Conversion Rate Optimization… Say What?

Most of us are aware of and already using basic search engine optimization, SEO strategically on our websites. Depending on your tactics, basic SEO can help drive quality and highly targeted traffic to your website. The best start, of course, is to use keyword phrases that are further along in the buying process.

If someone is searching for the phrase ‘leather handbag’ online, they are still in the research stage and it’s not likely they are ready to buy. However, when an individual types the phrase ‘brown, leather Coach handbag’ in the search box, –now we’re talking.

Regardless of what you’re selling on line, you want to be sure that you are capturing traffic at the proper point of the sales flow. This one tactic, using long tail keyword phrases that are very specific instead of much broader terms, like ‘women’s purse’, will greatly increase quality traffic.

But what if you’re at the top of Google rankings, you’ve got plenty of traffic, but you’re still not seeing the conversions? After all, traffic is only useful if you’re making sales, right? Very few people talk about the next step of the optimization process, –conversion rate optimization.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

If you’ve thought about abandoning basic SEO practices because you’re just not seeing the financial reward, –wait! Your dilemma is more than likely about what happens when traffic arrives on your site. Massive traffic only leads to massive sales if your site has what people are looking for.

Isn’t it enough to just have the product? What else do online shoppers want? I’m glad you asked!

Research proves that potential online clients or customers go through a quick, subconscious assessment process in their mind. The entire procedure takes less than a minute, but it’s crucial that your site makes it past this mental tally sheet. A few red flags or negative reactions and bam, –your potential client just clicked back to Google in search of someone else.

Giving Searchers What They Want

Plain and simple, optimizing your site for conversions is about giving your site visitors exactly what they are looking for. If you can do this, you’ve got a sale.

Is it really that simple?

Yes, it’s really that simple.

Here’s the breakdown of what your visitors are looking for:

Information That’s Easy to Scan – Have you ever landed on a site that looks like one huge garbled block of words? Paragraphs that go on forever, a lack of bold subheadings and bullet point lists makes for unhappy visitors. Your site should be easy to scan, clear in its message, and so user friendly that a third grader can figure it out.

Client / Customer Benefits – Newsflash. Nobody cares about you. Visitors to your site are there to solve their problems and find their answers, period. You may have a flashy site with cool looking graphics but was your site built with the customer in mind, or you? Always start off by informing your visitor what they have to gain if they continue reading. Treat and talk to them as if they are a friend, or family.

Use plenty of ‘you’ focused language throughout your content and be very clear about fulfilling one or more of the following needs:

  • Provide information
  • Provide a product or service to be purchased
  • Provide entertainment
  • Provide a sense of belonging or community

Build Trust – Once your visitor is interested, he or she automatically moves on to the next assessment, “Can I trust this person/website?” While they are looking for clues to answer this question, your visitor will subconsciously be scanning your site for certain things. Do you have testimonials? Real contact information with your photo and phone number? Do you use a trustworthy shopping cart or method of payment? Do all your pages have information on them? Everything from a half built website with sparse and sketchy information to a contact page with just an email address can cause your potential clients to bolt.

Easy to Navigate – Do your visitors understand what to do next? Many websites and landing pages fail to convert simply because they don’t come right out and tell the visitor what to do. People like simple. Have a clear chain on your website that leads to the sale. Don’t assume they will simply “find it.” Trust me, they won’t. Talk about the value, tell them what they will gain, and then ask for the sale with a nice big “Buy Now” button.

Accessibility – 40% of users go to a competitor after a poor mobile user experience. If your site is not accessible from smart phones, you may be missing out on a big chunk of the action. Mobile usage continues to grow at an impressive rate, yet many marketers are not keeping up by providing a quality experience for their mobile visitors. You can easily gain a huge advantage just by putting yourself in touch with mobile users. Start by using your analytics to identify exactly what percentage of your visitors are accessing your site through mobile sources. Depending on your industry, it may be a much higher percentage than you’d expect. Digitalbuzz has a great Infographic on mobile market statistics.

Introduction to the Sales Funnel

Have you ever been on a website that seemed to be ultra-streamlined toward the sale? It seemed as though every question you were thinking was answered in the very next sentence or paragraph that you read. It was all so orderly and focused that you thought the site owner must be reading your mind!

It wasn’t an accident.  This website was probably built on the concept of a sales funnel. It’s a very purposeful approach to optimizing for conversions that will keep you on track as you’re creating your user experience.

There are plenty of examples of sales funnels online, but here’s one from WebSEO that we particularly like.

online sales funnels

Traffic conversion is definitely a skill, but with a little bit of direction along with knowledge of the common mental obstacles you’ll be prepared to overcome each one.

Bounce: Bounce rate occurs when someone clicks onto your site, takes a quick look at your home page and says, “Oops, my mistake” then clicks away. You can stop bounce two ways: qualify your traffic by using the right keyword phrases. The second way to lower bounce rate is by having a clearly laid out website. If it’s too cluttered or too confusing, you may be driving potential clients away.

Motivate Your Visitors: Browsers who come up against ho-hum content will be easily distracted and likely not to make it to deeper into your site. Motivate your visitors with your passion. If you love what you do, offer real value, and are excited about it, –this will shine through. People aren’t motivated by mediocre. Always strive for excellence.

Track, Track, Track: You can lower the occurrence of both early and late waverers by tracking what works best with your particular traffic. Data should always drive your decisions.

Landing pages and websites need analysis:

  1. Is qualified traffic reaching your site?
  2. Is there a certain page of your website that a large percentage of your traffic exits from without purchasing?

Be sure all touch points that users pass through during the conversion chain can be tracked and measured for effectiveness. If some point of your site is not working, change it and track again. Tweaking and retweaking is a part of the optimization process.

Remember, you don’t know everything. Focus your efforts on learning what works, learning your audience and continue to test and analyze web pages, campaigns, and landing pages.

<a href="">Donny Gamble</a> is the Senior SEO Specialist at InBusiness and publisher at