What do you need today to give you the best chance at turning a searcher into a customer? What should your website look like to give you the best chances of this conversion? The first element you need is visibility.
Potential customers cannot do business with someone they don’t know exists. But visibility is only valuable if you’re seen in the right places, so here are a couple of statistics that should answer the question of where you need to be visible:
- Studies show that more than 87 percent of people start the shopping process with an online search;
- 92 percent of people do not go beyond the first page of the search engines;
- Google is responsible for roughly 90 percent of all searches.
Taking those statistics in mind, you need visibility on the first page of Google search results for all the valuable key terms that represent your industry and the services you provide. This is not the only place you will want visibility, but it is one of the most important.
The anatomy of the first page of Google consists of three areas:
- The paid ads sections will appear at the top and bottom of the page. They are usually identified with a small “AD” icon next to them.
- The maps section is usually listed below the ads section if the search was for business-related goods or services.
- The organic listings are then listed under the maps section.
So you might be wondering which section is the most valuable for your business. The answer is: It depends. I know; beauty, huh? Let me go more in depth.
Think of the organic listings as the “guts” of Google. This is the information someone wants if they do a search. With that said, I believe — and the data we have collected shows — that it is one of the most valuable places. This is because not only do you get visibility, but you also get authority from Google (one of the smartest companies in the world) recommending you first before all of your competitors. Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you achieve the first-page results that you desire.
The maps section is valuable, too, because your geographic location is heavily weighted, and people prefer to do business with companies that are close to them. But that can also work against you if you have competitors located closer to where the search is performed. The maps section visibility is usually ranked by location, fullness of profile, and search engine optimization.
Let’s not overlook the ads section. A lot of people have a bad taste in their mouths about ads, but there is one thing we always have to keep in mind: This is how the search engines make money.
That means don’t discount the ads. Make sure to understand the traffic that comes to your site. If you notice, a lot of people on a desktop will scroll past the ads section as soon as the page populates, but that becomes a lot more difficult to do on a mobile device.
Keep your mind open when it comes to the ads, because there are more than just search ads. For example, display ads are a beautiful thing. We leverage them for our clients on a consistent basis to appear in the following cases:
- when someone searches their competitors
- when someone has been to our client’s site in the past 90 days, or
- when someone has searched a key term related to the services our clients perform
Display ads can be an extremely affordable option for some businesses.
As mentioned above, the search engine is not the only place you will need visibility. Your goal is to be visible to the eyeballs that are either looking for your services or are most likely to buy from you.
You want to be in front of these searchers when they are trying to research who is the best option, and you want to stay top of mind throughout the shopping process. Think of Google as the place your potential customers are going when they are ready to finally contact a person to do business with.
Think of social media ads as what can be used to get in front of and behind each step the prospect is taking along the way.
Additionally, I know that search engines’ tracking practices are a source of hot debate, but they are a great tool for businesses to leverage when marketing. These social sites know more about your customer and the actions of people most likely to buy products and/or services like the ones you sell. Because of this, tracking practices can help when you are trying to attract customers to your site.
Between the search engines and social ads, most businesses should have a great setup to be visible for people looking to purchase their services. If you are selling to commercial clients, there are additional tools that work extremely well, too.
Now that people know your company is an option to fix their problem, next you need to take a look at what they are seeing after they find you. This is when you do a deep dive into your website.
Remember: The whole goal of what you’re trying to do is build a system to further the sales process using your online assets and making sure your competitors are not stealing business away from you in the same fashion. A line we use often is, “Your website has to be your best salesperson!”
Look at the traffic in your analytics portal, and you will be able to see the number of times your site has been visited. Each of those visits should be viewed as an opportunity to capture revenue.
If you look at it that way, you can start examining the flaws you may have on your site. A biggie that a lot of people miss is the time on the site. We see a lot of our clients range from 31 seconds to 1 minute and 26 seconds.
After years of serving tons of clients in these niches, the reason people aren’t staying long isn’t because the website is not capturing the prospect’s attention; it’s because that is the industry norm!
With that said, the goal shifts from making a deep, comprehensive website to making the best possible sales message in a very short time! So what makes a great sales message?
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that customers only have concern for themselves until you have proven yourself worthy of their attention. I see this mistake a lot: The first sentence on a site talks about the company, not the customer’s needs. For example: “Owned and operated since 1972, ABC company is the best…”
That’s a fail! The message on your website should speak directly to what or how you are going to make the potential buyer’s life easier. For example: “ABC company — where we always get you a quote within 24 hours and warranty our work for 10 years. Our clients love our competitive price guarantee and the wide variety of options we carry.”
The second thing to keep in mind is speed of delivery. This should be in the set up of the site. The buyer’s thinking pattern works like this:
- Am I in the right spot?
- Does this company do what I am looking for?
- How do I contact them?
- What makes them different from the other companies?
Your site needs to be set up to answer these questions in this order as they scroll down the site.
Remember, we only have a small window of time before they are off your website, so you have to make it as user friendly as possible for the customer.
Look at your current set up. Answer these questions:
- Do you have visibility or a plan for visibility?
- Do you have a site that is your best salesperson? If not, work to make those changes because the customer and the shopping process is evolving.
If you’re not keeping up, the future of your business could have challenges.
This article originally appeared in the May 2022 print issue of CoatingsPro Magazine. Reprinted with permission.