Why is a 'call to action' so important for SEO?

These days things happen fast. The internet has bought about a mentality of instant access, instant information and instant gratification. It's so easy to go to another website or do another search for a product, service or information, so with this in mind we need to make our websites usable and easy to manage, navigate and fulfill whatever action your potential customer wants to fill when they get to your website.

Whenever I speak at a conference or workshop I always tell people that ranking a website is only half the battle of SEO. The other battle is converting people when they get to your website. If you concentrate on getting your website ranked and forget to guide people through to an end result, your website won't be performing as well as it could be.

What is a call to action?

Basically a call to action is an instruction such as:-

  • Call now
  • Click here
  • Buy today
  • Add to cart

You get the idea. When it comes to SEO there are a few areas you want to place a well-defined call to action.

Calls to action on your website

It’s a really good idea to have calls to action placed in various areas around your website. This will really depend on what type of action you're trying to get your customers to perform and how you want to approach it. Some people like the in-your-face model with a pop-up subscription facility and really large button, others (like me) tend to take a more moderated approach and let customers decide for themselves (personally, I think this gives you a better quality of customer).

Different types of call to actions

There are many different types of call to actions and this really comes back to basic sales training. Different people respond to different offers, for example "50% off" and "half price" are essentially the same offer, but some people will respond more to one type of offer over another (which is why it's so important to test offers to see which one gets the best conversions). That said, here are a few different types of calls to action you may wish to choose:-

Timed offer

The timed offer can work very well in creating a sense of urgency, meaning that if people don't order or sign up now they might miss out.

Basically you would write something like "This offer only on until 5pm Tuesday" or something similar. One very effective technique I have seen is on the Net Registry homepage. When you go there a little countdown clock tells you 'your special offer ends in 1:49:58'. This gives the impression that for the next two hours you can get a great bargain, where in fact this counter shows every time you go to their website. Pretty smart, hey?

The "in your face" approach

This is where you would have a big red button that's very much 'in your face' telling people to buy now or download this e-book, etc.

Limited amount to first customers

This offer is only available to the first 50, 100, 1000 customers. Whatever number you choose it will create an environment that makes people think "If I get in quick enough I could get one of those".

Bonus offers

This is where you add something onto the original product or subscription. For example, "order today and receive a free XXX".

Reduction in price

There are so many variations of this theme it's almost limitless. For example:-

  • 50% off
  • 2 for 1
  • Half price
  • Buy one, get one free

Adding your call to action in description tags

Your description tag is what displays in a search engine’s results page, so here is another opportunity that shouldn’t be missed to display your call to action.

You can engage your customers using your description tags without them even visiting your website - from a search engine’s results page your customers can see “50% off”, “buy one, get one free” or your phone number - any of these could be your call to action.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Try some different variations of these, test them, improve them and you're well on your way to converting more customers.