We are currently managing a pay-per-click campaign for a client that is going well in terms of driving traffic to his site, but poorly in terms of conversions. The problem is that our client’s web site does not look as professional as his competitors. This got me thinking about how a search marketing campaign, whether natural search or paid search, has a branding component that needs to be considered.
It is very often the case that an individual will not do business with a company upon the first visit to its web site. Comparison shopping is easy on-line, and not just for products, but for services as well. Someone looking for a particular service that you offer is probably going to visit your web site and the sites of your competitors. If you don’t measure up, you’re not going to get the sale.
What this means for you is that you need to have a clean, well-designed, professional looking web site. If you don’t, no matter how much traffic you drive to it, you are going to have few conversions. Quality web site design is not the place to skimp. You have to have your presentation polished and ready to go before people arrive at your site. In the real world, you probably wouldn’t show up to a sales meeting wearing a stained t-shirt and shorts (at least in most industries you wouldn’t). It works the same way on-line – your web site is your salesman. If it looks professional and provides the visitor with the information he needs to do business with you, then you have a good chance at getting the business. If it is poorly designed and is not pursuasive, then you won’t get the business. Plain and simple.
One caveat is that if you hire a web site designer, he or she needs to be aware of search engine optimization principles. The designer needs to design the site in such a way that code is minimized and content is maximized. How can you know if a designer is knowledgable about SEO? Just ask. You should be able to tell if the person knows what he is talking about. If you’re still unsure, it is HIGHLY recommended that you consult with someone with an Internet marketing background to take a look at some code samples from the designer and talk with the designer.
So remember…a search marketing campaign is not simply about driving traffic to your web site in hopes of making an immediate sale. You need to prepare for sales that take more than one visit – sales where your prospects are comparing you to your competitors – by making sure your web site is polished and professional.