A goal of any Website should be to rank high on search engines for specific keyword phrases in an effort to drive qualified traffic, and as a result generate leads.
But when does traffic become a lead? Is it when they fill out a form on your site? When they first communicate with your sales team? How about when they subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed? Or when they return to your site two days in a row to read, or watch, the latest industry news?
Just because a searcher may not be looking to buy a product or service right now, doesn’t mean they can’t be a lead. In fact, if they found your site via search, you can reasonably assume they are interested in your industry, or line of business, and may potentially be in need of your services down the road.
The key is to give the visitors who aren’t interested in buying an avenue to find your site and a reason to come back. To do this, you must first structure your site to satisfy all types of searcher intent.
Understanding Searcher Intent
Searcher Intent is a user’s purpose for performing a query on a search engine or social site. It’s the answer to, “Why are you looking for that?”
“When Search Meets Web Usability,” by Shari Thurow and Nick Musica, is a great resource for helping to understand searcher intent (or query intent). In this book, the authors classify searcher intent in three ways:
“Navigational Queries are ones in which the searcher wants to go to a specific website, or specific web page (usually a homepage) on a specific Website. “ For example:
“Informational Queries are ones in which the searcher wishes to read or view more information about a topic.“ For example:
“Transactional Queries are ones in which the searcher wishes to perform some interaction on the web, aside from reading.” For example:
(“When Search Meets Web Usability” does a great job defining these further, provides percentages of how often these three queries are performed, and offers help on how best to optimize for each query. Highly recommended read!)
Types Of Websites
Generally speaking, there are five different classifications of Websites that satisfy the three types of searcher intent above.
- Organizational – Educate visitors about an organization’s purpose and drive them to take a desired call to action (i.e. purchase a product, call about a service, donate money, play a game, download a file, etc.)
- Blogs – Provide resource articles to visitors, offering insight, opinions and timely information on a specific topic.
- News Sites – Supply readers with news about a variety of topics, including international affairs, a specific industry, pop culture, sports, politics, and much more.
- Social Networks – Connect people who share a common bond or interest, including business associates, classmates, friends or industry peers.
- Aggregators – Collect and display information from other Websites, or user submitted content, to help users find specific things of interest on the Internet. These include social bookmarking sites (i.e. Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon), search engines (i.e. Google, Technorati, Dogpile), video sharing sites (i.e. YouTube, MetaCafe), Directories (i.e. Yahoo! Directory, DMOZ), Wikis (i.e. Wikipedia, superman.wikia.com), and forums.
Building the Ultimate Lead-Capturing Website
To have the greatest opportunity to reach the broadest audience of potential leads online, your Website must do more than just sell products and services. It needs to satisfy all three searcher intents by doing the job of some, if not all, of the website types above.
A great example of a site that does this well is Mashable. According to their About Us page, they are “the world’s largest blog ... reviewing new Web sites and services (Aggregator), publishing breaking news on what’s new on the web (News) and offering social media resources and guides (blog).” In addition, they integrate their social network feeds and users directly into the site, while sharing links to site content on their fan and Twitter pages (social networking).
Here are a few suggestions on how to start building your own Ultimate Lead-Capturing Website:
- Launch a Blog.
- Build a team of internal experts who are capable of generating insightful, unique content (i.e. blog posts, video, white papers, eBooks, etc.) to publish on your site.
- Create a resource center on your site that houses links to other online resources, eBooks and case studies to download, and blogs of your industry’s thought leaders.
- Connect with other industry thought leaders. Ask them to develop a useful post for your blog.
- Stay up to date on the latest happenings in your industry by setting up Google News Alerts, reading news sites, and subscribing to blogs and forums, and then publish your own thoughts on the latest industry news and trends.
- Continuously publish resource articles that may help searchers better understand your industry, while positioning your experts as thought leaders.
- Establish a social media presence using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Use your website to invite visitors to join your network and connect with others who have similar interests.
The key takeaway here is that every searcher, no matter what their intent, is a lead in some form or another. Be sure that your site is ready to capture all of them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and any ideas you have on building your Website to rank well for all types of search queries.
Keith Moehring is a consultant at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. Follow Keith on Twitter @keithmoehring.comments powered by Disqus