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October 5, 2011
Attract and Keep Customers With Great Content
If you're part of a company that has a website, it's likely that you are hoping to gain more leads and sales for the products and/or services you offer. To help facilitate this, it's important for you to optimize the top-level pages of your website to show up for the keyword phrases your potential buyers are typing into Google. After all, if someone looking for your product or service lands on a page that's showcasing exactly what they're looking for, there's a good chance they'll make a purchase from you. Or if not, they may at least fill out your contact form to gain more information about your offerings.
Those types of website visitors are obviously awesome, and you should do everything within your power to attract them. But leads and sales are not always easy to come by since they usually require an exchange of money. That said, not all Google searchers are even in the "buying" phase. They may be in the "information seeker" phase, or the "how to do it themselves" phase. Others may be in the "researching for a future purchase" phase. 
Content That Goes Above and Beyond
Searchers in any of the various phases of the buying cycle are likely to use very different keyword phrases on Google. This is where having a variety of content that goes further than just the selling of your products and services on your website is important.
Creating free articles, blog posts, videos, and any other type of content that may be helpful to those not yet in the buying phase is a great way to attract more eyeballs to your website. Unfortunately, those eyeballs belong to people who are unlikely to convert into a lead or a sale for you at this phase. They may be interested in your content because it provides them with whatever information that they were seeking. It's likely that they'll simply come to your site, get what they need, and leave as soon as they're done, with you hardly ever knowing they were there.
Engaging the Information Seekers
Instead of allowing them to bounce off your website with nary a trace, think of ways that you can engage with them further. Provide people in this phase of their research with a quick and easy way to gain additional information from you on a regular basis. Anything that keeps them connected to you in some way will do. Following you on Twitter, "Liking" you on Facebook, or subscribing to your email newsletter are good examples.
The idea is to publicize, in prominent places, what more they can receive from you on a regular basis. For instance, underneath each blog post, article, or video, you should add in some wording such as the following:
"If you liked this article, sign up for free email notifications when we post new ones."
"If you're interested in special weekly offers, join us on Facebook where we post new offers regularly."
"If you want to learn more about how to _____, subscribe to our free email newsletter."
"If you want to get links to our new information and stay in touch with us, follow us on Twitter."
Be sure to make it clear to your information-seeking visitors that you do, in fact, also offer products and/or services. If they land directly on your free information pages, they may not realize this. Let's say you have content that teaches people how to do the very services you offer — it's important to clearly state that they can come to you if they prefer to have someone do it for them. While this seems obvious, it's surprising how often folks don't make that connection.  
You can do this fairly simply by adding links from your free informational content to your services pages that say something like:
"If all this seems too complicated for you, learn how we can help you today!"
Follow-through is Critical
It's one thing to build up your newsletter subscriber list and your number of Twitter followers, but if you don't provide people with what you've told them you will, then everything else you do will be wasted. You absolutely must follow through with whatever you promised. If you told them you'll be giving out discounts on Facebook, then you need to do that. And you need to do it at the intervals that you said you would. If you get them to "Like" your Facebook page because they think they'll get coupons and none are forthcoming, you can kiss your credibility goodbye. And whatever you do, if they sign up for a newsletter or anything else on your website, do NOT give their email to your salespeople to start bugging them. The idea here isn't to necessarily sell to these people (yet); it's to nurture your relationship with them. 
Exceptional Content is Key
If you're doing all of the above, but still aren't seeing any results, it's likely you're not doing very good job with your informational content. If it's not providing your visitors with what they thought it would, then it's not worth it for them to spend time on it. Review what you're produced. Did you just write it for search engines so now it sounds like gibberish? Think less about the search engines and more about the people who you want to be interested in it. People won't care about it and will have no desire to sign up for more of it if it's not providing any value to them.  
Creating a Relationship Leads Eventually to the Sale
The point of all this is to keep in touch with your target audience. If they're hearing from you on a regular basis, you're the one they will think of when they have moved to the buying phase of their journey. Always remember that while a person may not be ready to buy now, at any point the switch could flip. When this happens, you want them to know right off the bat that there's absolutely nobody other than you who could fulfill their exact needs!   

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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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