If you build it, they will come. Then what?

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You thought long and hard about how to bake good search engine optimization (SEO) practices into your website. You crafted a gorgeous design, tested top-to-bottom to ensure a flawless user experience, and slaved over a cacophony of keyword analysis tools (that’s the proper term for a group of those tools, I swear) to make sure you were speaking your target audience’s language in just the right way. And sure enough, as the weeks passed after you implemented your perfect SEO strategy without a hitch, your average daily site traffic began to climb. Success! Right? Maybe not.

Contrary to the old adage about leading a horse to water, when it comes to your website, you most certainly can and ought to make your visitors drink.

Pulling off a killer SEO strategy is an accomplishment, to be sure, but what’s the point if you aren’t converting that traffic into sales, or downloads or enthusiasts, or whatever your business is after? Make it unambiguously clear what you want the visitor to do once they hit your site.

Contrary to the old adage about leading a horse to water, when it comes to your website, you most certainly can and ought to make your visitors drink. Don’t make them guess what they’re expected to do once they arrive. Tell them what, when, how much and why. Here are some simple ways to make sure your SEO strategy doesn’t skip over that final important step: converting traffic into business.

Limit the visitor’s options.

Is your conversion path a funnel or a colander? The more options site visitors have (Download this! Look at that! Go over there! Do this other thing!), the less likely they are to make it to where you really want them to go. Make the process that “converts” them into customers as brief as possible by giving them the opportunity to go straight from the home page to whatever destination you want them to reach, whether it’s a product checkout page or starting a download.

Appeal to the visitor’s senses.

Note this does NOT mean you should include audio or video that plays automatically when your home page is loaded. In fact, let’s be a little more specific and say you should generally appeal to your visitor’s sense of sight. Use bright, attractive graphics to lead the eye where you want your visitors to go. If education is an important step in your conversion process, consider developing a brief video your visitors can choose to watch (again, NOT a video clip that plays automatically on page load), or a custom graphic that outlines in simple terms your company’s or product’s function.

Everyone loves a freebie.

Not everyone who visits your site is going to become a customer immediately, but that doesn’t mean they’re lost opportunities. Do you have something you could offer for free, like a white paper, free sample or trial period of your service? Offering something of value to visitors as they’re walking out the door (so to speak) of your site is a great way to make a lasting impression on someone who otherwise may have no reason to remember who you are or what you do. Give fence-riders a reason to reconsider jumping into your yard with both feet. Even if they eventually decide not to purchase, you’ve given them something to remember if they’re ever asked to recommend a similar product or service.

Give the above tips a shot and see how your conversion rate improves. Remember that even great SEO isn’t a magic bullet for success. You’ve got to know how to wrangle all that qualified traffic suddenly meandering about your website, looking for the solution you provide. Make it easy for them by providing a conversion path that is short, simple and valuable even to those who opt out mid-process. Not only is it a great business strategy, it’s an exemplary display of customer service your site visitors will appreciate whether they’re looking to buy or recommending to a friend.

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