20 Nov 2012

Answering the “What”: The Secret to Natural Site Conversions for Usability and SEO – Part III

Whenever someone lands on your web site they want to know right away, “What do you have for me?” Do you have their answers?

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days around the corner, ecommerce web sites are in a neck and neck horse race to get your online shopping business. It is not just ecommerce in this race however. Your blog posts, articles, Facebook business pages, user generated feedback such as product reviews, video transcripts for products and how-to demonstrations, email newsletters, page title attributes and Pinterest “pin” descriptions all depend on successfully meeting the “What” requirement for natural optimization.

Parts one and two of this series offered suggestions on organic page optimization for search engines and user experience for the first two of our “WWWWWH” power conversions contributors – “Who” and “Where”. Our goal is getting our messages across to our potential web site guests in ways that are understandable by search engines, special needs users and your target users. This means we’re focusing on details within text content rather than visuals. The information you provide about what you offer, or what your topic is, or what makes your company unique or what deals you have is necessary in creating user confidence and fortifying calls to action prompts.

What Do You Have For Me?

Of all the Who/Where/What/Why/When/How optimization areas, answering the “What” is my favorite. This one word provides countless opportunities for persuasive content on your homepage, landing pages, category hub pages, blog and articles and even forum posts that are permitted to be crawled by search engines. Everybody wants to know what to do. They also want to know what you’ll do to help them improve something that is important to them such as their health or financial situation. With online holiday shopping, your customers want to know who has the best prices and shipping deals. Even more so, people are searching for specifics, using exact terms and entering entire sentences into search engines such as “What kinds of telephoto lens work best with my [brand name] camera?”

Always, always, always add text only content that not only asks common questions, but also provides the answer. Ask the question in a forum or blog post heading, for example. Or, when teaching online, repeat the entire question within the text and follow up by providing the answer (and then add a call to action prompt right then and there to conduct a task.)

Organic “What” Ideas

The most difficult part of this process is remembering to do it. Product page abandonment problems can be traced to the lack of content provided for each product. Shopping cart abandonment points to the lack of instructions on what to do or what happens next. Newsletter conversions tank when there is information about what your subscriber will receive (and when, how and why.) PPC landing pages that don’t follow through with what the ad promised are a waste of money. Calls to action fizzle whenever it’s unclear what to do or what will happen if a button is clicked on.

The following are some ideas for answering the “What” question:
Put a “What” question in a blog, article, or forum thread headline. Ask this question in a variety of ways because people ask questions in different ways.

Above the page fold, describe what sets your company, web site or blog apart from your competition. Bullet point answers are great.

Create confidence by answering every possible “what” question your visitors may have. For example, what is the best time to call your office? What is your style of clothing? What are your store hours? What payment methods do you accept? What services do you offer?

Rather than brief quips like “We speak at conferences”, what do you speak about? What conferences? What topics are you considered an expert in?

What goes with what? This one always gets ignored. For example, furniture shopping is not just about the sale items. Some of your visitors need help putting together pieces for specific situations or just to help them visualize. What do they need to know when they have pets and kids? What are the better types of springs for a couch?

  • What do your readers get when they visit your blog?
  • What do your prospective clients get if they hire you?
  • What is your methodology or procedures?

What does the inside of a fur-lined boot look like? This is one example of helping your guests make accurate choices so that returns are lower. A thick fur-lined boot may be a factor in choosing sizes or whether wearing socks is necessary. While product images are key, so is the text you provide.

Navigation labels are missed “what” opportunities. For example, About What? What types of services? What solutions? What is the difference between clearance and sale? What type of gifts?

User instructions are important for guidance. What do you want your customers to do here and there? Every form, cart and online application needs to assist by answering the “What do I do next?” question.

What is your story? Popular authority elements that web sites use are placing the logos of their clients on their homepage. The other technique is a slew of icons or images for awards, organizations, and other types of kudos. Images don’t tell the story but text does. What made these companies choose you? What did you do to win your awards? What is the advantage of belonging to industry organizations (and why would your visitors care?)

What’s in for me? Keep answering this question. Your content should avoid “We”, “I”, “Us” and “Our” as much as possible. Remove your ego.by writing content that addresses your visitors by identifying and acknowledging them.

We’re Curious

The secret to increasing conversions in natural ways is understanding human nature. Watch them use your web site. They will tell you that what frustrates them is not feeling confident and not having enough information to make good choices.

Get to know what they need and want.