Courting Clients Online

Proper search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about meeting your target audience online. It’s one of the things a website owner does to put their best foot forward and arrange introductions to people who will be the best possible matches for their site’s information, products, and/or services. In many ways this is like dating. But, as with dating, introductions will only get you so far…

Courting Clients OnlineYou’ll need to think about more than using SEO to reach out to the best possible matches, you’ll need to impress them, court them, to increase your sales and website conversions.

SEO Basics: Getting To “Hello”

Meta tags and data like taglines and FAQs are like the questionnaires you answer and the information blanks for age, gender, location, etc. you toggle or fill out in dating membership profiles. Filled out properly, these basics help search engines to match you with compatible people who are looking to meet you.

Just as you wouldn’t check every box, or say, “Yes,” to everything, you should not stuff in every popular keyword or phrase. You don’t want waste your time with introductions to people who are not interested in or compatible with your site — not when you could be meeting Mr. or Ms. Right. Since these meta tags and data are used by search engines to assist these ‘single” customers in sifting and sorting through all the other possible website candidates for matches, you should only use words and phrases which describe you, your website, your business.

But, as these basic tags and information bits are limited to a few words in specific places, they will only get you so far.

Continuing SEO To Charm

In order to move past the introduction, you’ll need to add more information beyond the basic blanks. This is why online dating profiles, and other networking sites, provide an “about” box in which you can give more personable details about yourself to charm and interest people beyond the basics. As this is free-form box, you are encouraged to “talk” like yourself, to be more engaging, while providing more information about yourself. Your website also has the option of an “about page” and here is where you can expound upon your company, offering basic and additional information in a more personable way that communicates your personal style or corporate brand.

Most online dating profiles also offer other “boxes” for additional information, such as interests and hobbies, as well as places to add “updates,” photos, etc. This is where a person can showcase more about themselves and has the opportunity to provide tidbits and glimpses into their lives which might engage curiosity or interest and encourages, hopefully, interaction.

This is what your website or blog should do — provide additional content that goes beyond the basics, giving deeper information as well as a better idea as to who you are and what you’re all about.

Ideally this content engages as well as instructs, informs, and provides organic SEO. This is where and how you “woo” potential matches, be it readers, clients, customers, etc. — but don’t lie. Don’t paint a false picture of your company; that’s like using the photo of someone else in your dating profile. If the goal is to get them to meet you, your lies will be found out. You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” right? Well, there is one greater fury: The customer who feels swindled!

Customer Courtship

Like first dates, few first time visitors “go all the way” and convert into sales, etc., so you’ll need to begin a courtship. In dating, the goal is to spend time together in order to assess the other person’s suitability as a partner; the more dates, the more likely there is to be a match. In terms of websites, your courtship consists of repeat visitors who are growing ever-nearer to entering into a business partnership with you. If the goal of SEO is to get people to you, to get the introduction or phone number, the content on your site is how you perform your courtship.

Many people make the dating mistake of monopolising the conversation. It’s true that your website pages are text, and therefore rather like a one-sided conversation (You can’t leave them blank, can you?), but that doesn’t mean you have to be a selfish jerk, either.

Here are three ways to come across as open, interested, and not “all about you.”

1) The primary way to appear focused on the relationship and your potential partner is to view your website content as conversations. Keep your conversations focused on your date. What do they want to know about you? What do they need to know about your product or service? What can you do to show you are trustworthy? Anticipate those interests and concerns and create your website content around them. This is not only a great way to court those already interested, but your content also serves as organic SEO, covering subjects of interest to new potential partners.

2) The second way to be open to the customers you are courting is to do your best to include your date in the conversation. Ask questions of your own in posts and articles to encourage discussion — via comments on your site and posts at other sites. (Be sure to monitor links to your site for such conversations and participate thoughtfully in the discussions on those sites as well.) You can also offer polls and guest post opportunities to encourage discussion and interaction. Don’t forget to make calls to action, including prompts to buy, register, subscribe, etc..

3) The third way to foster conversation and cultivate relationships with site visitors is to allow means for people to start conversations. Make sure your contact information is easily found. Turn a contact form into a suggestion box. Ask for readers to send in questions or tips. Open a forum, if that’s suitable for your industry. Then use those conversation starters and create content around them, using the topics and keywords suggested.

Use SEO to get the introductions and the content on your site to court potential partners as well as to create organic SEO to generate additional introductions. This is one time your courtship isn’t limited to just finding The One.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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