Importance of Sitemaps

When you are lost or if you are going to a new city, town, country, you would generally use a map to assist you with directions, or these days you would use a GPS to get you there timorously. Similarly, visitors and search engines use a sitemap to guide them through your website.

There are two such sitemaps. The first is a list of pages of a website (typically organized in hierarchical fashion) that is accessible to users as well as search engine crawlers. This helps visitors and search engine bots / crawlers find pages on your website.

The second is the XML sitemap that indicates to search engines how large websites that have many dynamic pages (especially forms and user entries) can be found. XML (xtensible markup language) Sitemaps have replaced the older method of “submitting to search engines” by filling out a form on the search engine’s submission page. Now web developers submit a Sitemap directly, or wait for search engines to find it. This sitemap is written in a language called XML, and here errors are not tolerated, so syntax must be perfect.

Another great feature of an XML sitemap is making websites that are built in flash or other non-HTML language, search-able. One can even set a priority level on pages to show their importance.

Benefits of Sitemaps

  • Site maps can improve search engine optimization of a site by making sure that all the pages can be found. This is especially important if a site uses a dynamic access to content such as Adobe Flash or JavaScript menus that do not include HTML links.

 

  • They also act as a navigation aid by providing an overview of a site’s content at a single glance.

 

  • Most search engines will only follow a finite number of links from a page, so if the number of links is very large, a site map may be required so that search engines and visitors can access all content on the site.

Email Marketing: Building Customer Loyalty

So, you have a website and you are getting decent traffic, but you want more! You also want your visitors to come to your website as often as possible; you want to build a relationship with them. You want them to become loyal visitors, and like what you have to offer.

Two words, email marketing!

Email marketing is one of the best strategies to implement if you want more traffic to your website daily, weekly, or monthly as well as building loyalty and a trustworthy relationship.

The aim is to create a membership website where you capture the visitors’ details ie: name, surname and email address. Keep it simple. Once you have these details you then send them tips, advices, informative articles, competitions, etc.. And this ideally will lead them to your website, increasing your traffic and rank.

You can signup with constant contacts (world’s best email marketing system), aweber, pmailer. The costs are listed on their websites, and you can create various different campaigns ie: health tip of the week, daily horoscope, monthly SEO tip. Choose a template of your choice or customise your own. You will be given a script (few lines of code) that you basically copy and paste onto your website. This allows your visitors to fill in their details and saves this information onto the email marketing system.

When you are ready you simply schedule your emails to go off on the specific date and time or click send for immediate delivery.

You must limit the amount of images as some mail servers will block mail that is too large in file size, and as a result you will be losing out on the traffic.

Monitor your bouncers, click through rates (CTR), new subscribers, and most popular articles, as these insights will determine the future success of your website traffic and rankings.

Most important attribute in email marketing is the subject line. Keep this short and to the point. If you are trying to build your brand then you must include your company name eg: ‘SEO agents – SEO tip of the week’. Do not use spammy words like ‘free, win’ etc.

Good luck, and remember always give the visitor what they desire!

Pay Per click (PPC) Advertising

If you do not have the budget for a Search Engine optimizer (SEO), then a quick alternate method of still getting traffic to your website is through PPC.

What is PPC?

PPC (pay per click), is an internet advertising model that is generally implemented on websites, blogs, social media sites etc. Advertisers pay the website owner or host, only when their ad is clicked.

This can be budget driven, for example: you (the advertiser) places an advert on the website of choice (publishers website), and each click could cost you R0.60 and you get about 500 clicks, then you will be charged R300.

Example2: you have a budget of R5000 and want to add your banner or ad onto the website of choice, and negotiated R1.20 per click, your ad will be displayed until your budget runs out.

Please note that your budget can sometimes run out within a day or two, even a few hours, depending on the amount of traffic your website of choice gets.

The aim is to entice the user to click a banner or text ad and this will lead the visitor to a landing page, where you can generate a lead or sale. Your call to action should be on your landing page.

There are a few South African companies that specialize in PPC, such as Traffic Synergy, and Offerforge. Signup is pretty easy, and here you can chat to them about your product or service you want to market and they will advise on the specific websites to market on.

What are the benefits of PPC?

  1. You will be marketing your product or service to the target market of your choice
  2. You will be marketing your products on high traffic websites (more exposure)
  3. Cost effective: your product will get more exposure at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.
  4. You can generate more leads and sales from PPC
  5. You will be using other high traffic websites for your own gains.

SEO strategies that converts traffic into sales

Everyone wants a website that they can make money off. It’s no secret that you can only do this with the help of SEO. Firstly, do you or your business have a website, or a blog? If not, then you are definitely not marketing your services or your company effectively, and should invest in a website.

If you already have a website, then you should be asking yourself these questions:

 – What is my website doing for me?

 – Is my website an asset or liability?

 – Is my website marketing my products and services effectively? How do you know for sure?

 – Is your website ranking on the 1st page of Google?

 – What is the ROI on my website?

 – Are you making money via your website?

 – Is my website driving more customers to my business and is there an increase in sales?

 

If you cannot answer any of the questions above (you don’t know the answers) or have answered negatively to them, then you are in desperate need of search engine optimization (SEO) / SEO strategies, and possibly internet marketing (depending on the market your business is in).

Even though these are general questions that most people would ask themselves, they still seem to fall into a trap. But who can blame them? How are they (the clients) supposed to know that the SEO techniques used on their website is not going to work? They are not the professionals in this field!

The ‘real truth’ is that if you have an SEO strategy implemented and your website is optimized correctly (for search engines), then your website should be receiving a lot of traffic. This should increase your website rankings on search engines; however this does not mean that by receiving a lot of traffic that you are going to make any money.

‘This is a good problem to have’ and the challenge really starts when you have decent amount of traffic to your website or your website is ranking quite well on search engines for certain keywords / keyword phrases and you now want to convert that traffic into leads and then ideally paying customers.

The trick is to build loyalty, credibility, and be a trustworthy source. This seems easy enough, but 90% of websites don’t have good conversation rates and don’t have a strategy to improve their numbers.

How would you build in all these qualities on arrival? Simple. You don’t! You have to take the patent route and first build customer loyalty ie:

  • The visitor must like what you offer (be it your products, services, tips, guidelines, giveaways etc.),
  • You need to then draw the visitor to your website quite frequently. This can be done via various email marketing campaigns, competitions on your website, viral marketing strategies (I can think off many strategies right now) etc.
  • By viewing your statistics on your Google analytics account or stats on the email campaigns – you will get a feel for exactly what your subscribers like or dislike. By knowing this you can then offer them accordingly.

 

How do you make your website credible?

  • Your website should have a clean design, with basic SEO techniques implemented
  • You need to get your website out there – this can be achieved by implementing other SEO strategies – article marketing and social media marketing
  • Black text against a white background (eye pleasing colours)
  • Little or no obvious advertising
  • No pop ups
  • A clear message on the homepage as to what your value proposition is
  • Clear navigation (as this make your website very user-friendly)

Once your visitor is on your website, he/she will have about 10 seconds to be impressed or they will leave, generally by clicking on the ‘back button’ on the browser.

Once the visitor is convinced that they have landed on a credible website and they have found the product or service that they are looking for, what next? Well, you now have to come across as being trustworthy.

How do you build trust into your website?

  • Put a video of the owner / employee on the website – instantly build trust and credibility. Visitors must see real people behind the website.
  • Have your telephone / office numbers on the Contact Us Page. Explain to them why they should contact you, and give them an indication of when they can expect a response from you.
  • Add a picture of your premises or building on your About Us page
  • Have a privacy policy clearly displayed. Even though its been shown that most people don’t read it, they do notice if it is on the website or not.
  • Have all your member affiliations and logos. Do you belong to the local Chamber of Commerce, the national association of your profession, etc, show that you have real world connections.
  • Display customer testimonials and spread them across your website on the relevant pages. Have a link if possible to the testimonial(s).
  • Show visitors when your website was last updated
  • Don’t use overly promotional words in the writing style of your website. Try to be clear, direct and sincere.
  • And finally, one big thing, ask your customers what element(s) they found as adding credibility to your website and emphasise this element.

These guidelines will definitely assist in converting your website traffic into paying customers if you follow my recommendations. Remember you have to be patient, and you have to be focused. SEO does not happen overnight!

Why we do what we do?

Have you ever noticed how other SEO specialists all follow the same process of optimising a website: They ask you for content + pics and they put together a very nice looking website, they then merely optimise the content you gave them, in the effort to try and rank your website. They obviously use the keywords from the content (that you gave them) and optimise accordingly. Does this ‘hit and run’ approach really work, especially if you (who has no idea how to optimise a website & select appropriate keywords) gave them the content?

This is exactly what I do not do!

I do not follow that approach. I am a guru in what I do because I believe that one needs to understand the market you are in and the type of clients you deal with, as well as knowing what your client requirements are especially, online. A lot of research including your clients’ trends and a comprehensive keyword analysis as well as a competitor analysis needs to be take place before any optimisation. I will first chat to you about your company, your products and services, then conduct my research.

I will tell you exactly what people are searching for in respect to your market. If people are searching for it, then give them what they want (that’s my approach!).  I will also look at googles historical data and analyse how many times a certain keyword or keyword phrases was searched for. I will discuss with you a comprehensive list of keywords, then either you or a seo copywriter will build content around those keywords, then only will my world class optimisation begins.