Posts Tagged 'site traffic'

SEO and CRO: The Long and Short of It

landingrhtcolpromoIf your small business maintains a website, you’ve most likely considered, talked about or implemented some type of SEO strategy. The belief being, that if you can attract traffic, you will by default attract customers or registrants. This may be the case to a small degree, but doesn’t accurately represent how things usually work.

Your site does need to attract visitors, but it also needs to drive those visitors to some goal. Establishing that goal, and subsequently compelling the user to satisfy that goal, means just as much to your business. Internet gurus label this concept conversion. Though the concept remains the same for all websites, the specific outcome— the actual goal, may vary. Your desire may be to register users, request a sales call or make a purchase. In any case, the final outcome provides some benefit to your business.

SEO and CRO work in concert to benefit your business.

SEO and CRO work in concert to benefit your business.

Just like SEO, where we optimize our sites so they will be found during user searches, we need to optimize websites so that they convert as many visitors to successful visits as possible. This concept is known as Conversion Rate Optimization. Many experts agree, including most major online retailers, that conversion rate should be considered just as important as SEO. Jamila White, owner of E-Commerce Diva said about conversion, “So many small biz owners don’t know that is THE most important metric.” The two concepts do not contradict, actually one complements the other. They do need to be approached with a different perspective.

SEO the Long Term Strategy

Irrespective of many claims by some SEO consultants, results from SEO take time. That’s because SEO is organic in nature. You should commit yourself to at least a six month effort before expecting consistent benefits. During that six month time span, you’ll need to work and rework your strategy to stay ahead of the pack. In short, SEO strategies are long term strategies.

CRO

CRO focuses more on the present. In short, it focuses on how well we compel the current site visitors, to accomplish a desired result upon visiting.  CRO has a more immediate effect. Conversion rate matters, whether you receive 100 visits per day, or 1000 visits per day. Conversion rate impacts your website efficacy more than SEO.

You can receive 100 visits per day, but convert twenty visitors into customers. This would have more impact than receiving 1000 visits per day, and then only converting ten visitors into customers. Again, we can stress the immediate focus of CRO, no matter the number of visitors, we need to convert as many as possible.

SEO and CRO a Combined Approach

SEO and CRO should not be considered competitive concepts. As website owners we should combine the two practices, knowing that our strategy will have short as well as long term business impact. It should also be noted that  CRO will benefit your SEO efforts.  CRO helps to better identify successful market segments, thus enhancing your ongoing SEO practices.

When converting customers, you will hopefully have analytics giving you customer data. Knowing what regions, pages or search terms used to find your site will elucidate more about the segments that find your product, service or information attractive. If this market doesn’t match your present SEO focus, now you know how to adjust, or better focus your current strategy.

SEO and CRO: Continual Efforts

Both CRO and SEO require continual modification. Consistent testing of landing pages and conversion paths– your CRO efforts, will greatly benefit your long term SEO. Let’s look at an example.

CRO can be affected by numerous factors. If a CNBC guest makes recommendations about what to look for in certain financial products, or throws out a new term, this could alter what financial products customers seek. Sudden drops or increases in conversions, could be the first clue to  a change in your visitor’s needs. Knowing this, allows you to also adjust your SEO strategy to be in place when that CNBC audience turns to the internet to find the company who will sell that product.

Advertisements

Using Analytics to Build Your Funnels

In previous posts we talked about building ‘site funnels’.  Site funnels represent the page-by-page paths site visitors view before exiting your site.  In most cases, you’ll create paths based upon your projected user behavior. What we predict, and what actually occurs, may not always coincide.

Customer Focus

Focusing on customer wants and needs generally produces better results. Your perceived can’t lose ideas, at times fall flat. You want to make user visits more predictable.

Your visitors leave clues as to what they want. The secret decoder ring to these clues will be your analytics report. Users will provide a trail, indicating what natural paths or funnels they prefer to follow.

Like any good hunter, if you follow this trail, you can improve goal conversion with a few tweaks, rather than whole sale site changes. So let’s look at how to use some of those clues:

Use Your Analytics Report To Identify Most Viewed Pages »

  • The most viewed pages obviously contain the information visitors perceive as the most relevant to their needs. 
  • Make note of the ‘bounce’ rate.  A bounce rate of more than 40% signals that users might not be finding what they expected.
  • Now find the  ‘next pages’ statistics.

Follow the Navigation Summary »

  • Note the top two or three most popular next navigated pages.  Look at the percentages, anything under 20% can be ignored.
  • Continue through the navigation summary until you get to points where the exit rate is greater than 40%.

Analyze Your Natural Funnels »

  • Navigate to your site, and click through these user generated funnels
  • Pay close attention to points in the path where exit rates rise above 40%.
  • If the selected paths don’t end in goals, determine what types of goal content can be implemented.
  • Look for opportunities for new promotional ideas.

Develop Goals »

  • Now you can create new goal endings for your user created funnels. If you link to existing goals, make sure your links and text are relevant to the new path.
  • Use multivariate testing to find the funnel goal page that produces the best results.
  • Also utilize multivariate testing to determine user willingness to end these funnels sooner.
  • Think about adjustments to your keyword campaigns, that might lead to greater success.

Play with the percentages, they aren’t set in stone.  If the user defined funnels match your designed funnels, implement multivariate testing to improve weak conversions.  Use goal test points along paths, make the test points related to the most popular next pages.  Knowing where a visitor will most likely navigate next, provides a prime opportunity to begin cross selling.

Site Home Pages: “Sell the Sizzle”

I once worked as a telesales representative for a cruise travel agency. Our new sales hire training contained a module named “Sell the Sizzle”.  The instructor stressed that we should sell the experience, not the cruise.  

As an example, we shouldn’t tell the listener that the cruise stopped in the Virgin Islands. Instead– the cruise let them enjoy the crystal clear waters of the carribean, including access to one of the most beautiful coral reef snorkling experiences available anywhere.

In a nutshell, sell the benefits not the features.   When you sell the sizzle, be creative–  see your site as someone who knows nothing about you.

Site visitors scan your site in seconds, what they see must compel that first click. That doesn’t mean avoid text, it still rules the SEO world. 

When looking at your home page, ask yourself a few questions:

Does a First Time Visitor Know What We Do?

  • Users should understand what your company does with a quick scan of the page.
  • Find a way to encapsulate your business in a few words or short sentence. Use this text on your homepage.
  • Make it easy to find customer testimonials. Satisfied customers love to talk about what you do, and how well you do it.
  • With ecommerce sites, products— big and bold, should be the first thing I see.

Does Your Homepage Describe What Problem You Solve?

  • Right from the beginning, tell visitors how they’ll benefit— sell the sizzle.
  • Numbers work great. If you can reduce costs by 40%, say so– and make sure the words ‘Reduce’ and ‘40%’ are in large type.
  • Convey what makes your business unique. Sure— you sell great steaks, but tell or show me what makes your steaks special.

Do You Have Enough Accessories?

  • Provide information that supports your main point. If you sell BBQ grills, provide great grilling recipes– or maybe a photo of the family having a great time in the backyard watching dad grill.
  • Again testimonials help drive home the point— word of mouth is the best advertising. 
  • Provide answers to common questions. You already know your customers’ most common questions. Provide the answers right up front— there’s nothing else left for them to do but buy.

Do I Establish My Expertise?

  • Provide a very visible link to a basic tutorial about your product or service. 
  • Displaying logos of well known clients provides credibility from the start. Be sure to get permission first.
  • Display logos for professional or trade organizations or certifications. The Better Business Logo goes a long way in making a potential customer feel better about giving you their credit card number.

Do My Images Tell the Story?

  • Make sure your images reinforce the story told by your words.
  • Your images should put your product or services in context. Think back to the image of dad on the grill we described earlier.
  • Always use high quality images.  Hire a professional photographer, it’s worth the investment.

 

The Vonage home page packs a punch. It includes many elements to convince vistors to keep clicking.

The Vonage home page packs a punch. It includes many elements to convince vistors to keep clicking.

 

Test to Find Out What Works

Putting all the elements together into a presentable home page can be daunting.  Take it a piece at a time.  Play with different layouts, and combinations– use multivariate testing to verify you’ve found the right recipe.

Get Your Analytics in Gear

analyticsTo say the least, 2009 presents a daunting challenge for the small business owner. The economy finds itself in deep recession, and funding to push critical business needs has become more difficult to attain. These facts don’t mean 2009 presents only gloom and doom. If your business can survive this period, it can probably survive anything. As small business owners we must find ways to do better with the same or less.

Speaking to this concept, I’ve just read two great articles– one specific to online search, and the other giving advice from the CEO of a major corporation. They both made me think about the importance analytics will have on web based businesses, and how many small businesses neglect this very important aspect of owning a web presence.

Web Analytics: The Key to Online Marketing Success

The first article, 10 Things You Need To Know About Search from OMMA provides some critical tips on utilizing search in the down economy. Tips three, four and five made me think specifically in terms of analytics:

3. “The dirty secret of the industry is that there’s a huge amount of grunt work involved today in finding the gems and opportunities,” says Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Clickable.

4. “With better analytics and optimization across campaigns, understanding how search fits in and where it impacts the funnel is a key area,” says Jill Balis, senior vice president, managing director of SMG Search, Strategy & Analytics.

5. With search capabilities moving in-house, and better management and analytics software at every price range, “agencies will have to work harder for their margins, offering more strategic services. You can’t sell the grunt work at a high margin,” Kalehoff says.

How do you find those “gems and opportunities” spoken about in tip three? That dirty work starts by finding out what works and what doesn’t. Knowing which keywords or phrases produce the most visitors makes sense. You’ll need to research search terms, to find words and phrases that offer potential. At the same time you know the corporate players with huge budgets will take the best options. You’ll need to do the ‘dirty work’ to compete.

SEM: A Trial-And-Error Process

Once the user arrives at your site, you have to make sure you close the deal. Again, the key is determining what works and what doesn’t. Multivariate testing provides crucial data on how well you convert site visitors into leads or customers depending on your goals. As we talked about in a previous post, it’s all about the landing pages. The same thing stated two different ways can have different effects on different people. How you present your offer– based on the key words or phrases used to compel the click-through can also alter results. A positive side to all this– you may discover a market you didn’t know you could attract!

SEM is a trial and error process, like any other marketing media. As you understand what leads to success, you can replicate strategies. Success also gives you more insight into the validity of your current market research. Ultimately you don’t want to waste time and resources on marketing that doesn’t work. With web marketing, the best way to get the most value from SEO and SEM is good analytics analysis.

Streamlinig SEM for a Down Economy

The second article, Six small biz tips from a CEO who flies right— from BloggingStocks.com, provides advice from Boeing CEO Jim McNerney. Two of his tips– Build strategy on customer focus and Tighten operations with process improvement tools, enforce the idea that small businesses need to find better ways to do the work required for good SEM. To align our small businesses with these two savvy pieces of advice, finding a good analytics package– remember the quote containing ‘analytics software at every price range’ from the previously referenced article, we need to find a good analytics application to make our SEM efforts more effective and easier to maintain.

Use Analytics to Improve Customer Focused Processes

A good web analytics strategy should be the basis of a good Customer Focus strategy for company’s doing business on the web. Analytics will tell you what customers want– the definition of customer focus. So make it your point in 2009 to find a good analytics application. Learn what metrics you should be watching, and what their impact on your ‘funnel’ really means. Here are some good places to start:

Analytics Talk
Focuses on the use of Google Analytics package, which is a great place to start. It’s powerful and FREE!

Web Metrics Guru
Good info on practical web analytics.

Occam’s Razor
Voted one the best analytics blogs on the web

Google Analytics Blog
The official analytics site for Google’s own analytics tool.

Visits Versus Visitors– Insights Into Copy Quality

 

Visits vs. Visitors

We’ll define their meaning and benefit from their results. Looking at your website analytic report, visits compared to visitors seems simple. In a website analytics report, the two terms’ meanings differ somewhat than expected. Knowing the difference provides vital clues into the quality of your website copy.

 

The Website Analytics Report ‘Visit’

An analytics report ‘Visit’ means someone came to the site and established a session. They may have left the sight and returned within the session time limit (usually 20 or 30 minutes) without closing the browser. Two visits correct— No, this registers as one visit in your website analytics report. That’s because the user maintained their original session. The user switches web addresses without closing the browser. Assuming substantial web traffic numbers, many ‘Visits’ generally means many website hits.

The Website Analytics Report ‘Visitor’

Now consider the analytic report’s ‘Visitor’ metric. ‘Visitors’ means a visit from a new guest. This visit in theory came from a new source. Visitor statistics require a defined time frame. Look at the following example to understand the concept in practical terms.

Let’s consider a website analytics report that covers June 1 – June 30. An individual web surfer’s first visit to the site in June— June 3rd for example, registers as a ‘Visitor’ in the website analytics report. The same user returns on June 21st— this registers as a ‘Visit’ in your analytics report.

Visits:Visitors Ratio

Comparing Visits to Visitors provides valuable insight for judging your website copy. The ratio reveals the audience’s perceived quality of your website copy. Let’s look at what the analytics report reveals.

Visits:Visitors > 1: Quality Website Copy, Find New Market Segments
In fact, the higher this number— the more people are returning to the site. The site audience finds your website copy interesting, and returns frequently. You want to continue producing quality content. Make sure you keep adding new content. Determine if you can duplicate these efforts with another market segment.

Visits:Visitors<1: Improve Website Copy, Verify Market Segment
A very low number here indicates the audience perceives poor website copy. The visitors come– but seldom return. Review your keyword research, an adjustment often produces very different results. Think of unique web article ideas, or find a professional website copy writer. Keep driving visitors to the site. Your new website copy will compel more frequent visits.

Conclusion

By itself the Visits:Visitor ratio doesn’t provide all the numbers. It doesn’t account for the same visitor visiting from different locations. As well, we are assuming substantial site traffic exists to provide reliable data.

Beyond those assumptions, keeping good data over extended periods helps you. Developing a range for your ratio allows recognition of trends. Early trend recognition provides one more advantage in the highly competitive internet arena.