July 9, 2012

Selection Set: get in it, and win it

What’s the first duty of a brand?

Visibility? Differentiation? Customer insight? Kickass logo? Nifty swag?

All plausible choices, because they’re all attractive, and most of them should be present to achieve success. So … let’s go into Double Jeopardy where the scores can really change, and see what needs to be done once we have a brand ready to battle competitors in the real world. One essential benchmark is to get into a buyer’s selection set, those two or three brands that a prospect will inspect. Getting on that tire-kicker’s shortlist is valuable – but it’s only a beginning because in every set of three, at least two will be bridesmaids.

The grand slam for considered purchases happens when you:
• get into the selection set
• are the first to earn a click from the selection set
• close the sale before competitors are even examined.
Game, set, match.

There are practical steps you can take to improve in all parts of that trifecta. Getting into the selection set requires skillful SEO, of course. But being findable is only part of the job.

The second part is to be clickable, to be the first result examined. It requires a good appearance on the search engine results page (SERP), which has a lot to do with the words that appear there, both the title and description. Most websites (seriously, most) do this badly, even though they have the power to control what words appear on the SERP.

Let’s amplify this a bit because the failure is everywhere you look. Prove it to yourself: take a look at a page of results, say, the SERP where your brand shows up vs. your competitors. Look just below each result title, and study the first few words of text. How many of these descriptions begin with the name of the company? That is, how many repeat what’s immediately above it? Does yours? This pointless wheel-spinning eats up space from the strict two-line limit.

About that limit: your SERP description allows 17 to 25 words, max – did you squander that opportunity? Did your website fail that “Killian Test #6” even though you can totally control what your description is – it’s written into your site’s code.

A few sites fail even to include a description tag in their code, but many more have ridiculous descriptions with 60 or more words, lopping off terms placed beyond the 25-word-limit. Protip: Decide on a single important, differentiating keyword crucial to your brand, and place it in the first three words of your description.

If you don’t know how, ask us.

So, on to the third part. If your website is lucky enough to get examined, is it possible to actually close the sale immediately? Yep. The latest research in buyer decision-making makes it clear that a website landing page that screams “you’ve come to the right place,” one that seems to satisfy all the searcher’s needs – can end the search instantly. Time is the new money. What landing page the search leads to, and how that page satisfies searchers, are vitally important factors. It’s too big an issue to brush off in a paragraph or two, so let it be summarized that your site’s effectiveness can be significantly improved with professional help. Hey, we’re professionals. Let’s talk about it.