The Best Way to Convert Visitors to Supporters is to Forge a Bond

friendship-sarniebill1

Friendship by sarniebill1

In modern SEO we often encounter the term conversion (rate) optimization. It means making visitors of your site your clients or customers in most cases. A conversion can also mean to make someone convert from a casual visitor to a subscriber.

Conversion optimization is often a very technical term and has to do with A/B split testing and landing page optimization. Behind the idea of conversion optimization is the concept that the Web is full of strangers and you have to route them in a way so that once they appear on your site they follow the path you want them to.

When it comes to business blogging and getting supporters who will link to you and vote for you it’s a whole different story. You can’t streamline these people in such a way that they always click the right link, vote for you on social media or even better link back to you mentioning you by name.

The best way to convert visitors to supporters is to forge a bond.

Contrary to popular belief the Web is a place full of friends and acquaintances. Especially in case you blog and cover a relatively small niche like SEO, social media optimization or business blogging. All three niches are closely related so you can combine them like I do but still there aren’t millions of people but hundreds or even dozens you will meet virtually over an over. I’m blogging for 2 and half years in this niche and I keep on stumbling over the same people over and over. It’s really like a global village.

Don’t get me wrong though. I do not talk about Facebook friends, I’m not even active on Facebook. I do not refer to Twitter followers either although many people I’ve known before Twitter on the Web connect with me via Twitter.

SEO 2.0 is about mutual support.

It’s not as simple as a vote or link exchange. Many people try to barter those. That’s not it. Some supporters of mine are in industries where my support is of barely any use. I might have submitted their sites to StumbleUpon or Mixx in the past when I still participated there but they are still around today when I don’t.

The best thing about the Web is that is is by design a frustrating place. Yes, it’s an oxymoron. People are so glad to meet a friendly human being on the Web amidst this huge wasteland that you can forge bonds much faster. You don’t have to go to school together to become friends. In many cases

  • attention
  • mutual respect
  • a congruence of interest (like blogging in the same niche)
  • a short contact

are enough. People will support you not out of direct self-interest but because you notice them, appreciate them, express interest in what they do and contact them. You wouldn’t get that kind of support by small talk on a party in most cases. On the Web it works faster and better. You skip the small talk. You talk business without talking business. It’s difficult to grasp and put into words. It works like that though. I’ve written in the past that you have to think relationships not technology.

Let me give you a simple example. When I started this blog in 2007 I was a nobody. There was no reason to become friends with me other than being a nobody as well. One of my first articles here on the blog was a list of available SEO 2.0 definitions by other people. One of them was by Lee Odden. Lee was huge in the SEO industry back then already. Nonetheless he commented on my blog. He was polite and respectful. Back then we forged a bond of mutual respect. I gave him kudos for offering a good SEO 2.0 explanation. As he cared enough for the term SEO 2.0 I’ve often referred to his definition from then on. He showed by his appearance on my blog that no matter who I was my blog was worthy of being noticed.

We’re not friends in the real sense. I’ve never met Lee and we even didn’t email each other until now but we follow each on Twitter and from time to time we retweet our links. Still Lee Odden knows that I’m the crazy guy with the sombrero and the weird name who came out of nowhere to set up one of the most succesful SEO blogs out there.

On the other hand most of the other people mentioned in the list who by and large were less important than Lee Odden haven’t showed up on the blog to comment on SEO 2.0

I have no idea who these people were without looking up the article. I don’t remember their names or when I do I don’t remember their SEO 2.0 definitions. I’m not a supporter of them, neither are they supporters of mine. I haven’t linked their sites since then again or voted for them. They were simply off my radar because I connect mostly with the people I have a bond with. Why should I connect with those who don’t care and support them?

So if you want to get links and votes on social media make sure people know who you are, that you care and that you forge a bond of mutual respect. This way you can convert them to long time supporters.

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