Searchers are like parachuters. They enter a search query in Google or some other search engine and parachute into the middle of your website, potentially landing on an internal page without any context or familiarity with your brand.
Search engine optimization (SEO) actually encourages this behavior. We intentionally optimize internal pages to improve their keyword relevance so that search engines will send more searchers past the homepage into the deeper pages of the site. Those deeper pages are better suited to match the searcher’s intent and desire for more keywords than the homepage can target, which tends to produce higher conversion rates for longer tail keywords.
Use these three tips to encourage Google to send parachuters deeper into your site and to help them accomplish their goals once they get there.
- Give Every Page a Unique Keyword Theme
Every page on the site needs to have a unique keyword theme — its own special story to tell. If every internal page is simply a slight variation on the homepage’s keyword theme, search engines have no reason to rank them.
- Engage Searchers Where They Land
Every page needs to clearly and instantly communicate interest and value so that searchers stay once they land.
When searchers pogo stick back out of a page after clicking on a search result, Google takes that behavior as a negative sign. If searchers in aggregate aren’t staying on a page long enough to engage, then the page must not be a good page to send more searchers to. Note that this is different than bouncing, where the searcher might stay on the page long enough to engage and consume information before leaving the site.
Nothing discourages engagement like a long, tedious field of gray text. Unless you’re hosting scholarly articles where the information itself is compelling enough to engage your audience, make the experience interesting by adding things like:
- Bulleted or numbered lists;
- Relevant images;
- Charts & graphs;
- Tables of information;
The goal is to use visual elements to convey the information that would otherwise be written into longer-form paragraphs of content — and then follow those up with the descriptive text required to reinforce the keyword theme. The good news is that these enhancements to your pages will benefit your engagement levels in every channel, not just organic search.
- Make Conversion Elements Obvious
In addition to making pages relevant and engaging, make sure each page has a clear path to conversion. Getting more traffic isn’t your goal. Getting more of the right type of searchers to your pages and helping them to convert should be your goal.
Ecommerce pages are simple, or so it would seem. While there are many kinds of ecommerce sites, and one size does not fit all, most will want to display the “add to cart” button in the first view of the page with a clearly stated price. Don’t make your instant gratification purchasers scroll before they can click to buy your product.
Some other ways to improve ecom conversion include:
- Providing clear, interesting, and keyword-rich product descriptions;
- Creating bulleted lists of product features for easy scanning;
- Using user reviews as proof points (and a source of keyword relevance);
- Offering strong product photography;
- Streamlining the checkout process, so you don’t lose customers after they add to the cart.
If searchers enter your ecommerce site on a content page — a blog post or resource page rather than an ecom page — make sure to provide clear paths to back to relevant ecom pages to convert. Links within the text can offer a simple way to path back to ecom pages, but they’re also easily overlooked. Consider using a “related products” module that includes product imagery designed to grab visitors’ attention and funnel them farther along the path to purchase.
For sites that rely on lead generation, make sure to capture lead information on as many relevant pages as possible. On pages where lead capture isn’t practical or appropriate, consider a banner or visual self-advertisement that touts your offering in a quick phrase, such as:
- “Get a free quote;”
- “Download your free ebook;”
- “Free 30-day trial.”
If you’re gating content — offering content downloads after your visitors fill out a lead generation form — make sure to put enough content outside the gate on the landing page to entice search engines to send parachuting searchers.
Craft your internal pages to attract and welcome parachuting searchers. Because they enter more detailed search phrases, searchers also tend to better understand what they want — they’re farther down the conversion funnel. Help search engines send these searchers to you with careful keyword targeting, keep them on your site when they do parachute in, and make sure you convert them.