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The Top 8 SEO Basics You Need to Know

SEO basics for small business websites, website seo optimizationSearch engine optimization (SEO) is an important component of any successful website, but do you know your SEO basics as well as you should? Here are top 8 fundamentals that you absolutely need to know about search engine optimization:

Basic #1 – Content is King

Search engine optimization for beginners always begins with good content. This basically boils down to making good on what you promise with your website. Provide the information you claim to provide, supply the goods or services you advertise, and any good relevant information you believe will be useful to your website visitors.

Basic #2 – Selecting Relevant Keywords/Phrases

Keywords are phrases that a target web visitor is most likely to type into a search engine when looking for specific products, services, or information. This means the content provided in your web pages needs to be seeded with the right keywords. The right balance between relevance and words with less competition needs to be achieved. The most relevant keywords may be too competitive with other sites, while less competitive keywords may not get a large enough number of searches.

Basic #3 – URL Links Need to Be Relevant

The Uniform Resource Locator (URL), or website address link of a website and its subsequent web pages must be as relevant to the content as possible. For example, a URL of www.feldonsflashlights.com/types/LEDflashlights will be more effective SEO-wise than www.feldonsflashlights.com/folder3/00034.htm because the former web address spells out what is in the page content, “LED flashlights.” Not only will the former URL be more attractive to search engines, but may also be easier for users to read and remember.

Basic #4 – Page <Title> Tag Must Match the Content

One of the most important and yet overlooked SEO basics is selecting a relevant title for the title tag of “each” page. It is imperative that the title be brief enough to fit in a small space but broad enough to effectively communicate the content of the web page. The title tag is very important because it tells the search engines what a page is all about. The title tag information shows up in the most upper-left hand corner of the computer screen for each page in a web browser.

Basic #5 – Use of the Description Meta Tags

Description meta tags go hand-in-hand with effective page titles because the description can be used to catch the attention of a web visitor. A good description meta tag and a call to action can convince a web visitor to actually click the link and enter the site. While some SEO experts have minimized the importance of this tag (because they say it is no longer important to search engines), the fact is that it is the text your web visitors see when they read your listing on the search engine results page and could be the one factor that gets a potential visitor to click or not based on what he reads.

Basic #6 – Use of Heading Tags (<H1><H2><H3>)

Once a web user lands on a page, he should see a relevant headline with keywords included that let him know he’s in the right place! This is another one of those SEO basics that many website owners overlook. Heading tags count towards the visibility of a website on search engines because the keywords included in these tags tells the search engines what the page is all about.

Basic #7 – Importance of Image File Names and the Alt Text Value

Using keyword phrases when naming image files to match the content of a web page, as well as, using keyword phrases in the “alt” value of an image tag, adds significant SEO value to a web page when search engines filter through images on a web page. Rather than naming a file something like, “picture2.jpg”-a much better file name for a search engine may be something like, “LED-flashlights-small.jpg” and including the same phrase as the image tag “alt” value.

This would look something like: alt=”Small LED Flashlights”

Basic #8 – Keep Learning…SEO is Always Changing!

Just like everything else in technology, the Internet is always changing-so is search engine optimization. This makes it important for anyone with a business web presence to continue to learn about changes in SEO and keep their website updated accordingly.

Keeping all these SEO basics in mind should arm you with the basic foundational knowledge needed to get you started in search engine optimization for your business website.

The Five Headline Ingredients

five headline ingredients for copyYou can write the most persuasive, selling copy ever…but if your prospect doesn’t make it past the headline, you’ve wasted your time. Capture your reader’s attention and move him or her into your copy by using at least one, if not more, of these five effective headline writing ingredients:

1) Appeal to the prospect – Use words such as “you,” “your” or words that imply you are speaking directly to the reader.

“You Can Look Younger in 10 Days,” or “See Your Wrinkles Disappear in 10 Days.” The use of you or your, or an implied use of “you” gives a personal tone to the headline. The reader feels as though you are speaking directly to him or her.

2) Mention the benefits – People buy products or services for their benefits. The prospect’s primary concern is, “What’s in it for me?” Mention at least one benefit in your headlines. Try to emphasize the primary benefit.

“Lose Weight and Look Great in 14 Days!” emphasizes weight loss to improve one’s appearance. Good health is also a benefit of weight loss, but most people care more about their appearance than their health. This headline emphasizes what most prospects perceive as the main benefit, and it grabs their attention.

3) Use current news in headline writing. You can make a headline sound like a news item to gain reader interest. Using words like “now,” “finally” or “at last” make the headline sound like the copy may be about something new or interesting. The reader wants to continue to read and find out what is “new”.

4) Use curiosity – Create curiosity in your headline writing. Ask questions such as, “Are You Paying Too Much for Your Monthly Utilities?” If the reader pays high power bills, this headline grabs his attention.

Use the curiosity technique properly so that it is relevant to the product. If you use curiosity to hook the reader and then write about something entirely different, the reader gets disappointed and stops reading.

5) Mention the product favorably – Show favor toward the product or service you are writing about by using complimentary adjectives in the headline. If you don’t sound enthusiastic about the product or service, it is difficult to get the prospect excited about it.

Rather than just writing, “The Mercedes ML63 AMG Outsells Automobiles in its Class Every Time!” write, “The All-New, High-Performance and Luxurious Mercedes ML63 AMG Outsells Automobiles in its Class Every Time!”

The success of your sales or ad copy depends on strong headline writing. You only have a moment to capture your prospect’s attention and persuade him or her to continue to read your copy. Use these headline ingredients to increase your chances of capturing attention, keeping it and making a sale!

Boost Your Website Traffic by Changing Your Online Marketing Attitude

boost-web-traffic, optimization of website, how to optimize a website for seoWhen most business marketers decide to create a plan to boost their website traffic, they think in terms of fulfilling their own online marketing needs.

What will “I” get out of this? How can “I” boost my web traffic? What can “I” do to increase online sales?

Let’s face it, you are in business to make money, but as crazy as it sounds, this is the wrong approach to driving web traffic. The questions above should be geared toward fulfilling your users’ needs, not your own. The object of the game is to attract users; you need to appeal to their likes and interests. So, how you do it? You just need to change your online marketing attitude so that you serve your audience’s needs rather than your own.

Here are five easy steps to changing your online marketing attitude…and ultimately increasing your website traffic:

Step 1: Know your audience. As elementary as this sounds, you need to put yourself in their shoes. How can your product or service solve their problems? What’s in it for them? They really don’t care about how wonderful your company, product, or service is…they care about what it can do for them. Don’t think about yourself; think about your audience.

Step 2: Research the relevant keywords. Determine what keyword terms your users would search for to find your product or service. Stay away from industry-terms that may be beyond the scope of their knowledge. What is common knowledge to you, may not be to your audience; especially in the early stages of their product search.

Step 3: Dump the corporate-speak. Talk to your audience using conversational language. Don’t sound too corporate or stuffy. Speak as if you were face to face trying to sell them. Use the words, “you” or “yours”. Talk to them, not above them.

Step 4: Give them something to come back for. A great way to find favor with search engines, especially Google, is to give your audience loads of helpful information. Post articles that are of interest to your users on relevant subjects. Building an article repository of sorts will keep them coming back. They will want to check back to see what you’ve got in store for them. The more useful information the site posts, the more Google and other search engines take notice. It looks as though the site is a resource for the users…and Google likes that. Learn more about this by reading Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

Step 5: Establish and keep an ongoing relationship with your users. Now you’ve got them, you’ve kept them coming back for more useful information…it’s time to build an ongoing relationship with them. You need to build trust so that eventually they will purchase your product or service. Give them a “special offer” such as a “free” report, e-book, or anything to capture their email address in return. Once they agree to opt-in to your email list, you will have the opportunity to keep in touch with them. Send them useful information and every once in a while…a little sales message. Don’t always bombard them with sales messages. Eventually you will gain their trust and they will buy.

It doesn’t take much, just a little online marketing attitude adjustment and you will be on your way to boosting your online web traffic, establishing ongoing relationships with your users…and converting that web traffic to sales.

 

Headline Test Shows Increase of 307% in Response… (how you can use the same tweaks to boost your online ROI)

You and you'reI saw a blog post titled, This Headline Tweak Boosted Response By 307%, and couldn’t pass up the chance to comment on the results.

I am a true believer in crafting headlines to get response—not so much clever headline writing, but headlines that have proven results by simply inserting certain ingredients.

This headline test shows how important adding these ingredients can be to boost your ROI.

The winning headline was:

“If you’re a retailer in need of fresh ideas and proven growth strategies, this book is for you!”

The post doesn’t really say why it won but I believe it is because it included “TWO” of the most important headline ingredients.

The words “you’re” and “you”— address the prospect directly. This is key in successful headlines. The competing headline didn’t use “you’re” or “you”. It addressed the prospect as “retailers”, thus grouping all prospects who read the headline into one impersonal group.

The other ingredient the headline included was benefits—“fresh ideas and proven growth strategies”—two things any struggling retailer would be looking forward to learning.

I encourage you to read the actual blog post and you can learn more about the Five Important Headline Ingredients here.

How a 7-Day Cruise Proves Personalization Can Get Your Business an Improved ROI (with only a little bit of effort!)

Cruise Ship In Tropical Climate by Stuart Miles

Cruise Ship In Tropical Climate by Stuart Miles

I just returned from a 7-day cruise with my family on the Royal Princess to the Eastern Caribbean.

We were celebrating my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.

From the moment I boarded the ship I experienced “personalization”—here’s how my cabin attendant got me to take extra time out of my day to sit down and fill out a comment card about her great service and hand over extra cash for her pocket…she used selling 101!

I arrived at my cabin for the first time and the cabin attendant, Donnabelle, from the Philippines said, “Welcome aboard, Miss Angeline.” She got me from that moment forward.

Not only did she do a great job keeping my cabin tidy and stocked with fresh linens and chocolates, she would acknowledge me “by name” every time that she saw me in the hallway outside of the cabin during my 7-day stay. She made me feel as though she was my “personal cabin attendant.” I felt connected to her. Such a small gesture, made such a big impact!

If Donnabelle hadn’t taken the time to address me by my name in the hallway, or acknowledge me whenever she saw me, would I have taken the time to sit down and fill out the handwritten comment card telling her and her supervisors what a wonderful job she had done? Probably not.

If she hadn’t addressed me by name and made me feel like she knew me personally and actually cared enough about me to take the time to learn my name, would I have given her an extra tip? Maybe.

It really didn’t take much effort on Donnabelle’s part to do this small thing, but the return on her investment paid off double. (Extra cash and a handwritten recommendation for her permanent work record)

So, the moral of this story is—don’t address prospects as a group, be as personal as you can—it works wonders. Address a prospect by name if possible and use the words:
“you”, “you’re”, or “your” often.

I don’t remember where I heard this saying long ago, but it has stuck with me…
“A person’s name is music to his ears.”

Do You Sell Your Products and Services Online? These Buttons Decreased Revenue by 19.67% on Checkout Landing Pages

Paying More Attention to Checkout Landing Page Buttons Can Pay OffDid you know you can maximize your profits if you pay more attention to those little buttons on your checkout landing pages?

Imagine you bring a potential website visitor all the way through your sales process and now to your checkout page as planned, then he abandons the page and decides NOT to purchase your product or service. But why? Maybe the visitor isn’t even sure why he backed out of the buying process.

According to research and testing conducted by Analytics Inspector…adding an “Add to Cart” button is better than the typical “Buy Now” button. Why? Some tend to think the “Add to Cart” button gives the visitor the perception that he has more control over the sale—and whether or not he realizes it, “Buy Now” seems more intimidating to him.

It also appears that when buttons have “action-oriented” copy on them, they outperform the typical “submit” button.

So putting copy on your buttons such as: “Get Your Free Financial Report” or “Download Your Free E-book” does better than the traditional “submit.”

Although there are other variables that make a difference in button tests such as color and size…it may be well worth the extra effort to spend more time on just what that “little” button says, because the returns could be big!

 

Copy Tests Showed Longer Headlines Improved Response as Much as 300%

Long Headlines vs. Short Headlines, Does It Really Matter?Does it really matter how long the headline is when it comes to your sales copy converting prospects to customers?

According to an article published by Creative Direct Marketing Group titled, Multiply Your Ad’s Results with Benefit-Oriented Headlines and Long Copy, “Believe it or not, long headlines are more effective than short ones. Why? They’re more specific and promise more benefits.”

The article goes on to show that winning headlines tended to be longer and in some cases improved response by as much as 300%.

Business owners, online marketers, and copywriters may go back on forth on this subject, but the point is the perfect length for a headline is probably as long as it takes to state the biggest benefit directly to your prospect and many times this does result in longer headlines.

In a recent blogpost I featured a copy test where these two headlines competed:

“If you’re a retailer in need of fresh ideas and proven growth strategies, this book is for you!”

VS.

New Book Reveals Rescue Remedies for Retailers

The first headline improved conversion by 307%.  Why? Yes it is longer, but the reason I believe it won is that it spoke directly to the prospect and followed with a promise of benefits. The second headline although shorter and catchy with all of its “R” words—didn’t win even with its cleverness.

The winning headlines tested in the Creative Direct Marketing Group article spoke directly to the prospect and gave specific benefits.

Whether long or short or somewhere in the middle, your headlines need to answer your prospects question, “Why should I read on any further?”

This One Word Decreased Website Form Sign-Ups by Almost 19%

privacy policy statementPrivacy policy statements are those brief little one-liners that are usually found at the bottom of an online form that your prospects normally don’t even notice…or do they?

In a test performed by Michael Lykke Aagaard,
CRO Consultant and Copywriter of ContentVerve.com
, results showed that using the word SPAM in a privacy statement actually decreased conversions by 18.70% when run against a form that had no privacy statement at all.

When Michael set out to improve the number of sign-ups on a form that had no privacy statement by using the following…

“100% privacy – we will never spam you.”

The conversions dropped… by 18.70%.

Then in another test, he changed the privacy statement to…

“We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.”

Sign-ups increased by 19.47%!

Michael’s hypothesis after the test, “…although the message revolves around assuring prospects that they won’t be spammed—the word SPAM itself gives rise to anxiety in the minds of the prospects. Therefore, the word should be avoided in close proximity to the form.”

Give your prospects a more “secure” feeling about giving their PERSONAL information to you by placing a short privacy statement that sounds credible near the end of any form to raise confidence.

If you make the privacy policy too long and involved or use the wrong word or words, it could hurt your sign-ups by raising red flags that cause them to abandon the idea of signing up altogether.

Five Steps to Writing an Effective Call-to-Action

Effective Call to ActionThe reason you spend so much time on headlines, subheadlines, and body copy is to ultimately convince your prospect to take a specific action, right?

Whether you want him to sign up for a newsletter, become a subscriber, request more information, accept a free trial, download a demo, or buy a product…you need to tell him what to do next even if you think it is obvious.

If you don’t tell your prospect what action you want him to take next, you could lose him altogether.

An effective call-to-action not only tells your prospect what step to take next, but also motivates him to take that step NOW.

Below are five steps that show you how to create an effective call-to-action:

Example:  Effective Call-to-Action (CTA)

Are you tired of receiving phone calls from bill collectors? Please fill out the online form below NOW to claim your FREE report (valued at $39.95) and you can be on the road to financial recovery within minutes.  Learn how to clean up your credit report quickly and easily—you don’t have to be afraid to answer your phone anymore! Download your FREE report today…this offer is due to expire on March 30th!

STEP 1) Define in your mind what “specific” action you want your prospect to take next
and then instruct your prospect on exactly what to do next—be specific.
CTA: Please fill out the online form below NOW to claim your FREE report

STEP 2)
Include a big benefit in your call to action.

Big benefits:
– Learn how to clean up your credit report quickly and easily
– you don’t have to be afraid to answer your phone anymore
– getting a FREE report (valued at $39.95)

STEP 3)
Tell the prospect what he will get by taking the action NOW; create a sense of urgency.
– You can be on the road to financial recovery within minutes
Download your FREE report today…this offer is due to expire on March 30th!

STEP 4) Use “active” language rather than “passive” language in your call-to-action.
– fill out the online form below NOW
– claim your FREE report
download your FREE report today

STEP 5) TEST, TEST and RE-TEST your call-to-action. Find out what words and phrases
perform better than others.

Your call-to-action will vary based on what specific action you are trying to persuade your prospect to take and the length and type of the advertising medium you use to deliver your message…but keeping these steps in mind can help you get your prospect to—
“Take Action NOW!”

How to Get Your Prospects to Read Your Email Promotions (and decrease the chances they’ll hit the “DELETE” key!)

Delete KeyImagine your prospect opens his email box and in flows the never-ending piles of emails that he hasn’t checked since last night. What do you think his next move is?

Just like you, he probably does a quick scan to see what catches his eye and then pushes the “delete” key on what doesn’t—and just like you, he doesn’t have time to read everything that comes his way.

You can spend time all the time in the world crafting that perfect email marketing message, but unless your email subject line can get your prospect to open the message and read it—the rest of your hard work on that message is fruitless.

Now, add into the equation the “spam” filters—this decreases chances even more that your hard work will pay off.

In spite of all of this, there are some small but important things that you can do to increase the likelihood that your message will get delivered, opened, read, and ultimately move your prospect to take the action you want him to take.

Stay Clear of These Words or Symbols in Your Promotional Emails

If your email doesn’t reach your prospect’s inbox in the first place, he won’t open it.

Callidus Software posted a list of the words and symbols to stay away from when writing both your email subject lines and copy in a blog post titled, Top 100 Spam Trigger Words and Phrases to Avoid …they trigger spam filters that toss your messages into the spam folder.

Watch the Character Length of Your Email Subject Lines

There has been discussion back and forth on the proper character length of email subject lines, but on average you should keep them at about 40 to 50 characters in length (approximately 5 to 8 words) for desktop users since many email providers may trim your email subject lines if they exceed 60 characters.

For mobile devices, character length is even shorter (approximately 33 to 44 characters) according to an infographic published in a blog post called, Mobile Email Subject Line Displays by MarketingTechBlog.com.

Keeping this short character length in mind, many resources suggest front-loading your most important words first in your email subject lines, those with the most impact, in case they get cut off. These would be the words that describe the “benefit” the prospect will get if he clicks to read more.

Write an Email Subject Line that Talks to Your Prospect and Addresses His Problem

When you send out an email to your prospect, your email subject line is your headline so you need to get his attention immediately or he’ll never open your email to see what you’ve got to say.

According to a webinar conducted by Marketing Experiments titled, Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an email, you can improve email open and click-through rates if you, “connect to an internal event” that your prospect can identify with…also known as his problem.

Here are the results of a test that they conducted on an email subject line to improve the open and click-through rates:

(Original subject line)

Looking for a Lower Rate Mortgage? You’re Not Alone.

 (Treatment subject line)

 Own Your Home Sooner with Free Bi-Weekly Payments!

RESULTS:

(Winning subject line)
 Own Your Home Sooner with Free Bi-Weekly Payments!

— Open rates increased 16%; Click-through rates increased 11.3%

–Why did the new email subject line perform better?

#1: It addressed the prospect individually, talking to him, “Your”

and…

#2: Added the benefits of “owning a home sooner” rather than later, with free bi-weekly payments

The original headline was too vague and told the prospect he wasn’t alone…how does that pull him in? Be clear in your email subject lines; vagueness may keep your prospect from opening your message. Your subject line should talk to him directly and offer a benefit—the solution to his problem.

As the host of the webinar, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, so eloquently put it, “Customers aren’t trying to open your emails, they’re trying to eliminate them. To prevent elimination, the marketer must ensure an immediate connection to the customer.