A 3 Step Guide to Attracting Qualified Leads to Your Web Site

I was contacted recently by one of our graduates from Search Engine College. He wants to remain anonymous, so let’s call him Steve.

Since taking our course, Steve had managed to land a job as Director of Online Advertising for a famous plastic surgeon in Los Angeles. He had already used what he learned about SEO and PPC to increase traffic to the surgeon’s site by more than 40 percent. But he had run into a bit of a roadblock, which is why he contacted me.

Here’s part of Steve’s email:

“Although my client’s Internet inquiries have increased dramatically since last May when I started, we have apparently reached the wrong audience. Every inquiring patient bellyaches over the prices and tries to talk him down. Yet my client is a master surgeon with over 30 years experience, an instructor of cosmetic plastic surgery at two universities and has penned three books. I know how to find a more well-heeled audience in the world of print but how is it done on the Internet? What can I do differently with SEO, blogging and social media to find a more qualified group of patients for my client?”

In answering Steve’s email, I realized that there are probably many webmasters and online marketers in a similar situation : just how DO you attract the most appropriate target audience to your web site? Maybe you’ve got traffic generation covered, but how do you make sure the traffic you are receiving has the best potential to convert into sales/sign-ups?

Here’s the advice I gave Steve:

Step 1

Record how customers found your client’s site. Was it word of mouth or via the web site? Did they come from a search engine? What keywords did they type in? Make sure there is a *how did you find us?* option for every email, phone or walk-in inquiry. Closely track your client’s site analytics to see where the bulk of the traffic is coming from. Once you have a more solid understanding of your current customers, you are ready for the next step.

Step 2

Perform detailed keyword research so you know what keywords and phrases your particular target market is searching for in search engines. Start by looking at the keywords providing the most traffic to the site. It’s easy to assume that because your client offers “plastic surgery”, your customers type “plastic surgery” into Google to find your products, right? But the truth is, you don’t actually know what your client’s customers are searching for unless you research it. They might be typing in “facelifts” or “nose jobs” or “rhinoplasty”. One of the biggest mistakes online businesses make with search engine marketing is targeting the wrong keywords.

Next up, create a seed list of keywords. Basically, this is a brain dump of all the keywords and phrases you think your client’s preferred potential customers might type into a search engine to find the products and services he offers. You need to get inside the heads of your potential visitors/customers. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think what would YOU type in to a search engine if you wanted to find a site like yours? Start with the keywords you know existing customers and site visitors have used. Then pass that list around the office, to your client, to your friends and get everyone to add the keywords *they* would use to find those same products and services. Keep going until you’ve got at least 50 keywords/phrases. That’s your search term seed list.

Now take that list and enter it into an online keyword research tool such as Keyword Discovery, Raven Tools or even the Google Keyword Tool. These tools show you how many searches each keyword/phrase attracts each day. Use this information to narrow down your choices. Don’t bother with keywords that generate less than 20 searches per day. Look at the most popular keywords in your list and choose the ones that relate specifically to your client’s service. Revise, streamline and revise some more to come up with your final list of the most relevant target search terms.

If you want to avoid the tire kickers, you’ll probably want to remove search terms such as *cheap plastic surgery*, *inexpensive facelifts* and similar themes from your list. If you are running AdWords campaigns, this is a lot easier because you just add keywords like -cheap and -free etc. to your negative keyword list.

When you have your final target list, get to work integrating those keywords into your web pages, blog posts and AdWords campaigns using your SEO knowledge. This will ensure that you receive more traffic from persons entering your target keywords and less traffic from tire kickers. Your site visitors should also be more qualified leads and further along in the research / buying process so it should result in more surgical bookings.

Step 3

Set up social media monitoring to track mentions of your target keywords on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking sites. There are several tools to do this, but here are a couple of the best:

- Raven Tools Social Monitor
- Google Alerts
- TweetBeep

When you see mentions of those target keywords, you or your client can contact the persons who made the post / tweet / status update to let them know of your client’s services. For example, say you are tracking the keyword phrase *rhinoplasty surgeon* and someone uses Twitter to tweet something like:

“@paminbeverlyhills: Can anyone recommend an excellent rhinoplasty surgeon in Beverly Hills? #lazyweb”

You will receive an alert and you can then approach that person on Twitter. Obviously this has to be done in a subtle, helpful way rather than coming across as pushy or spam-like. So your response might be something like:

“@beverlyhillssurgeon: Hey @paminbeverlyhills I saw your tweet earlier about seeking a rhinoplasty surgeon, just wanted to let you know we have over 30 years experience in rhinoplasty surgery. Let me know if we can help :-) *

This can be time-consuming, but well worth the effort because the leads are highly qualified and much more likely to convert.

Don’t forget, you can also use Facebook demographic targeting to promote your client’s business page or web site via Facebook advertising. For example, if you know that your client’s patients are mostly aged 40+ with tertiary education, you can choose to have the ads show only to Facebook users who meet that demographic. You can do the same thing using demographic targeting in Google AdWords.

Follow these 3 steps and start attracting more qualified leads to your web site. When you are tracking just the keywords and search phrases that you know are highly relevant to your business and/or using demographic targeting, you are able to more accurately pinpoint your market and pick and choose your customers.

Tire kickers begone!

 

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Social Networking and the Overshare Generation

please-rob-me-smlThere have been a lot of stories in the media lately about cyber-stalking and privacy issues on the Internet. It seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the tsunami of social networking that has occurred in the past few years. Or is it? Are the media over-reacting? Or have we forgotten what privacy is in the age of the World Wide Web?

The Rise of Oversharing

Back in the late 1990′s, many people didn’t even use their real names on the Internet. Email addresses were usually aliases or nicknames in an attempt to retain as much privacy as possible. But with the rise in popularity of social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace has come a rise in online confidence.

The new Internet generation doesn’t seem to have the privacy hang ups or suspicions their parents had about sharing information with strangers over the net. In fact, this younger generation of cyber savvy has an alarmingly high comfort level when it comes to communicating personal information about their lives on the Web.

The premise is that everyone in your social circle not only wants to know but NEEDS to know when you are buying that tall frappuccino from @starbucks. That they need to know precisely where you are and what you are doing every minute of the day. This new phenomenon is called oversharing and it has privacy experts worried. Continue reading

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Facebook Places Takes Geolocation Networking to 500 Million

facebook-places-grabAmid great live streaming fanfare and back slapping, Facebook officially launched their location-based social networking application Facebook Places today.

TechCrunch were keen to point out that they spotted the product before the launch even began, but the fact that Facebook were working on geo-networking functionality has been a poorly kept secret for a while now.

So what exactly IS Facebook Places? Think of it as a combination of Foursquare and Gowalla but available on Facebook. Which is interesting because Facebook have *partnered* with both of these supposedly rival companies. More about that later, but for now, here’s how it works:

How it Works

You need to download the latest version of Facebook’s iPhone application OR if your mobile browser supports HTML 5 and geolocation, you also can access Places from touch.facebook.com.

Open the application of your choice and tap the “Check In” button (sound familiar?). A list of nearby places will show. Choose the place that matches where you are and check in. If it’s not on the list, you can add or search for it. Your check-in will show up in the Recent Activity section for that place and also create a status update from you in your friends’ News Feeds.

Who Else is Here?

Similar to tagging a friend in a photo, you can tag other Facebook friends who happen to be with you during check in and include a status update about what you’re doing at the location.

The “People Here Now” section allows you to stalk check what other Facebook users have checked in recently to the same place. Facebook suggests this is a way for you to meet like minded people, but I can imagine this feature becoming a privacy issue for some. Thankfully, Facebook have provided a way for people to opt-out of being shown in the People Here Now feature.

Does it Make Foursquare and Gowalla Obsolete?

Given that the check-in and recent activity features of Facebook Places are nearly identical to what Foursquare and Gowalla currently offer, there was some talk about whether there was room in the market for all three geolocation services.

However, both companies have worked with Facebook in the past and both were invited to partner with Facebook Places. Staff from each even spoke at today’s launch about their partnership. But let’s face it, what choice did they have?

Apparently, both Foursquare and Gowalla are going to allow users to publish their check-ins to their Facebook feeds and even transfer their pins and badges to Facebook Places. I’m sure the carrot of Facebook’s 500 million members was a tasty one, but you have to wonder if this will mean long term redundancy for Gowalla and Foursquare.

Privacy Issues

Having learned from their mistake with the profile privacy settings, Facebook have given users more privacy control over Places. You can only tag your existing Facebook friends during check-in and your check-ins will only be visible to your friends by default, although you can change this to public.

Just like removing yourself from a photo tag, you can remove any Places tag or check-in or tag. You also have the choice to turn off the ability for friends to check you in at Places. To do this, go to your Privacy Settings and turn off the setting to “Let Friends Check Me In.”

Facebook Places is currently only available within the US but should roll out to more countries within the next few weeks.

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Twitter to Become Your Online GPS

This week Twitter announced a new feature for twitter.com and mobile.twitter.com called Twitter Places.

The idea is to allow users to tag their Tweets with their specific location, acting like an online GPS of sorts. The geo-location data is made possible with the help of Twitter partners TomTom (manufacturer of in-car GPS navigation systems) and Localeze (a search marketing firm specializing in local search).

Apart from tweeting your own location, the new feature allows you to click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location. Users of geo-social networking services Foursquare and Gowalla will be excited, because the new feature now integrates with these services. If you click on a registered Twitter Place, not only will you see standard tweets from that location, but you’ll also see recent check-ins from Foursquare and Gowalla.

The timing of Twitter’s new feature launch deliberately coincided with the kick off of the World Cup, to encourage people to tweet from and view tweets from World Cup stadiums in South Africa. From the official blog post about the launch:

“When turning to Twitter to keep up with the current game, it helps to know where a Tweet is coming from – is that person watching the game on TV or is he actually in the stadium? To help answer that question, we’re excited to announce Twitter Places”

Unfortunately, Twitter engineers did not account for the popularity of such a feature during a major sporting event and demand actually crashed their own servers for a few hours this week. More about that in another post.

Twitter Places is designed to work with the existing “Tweet with your location” functionality. Instructions for activating Twitter Places using the location function can be found in Twitter’s Help Center.

The new feature will be rolling out to users in 65 countries this week. You’ll know the feature is activated in your country when you see the “Add your location” link below the Tweet box when you’re logged in at Twitter.com

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