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Archive for the ‘title tags’ Category

Website optimization for telephone leads

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Some businesses rely on telephone leads, either as the main source of revenue or as an important means of acquiring customers.   This includes anyone from pizza and other delivery restaurants to tradesmen like home inspectors or home improvement contractors.  This includes most service sectors, too.  Are there ways to get a leg up on the competition?

Yes, and here are a few ways to do just that.  Strictly speaking, these are not SEO techniques (more like TEO – telephone optimization), but if we broaden our definition just a bit, let’s file them under SEO.

1. TITLE TAGS…  Place the phone number at the beginning of the title tag.  So if your home inspection business is targeting “Chicago home inspections” and “Chicago home inspector” as the main keywords, try this title tag:

<title>312-555-5555 Chicago home inspections by inspector Rob Penfield</title>

Why is this such a clever strategy?  Well, you should know that typically 40% of people click on the first search result…even after gazing down at lower results.  Those people who click on another search result usually do so because:

  • They are looking for multiple quotes.
  • They are doing research.
  • They tried the first result…and it sucked.
  • The first result is clearly not right (They searched for “pursuit of happiness” and they want the band, not the movie or the constitution).
  • A lower result is obviously better.

Read that last point again.  Suppose I am looking for a home inspector in Chicago, and I notice that the third result has the phone number right in the headline.  Wow!  I don’t even have to click.  I just pick up the phone and call.  I might be lazy, in a hurry, multi-tasking or just typically modern…but you have just snatched a top-spot lead without ranking #1.  Amazing.

2. DESCRIPTION TAGS…  This is a variation on the title tag.  Place the phone number in the description tag, right next to the main keywords.  The description tag is often used as the explanatory text beneath the headline for search results.  Although not as powerful as the title tag, this should help you secure some extra leads.

3. DOMAIN NAME…  I know this sounds crazy, but if telephone leads really are your bread and butter, make your telephone number your domain name.  Too crazy?  Not for 1800flowers.com.

4. PROMINENCE… Websites typically place their phone number on a “Contact us” page, or if the website is really exciting, perhaps in the footer template in small letters.  This is all fine and dandy if your market will hunt down your phone number.  But if you are trying to urge people to pick up the phone and call, try something a little bolder.  At http://www.serviceblocks.ca/ , a home renovations company, we placed the phone number in the upper right margin, with a big picture of a telephone so that it can’t be missed.  At http://www.paramount-roll.com/ we placed the phone number right in the content box, so that it would be even more obvious.  We also noticed that the most-clicked item on the home page was the “samples of our work” link (upper right), so we added the phone number to the funky slide show that visitors view at that link.  Depending upon the nature of the product, you might even want to make your telephone number flash.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA AVATAR…  Why show your face at Digg or FaceBook or Zoomit Canada, when you can be just a number.

6. USER NAME… A variation on the avatar them, if telephone leads are your bread and butter, make your telephone number your user name on social media sites and forums.

7. BACKGROUND…  Both Twitter and MySpace allow you to create custom backgrounds.  You know what to do.

8. FORUM SIGNATURES… OK, this one is obvious, but I am sure it would be even more obvious by its omission from the list.

Got some other ideas to optimize your website for telephone leads?  Please share them with us in the comments field below.

 


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How Long a Title Tag?

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

This is a tough one.  I have a habit of trying to fit as much into a title tag as possible.  I try to keep it below 12 words as a general guideline, but I know there is a difference between a short 12-word title, such as “Dine in – fast food fair for people who eat on the go” (53 characters) and a long 12-word title, such as “California pipeline producers – environmentally sensitive petroleum infrastructure for transporting energy internationally” (OK, so it’s just 11 words, but it’s 122 characters).

In addition to being the most valuable real estate on a web page, the title tag is also used by many other websites to link to your page.  So someone linking to the pipeline site, might use “California pipeline producers – environmentally sensitive petroleum infrastructure for transporting energy internationally” as the link text.

A new study suggests that Google reads only the first 55 characters of link text, which means that in the above example it would read only “California pipeline producers – environmentally sensiti”.  If you had to target such ridiculously long words for your search market, that would totally suck.  But it does speak to the importance of placing your most important keywords at the beginning of your title tag.  This is where so many websites that put a corporate name of even their domain name at the beginning miss the mark.  It also means trying to keep words like “the” and “and” out of those first 55 characters. 

A couple caveats: Google could at any time change this to 50 characters.  Or 60.  Or 600.  Or 10, for that matter.  So don’t get stuck on the number 55, but focus on the principle.  Yahoo and MSN will have their own limits, too, so don’t stop at 55 if you have something that might get picked up by someone else.  And, of course, the title tag is not primarily about link text, is it? 

 


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Title Tag Clinic for Training Websites

Friday, February 1st, 2008

If you run training sessions, courses or classes in various cities at various times, let me give you a secret weapon that will help you fill your seats.  This secret weapon is also great for how-to-authors or anyone else who tours.

I just got off the phone with a client who runs training sessions in various cities.  We were looking at how her website ranked for various local searches related to her type of training in a couple cities where she will be over the next couple months.  In one case, we searched on Google for:

topicname training cityname

Her website came in at #6, with a title tag of:

topicname cityname

Of course, the first recommendation I gave was to add the word “training” to the middle of the title tag, which would probably vault the page to at least #3 in Google’s rankings.  So the title tag would read as follows:

topicname training cityname

OK, so far this is all common sense.  But my second recommendation is not something any SEO class will teach you.  It was to add something to her page’s title tag that would most likely ensure she got more targeted click-throughs than Google’s #1 or #2 listing above hers, without having to grab the top spot. 

Studies have shown that typically 40% of searchers click on the #1 listing in the search engine results.  This is true across all engines and to some degree or more across various types of searches.  And yes, it is true equally for people who look at other listings, even for those who scroll down and look at listings #9 and #10; they tend to return to the top and click on the #1 listing, perhaps because there is a subconscious sense of authority that comes from being Google’s top pick.

But who are the 60% of people who do not click on the #1 result?  Here are a few suggestions (maybe you can add to this list):

  • People who see that the #1 result is not at all what they are looking for.  For example, some people searching for “pursuit of happiness” might be looking for the band, some for the constitution, some for a self-help website.  So many searchers will scroll to find the top ;listing related to their topic.
  • People who have already been to the #1 listing and did not find what they wanted there.
  • People doing research or price comparisons and want to visit many websites for more information.
  • People who feel the #1 listing looks spammy from the outset.
  • People who see something so totally laser-targeted to them, that they skip over the top few results and click directly on that link.

The recommendation I gave my client was to add something to her title tag that would convert the majority of searchers into this last group.  Before I tell you what it is, you must understand the thought process of someone looking for a training session.  They are looking for a local session; they don’t want to travel to Chicago or London or Toronto.  They are looking for something now; their contemplating time is over and now they are searching because now they want to sign up.

So here is how I recommended my client set up her title tag for pages announcing upcoming, scheduled courses:

topicname training cityname month year

Even if very few people search by date, imagine that you are searching Google, Yahoo or whatever engine by location and up pops the results with a bunch of typical generic listing titles and you notice in the title of the fourth listing that there is a class or training session not only in your city but coming up next month.  Bang – you have just diverted a lot of traffic from the #1 listing that is vaguely about training to a listing that offers specifically what the searcher is looking for.  More importantly, you have just diverted the traffic that is holding money in its hand, ready to buy.

Like I said….secret weapon! 

 


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