Throughout my 14-year career in Internet marketing, I’ve managed hundreds of search engine optimization and pay-per-click campaigns for some of the largest home improvement companies in the country. My team and I have identified three key factors that bring people to websites, keep them there and transform their online visits into leads.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your website rank highly in the free, or organic, listings that appear in search engine results. Major search engines look for specific elements in a website to determine how highly it will rank. The engine’s goal is to list the most relevant websites at the top of their search results.
Search engines value website content above all else. Therefore, the best way to improve your rankings is to continually add new pages filled with original content that clearly explains who you are, what you do and where you do it.
If I need content, can’t I just blog? Knowing that continually adding unique content is extremely important, many self-proclaimed Internet marketing experts might tell you to simply add a blog to your website. This strategy rarely works for home improvement companies, though, because blog posts typically serve as a venue where people discuss timely topics. People don’t read blog posts about new gutters or toilet seats, and blogs often don’t rank well in search engines. Although there’s nothing wrong with having a blog on your website, you shouldn’t rely on it to generate traffic or leads.
Your social media presence isn’t a primary lead generator. A strong social media presence can lend credibility to your company. Having lots of friends, fans or followers provides social evidence many people like you and have confidence in your company. That said, do you use Facebook or Twitter when making purchasing decisions? Probably not, and your potential customers probably don’t, either. Your company’s Facebook likes and Twitter followers have little to do with the number of leads you generate online, and social sites will not rank in search engines.
2. Pay-per-click Advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements appear as links in the top and right-hand margins of search engine results. A PPC campaign can be effective in generating leads for your company.
Be mindful of relevant keywords. You might be tempted to select the most highly searched keywords in your industry and then pour money into ad space for them. However, you need to first make sure your campaign is targeting the right audience. For example, buying “windows” listings may not give you the best return on your investment because you’ll be competing with searches for the Microsoft operating system. Prioritizing a more specific, less searched term, such as “replacement windows,” could drive more useful traffic to your site and convert into better leads.
Utilize PPC landing pages and micro sites. Landing pages are single Web pages that visitors land on when they click your PPC ads. These pages should be designed with small snippets of targeted, easy-to-read teaser information that will inspire visitors to contact you. For a more robust option, a micro site features multiple pages of information, making it look and feel like a complete, albeit much smaller, version of your main website.
3. Web Design and Conversion
Of course you want your website to look attractive, but realize it takes more than that to turn a visitor into a qualified sales lead.
It’s wise to have a “contact us” form on your website. Forms also can be used to capture a website visitor’s information. For example, requiring an email address and phone number before allowing a product brochure download, or asking people to enter an upcoming promotion or sweepstakes, can give someone the little push they need to fill out a contact form. Make sure your forms are easy to complete. The more information you require, the less likely a prospective buyer is to oblige.
Constructing effective calls to action. A call to action asks website visitors to contact you. One mistake we often see in the home improvement industry is “Contact us for an in-home consultation.” Think about it. Do you invite Internet strangers into your home? Neither do I. Our research shows you are likely to get a better response with “Get a Price.”
I know it can be difficult to invest time in improving your website. However, by utilizing smart SEO, PPC and design techniques, you can turn your website into a major lead generator for your company.
Chris Behan has more than 14 years of Internet marketing experience. He is president of Socius Marketing, a Florida-based Internet marketing firm he co-founded in 2006. Chris has shared his marketing knowledge at Dave Yoho Associates’ seminars, the Remodeling Show and local industry member meetings.