Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of SEO related posts at the web design forum and have been contacted by a lot of seo agencies at work (my email may be doing the rounds). The thing that I’m most amazed by is what a narrow and ultimately incorrect, view of search engine optimisation some people and companies seem to have.
Let me elaborate.
As much as I love the web design forum, some of the advice given is frankly, awful, I can’t not post a reply. A lot of the advice given is a range of generic seo quotes that people have picked from the web. E.g. ‘use headings’, ‘have a keyword density of 4%’ and ‘get backlinks’. The majority of the advice centers around simply getting people on a website or appearing for a generic, competitive term. Compare the latter to SEO’s calling me up at work (and I quote) – “there are 9,000 people searching for xxxxx every month, imagine having 9,000 more people on your site every month”.
All this is fine in theory. However, say you do manage to appear for a generic competitive term or get 9,000 new people on your site – what then. There is a high likelyhood that your boucne rate (or percentage of people who leave your almost immediately) will increase a lot.
Enter Conversion Rate Optimization
So what exactly has happened in this instance? You now have a lot of traffic coming to your site with lots of people boucning off. For websites that require their visitors convert – basically any site that sells a service or product (read: any business website) this is bad news, not to mention a total waste of time.
As a website owner, if you found your site at the latter stage, you’d want to investigate something called conversion rate optimization (or CRO). This is a term given to the science of converting more of you visitors into actual customers – which is what any business requires from their website. Essentially, it the measure of success of a website. For clients who say they want a nicely designed site, with lots of graphics, or clients who want to appear number one for lots of keywords – they really mean they want a site that converts and makes them money.
This one factor is overlooked so much and seems to be a highly vicious circle. SEO and CRO go hand in hand, indeed they need to go hand in hand as they are tighly linked. Quality SEO practice is needed to get more people onto your site, while CRO is needed to convert these visitors into customers.
It amazes me that I still get marketing calls from professional SEOs who say they can get me onto page one for ‘web design’, without any mention at all of CRO – they simply say they’ll get lots of quality backlinks to my site. This is wrong for two reasons. Yes, my site will recieve a lot of traffic, but is it fully optimised to convert visitors into customers (currently it isn’t, currently undergoing a redesign). Additionally, it’sd a well known fact that short tail terms don’t convert as well as a long tail terms. I’m currently much happier being ranked highly for a longer tail version of ‘we design’ – ‘web design xxxx’, where xxxx is my county. Yes, it has less traffic than ‘web design’, but the traffic is more targetted and relevant. Additionally, I have a geo targetted page in the SERPs for this term, which helps too.
In relation to narrow views expressed on the web design forum, well, those people aren’t helping anyone and seem to measure the success of SEO in terms of ‘how many’ people land on their site. As I’ve explained above, this is only part of SEO. I’ll take a typical scenario. Someone asks how they can improve the SEO on their site. People instantly jump in with the generic seo quotes (which are a pet hate of mine). I’ll have a quick look att he OPs site – awful design, no useful content there at all, sometimes not even contact details are present. This is where people need to work backwards before quoting the seo quotes they love so much. Firstly, perform some CRO on the target website and ensure that if a visitor does land on your site that are more likely to convert.
To illustrate some examples of CRO, I’ll explain a few simple and small examples I’ve personally used on some sites I’ve been working on:
- Make call to action button stand out and adjust the button text – on a corporate site website, increased enquiries by 2.5% in the first month
- Adjust the way an existing ecommerce store displays related items – instead of selecting 10 random products on the basket page, select 10 products that people have ultimately ordered, based on the current shopping basket – increased sales by 2.5% in the first month
- Removed unecessary fields in our website enquiry form – cutting it down to 3 fields, from 6 – increase in enquiries
- Boldened and increased font size of first paragraph of text on inner, informational pages – resulted in people spending more time on the site and allowed the page to focus a clearer message to the visitor
- For one company, that had worked with several recognizable brands, I added their logos onto the site in prominant place to build instant trust and reputation – increase in conversions of 3.5% in first month
I’m by no means an internet marketer, SEO guru or leading web designers at all 🙂 However, it doesn’t take any of those to realise that once you have attrcated people to a site you need to do everything humanly possible to get a conversion. On the flip side, you need SEO to get a decent level of targetted traffic on a website.
SEo and CRO, a match made in heaven 🙂