Website visitors are impatient, easily frustrated and have ridiculously short attention spans.
The first decision a website visitor makes is not whether to hire you or buy your product. It's whether to stay on your site or leave. And that decision depends on how well and how quickly you engage them.
That decision takes between 5-7 seconds maximum: you have to find ways to persuade them - quickly - that it's worthwhile sticking around. It's up to you to make your site so valuable that they stay, read on and take action.
Search engine optimization is the focus of a lot of sites. But all the keywords in the world don't help if you forget that websites are read by human beings, not by Google, and it's a human, not Google, who will decide whether to pick up the phone and call you, or sign up for your newsletter or take whatever action you are asking them to take.
Here are some ideas that will help your site stand out in the minds of your visitors. Let's assume you already have a clearly defined target audience so that you can customize the ideas below to their wants, needs, problems and hot buttons.
A strong headline
These are the first words a visitor reads and may be the reason they decide to stay and read on, or to leave. It can include keywords for the search engines, but your primary objective is to get the attention of your visitors so that they decide to read more.
This is a great way to make a strong human connection and let your visitor know quickly what you can do for them. It gives them a sense of you and your company and why your site and your business is interesting for them.
An interactive component
This could be a survey, or a test or questionnaire that gives participants useful information. Readers love to give opinions, and they love to find out more about themselves, their attitudes, their business acumen or how smart they are generally. This way you get them involved in the content.
Post new articles regularly but make them substantial, not just keyword-laden pieces that are obvious food for Google without giving useful information. There are tons of empty articles out there that do nothing more than that. Don't do it...it's better to showcase your expertise!
This is a place where you can give some exposure to people and businesses you know, like and trust. It may help a visitor find something they're looking for and it makes you look thoughtful and generous.
No matter which of the above you choose, quality will always win out: quality that reflects to the visitor that you understand them and can offer useful solutions for their problems - it's the same principle that applies to your marketing content.
Copyright 2010 Maggie Dennison