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Sells, Flash Doesn't: Implications for Search Engine Optimization
Sells, Flash Doesn't : Implications for Search
Sells, Flash Doesn't: Implications for Search Engine
by Heather Lloyd-Martin
do users want?
Before every site launch and redesign, marketing
and IT departments agonize over this question.
Should the Web site be graphics-heavy and light
on text? Do prospects want rich media enhancements
(like Flash) and will they buy more if they
are in place? What steps should be taken to
guarantee the best site experience?
These questions can be answered in one short
and sweet comment: Keep it simple.
The results from a Jupiter Media Metrix study,
released in September, point to some interesting
- Only 20% of respondents would visit a site
more often if it had rich media enhancements.
- 40% of respondents would visit a site more
often if the pages would load faster.
- 59% of retail shoppers wanted more product
information (and yes, this means more text on
Happened to the Bells and Whistles?
What's more? According to analyst Cormac Foster,
"Companies can reach all these goals with
a minimal application of technology." Whew
- what happened to the ever-famous "the
more bells and whistles that we have on our
site, the more people will buy" theory?
In previous articles, I've talked about my preference
for key phrase-rich and marketing-savvy text
over rich media. I've discussed the pitfalls
of Flash animation and warned readers that Flash
or multimedia bells and whistles can not only
harm their chances with the search engines,
but they are useless to your customer. Yes,
you can use these features (if you know your
users like them and you work around any user
or search engine pitfalls), but they shouldn't
be the cornerstones of your users' experience.
Your prospects want product or service knowledge,
not whirling (and slow-loading) graphics.
The statistic "59% of retail shoppers wanted
more product information" is telling. This
means that almost 60% of respondents are screaming,
"We're not getting the information we need
from the sites we visit" - and this sentiment
will result in lost sales. If your site provides
sketchy product information in an attempt to
"get people to contact you for more information,"
you are forcing your users to take another step
before they can buy from you. When it comes
to conversion rates, why tempt fate and make
things more difficult for your buyers?
Cool Stuff Doesn't Answer Questions
Think about this concept in real life: Let's
say you're visiting a retail store. The store
is the latest in hip, with flashing lights and
rock videos pounding from every corner. You
see a product, love it, but have a few questions
about it. You wait for a sales person...and
wait...and wait...and still your questions aren't
answered. Would you continue waiting just because
the store was cool? Would you buy the product
anyway, and figure your questions weren't important?
No. Chances are you'd leave the super-hip store
without spending a dime, figuring you can find
your trinket somewhere else.
Tips to Improve Your Site Experience
Let's bring this back to search engine optimization
writing. How can you take advantage of the latest
Jupiter information and improve your site experience
(and content) right now?
your customers what they want. The reason
people visit a product or service Web site
is because they want information. They may
want detailed product information, where
the more they know about the product the
more they are willing to buy. Or, they may
want precise information about your services
before they contact you. The easier you
can make it for your prospects to buy from
you, the less chance they will surf to your
descriptions are a powerful means of differentiation
for retail sites and require little incremental
work." says Foster.
your copy with well-researched key phrases
in mind. One of the prime advantages of
having more content on a page is you'll
make the search engines happy. Remember,
the search engines love text - lots of it
- and will happily spider content-rich pages.
Instead of adding more content without thought
to the search engines, make all your "new"
copy key phrase rich. (If you have questions
about how to write for key phrases, check
out "How to Write a Key phrase-Rich
Home Page the Search Engines Will Love."
your ego out of the way. Do you really care
that your competitor enjoys the latest bells
and whistles on their Web page? Why? Although
their site may look like visual nirvana,
that doesn't mean that it's converting customers,
ranking well on the search engines, or offering
the information their prospects need. In
fact, a slow-loading site will alienate
prospects with a dial-up connection (personally,
I skip every Flash introduction I see, or
immediately surf away). Remember, you're
designing your Web site for your users'
experience - not your own. When in doubt,
Jupiter recommends surveying your users
before adding enhancements. This will help
give you the direction you need, while also
offering a good "reality check"
on what is important to your users - and
what will send them packing.
Lloyd-Martin, President of SuccessWorks, is the
leading expert on search engine optimization copywriting.
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