It may seem counterintuitive of me to say this, but SEO is not the silver bullet for online success.
It’s a major part of your digital marketing puzzle, correct. But to ensure your website fulfils its function – to drive engagement and sales – there are a few critical pieces of the puzzle that need to be placed together.
Connect these pieces, and then you can take advantage of more traffic.
Think of it this way: what chance would a bricks and mortar business have if they received an influx of traffic, and their shop fit out was horrendous? No shelves, no visual merchandising, no shop assistants, and no change rooms?
The store would be an echo chamber of disgruntled pedestrians, shuffling their way to more bountiful surrounds.
And the same applies for your website.
If you haven’t optimised other elements of your website for conversions, SEO will be a waste of your marketing budget. You’ll be sending more customers to your digital shop front, with no compelling reason for them to purchase from you.
So what’s more important than driving traffic to your website?
I’m so glad you asked…
Don't try SEO until you try these conversion optimisation tips
Prioritise digital design
Before I engaged with my current graphic designer to build my bespoke website, I used Squarespace templates for years. They’re a great option for those on a startup budget, provided you have an eye for design, or a highly visual and generous friend to assist.
Yet not all of us have the time to invest learning the art of user experience, or a talented pool of friends to crowd source opinions.
Although I speak highly of Squarespace templates and their aesthetic appeal, it was only when I enlisted a professional fashion graphic designer to rebrand my business that I really started to attract high quality, high paying and prestigious clients. To flog an old statistic, visual communication accounts for 80% of a message, as visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
Back in 2014 when I began freelancing full-time, my branding resembled the Commonwealth Bank’s corporate aesthetic. Because of this, the fashion and lifestyle clients I truly desired weren’t knocking on my door. And with good reason too – it was the kind of branding that communicated masculine, technical ideals, and not the fresh, fashionable and stylishly nuanced message I wanted to convey.
When Dylan created an on-trend colour scheme and new logo for me, we relaunched my website with huge success. Since then, I’ve been able to work with household fashion and lifestyle brands, and I can confidently say that my rebranding certainly helped with this.
The question is: how can you prioritise your design today?
Creating a beautiful website on a budget is a risky activity, but it can be achieved with a few caveats: it requires more time, perseverance, and a willingness to bridge any knowledge gaps you may have, such as learning what fonts work well together, etc.
If it’s within your means, engaging a graphic designer who knows your industry will benefit your business significantly. Ensure that the designer you choose specialises in digital design, understands your audience, has a flair for typography and copy, and has an extensive portfolio to underscore their expertise.
It’s also worthwhile compiling a Pinterest board of websites you like, and articulating precisely WHY you like these designs. The more information you provide your designer with in the initial brief, the more likely you’ll end up with a website that becomes your number one sales person.
Create persuasive copy with a compelling tone of voice
Before you begin SEO-soning your copy (inserting keywords into parapraphs to boost your Google rankings), it’s imperative you define your primary messages first.
Initial questions to ask yourself before you brief your copywriter include:
- What’s our brand’s USP?
- How are our products unique?
- How do we do it?
- What gap are we filling in the market?
- How is the market changing?
- What’s our brand’s story, and why does it need to be told?
These above questions are designed to help you ensure that you completely understand your business: who you are, what you do, and why you do it differently from your competitors.
Only when you can answer these questions, can you then begin the process of defining a signature tone of voice. Your tone of voice will be used a reference point to help you craft your copy, and then communicate your USP to your audience.
Focus on benefits-specific headlines
Once you’re clear on your brand voice, it’s time to master the headlines of your website. What is all too common for brands to do is to state who they are in the headline, or what they’re selling.
Here’s the thing: your customer doesn’t care (at first) who you are.
They care about getting their problem solved.
So spell it out for them instantly, and address that in your headline.
24 Digital does a great job of this, without exaggerating their capabilities.
They clearly address their target market’s wants and needs in the h1 and h2 tag, and present a clear call to action in the first instance with a big button, all placed above the fold.
Not sure how to do this as an ecommerce boutique? The key is to emphasise how your customers will feel, and the kind of lifestyle they'll attain when they come to your brand.
Nasty Gal create an exciting experience for customers with their bold headlines. They don’t even mention their products – they get straight to the benefits of wearing their party dresses with emphatic statements that speak to party queens everywhere.
The way that your business will do this will depend on your own industry and target market. But the rule remains the same for everyone, from providing SAAS to luxury brands. Always emphasise how you fulfil your audience’s desires, and you’ll create an evocative hook that keeps them scrolling for more.
Focus on lead generation
We know that the majority of shoppers research products and services online before handing over their wallets. And your website is the perfect place to provide them with that information they need to make an informed and confident decision. It’s the reason why I’m writing this blog post, after all.
But therein lies the rub: your website needs to be a lead generation tool, not just a directory of shoes, a price comparison tool, or a library of articles.
You need to boldly prompt your potential customers to act, and it needs to be blatantly obvious how to do this.
A common mistake that ecommerce boutiques make is thinking they want customers to BUY NOW.
And while sales are your ultimate goal, a customer who’s not familiar with your brand will not be filling their cart and completing checkout if they haven’t seen you before.
In fact, a huge 78% of shoppers will abandon their cart, according to a recent study from SaleCycle. The most common reasons for this is because they were just looking (not entirely sold yet), or they wanted to compare prices before committing.
These are obstacles you can overcome by building rapport.
That’s why the primary action you need them to take isn’t getting them BUY NOW – that’s not how you engage with a prospective customer who doesn’t truly believe in you yet.
It’s getting them to invite you into their inbox, or encouraging them to follow you on Instagram. According to Sprout Social, 74% of shoppers make buying decisions based on social media. And I’ve said it before – email marketing is still killing it in terms of conversion rates.
Tiger Mist grabs email addresses easily with a great competition idea.
And My Daniel Glass encourages potential customers to engage with them on social media, even offering a chance to be featured on their Instagram.
After all, you can't ask someone to marry you on the first date. Consider email marketing and social media all a part of the customer courtship process.
Build trust with testimonials, reviews and influencers
Reviews and testimonials are the digital incarnation of word of mouth. , helping to build credibility for your brand in the eyes of new potential customers.
According to this study, 85% of consumers said they read up to 10 reviews before feeling they can trust a business.
This is particularly pertinent for bricks and mortar businesses, who will find their businesses subject to reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook. Use them to your advantage – you can embed Facebook reviews and Google reviews on your website.
But if you own an ecommerce boutique with an audience of active social media users, the best route to take is to follow the trail of coffee cups, reflective sun glasses and weight loss tea products. I'm talking about influencer outreach.
By collaborating with those with significant networks, your can leverage an influencer’s credibility to sway public opinion, not to mention reach a wider audience.
But remember: true influence drives action, not just awareness.
Ensure that your chosen influencer has some data around conversion rates before you send them your products to rep. Beauty blogger Chloe Morello recently pointed out the obvious signs of a fraudulent influencer via her popular YouTube channel.
As you can see, your website is the face of your online business. Make sure your first impression is gold class, and you’ll find that your SEO strategy will be far more successful.