SEO – let’s not bother

5 March 2015

Your decision

It can be a reasonable business decision not to worry about search engine optimisation (SEO) for your website because it may not be appropriate for the types of clients you expect or the way you do things.

For example, if you get most of your business via referral or offline advertising then the website is going to perform a different function that the usual ‘advertising flyer’.

Sans-SEO website structure

Once you’ve decided on this path, you can make a reasonable assumption that people visiting your website have a tad more interest than those who found it via a search engine. Heavens, they’ve actually had to type in your web address – and had to think!

Focus! Cut waffle

We’re excited to announce… … new partnerships… …forging new relationships… … awesome experience… …blue sky… …the team worked 110%… …at the end of the day… …leverage our synergies… …core competencies… …thinking outside the box going forward it’s a win-win situation…

You’re dealing with humans not search engines, and a good many of these humans will be short of time and cliché-wary. Whilst jargon has its place amongst colleagues and specialists, some folk perceive vacuous business jargon as covering incompetence.

Think what you can cut. Do you need that phrase? Do you need that adjective? Do you really need that word?

What does your visitor want?

In broad terms the (sceptical) visitor is going to be asking themselves questions (not necessarily in this order):

  • what you trying to sell me?
  • does it match my needs?
  • who are you?
  • are you any good?
  • can I afford you/it?

So be direct and answer those questions – even if straight talking doesn’t carry the day , it’s more likely to do so than waffle.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Goal-oriented visitors will arrive at your home page with a need of some variety and they probably won’t be expecting to fulfil that need on that page , so give them a clear guidance to where they should go next. For example if you have professional and private prospects, or have different products for women and men, make it clear through which door they should pass.
  • Within pages use heading levels (in Word, these are typically Heading 1, Heading 2,...) so that the visitor can scan quickly down a page finding the bits that interest them.
  • Images are a good way to punctuate the text and introduce a topic. But the same old handshake stock shot can get a bit ho-hum.
  • Particularly if you are a service business, consider identifying your people, or at least those with whom the visitor is likely to deal. If you use photos, make sure that they have a consistent style and a style you can replicate if the staff change.
  • If you use video or animation, make every second count – TV ads are usually 15 seconds to a minute. Also let the visitor know what they are in for timewise if it ’s more than a few seconds long. 30 seconds is probably the maximum for an introductory video, but once hooked a visitor might easily be interested in significantly more, even up to an hour. But if a visitor knows they are going to watch for an hour then they might want to make themselves a coffee, get into a comfy chair and get away from/share with colleagues. All we’re really saying is consider the whole process.
  • The website is for your visitors not your staff, competitors, etc. Assume they are non-professional and don’t know your jargon or industry practice. Unless of course, your visitors are known to be expert professionals who know the industry inside out. Are you sure about that?

There are not hard and fast rules and a third-party reflection of your decisions might be worthwhile.

Converting prospects to customers

Bear this in mind:

You achieve a sale by a series of small closures.

The slightly weird thing is that the goal-oriented visitor will have a number of mental boxes they will expect to be ticked when looking at your offering – and you may have only the foggiest idea what they are.

So the first thing to do is not put them off – see ‘focus’ above – and secondly feed them bite-sized chunks to get those small closures.

Where to next?

This is what advertisers refer to as ‘the call to arms’.

Look at your own website. After the visitor has read your fine words, watched the video, discovered everything they need, where do they go next? It may be that the contact menu item is enough. On the other hand, you may be wise to put an encouraging link at the bottom of the page where they have just finished reading.

We had one client who was quite clear that he wanted people to call him, so each page had the phone number writ large on it. It wasn’t terribly pretty but it worked for him.

On the other hand

Putting off some prospects

You may not want all the people who come knocking on your door. If so, you can save yourself a huge amount of time if you qualify prospects early on by making it clear the kinds and scale of customer you are expecting.