The One Thing You Must Do Before Marketing Your Website – Visitor Signal Optimization

You’re excited about your new website. You think, “I’ve got my new website up. I need to drive traffic to it through SEO/social media/Adwords (fill in the blank). What do I do?”

The first thing you need to do is to NOT market your website — not yet, at least.

Not until you take a hard look at your website through the eyes of a visitor coming in from one of those external traffic sources. What signs and signals do you have in place to help those visitors?

Imagine that you said that you want to go out for dinner. Your significant other suddenly blindfolds you and drives you to a mall somewhere and leaves you, saying “I’ll meet you at the restaurant.” You get out of the car and take your blindfold off. You are not at the door of a restuarant; you are surrounded by a lot of different buildings. It’s somewhere you have never been before. How do you know where you are? How do you know what you are supposed to do? Where are you supposed to go? Frustrated, lost, and probably angry, you may wander around a bit, then leave — especially if you can find your car.

That’s what can happen to your website visitor when they come to your website from an outside source.

Many websites are built on the assumption that every visitor comes through the “front door” – the home page. So website owners spend a lot of time creating a home page that explains who they are, what they sell, what to do, and how to contact the business.

But not everyone comes through your home page.

1. Search engines will provide links to an interior page specific to certain search queries.

2. Social media links and shares probably will direct users to an interior blog or resource page.

3. Adwords will direct to whatever landing page you set up, and that will probably not be your home page.

4. External links on other websites will mostly likely refer to a specific post or page, rather than the home page.

For example, imagine you have a site that sells a new coffee brewing system. You have a lot of information about the brewing system on the home page and how to order it, but you also build the site with FAQs and coffee brewing tips and coffee lore so you can drive traffic to the website.

1. A visitor searching for “pour brewing” might find a search engine link to a post you have about that on your website.

2. Someone clicking on your cute Facebook post of a kitten drinking coffee would go to that post, not the home page.

What if these visitors get to these posts and there is no information about your coffee brewing system on those pages? It will be like the poor person stuck in the shopping mall, trying to find the unknown restaurant.

Except in this case, the visitor will read what the you sent them to and then bounce right off, never knowing who you were, what you had to offer, and what they could have done.

“But”, you say, “we have a menu at the top that says ‘Shop’ and ‘About Us’ and our logo is up there.”

Unless you are Coca Cola or Nike, your logo means nothing to the new visitor. And don’t expect your visitors to do the work of finding out what you want them to know by clicking on menu items. They won’t do it. And they shouldn’t. Because it’s our job to help them.

By taking a few simple steps you can ensure that visitors coming to your website through external marketing will turn into leads or customers.

Five Ways to Capture Visitors on Interior Pages with Signal Optimization

Review all your internal pages to make sure any visitors will have the information you want them to have.

1. Who you are and what you offer — Prominently display your business name, product line, and your USP in the header of every page.

2. Where to go — You have somewhere you want the visitor to go next. Don’t make them search for that path. Provide an image of the coffee brewer prominently displayed in the sidebar with information on what makes it unique. Give the visitor a link to learn more about its benefits.

3. Call to Action — Let the visitor know what they can do on every page. In many cases the suggested path will be your call to action. But you might be at a place where you can place a “Shop Now” button or a request for email in exchange for a coupon.

4. Retention Path — Give those visitors who aren’t ready for the product a service a reason to stay on the website — links to related articles they would be interested in, other FAQs, other resources. This is NOT your menu. This is content they might be interested in — not just what you want to tell them. As long as all your pages are optimized for visitor information, then at some point, we hope, they will have found out all they need to know click on your CTA.

5. Contact Information – Don’t count on a Contact Us page. Give visitors a way to contact you directly on every page.

When all your pages have been optimized for visitor signals, then you are ready to start marketing the website, knowing that any visitor who gets there will not get lost and just wander away.

Author: Terry Matz

Digital media expert with 18 years experience delivering web site strategies and solutions to improve business results through web site user experience, search engine optimization and marketing, and social media. Innovative thought leader with a cross-functional background in technology, communications, design, and marketing.

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