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Module 2: How to Plan a Website That Sells
Section 3: Search Engines and Your Website
Post 1: Designing for Your Second Customer
The customer is king. It’s a saying you’re probably familiar with.
However, today there’s a twist. To see it, you have to think about what wasn’t stated in the original saying:
Apparently, the king was a bachelor. No one ever mentioned a queen. Now the king is married.
The customer is still king. Search engines are queen. They’re your second customer.
And an important customer at that. Research shows:
7 out of 10 business customers start the buying process with a search.
Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers use search prior to making a purchase.
You succeed today by serving both the king and the queen. They both feast on information. However, they don’t necessarily like it prepared the same way.
In the last section, we talked about what customers are looking for. So now let’s dive in to what search engines want to see.
Make a long story short to appeal to customers and search engines
Website visitors scan. For the most part, they like their content short – think bite-sized morsels which they can quickly digest.
They don’t tend to scroll. So the area above the fold, especially on your Home Page, is the most valuable real estate on your site.
Search engines comb. They systematically examine your site, striving to understand who it is you help and how you help them.
They search each page from top to bottom, left to right. The more quality content they see, the more impressed they are. The more you impress them, the more they show you off to your future customers.
So if you design your site for customers, you’ll have short pages for the most part. If you design it for search engines, you’ll have long pages.
What should you do? Appeal to both of them at the same time!
We know, we know – you can’t do two things at once. Or can you?
It turns out that you can. You just have to make a long story short. Customers will love its brevity. Search engines want the whole story. (And so will people getting ready to buy.)
So as you think about the area above the fold on each page, think about customers. Share your most important content right upfront. Then fill in the story below the fold to make the search engines happy.
Interestingly enough, this strategy isn’t just for search engines. If you have a complex and/or costly product or service, people who are seriously considering a purchase will want this extra information as well.
A picture isn’t worth a word to search engines
As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. This may be true for humans, but it’s not for search engines.
They can’t see pictures. They can only read words. So you need to “attach” words with your pictures. Otherwise, your pictures aren’t worth a word.
We’re about to get technical here. Don’t worry – our web designer will take care of this when we build your site. But you’ll want to know about it so you can add this information to photos later.
The most important parts of the image to label are the File Name, Title and Alternate Text (also known as “alt text”).
Let’s use our logo as an example. We could give it the file name “.001.jpg”. But that doesn’t tell the search engines anything. So they essentially ignore it.
Here’s a better file name: “biggsuccess-logo.jpg”.
The title will be: BIGG Success Logo
The alternate text will be: BIGG Success Logo
When you label your images properly, they add more keywords to your page, which helps you rank better in search results. We’ll talk more about keywords in the next post.
It also insures your photos appear when people select “Images” for their search results, giving you another shot at getting visitors to your website.
With this background, you can either go through Part 1 of the Search Engines and Your Website Guidebook or go on to the next post. (In this case, we recommend the latter. Surprise!)
Of course, if you do have any questions, you can simply email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.