SEO is not a new concept, and its importance has been proliferated on websites, email newsletters and word of mouth frequently enough, that people have come to add it to the list of a la carte services they seek from internet marketing firms.
I’m a big fan of SEO, and believe it can have a dramatic impact on the amount of qualified traffic visiting your site everyday. The problem with SEO is its perceived value over a much more critical item: your site’s ability to convert traffic into actual leads.
Think about it: a well-optimized career college website should be able to covert about 10% of its visitors to leads. But let’s say yours isn’t optimized for conversion, and is instead only generating a 5% conversion.
If you are getting a hundred visitors, and convert 5% that’s 5 leads. Pay for some expensive SEO and you may be able to see a 25% increase in traffic. At the same level of conversion, you’re now getting like 6 1/2 leads.
Now, let’s say you took the time to optimize your site, and got it closer to the 10% range. With no increase in traffic, you’re now getting 10 leads instead of 5, and if you chose to invest in the SEO at a later time, you’d be getting 12 1/2 instead of 6 1/2.
So now that we understand the value in optimizing your site for conversion, let’s talk about some basic things to understand when optimizing your site.
1. Every Page is a Landing Page – One concept that is not fully understood by many, is that your home page will not always be the site that people arrive on. For example, if someone is searching for “Welding Schools Fresno”, it’s quite possible that the page that shows up in the results is the welding program page for a school with multiple programs, not necessarily anyone’s home page.
With that said, you can’t afford to believe that every lead will naturally follow the path of Home Page » Programs » Program They Like » Request Free Info. Every page needs to be designed to answer the questions that someone visiting that page may have, and have strong calls to action and contact information on every single page.
2. Make It Easy To Contact You – One of the biggest conversion killers on a school’s website is the difficulty in finding how to reach them. You should have a quick contact form on every page, gather the basic information you need to qualify them as a lead (name, email, phone, zip code if you are geographically restricted). Your phone number should be displayed prominently on the website and a link to the contact page to find your location(s) should be easy to locate.
3. Designing Effective Calls to Action – The contact us buttons and request information area should have the strongest draw on the page. Yes, it’s good to include informative text and imagery to add value to your site, but nothing on the page should be more attention-grabbing than your calls to action.
4. Designing Contact Forms that Work – While you may want to have address and date of birth and favorite color, your potential students may not be ready to give that information up at this stage in the game. Be willing to work with the basic info we discussed in #2 (name, email, phone, zip code) and give them an option to apply online where they can provide you with more details. Having their address won’t really do a lot to help you convert them, but making it mandatory on your contact form may keep them from ever filling out the form in the first place.
Also, your form needs to be clean, aesthetically pleasing and professional looking. If you’re in house web designer doesn’t know how to style input fields, have them reach out for a freelancer who can. A $100-$200 investment in just cleaning up a contact form can have thousands of dollars of positive impact on your lead generation efforts.
5. Keep Everything Above the Fold – A lot of times search engine optimization and conversion optimization clash, negating out each others’ effects. One of the most common areas we see this with is the quantity of content on a page. SEOers want more text, Conversion Experts want less. The trick is to finding a balance, and our in-house rule about that balance is in keeping a majority of your content above the fold.
Above the fold simply means what content is visible above the bottom edge of the screen without having to scroll down. Contact forms, phone numbers and calls to action should always be above the fold. If it all possible, even your page’s text should all be above the fold.
With a decent sized header, navigation bar and a medium sized image within the page’s content, you should easily be able to fit 400-450 words of content on your page. If you have more text than that, you’re overwhelming your visitors and encouraging them to scroll away from the contact form. If you have less than that and your content still falls below the fold? Look at your page’s width (the average monitor size easily allows for sites up to 1000 pixels) or perhaps your images are too tall (try to keep them below 300 pixels where possible).
To learn how the pmc360 approach can help dramatically increase your internet lead generation efforts, please feel free to contact us here, or give us a call at 800-800-9204.