For the internet savvy, it’s all about data, data, data. We want to know how many visitors are viewing our pages, and what they’re reading, where they came from, why they left, whether they converted, and if not, why they left the site prematurely. The irony of our obsession with recording these metrics is that they’ve been around for a very long time, and they’re even more powerful when being conducted in real life business settings.
The following is a list of 10 common SEO practices and how they’re applicable to business in the physical realm.
10 SEO techniques that can be performed in a real-world setting:
Technique 1: Surround your own business with other similar but uncompetitive businesses
This is perhaps one of the most common missteps a business can make when setting foot on a physical property. Consider a shopping center in which all of the businesses are selling high quality expensive Persian rugs. The differences between the rugs are negligible and the customer wouldn’t have any real reason not to shop at one store versus another, aside from customer service of course. Alternatively, if the shopping center is only filled with home supplies stores, and your store sells rugs, then you’re going to get a lot of highly targeted traffic to your store just based on sheer geography. This is exactly why business property developers create entire communities of medical business spaces, for example.
Technique 2: Do real-life link building
If you’re in need of targeted traffic, consider going to a similar but uncompetitive business located nearby, tell them about your business, and get them on board with the product you’re selling. Offer a pseudo-partnership with them by directing your customers to them in exchange for them doing the same for you. By partnering, you can offer a special affiliate sale price of an entire living room decoration set by selling them a rug, and then sending them to your partner for the rest of the decorations, thus strengthening your partnership and getting a steadier flow of targeted traffic.
Technique 3: Record your visitors’ information
Just because someone has walked through the doors of your business doesn’t mean they’re going to buy something. Since this is a undeniable truth about them, its better connect with them in the long term than to simply let them walk out the door if they’re not satisfied with prices or products. Convert that new visitor into a return visitor by collecting their name and email address and getting them going on a monthly sales newsletter, perhaps. The possibilities are endless.
Technique 4: Use funnels to get them to the product they need
Think of every encounter with a customer as a funneled process in which several steps must play out before they’ve officially been converted to a paying customer. When they walk in, you do your meet-and-greet in which workflow is explained or implied. Follow up with a keyword analysis. Then hit them with targeted content. Offer additional possibly related content. Then offer them a valuable and competitive price for their selection. Make a sale. Collect their information. This process, believe it or not, is wonderfully executed by the home store Ikea. When you walk in the door, there is a meet-and-greet person with map information and the walls are painted with detailed maps & workflows. You can then follow arrows toward the product keywords of your choice. Once there, you’re surrounded by additional related products that you might also like to buy. The prices are all organized and transparent in that they are very competitive will other stores, and they make you want to shop there. Finally, you are taken to a checkout line and your purchase is made. However, they do not do an email signup option at the checkout stand, but they should. One company that does do this is the new Red Box DVD vendors in grocery stores.
Technique 5: Organize your products via keyword hierarchies
When visiting a Target or a Wal-Mart, you’re very much expecting to be directed to the area of the store in which your product resides via keywords and headings. If none of those store keywords were hanging above the aisles, you’d be very lost, and would waste a lot of extra time, hurting the user experience. If you organize your products in an easy to navigate way, they’re going to be more efficiently navigatable and you will be able to effortlessly make assumptions about other products they may be interested in purchasing.
Technique 6: Determine entrance keywords
Some stores benefit from having a sign-in sheet at the front of their business. This allows them to direct the customers to a representative who has special knowledge of a specific product or service, which eliminates a lot of the “please hold while I transfer you to someone who knows what they’re talking about” situations that sales representatives get themselves stuck in. While a sign-in may not be a viable solution for everyone, every business owner should think of a creative approach to gathering what their needs are as soon as possible.
Technique 7: Optimize for speed
Just because you’re doing custom work doesn’t mean your product development should drag on unnecessarily long. If you’re selling products, get them to a relevant area quickly, and make sure your product organization isn’t confusing. If you’re offering a service, be prepared to execute each step in an orderly and efficient way. Make them want to return.
Technique 8: Improper syntax can get you penalized
There are practical reasons why proper syntax needs to be maintained on a website — that’s because a web crawler expects to see certain elements of your website, and if they aren’t easily visible, the crawler simply assumes the content isn’t there. A customer is, in that sense, exactly like a crawler. If they go to the Persian rug store and walk to the carpet cleaning supplies section, they expect to see those products. If instead they arrive at that section and find that there is yet another arrow to another section of the store, they’ll wonder why your “SUPPLIES” sign wasn’t just placed in the correct spot in the first place. This is confusing to people, and a turn off in general when deciding whether or not to give you their money.
Technique 9: Offer a quality control follow-up
A product that breaks after a month is very bad. This isn’t a bad thing simply because the product is poorly made, but also because your reputation is now on the line. If you’re selling something, make yourself available to deal with these issues. If they’ve just purchased a service or product for you, give them a card with your name and number on it, and tell them to contact you if there are any concerns about the product, WHATSOEVER. This will make a customer very happy.
Technique 10: Run experiments
Your first iteration of “orderly design” may not be the best for your business. Set up a workflow and have someone go through it and rate the experience. Then try alternative work flows and compare the results. Whatever works better should then become the new standard for your business. Continue testing more and more specific metrics until your business is a fine-tuned machine.
It may not be obvious, but if you’re an SEO person, you have the ability to be an expert business consultant. Don’t be afraid to take your analytics knowledge to the real world and use it to improve someone’s business, or your own. Disorganization and slow workflow are never a good thing, and even the simplest analytics will make that plain to see.
This article is written by Kristian Urosevic. He is a web developer located in Southern California and the technical director for iDisplay Interactive.