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Conversion Optimization: Picking Up Where Search Engine Optimization Leaves Off

Braxton Tulin - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Search engine optimization (SEO) gets them to the site. What they do (or don't do) once SEO has done its job is up to the site owner or designer.

Most visitors view the home page and leave. Wrong products. Weird typeface, confusing navigation - it can be anything from color motif to lack of clear prices. SEO gets them there, but it doesn't convert them to buyers.

What Is Conversion Optimization?

Is it easy for visitors to find the right product? Is checkout convenient, offering numerous payment options? Is there a telephone number visitors can call to talk to a human? If not, the site isn't conversion optimized.

In broad terms, conversion optimization enhances the visitors' experience when they visit to browse. A site so optimized is: engaging, attractive, very simple, convenient and secure. The objective?

Enable visitors to quickly find what they're looking for and to move without delay through the site's checkout - just as in the brick-and-mortar world of retailing.

How To Optimize Conversion

Undertake Regular Site Analysis

Site metrics are statistics, raw data that reveal visitor actions (or inactions) and behaviors. There are dozens of site analysis programs that create metrics to help with site refinement.

To develop useful metrics, first establish a site baseline for comparison as conversion optimization is underway. Maintain records of metrics to determine which refinements are working and which aren't.

Target Metrics To The Most Desired Action (MDA)

The first step in improving conversion rates is to define the site's objective - to sell products, disseminate information, generate click-throughs or provide customer service, for instance. With the site's objective defined, it becomes easier to develop metrics useful to increasing the number of people who perform the most desired action.

A commercial site owner wouldn't find number of pages viewed' especially useful since it's not specific to the site's goal - to sell product. On the other hand, developing a list of keywords used by most buyers would be useful. It's a great way to refine a site's keyword list.

Metrics programs generate raw data. That's all. It takes an understanding of e-commerce dynamics to turn that data into useful information, aka site metrics. And the important first step in the development of utile information is to define the site's objective.

A site owner or web designer should be able to state a site's objective in one, short sentence. If it takes more than that, redefine the site objective. Then develop the metrics that facilitates an improved conversion rate.

Applying Site Metrics

The purpose in developing site metrics is to create a databased strategy to induce more visitors to perform the MDA. It's not enough to identify problems and trends. Site owners must then take action to address problems and enhance the visitors' overall site experience.

For example, site metrics might reveal that less than 5% of traffic ever gets past the home page. In this case, breakdown the home page to find why so many visitors leave. Too confusing? Too much information? Not enough? Convoluted navigation? If only five out of 100 visitors ever see interior pages, something is wrong with the home page.

Another example? Which search engines are delivering the most traffic? And why? Is it simply page rank? Does the site even show up on SERPs?

Useful site metrics will provide data on visitor activity, search engine activity, keywords, text and layout, checkout procedures and virtually every other aspect of site design and its impact on visitors.

Site Usability and Conversion rate

The easier it is for a visitor to perform the MDA, the more likely it will be performed. If buyers don't find complete, detailed descriptions of products, they'll be less likely to make a purchase.

If they're confronted with endless data fields that must be completed, they're less likely to complete the on-line form. The ultimate objective in site analysis, therefore, is to improve the usability of the site. The more useful and usable the site, the higher the conversion rates.

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