Getting Found vs Being Seen: How SEO Doesn’t Matter Without Your Tribe

By Jessica Albon

Keep more site visitors

Image by Darren (estoril)

If you have a website, you know what SEO stands for and chances are you even know a thing or two about precisely how to optimize your site for search engines, even if you outsource all the work.

But getting found is only the beginning. Because there are a ton of websites people could explore when they Google something, people are quick to leave your site if it doesn’t feel right.

You probably already know that you have mere milliseconds to capture a visitor’s attention or else they’re “bouncing” away from your site. And you probably also know that 94% of the time people close your site so quickly, it’s a design issue (Northumbria University).

So, it’s not enough to rank highly in the search engines. You’ve got to create chemistry once people are on your site.

How do you do create the kind of chemistry that keeps visitors around so they can join your Tribe?

  1. With great overall design.
    Choose the colors that your audience loves (that reflect your brand), shapes that are a good fit for your message, navigation that suits your Brand Siren, photos that connect with your people, and typography that works well for your visitors. Wrap it all up in a super responsive bow (meaning: your site should look good regardless of who’s visiting or with what sort of device).
  2. With a clear, consistent message.
    Everything about your website should make a statement. Maybe you want your website to say, “Powerful Widgets That Make Life Easier,” in which case yoursite needs to make life easier. Or maybe your message is, “You Can Fit Good Health Into Your Busy Day,” in which case your site should load quickly and put the exact information a visitor needs right at their fingertips. It’s not enough to know your message, that message must be woven into the fabric of every element of your website. 
  3. With memorable photos.
    Preferably, custom. Stock photography can be great, but more often it’s generic. If you were on a site that had a photo like the one at right, what would you think they did? Image by Carl TerHaarBusiness consulting? Environmental cleanup? Daycare? (I’ve seen this type of photo on sites for all three types of companies–and many others.) Whether you use stock photos or your own custom photography, make sure those images adhere to your message, are clear, crisp, and as on brand as possible.
  4. With the right elements. 
    For each of the five Brand Sirens, there are specific elements you’ll want to add to your site. If I went through all of them, we’d be here forever! To give you something to start with, here’s how each Siren best handles site navigation:

    1. Judy: Use extra navigation, not for you the typical 5-7 links. Rather, use at least two navigation bars (don’t use drop down navigation–that keeps half your links hidden and defeats the purpose) to guide site explorers.
    2. Audrey: Stick with no more than five main links, and make sure “Contact” has its own page (with as much contact information as possible, plus links to your social media profiles).
    3. Edith: No navigation at all. Rather, take them exactly where you want them to go and direct them from one page to the next on a specific, deliberate path. (For the search engines, you can add a site map.)
    4. Katharine: Include lots of navigation choices (kind of like the Judy approach) and always end each page with a suggested next step. (For instance, at the end of your home page, you might say, “Click here to read about my background.”)
    5. Elizabeth: Keep your navigation straightforward and minimal, but make sure to interlink your pages well. Each blog post and page should link to at least one other post (within the text). Of course, your sales pages and landing pages won’t follow this rule, but otherwise you always want to lead visitors deeper into your site.

    See how differently each Siren ideally approaches navigation? It’s these nuanced decisions that add up to the entire site experience for your visitors–and that result in either keeping visitors on your site or watching them “bounce.”

  5. With a clear “You’re in the right place” message.
    Obviously, you can’t state this outright. But by getting crystal clear on who needs you and why they were searching for your site in the first place, you can make sure that you greet them with the kind of headlines they’re looking for. (Remember, the only thing they’ll be reading in that first impression is a headline or two, so while the rest of your text absolutely matters, when it comes to instant chemistry the headline is key.)

When your website is designed to create instant, irresistible chemistry with your perfect people, that’s when all that hard SEO work will pay off. Because unless they decide to stick around, it doesn’t matter how optimized your site is to bring in traffic. Which of these five points does your site need most?