Matt McGee, Missed opportunities. You want your pages to rank well so you can get more traffic via natural search. And you wan to convert that traffic into customers. But you didn't get it right with Web Site 1.0.
Why not? Sometimes the problem stems from not presenting information the right way; sometimes from not presenting it at all. In this article, I'll introduce you to the four most underrated pages on -- or not on -- your web site. These are the pages you've likely underrated, not realizing their ability to accomplish those two important goals: acquiring traffic, and converting it to customers. Don't underrate them when you upgrade to Web Site 2.0.
Glossary: You have your keywords and you know you need to work them into your page content. But how? Traditional SEO says to write pages of content around those keywords – and you should do that. But why not do more?
Why not take that list of words and phrases and write a definition or explanation for each one? Ta-da! Instant glossary! If your list is only a couple dozen phrases, you've got a single web page with all of your targeted words. If your list is several dozen phrases, or several hundred, your best bet is to break the list down into several pages. Organize them alphabetically, or better yet — to help with search algorithm "theming" — break them down into categories.
Result: You'll end up with one or more pages of content filled with your keywords and phrases. This flies against the idea of targeting only 1-3 keywords per page, which is something you can and should practice elsewhere on your site. But what a glossary does is make you an authority on your topic. And there's an excellent chance other sites in your industry will link to your glossary as a reference tool. Do it right, and get enough quality links from related sites, and you might find yourself defining the phrase "SEO success."
Frequently Asked Questions: You've probably seen FAQs in the Google and Yahoo webmaster help pages, but maybe you haven't given much thought to adding a FAQs page to your own site. You should. FAQs give users great information and give crawlers great keyword-rich content. If I'm visiting a new site, the FAQs page is often the first place I'll go for information.
As with the Glossary, you can divide your FAQs into multiple pages for the most impact. (I used to work with a farm client that made separate FAQs pages for the different fruits they sell online.) This makes it easier for users to find the specific answers they want, and gives crawlers more high-quality pages to index. Any page that can serve quality material to both users and crawlers is a page you need on your site. FAQs are the most underrated and underused content page on the web. Their potential benefits are huge.
Free tip: Don't just focus on questions your customers ask a lot. Think about the questions they don't ask — frequently unasked questions. Customers often don't know what they should be asking, so you can improve customer service by giving them information they don't even know they need!
About Us: You probably do this page because everybody else does. You probably just throw together a paragraph or two about your company, how long you've been in business, maybe mention your mission statement (if you even have one), and slap on a photo of the company president, or maybe a staff shot if you all fit in the viewfinder. Boy, are you missing a huge opportunity.
A person who clicks on your About Us page is essentially saying, "I want to learn who you are and what you do." If someone said that to you at a conference or in an elevator, wouldn't you make the most of the opportunity? Sure you would. So do the same on your web site.
The About Us page is a free chance to convince site visitors that you can deliver whatever it is they came to find. This isn't about increasing rankings (even though you might end up using a keyword or three), this is about building trust and turning visitors into customers.
Your About Us page shouldn't be a direct sales pitch - there are plenty of other places on your site for that. Instead, it should be you talking to your customers, telling them showing them who you are, what you've accomplished, and why you're different from every other site selling the same green widgets. Don't waste this golden opportunity.
Contact Us: This is another page too many businesses do only because they have to, and that's especially true for small businesses who may not have the time or resources to respond to web site inquiries as quickly as they need to. But you can't expect your web site to solve every visitor's problem and answer every visitor's question. The Contact Us page is your best bet to fix that problem.
Like the About Us page, this isn't about search engine rankings; this is about converting traffic into customers and serving existing customers. The biggest mistake you can make is to put together a bland contact form with 3-4 fields and a "Thanks for contacting us message" after the form is submitted. Instead, use the contact page to give out all the important phone numbers at your company — front office, customer support, sales, even the company president. (If you're a small business, you're not too big to give out your phone number.)
Make sure your fax number and mailing address are there, and if possible, offer suggestions on specific people at your company whom customers can contact for specific questions. Make it as inviting as possible for people to contact you, and watch your conversions and customer loyalty grow. It's amazing how many people will walk in when you open your doors this way.
Conclusion: By putting a little more thought into these four types of web pages, you can increase the quality of your site's content — helping to attract more links and increase search engine visibility. And you can do a better job of converting visitors into customers. It's time to stop underrating these pages, and time to start giving them the value they deserve.