best chance to get a person to decide what that your site will meet their desires better then the 9 or 99 other pages listed next to it. This is where if you fail, it is pretty clear it is your fault for not meeting the needs of your potiental visitor.
So how to get your potential visitor to choose you?
- Don’t waste it. Don’t use ‘generic’ titles that are written from the perspective of the website – Home, About, Contact. There are 4.2, 4.1, 2.6 Billion pages you are competing against respectively compared to 436 Million for Fire, or 126 Million for Pizza (95% easier to rank at the top of).
- Don’t be too specific. If people are searching for your business name – ‘Smith’s Itailan Bar and Grill’, then use that. But usually they are not, they are searching for a restaurant. You potential customer probably does not know he is looking for you specifically, but what solution as a good or service that you provide. List that good or service from the customers perspective. If they know your restaurant’s name, they are a different kind of prospect. They deserve a separate page with ‘their’ own Title. That may well be the ‘Contact page’.
- Don’t be too general, there are 327 Million restaurants sites listed on Google. Of course they are all over the world, and all types of quality and cost. Some of the sites are not even about specific restaurants, but related to restaurants – including goods and services for restaurants. If your customers are looking for you, they won’t be looking for your vendors selling your restaurant cleaning supplies. Typically this is where you want to get geographical – Naperville Restaurant limits the selection to 1.7 million pages. Again, another reduction by 95% in competition. But you may need to limit yourself down some more – Naperville Pizza Restaurant – cuts the pages down to 63,000 – again cutting your competition by another 95%. Balancing 2 and 3 can be a challenge – the key is to look at how your visitor will look for you. The perspective is from your visitor’s search box, not from your business or web design
- Sell your site. This is where the advertising industry earned their living for decades. How to write quick headlines that attracted you to read their ad further, in a short compelling fashion. If you had the following titles which would you click on:
- Joe’s Bar And Grill, Downers Grove
- Downers Grove’s restaurant for dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill
- Downers Grove’s best restaurant for casual dining-Joe’s Bar and Grill with nightly chicken dinner specials ranked by Zagat’s review
The third one tells a story like any good headline should, while at the same time giving the search engine the information it needs to place it well for your visitors search terms on Google.
Now that you are on the right track on how to craft a TITLE tag, perform some searches from a visitors perspective for your site. Look at the different Titles and see what catches your eye as well as what communicates that the page is what you are looking for. Search similar topics on Google and Bing to see how effective Title tags are constructed. Take some time to learn what is most effective at drawing you to click on a link. This will help you learn how others are looking at your Title tag.
When you are crafting your Title tag, take some time and even consider soliciting some feedback as to what best attracts someone to your site.
Once you have crafted your Title tag to meet these criteria, consider testing – try different titles every 2-4 weeks and see what creates the most traffic based on your Google Analytics (free) or whatever tool you use to track your sites traffic.
How did you craft your Title tags and what did you learn along the way?