Actionable tips on conversion optimization and other tips on integrating CRO with other online marketing initiatives.

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How to Avoid Site Changes that Ruin User Experience and Conversions

This entry is a guest post by Tom Howlett, a Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai. You can follow him on Twitter: @Koozai_Tom

How do you make general and SEO website changes without compromising your site’s user experience and ultimately the number of conversions made through the website? When you start to tinker with content and navigation elements to optimise pages, this can have a profound impact on visitor perception – for better or worse.

So how can you make these website changes without spoiling the website experience you worked so hard to create? This post looks at a number of the most common and important considerations when making any new website changes.

Common SEO Site Changes

Page Titles

This may seem like an obvious consideration, but it is important that when you create a new page for the site or are going through it with a fine SEO comb, that you create a unique title for each one. Each page of the site should have a purpose and that purpose should be reflected in the title – therefore there should be no need for duplicate page titles.

The title element is also an important consideration for helping to improve conversions. When targeting users in organic search, ensuring that the title is relevant to the content of the destination page will also help influence the click. Consequently,it can help bring more visitors to the website and this should hopefully result in increased conversions.

Page Meta

Just like the page title element mentioned above, each page of the website should have a unique Meta Description. The description should provide more detail on what the page offers with reference to the page title.

The description is a powerful element; a good description can make the difference between a click through to your website and someone clicking through to a competitor offering a similar product or service.

Headings

The heading elements (H1’s, H2’s…etc.) not only provide keyword relevance on the page, they help break down the content into easily manageable chunks. Users are able to skim to a section to find the information they are looking for quickly. Typically, if someone visits your website and cannot find what they are looking for within a few seconds, they are likely to revert back to the search engine and look at the next result.

A good heading layout makes for a good user experience and if you can keep visitors on the site, you have their attention to which you can use effectively to persuade them to convert (whatever the conversion may be).

URLs

The URL element of a page is often overlooked by website owners, it is also is a pain to change once there is an established URL structure in place.  Ideally you want your URLs to be as informative as possible and include information relevant to the page content. Try to avoid using a dynamic structure and aim for a fixed format similar to the examples below:

http://www.example.com/category

http://www.example.com/category/product

http://www.example.com/category/service

Descriptive and relevant URLs will help the site rank for the target keywords, a searcher will also be able to see this in the search results and this may help further influence the click if it provides a high relevance to the search query.

Site Copy

Website text or copy is an important consideration. You want to include a certain level of content and also make sure it’s written to a high standard. Here are some important considerations for page content:

  • Ensure that it is natural and relevant
  • Make sure the content is unique to your website
  • Make sure there is enough content to justify the page purpose (this will vary for different types of pages and websites)
  • It should fit naturally into your site design, sometimes when adding content for SEO purposes; websites tend to throw this on the page without consideration of the user

If all the points above are considered when creating or adding content to your website, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of this. It is also worth pointing out that the copy should be useful to the user and help persuade them to take certain actions, especially if the page is designed to sell a product, service or even your brand.

Space for Content

As briefly mentioned in the previous section, when deciding on website content and copy, you will want to make sure that this fits naturally into the website design. There is no use throwing content in for the benefit of SEO; there should be a greater strategy that aims to create valuable content that fits well with the flow of the page and provides users the information they expect to see.

There should also be a content theme that fits with your design, a theme that is utilised on all similar pages of a website. One example would be product pages on an Ecommerce website, people expect the item descriptions, images, specifications etc. to be in the same location on every page. Changing this for each page will decrease the familiarity across the site and as a result you may lose out on valuable conversions.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is a valuable SEO strategy. Most commonly, a website owner will have read about the benefit of internal links and then work through the website whilst adding them whenever a keyword is mentioned on the page. This is an extreme example but it does happen.

Internal linking can be really valuable for the website if done effectively. If referencing a page or product on a page, it makes sense to link to it within the content, just in case someone wants to navigate there without having to find it themselves. You don’t necessarily have to link using the exact keyword term either, you can equally benefit by linking using a longer phrase like the example below.

Internal links can be really useful when referencing similar pages such as similar products (for example ‘you might also be interested in’) or similar Blog posts. This is a useful strategy for getting people to purchase more items or just to keep them on the website. They are much more likely to return to the site or convert if you manage to keep them on the site for longer.

 

Image Titles

Image titles may be the least utilised element mentioned here. For those who don’t know, the title element appears in a small box when hovering over an image or image link. This will usually provide more information regarding the contents of the image or describe where it leads if the image links to another page.

It is unlikely to be an element that means the difference between a conversion and someone leaving your site, but it is useful to include this information or to make sure they are optimised effectively. For image links they can be particularly useful in persuading more people to use the link.

Having a Blog

A Blog is a useful addition for any website or online business; it provides a place to share news and write useful content that will bring in new visits to the site. Quite often the process of adding a Blog to the website is rushed and it is treated as a separate element of the site.

One huge benefit from having a Blog is that you have a great opportunity to grow your brand. With search engines now appearing to have a greater brand focus, this can have a positive impact on your rankings and overall visibility. It makes sense to integrate your Blog with the rest of your site, you will benefit from improving that brand recognition from new visitors that have come into the site through the Blog. So make sure your Blog reflects your brand image and mimics the site design.

There should also be some solid consideration into the types of post that will be included on the Blog. There is no use in creating content for the sake of having content on the Blog – you will want to focus on creating high quality content that is going to result in the site gaining more regular visitors and subscribers. This is where the number of brand mentions and social shares skyrockets and you will experience a much higher brand value and as a result a greater number of conversions (as long as the rest of the site is well optimised).

Social Sharing

Social sharing buttons and links to your social profiles offer a great way of getting people to interact with you online and making it easy for people to share your site or the information you provide within their social circles.

More often than not, the addition of these buttons and links appear to an afterthought and are just thrown on the page with little consideration as to how people are going to utilise these.

You will want to make it clear that you are on these platforms so try to link to these from each page of the site. This may be more prominent on the Home page and the main Blog page to encourage interaction – it is fine to include these links within the header or footer of any other pages, try to include them in the same place on all the other pages for familiarity.

Greater interaction with your brand on these networks will enable you to promote content and products to the greater fan base and increase the number of shares, likes and visits to your site, not to mention improve your conversion rate.

Please note: It is worth including the target=”blank” element within the link to each of the profiles to load a new page so users are not taken away from the website (they may not return). The same goes for any external links.

Tracking for New Pages

When adding new pages to the site, you will want to make sure that you remember to include the relevant code for tracking page visits and conversions. Whether you use Google Analytics or another package, this will give you lots of useful data to help you improve the page and website as a whole.

Common On-Page Changes and Elements

Logo Link and Positioning

How does the logo effect how users browse the site and aid conversions you ask? This is more of a detail regarding convenience. Many people online are impatient and won’t hang around if they cannot find what they are looking for. From a usability perspective, visitors expect there to be a prominent logo within the site header at the top of the page. They also may expect that upon clicking the logo it will send them back to the Home page. If this functionality does not exist, or there is no prominent logo available, you may lose visitors who get frustrated when browsing your website.

Navigation

The navigation is one of the most important features of a website; this is how the majority of your visitors will navigate to the pages of interest to them.

Firstly you will want to make sure you link to all the top level pages from the main navigation. Depending on how large the site is, you may have to split the site into sections and utilise a dropdown menu to fit all the links to the important pages.

Quite often the navigation will be designed to perfectly fit the number of pages the site has, but what happens when you add new pages and areas to the site? Can it easily fit into the current navigation? This is a consideration that should be taken into account when first designing a website. You want users to be able to easily navigate to every part of the website, even the newly added pages.

Most navigation problems can be solved by including dropdown menus, as new links can easily be added whenever required. This is where splitting your site into easily navigable categories is particularly useful, so at least users can take a good guess at where they are going to find what they are looking for. You may also want to think about highlighting new areas of the site or pages on the Home page, this can help improve the familiarity for visitors who will remember this upon returning to the site.

Breadcrumb Links

Breadcrumb links are useful, especially for an Ecommerce website where users can easily navigate back to previous sections of the site. This makes for a trouble free browsing experience and people are much more likely to stay on the site and convert.

If adding large sections of the site or an Ecommerce area, including breadcrumb links will help improve the online experience. Make sure to mirror the current online navigation and design and to include these in a prominent position (typically above the content) for a better experience.

Keeping Information Above The Fold

I have mentioned a number of elements that should be included within the main content area such as text content and images. This content should be located above the fold where possible and aim to capture the attention of the user without them having to scroll.

When designing a website, this should be a consideration from the start. If making these changes to an existing website, careful consideration should be put into making sure that no other element of the website suffers as a result. Each page should also use the same layout so before making any changes it will be useful to create a template to work from.

Footer

The Footer can make a useful navigational feature by including links to the main top level pages. Again, this is a feature that is there for convenience – people are much more likely to stick around if they are able to navigate the site without any troubles.

When adding new content or categories to an existing website, you will benefit from making sure that these links are included within the site Footer if applicable.

The Footer can also be a useful place to link to the main social media platforms for greater interaction with your brand.

Sitemap

Like the Footer, a Sitemap page can provide a useful glossary of pages on the site that users can use to find the information they are looking for.

When adding new pages, it is useful to add these to the existing Sitemap page.

Making Contact

One element every site should have is a method of contact. Whether this information is displayed on every page or the site has a dedicated Contact page, it is important that users can easily find this information should they want to.

Consideration should be made towards this when creating new sections of the site or when making changes to the existing navigation. Always include a prominent link to the contact information.

Theming

Touched on briefly in this post already, the theming for a website can drastically affect the number of conversions your site generates. You want to maintain a brand image as well as creating a familiarity with your site and brand.

For every new page, category or section of the website that is created, care should be taken to make sure that there is a common theme with the rest of the site. Otherwise, regular visitors may believe they have landed on a different website as well as people who have navigated through the site.

Re-Design

If you want to completely re-design your website it is likely that the design will be quite different. There are certain elements that you may want to retain on the new site to maintain a familiar experience – this is more important if you already have a distinguished fan base.

The areas of the site you may wish to transfer are as follows:

  • Use the same page Titles and Meta Descriptions
  • Maintain a familiar navigation structure
  • If you have a clean URL structure, this is worth retaining, otherwise redirect the URLs
  • Transfer the Blog and all the previous Blog posts
  • Make sure the new site contains links to the social profiles whether it did or didn’t beforehand
  • The logo – you may wish to re-design the logo as well as the website. Generally if there is a familiarity in the logo this will help users know they are on the same website as before.

Redirects

If changing the site URL structure, you will want to make sure that each of the old URLs is redirected (301-redirect) to the new URL or the closest equivalent. This will ensure that any previous external links pass their value to the new pages as well as sending users to the right place.

Is the Site Mobile Friendly?

A mobile-optimised website will ensure that users visiting the site on mobile devices will still have a good browsing experience, this may well result in increased conversions from these devices.

When adding new pages and sections to the website, you will want to consider how well these work on the various mobile devices. This consideration is particularly important when adding a Blog; will mobile users be able to read and share the content? This is also relevant to Ecommerce websites; do you want people to be able to purchase from a mobile device? By considering these factors and taking appropriate measures you will be able to maintain conversions on these platforms.

Considerations towards mobile should also be taken when changing any other elements on the site. Changes to the navigation need additional thought on how you are going to transfer this information for mobile.

Summary

As you can see, there are lots of potential website changes and changes that are made regarding SEO on the site. These changes can affect how a site performs in terms of how usable the site is and this can affect the number of conversions on the site. Taking the above points into consideration, you can help preserve and in some cases improve the number of conversions that the website generates.

You can find more tips in our Website Migration Whitepaper.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed or check out Koozai’s awesome blog for more of their awesome stuff.

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How to Develop Conversion-Oriented Link Building Strategies using Google Analytics

Sherlock HolmesAnalysis is a thought-process that has been widely used in SEO. This aspect of the practice allows many of us to outsmart competitors as well as the ever evolving field itself, including the drastic game-changing events/updates that Google continuously employ to its search algorithm.

That’s one reason why Google Analytics has been tremendously useful to SEOs (and it’s great that the tool is free), as it supplies its users with their site’s usage data which can help them improve its performance.

One of the main goals of many web-based businesses is to generate more revenue, conversions and/or transactions to their sites, and many of them invest on link building to serve as a 2nd tier to attain this goal (to mainly support the SEO process to achieve better search rankings).

That mantra for link building could be dead any time soon, seriously, seeing that links that can drive you conversions are the ones that will most likely impact your search rankings.

So instead of pushing your way to obtain higher search rankings through link building, why not use your link building efforts to hit two birds with one stone – to improve both rankings and conversions – by building two strong channels where you can generate conversions (via search and referrals).

In this post, I’ll be sharing a few tips on how you can utilize Google Analytics to mine better insights to develop more targeted and conversion-oriented link building strategies.

Set up Goals in Analytics

To start off, you’ll first need to identify your overall campaign’s objectives and to set up your goals in Google Analytics, to be able to measure and determine the areas where your campaign can work on improving.

There are 4 types of goals that you can set on Analytics (URL destination, visit duration, page/visit and event), but in this case we’ll just focus on URL destination to measure site transactions (product sales, services, subscriptions, downloads, etc…).

The first step is to go to your Google Analytics’ admin panel:

And then go to “Goals”:

Start creating a new Goal by inputting necessary information and details. You’ll also need to set up a “thank you” page on your site, which will serve as the “Goal URL” for the campaign to ensure that the visitors you’ll be measuring have completed a transaction.

You can also choose to add a value for your Goals, like for instance, I added $500 as the value of my thank you page when visited through my SEO services page, since it’s the minimum rate of our team’s consultation services.

Once you’ve filled up the information needed for your goal, you can then choose to use funnels, which is usually needed to determine how many visitors are abandoning your preferred landing pages or to help you monitor and improve the steps taken before a visitor completes a transaction.

Setting up a funnel can also give you a better view of how visitors flow within your site (from other pages of your site) before actually getting to your Goal URL.

As soon as you’re done setting up your goals, it’ll be much easier to devise link building strategies that will complement your conversion optimization efforts.

Conversion Link Building by Demographics/Location

Identify which locations have brought highly converted traffic to your site, and improve on this area to maximize growth in terms of lead and revenue generation. It’s best to track your site’s visitor demographics from the past 2 – 3 months to generate more precise results.

You can first start by going to Audience > Demographics > Location: On the top left corner of the map overlay, choose Goal Set:

After choosing the Goal Set, the data available below the map overlay will display conversion related metrics, which will make it easier for you to distinguish locations where you have strong market.

Click on the transactional goal that you have set up, and see which locations have high converting traffic but you haven’t really optimized your site for.

If you have highly interested audiences/market/potential customers from places you never expected to generate leads/sales from, then trying to increase the traffic you’re getting from these locations might just mean improving your site’s ability to convert more visitors as well.

So how would you increase referred traffic from these areas?

Find prospects by Location

Search for link opportunities from locations where your potential customers are from and build links from them (like offering guest blogs). You can also try requesting links to direct to your site’s linkable content from your prospected sites, since people from their location do find your content useful and relevant (based on Analytics).

Offer your content to be translated

For non-English speaking countries that still find your website’s content/products/services useful, you can choose to find content partners (high-traffic blogs based or hosted on that certain location) and offer your high-quality content to be translated and published on their sites. But make sure that the links you’ve placed within the original content will be kept intact and that they’ll give credit to your site as the original source of the content.

Improving internal linking and anchor text targeting through Top Landing Pages

There are 2 ways to strengthen your link building campaign through Google Analytics’ Site Content feature:

  • Internal linking the pages that constantly bring highly-engaged traffic to the site to the site’s money pages for maximum conversions.
  • Identifying the secondary keywords that yield search traffic to these high performing pages, and using them as variations for anchor texts to continuously improve their traffic generation capability.

Let’s start with how to determine strong pages to use for internal linking.

Go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages:

Distinguish the top landing pages (aside from your homepage) of your site that have constantly brought traffic to the site from the past month(s), particularly the old ones that are still getting huge traffic.

You can then assess and decide to internally/contextually link some of these pages to your transactional pages (you can also enhance their calls-to-action to convert more of its incoming new visitors).

There’s also an advanced method to extract more accurate data from your top landing pages. On the top left part of the Landing Pages’ graph report, click on “Goal Set”:

Below the graph, the report will display a slightly different set of data, which are more on conversion-related metrics. Click on the transactional Goal conversion rate to show the results in order of pages that have generated higher conversions:

You can filter the results to exclude irrelevant pages by clicking on the advanced filters:

Choose “exclude” from the first drop-down option, and choose the “Goal Conversion Rate” you want to extract (services in my case). The second drop-down option will automatically show “Greater than”, you’ll have to enter the most realistic number that you’ve seen from your data (which in my case is below 12% is realistic). Lastly, click on “Apply”.

The presented data will show a more realistic standing of your top landing pages in terms of meeting your business’ objectives.

With these figures, you’ll have greater idea of what pages to enhance and build more links to (to increase the traffic they’re receiving as well as to improve their search rankings), since these pages are helping you drive more sales/conversions.

The next step would be is to identify the keywords that your top landing pages are ranking for and send highly-engaged visitors to them as well (based on % of new visits and % of bounce rates).

You can first start by choosing a landing page from the list of your top performing landing pages:

Add a secondary dimension, and choose Traffic Sources > Keyword

It will then show all the keywords sending search traffic to the landing page you chose.

You can filter this result further to remove the (not provided) and (not set) keywords, which you can also use when extracting keywords from multiple landing pages or all of your site’s top landing pages. Here’s how:

Click on the advanced filters, choose “Exclude” from the first drop-down option, and on the second drop-down option, choose “Begins with” and then key in “(“ – to exclude all the (not provided) and (not set) keywords from the list. Then click on “Apply”.

Now you’ll have a huge list of keywords that your landing page(s) are already ranking for, a list that you can use to vary the anchor texts of links that will direct to your strong pages.

Choose the keywords that sends high amount of new visits and have low bounce rates, because these visitors are finding your content relevant to the queries they’ve used to find your page.

Just imagine if you can rank higher for multiple keywords for a single landing page, that could easily translate to higher conversions. Plus it’s easier to achieve better rankings from these keywords, since they are already being served to search users.

Also, another way to see which keywords are converting well to your campaign’s goals is to use the “Goal Set” data (on the top left corner of the landing page graph):

Then the conversion-based data of keywords below the graph will be displayed, where you can see which keywords may drive more customers to your business.

How to build links using your newly found keyword variations for your top landing pages:

  • Build more internal links to your top landing pages using the keyword variations you’ve uncovered from your analytics data.
  • Use these keyword variations as anchor texts when building links to them through your external content distribution campaign such as guest blogging, columns, community-based discussions or press releases. You can also check out my guest post on Searchbrat on promoting and building links to great content.

Understanding and replicating high-powered links through Top Referring Websites/Sources

Understand the links that help you drive more leads/conversions by analyzing link placements/positions, context, source and type. Have a process or a formula that will enable you to replicate your site’s existing incoming links that have proven value in increasing your site’s conversion rate, as it will definitely influence your mindset on how to acquire highly-efficient links (not just for rankings and traffic, but for conversions as well).

There are 3 different ways that you can do within Google Analytics to assess high-performing links to your site.

1. Traffic Sources > Referrals

Go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals:

On the top left part of the referred traffic graph, click on the “Goal Set” data:

 The data displayed below that graph will then show the referring domains that have sent converted visitors to your site (click on your transactional goal’s conversion rate to categorize sites by conversion rate percentage).

You can also check on the domains individually to see which linking pages are driving easily-converted traffic to your site or to the page where they are linking to (by simply clicking on any website listed to see the referral path).

2. Assisted Conversions

Go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

On the Basic Channel Grouping, choose “Referral”

Right from there, you’ll see the top referring domains that have driven possible leads/customers to your site:

3. Goal Flow

Go to Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow

From the Goal Flow map, click on the “Group Details”

A pop-up window will display, where you can choose “Top Segments” from the first dropdown option:

The window will display a list of referring domains that have eventually led a portion of the overall referred traffic to your transaction page (money page):

Once you have distinguished the sites and/or pages that are sending customers to your site, you can then start analyzing these links, particularly in understanding why/how they were able to directly help your site generate leads.

Here’s a quick sample:

97thfloor.com naturally linked to one of my recent posts last April (you can see the post here), and this link has sent 2 potential clients to me (4.44% conversion rate out of 45 visitors) these past 2 months.

By just observing this type of link, you can easily evaluate how the link was able to refer interested customers:

  • The link is very visible and was placed on the first sentence of the content
  • The content of the link’s destination page resonates with their audience
  • The context of the content that surrounds the link speaks positively about the destination page
  • It’s from an authority site that has its own readership/follower base

Once you fully understand how and why your existing links are sending you direct leads, you can easily build your own metrics to use in qualifying link prospects and methods (like the ones I’ve mentioned above).

Did that link influence the destination page’s search rankings? Yes. As far as I know, it’s the only authority link that’s linking to my “viral content ideas” post, and there are only few links pointing to it. Here’s a screenshot grabbed from a recent SEOmoz post about impact of authoritative links:

Methods that you can implement to amplify your link building based on your Top Referrers’ data:

2nd tier link building – help the pages linking to you that send high-value traffic to rank better on search engines, by building links to them and promoting them through social media. The more constant traffic these linking pages get, the more you can get good traffic and leads from them.

Find similar prospects – find sites that have the same audience as those that have linked to you (which send easily converted visitors). Try to acquire the same kind of link placements, exposure and visibility from them (whether through guest blogs, resource link requests, coverage, blogroll links, etc…). Here’s a good way to find related websites:

Pitch your site’s most linkable content (or accidental link baits) to related websites – since you know that your site’s linkable pieces have earned other reputable sites’ trust, you’ll have better chances of acquiring links from your other prospects.

Build more links from sites that are already sending you leads/customers– try to absorb more traffic from them by contributing more useful content on their sites (like guest blogs, regular column or helpful forum posts if you’re generating leads from forum websites). Replicate the position of links that have allowed you to increase your site’s conversions (highly visible links from high traffic pages).

If you liked this post, you should subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Image Credit: Amanda Tolleson

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How to Improve your Online Business’ Revenue by being an Authority

It’s easier to sell products or services if your target customers trust you, and that’s a conventional wisdom to any form of marketing.

However, it’s a bit quite more challenging, if the principle is taken and implemented over the web, as the more web users grow and learn more of how they can utilize the web efficiently, the more they get shorter attention span and the more they get picky with what they choose to consume from the web.

Being an authority in your industry, especially online, is very vital nowadays, whether you’re into online retailing, affiliate marketing or just offering other web-based services, because it allows you to effortlessly attract more leads that will most likely convert and transact with your business when your audience is already captivated upon first impression.

Competing for attention on the web is continuously rising, seeing that a lot of online-based businesses are now investing more on how they can creatively market their businesses across to their audience who have a successively growing demand for information.

Substantiating and placing your brand as an authority in its industry is certainly one of the best solutions to it, and the ideas that I’ll be sharing below are some of the techniques that you can implement to grow your sales by simply exemplifying your brand as a leader.

Social Proof

Show that your brand is socially active, by making your social badges more visible to your site’s incoming traffic to attract them in taking more interest on what you can offer to them.

Social media has been a very powerful tool for marketing these past few years, and letting your visitors see, particularly your site’s first time visitors, the amount of people following you on different social platforms can simply prove that people trust you as a business entity.

The key to being successful with this approach is to constantly grow your following base on social networks where your target audience spends their time mostly through:

  • Providing more content that your target audience will most likely share on social networks.
  • Using social buttons as your site’s contents’ secondary call-to-action (for them to easily find where they can follow you – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, RSS Feed, etc…).

Increase Middle of the Funnel Offerings

People will not buy instantly on the Internet, not unless they already know what they are really looking for. That’s why nurturing your traffic to eventually become possible leads to your business is so important, as this helps them decide when purchasing what they really need.

Provide more content from your site that attends to your target customers’ needs, in terms of information and free, but of high value materials such as:

  • Expert content, like thorough and useful blog posts.
  • Free rich-media content, like ebooks, video tutorials, podcasts and infographics.
  • Free newsletter subscription.
  • Free trials for your services or free web-based tools.
  • Free lessons.
  • Community forums or Q&A sections.

Giving away premium items for free will allow your audience to understand more of what they might possibly need in the future and they’ll more probably buy from you if you already have these things in place and if you have them contained within your business funnel which keeps them on coming back to your website.

Build More Trust Signals

There are lots of forms of trust signals that you can display to your possible customers within your site. These signals are the ones that can make your visitors stay longer in your site and probably one of the factors that can entice them in purchasing from you.

Here are several trust indicators that you can implement on your site:

  • Social proof, as I have mentioned above, the more followers you have on different social networks, the more credible you’ll appear to your customers.
  • Having a strong community within the site, given that when your followers interact with your brand through blog discussions (comments) and/or sharing your content on social networks, the easily you can entice new visitors to become a part of your community.
  • Showing off press mentions or websites that have featured your business (“as seen in”), client testimonials and/or award badges can elaborate on why you are leading in your industry.
  • Including transparency pages such as About (which should definitely mention people who are part of the management team, etc…), Disclaimer/Disclosure, Privacy Policy, Terms of Usage and Contact us page.

Send Out Massive Brand Signals

Brand retention is the key to scaling a business’ ability to sell its products/services, for the fact that people will know who you are, where to find you and why they should purchase from you instead from your competitors.

  • Build more branded share-worthy content, such as videos, infographics and research-based text content, so when people start sharing and spreading your content, possible viewers can know more of you as a brand.
  • Invest on a visually appealing web design and engaging identity for your site to improve your visitors’ experience when using/browsing your website.
  • Know your business’ unique value proposition and focus on marketing that aspect of your business, through the content you’ll be providing on your website.
  • Invest on launching viral marketing campaigns.

For a more in-depth tutorial, you can check out one of my recent posts on using SEO, content marketing and social media for online branding.

Become known by being everywhere

Becoming an authority also means becoming popular, and building your brand’s online presence by being more involved in your industry’s online community is definitely one of the best ways to do it.

Here are some of the methods that you can do to amplify the reach of your brand online:

  • Participate on high-traffic forums in your industry and build yourself as an authority by giving expert advice to other members.
  • Engage online influencers in your industry as well as their followers by sharing your knowledge to them through joining to discussions on their blog posts, social community (Facebook Fanpage, Google+ brand page, etc…) and eventually become a link magnet when these influencers start realizing how valuable your content is and start sharing it to their networks.
  • Build conversations through social networks (Twitter, Facebook and Google+).
  • Contribute expert content on industry-specific blogs and news websites as a guest blogger or columnist.

The more people see you contributing through these channels, the more they’ll be interested to what your business is offering, see how authoritative you are and probably increase the chances of buying your products/services.

If you liked this post, you should subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

 

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What to do When Link Building is not enough to Outrank Competitors

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Winning the SERPs is getting tougher these days, as search engines are getting more intelligent along its continuous evolution, plus the fact that bigger sites/brands in most industries are investing more and trying to monopolize this area to intensify their marketing efforts and capacity to generate leads to their businesses.

Today’s version of Search Engine Optimization involves a lot of processes and factors, unlike before that it’s mostly focused on how the site is optimized to easily be understood by search engines, and on how search engines can assess the site’s popularity/authority based on the site’s link graph – a process which what most of us call “Link Building”.

Link building has been a very vital practice to both search marketers to achieve better search rankings for their sites and search engines in determining the value and relevance of websites, but link building as a marketing practice has grown to be more competitive over the years, leaving smaller players/brands/link builders in situations such as:

  • Exhausting almost every link building method available out there just to acquire more links than their competitors have, which results to grey/black hat dependency in many occasions.
  • Continuously built quality links to a website for almost a year, but hasn’t seen any major movements/improvements in terms of keyword rankings.
  • Competing with sites/pages that have 200+ links from .edu and .gov sites.

Competitive intelligence, it is something we SEOs use not just to determine the sites linking to our competitors (amount, value and impact of these links to their rankings), but also to know how we can outsmart them by knowing where their strong and weak points are.

Smart SEOs analyze their competitors’ weaknesses and strikes where it will hurt the most. We all know that links are important in this business, but if you can’t beat their links, beat their content.

Become more relevant

Relevance of the content is one of the biggest ranking factors in SEO, knowing that the best way search engines can serve their users right is by returning highly relevant pages for their users’ search queries.

After seeing how your competitors’ are doing with their linking activities, it’s best to evaluate their content and take note of the things you feel are lacking from those pages, especially when it comes to information and presentation.

Outpacing your competitors and proving that you are an authority in your industry will require you to be more than a Wikipedia page. Few ideas that you can start with when optimizing your content for better search rankings could be:

  • Making the content of the page you’re trying to optimize more comprehensive, where you can choose to include more text details about the subject (information that isn’t available on your competitors’ pages), including videos and/or rich images that pertains or compliments the page’s target keyword.
  • Let the content host relevant links within it – to both external and internal sources/pages – using thematically related anchor texts (for instance, linking to a “dog training lessons page” from a “dog food” page).

Drive interactions

User generated discussions/interactions is a great signal to search engines, wherein the more interactions are occurring to a certain content, the more search engines will see the authenticity of that page.

There are several forms of interactions that you can try to build to your content (or to the page you want to achieve higher rankings on search results) such as:

  • Blog/user comments
  • User reviews
  • Social shares and votes (Google +1s, Facebook Likes, Stumbleupon views, etc…)
  • Embedded testimonials (you can check out my blog’s about page for samples).

Social signals has played a big role lately in helping search engines determine popular as well as authoritative pages on the web, and implementing a good social media promotion strategy to your landing pages can certainly help in improving its search rankings.

Generate more activity

Think conversions. Search engines, particularly Google, apply usage-data (such as bounce rates, time on site, pageviews and return visits) as ranking factors to determine pages that are not just popular, but also proven to be useful to its users as well.

Test and analyze your pages if they are really converting your visitors (especially traffic from search engines) to do more or stay longer within the site. Some of the elements that you can test and implement to improve user-activity to your target landing page(s) could be:

  • Including internal links that direct to other high-value pages of your website to entice new traffic to view more pages from your site.
  • Adding social buttons (Facebook like/share, Tweet, Google+, etc…) and making them very visible.
  • Improve middle of the funnel offerings, such as inviting your visitors to sign up to your newsletter, giving away free ebooks, putting out more expert content and/or attracting them to subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed.
  • Test and strengthen calls to action, but should not be interruptive to the users’ experience.

Improve your SERP listing’s click-through rate

The more people are clicking for your page from the search results, is the better chances of improving its rankings, considering that Google uses their own SERP click-through data to measure high-converting pages from their results – seeing as pages that get more clicks, no matter what their ranking positions are, signify relevance to the inputted search query.

Below are several ways to optimize your page’s snippet on Google’s search results to effectively entice searchers into clicking your page from the results.

Title page and meta description

Optimize your titles and meta descriptions for “brand marketing”. Don’t just use and stuff these areas with your target keywords. Make it more interesting to searchers for them to click on your page, while using its target keywords to describe what’s within the content.

Implement authorship markups

Apply authorship (rel=”author”) or publisher (rel=”publisher”) markup to your site. This can massively improve your page’s SERP click-through rate, as your page will show up prominently on search results and could possibly get and attract more clicks whatever its ranking position is.

You can check out this guide on how to implement Authorship markup to a site/blog.

Use schemas for rich snippets

As I’ve mentioned above, the more your listings display outstandingly on the search results, the more it can attract people to clicking it. There are many types of microdata tags that you can use to different types of pages (like for events, products, people, movies, videos, reviews, recipes, applications, places, and a lot more) and you can also use Google’s rich snippet testing tool to check if you have installed these markups correctly to your pages.

Improve site/page design for site preview

Having a visually appealing webpage design/layout can also help in attracting searchers to clicking through your page (especially to those who might accidentally hover on the results’ site preview button, it might get them more interested with what you have to offer).

Be on Google+

Searchers that are logged-in to their Google accounts can also see pages that have been recommended by people who’re in their circles, which can also manipulate their decisions into clicking your page’s listing.

You can also check my post on how to build authority on Google+ to make the most out of this strategy.

Build Strong Internal Links through Support Pages

Create strong and highly linkable pages that can naturally generate incoming links and social signals, and make these pages internally link to and support the page you are optimizing to rank higher on search results.

You can use keyword-rich anchor texts when internally linking to your main landing page, as these votes from your internal support pages (that are receiving quality links and social mentions) will continuously grow the link value it passes through to your target landing page, and will help improve its search rankings.

Zappos is using the same strategy to make their categories rank for hardcore keywords, and Eric Siu, from Evergreen Search, wrote a great piece about the strategy.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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Inbound Marketing for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Inbound marketing or earned media is a marketing principle that merges several online marketing practices that aim to attract visitors/customers to a site – instead of interrupting their online activities through paid methodologies – by simply discerning what its target audience need, search for and find genuinely interesting and providing value to meet those necessities.

Processes that this marketing strategy mostly involves are search engine optimization, content marketing, social media and conversion rate optimization, wherein most don’t rely on heavy marketing budgets, but can provide longevity for its results to a great extent in terms of branding and revenue generation.

Performing well on these other marketing channels can massively improve a site’s search visibility, given that search engines are now using social, usage and trust signals to weigh websites and webpages’ overall authority that allows them to gauge who should be ranking well on their search results.

Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz, recently presented about why SEO is more than SEO nowadays, which pretty much explains everything on how inbound marketing works:

 

Inbound marketing is an ROI-focused strategy, and several interesting facts support the idea which somehow proves how powerful it is as a marketing tool today.

  • Methods used in inbound marketing cost 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing, and channels used within these strategies have higher percentage of customer acquisition, which means it can generate higher revenue for a lower cost of investment.
  • Content and blog marketing allows a site to increase its traffic by 55% and 400% more pages to be indexed by search engines (meaning, greater chances of getting found through long-tail search queries).
  • There are 3 billion searches on Google per day, and a huge fraction of those queries are for information about products, services and local businesses.
  • There are already billions of users worldwide on different social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google+, Linkedin, etc…), which can also improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through spreading awareness, brand/service/product discovery and interactive communications (in building customer relationships).
  • Getting found through search engines generates revenue, as these visitors already have the intent of knowing more/reviewing/buying a certain product/service. Putting out useful branded content through blogs can then increase customer acquisition.
  • Converting traffic to leads, customers and/or brand loyalists is easier, as most of these marketing channels are measurable and can be improved further through thorough analysis.

Below are some of the processes that small as well as medium-sized businesses can use to grow their website’s traffic, conversions and brand strength.

Merge SEO with Content Marketing

Having SEO in mind before actually launching a full inbound marketing campaign and its content strategy is an advantage, because it will allow you to easily map out the important keywords that your campaign is going to target and on how you can efficiently distribute them to your site’s pages for them to have higher chances of ranking on search engines for their designated search terms.

It’s important to optimize your site for search to be able to have its content (especially the site’s important landing pages and linkable assets) regularly crawled and be ranked by search engines. Some of the optimization techniques that you can implement to your site to support your content marketing strategy are:

  • Making sure that your inner pages will be crawled and can funnel PageRank down to your important pages and categories through good site architecture, canonical URLs, setting up an XML sitemap, readable permalinks, including a robots.txt file and using descriptive keywords/anchor texts for the site’s internal linking, for the reason that this can help your content be more visible on search results.
  • Optimizing for local search results, wherein you can distribute location-based keywords on separate landing pages.
  • Making your inner content sharable by including and making social buttons very visible to users.
  • Determine and optimize the entire site for speed, you can use Google’s Page Speed Online to test how your site is performing in terms of its loading time and to see what elements/aspects of the site are affecting your important pages’ loading process.
  • Put emphasis on implementing trust and brand indicators to your site (about us page, privacy policy, trust seals, disclaimer and social proof), as search engines do use these signals to determine a site’s authoritativeness.
  • Rich snippet optimization such as implementing rel=”author” and microdata to your site’s important pages/content, for them to display more prominently on search results (which can massively increase their CTR).

Keyword research is a vital part of SEO, and small businesses can utilize this process to improve their content development strategy by simply basing their content production to the keywords that their target audience use to find content over the web.

Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Tool, Google Insights for Search and Ubersuggest to find keywords with sufficient search volume and demand that the site’s projected linkable pages can target (infographics, comprehensive articles, videos, etc…).

Base your contents’ titles on your campaign’s target keywords, as people are more likely to use your pages’ titles (including your keywords) when they begin sharing or linking to your content, which can help boost your contents’ search rankings for each allocated search term.

The foundation of your overall campaign should be centered on creating interesting and useful content for your target market and on how your materials can stress your business’ unique value proposition.

Merge Link Development and Social Outreach

Combining the power of social signals and editorial link attributions to your site’s rich content can speed up the process of obtaining better search rankings for your campaign’s targeted keywords.

That’s why it’s always important to provide high value content that people would really want to link to or share with their networks to be able to scale your content marketing strategy, where links and social mentions will come naturally after its promotion stage.

There are many content promotion techniques that you can do before and after creating and launching a solid content, such as:

Link/Social Outreach

Identify and make a list of heavy linkers and social sharers in your industry that will find your content useful and will have high probability of sharing your content. Try reaching out to them (through email) and ask if they’ll be interested to see your content. You can check out this post for more in-depth tips on how to find linkers and on how to do the linker outreach method.

Content Distribution

You can also support your highly resourceful content by building artificial links directing to it to amplify search visibility and content discovery through social channels. Several ways that you can do to build links as well as to market your content:

  • Contextually link to your content through guest blogging.
  • Link to it through free whitepapers, ebooks and slide presentations.
  • Link to your content from your press release submissions.
  • Participate on highly relevant forums/communities and link to your useful content as a reference for your contributions.
  • Cover industry news and pitch it as a guest blog/column to relevant blogs and/or news websites.
  • Offer your content to be featured on other bloggers’ newsletter, incentivize the pitch or propose a deal that will be beneficial to both parties.

Linking Out

Link out to other people or organization in your industry that have strong following base and readership to have a reason for contact. Most of the time, they’ll share your content (and sometimes link back to it), particularly if the content that’s containing a link to their works or website is offering valuable information.

Engaging influencers and building relationships

Building relationships with bloggers in your industry who have strong following (on their blogs or social networks) can also be a powerful tool for your content marketing and link building campaign, as the more your content can reach their audience, is the more you can enhance your chances of acquiring natural links and social mentions from their networks/followers (seeing that they are vouching for your content).

You can also absorb their followers along the process of gaining their trust and having them share your own content to their networks, which normally leads to more brand followers who will regularly share your site’s new updates (new blog posts, promos, events, etc…).

Competitive Intelligence

Know the factors that make people link to or share your competitors’ content by identifying the top domains linking to them as well as their key followers who continuously share their content on different social networks. You can use tools such as Open Site Explorer to determine their top linked pages and Topsy to find influential people who’re sharing their content.

Assess these factors and try to overcome their approach when it comes to content creation and outreach by understanding the nature of linking and social behavior in your industry through extracting your competitors’ data.

Distinguish why those people link to and share your competitors’ content and how you can get them to share and link to yours as well.

Social Media and Lead Nurturing

Social communities can help businesses spread their brand’s messages effectively, especially nowadays wherein more people are heavily participating on different social channels to share compelling and useful ideas related to their interests.

Developing a robust community within the site’s domain or externally (on social networks) is certainly one of the best ways to scale a business, since online communities will enable you to get more possible leads to your business as the community grows, help spread awareness about your product/services/industry (through social sharing), and can help a business build a strong online brand presence.

Below are some of the ways that you can implement to improve your social marketing and lead generation strategies:

Use Social Badges as Secondary Calls-to-Action

Make your social badges or links to your social profiles very visible on your website to continuously grow your social community, since every time you fascinate new visitors from your site, enticing them to follow your brand on different social networks (that you actively use) will help your campaign disseminate new content in the future.

You can place these CTAs on your homepage (above the fold or on the site’s sidebar) as well as on your inner pages’ (blog posts) closing parts.

Improve Middle of the Funnel offerings

Give your audience more reasons to return to your site, because these types of visitors are the ones who’re most likely to buy from you, since they already know your brand and/or have experienced the value you provide to your community.

You can offer monthly free ebooks (like Hubspot’s free whitepapers), newsletters, comprehensive blog posts (regularly), free tools, free webinars, free extensive lessons (like Codeacademy and Affilorama’s free affiliate marketing lessons) and other downloadable freebies (pdf, videos, plugins, etc…)

By improving on these aspects of content marketing, you can constantly increase and grow the amount of sign-ups to your email list, which will allow you to gather more information on your audience and eventually send targeted messages to them.

Leverage Content to Build Conversations

Communicate with your audience through social networks, since they are more to converse on these channels. You can share not just your content, but also other relevant content (perhaps from your competitors and link prospects) that your audience may find useful.

This can then spark conversations with your followers as well as with your link targets, so take advantage of this. You can also use your social profiles to create user-generated content, as this will definitely strengthen your external community.

Building a Community within your site

It’s very important to develop your site’s ability to engage its user, given that usage-data is one of the ranking factors that search engines use these days, and possible new visitors can also use this aspect of the site to assess if it’s worth their time.

You can engage your users in several ways such as building conversations through your blog’s comment sections, inviting guest bloggers to your site’s blog, launching a forum, organizing contests and/or awards. Make use of these content assets to build more brand followers/loyalists and to funnel more possible leads to your business.

Encourage Social Sharing

The more referred visitors you generate to your site through social discovery, is the more you can grow your readership, following and possible leads. Make it easy for your visitors to share your content by making your social buttons very visible on your site’s pages, especially to your site’s share-worthy content (as people will naturally share them if they find it really interesting or useful).

Measure and Optimize for Conversions

Measuring and tracking your campaign’s performance is vital, since understanding your results and the key areas that might need more of your attention can speed up the process of achieving your marketing campaign’s objectives (for instance, increasing highly engaged visitors and improving customer acquisitions).

There are certain metrics that you should be measuring, most importantly for small and medium businesses that are active with their online marketing, because these metrics basically justify your results and let you see where your campaign should be heading next (like improving on channels that generate you more revenue).

Metrics that you can use to assess your campaign’s performance could be segmented into 4 different parts – traffic, engagement, content and conversions.

Monthly unique visitors vs. returning visitors

Compare your previous months to the current month to see the impact of your online marketing campaign (SEO, social media and content marketing).

Traffic Sources

Identify traffic sources and referring websites that send traffic with high user-activity (have low bounce rates, stay longer on the site and view more internal pages of the site). Knowing which sites send the best type of traffic to your site will enhance your lead generation strategy (as you can then focus on getting more traffic from them).

Top performing pages

Determine what pages of the site are performing well in terms of page views and user activity, because these pages can be your campaign’s possible linkable assets (that can help you scale your link building efforts), and you can as well improve these pages’ CTAs for maximum conversions (given that the traffic they are receiving are highly engaged).

Keyword performances and Search Rankings

Check if your targeted keywords are ranking well on your desired search result location(s) and if they are sending traffic that takes action (based on time on landing page, bounce rate and page visits).

Growth in audience reach

It’s also important to monitor the improvement in the size of your brand’s reach when it comes to social networks, blog subscriptions and email subscribers (to your newsletter) to determine the efficiency of your traffic generation campaign (SEO, social and content marketing).

You can use tools such as Klout, Feedburner, and­ Mailchimp/Aweber to measure your audience size and growth for each different sector (social, blog subscriptions and email subscriptions).

Goal Conversions   

Set up your campaign’s goals on Analytics to see how your site’s important landing pages are performing (if they are capable of converting your visitors into leads/sales). You can also check the traffic sources that are generating traffic that leads to customers to your site, and choose to either improve the traffic generation process or the ability of your landing pages to convert the existing constant amount of traffic they receive.

Test your Landing Pages

Use Google Website Optimizer to test the strength of your landing/product/services pages’ call to action and/or to know what page elements appeal to your visitors for them to convert more to your goals.

If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre and add me on Google+.

Image credit: IndependentConceal

Conversion Killers: How to Plug Website Holes That Leak Money

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This entry is a guest post by Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics – a custom analytics platform. You can follow him on Twitter @neilpatel.

If you are like most marketing bloggers, then you are after one thing…making money online.

That’s why you crank out content, work the social web and optimize your site. You want higher and higher amounts of traffic flowing to your site.

The only problem is…if you are making one of the following conversion mistakes…then you are losing serious revenue.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to correct any one of these mistakes and plug up any holes in your blog or website.  Your first step is to find the holes. Let’s take a look.

Reduce the clutter on your sidebar

In a Which Test One case study, Anne Holland demonstrated that sidebars without clutter outperformed sidebars with clutter by 26%.

I’ve seen this evidence bear out in tests on my own blog.

But you can’t strip everything off of your sidebar and expect to keep revenue coming into your site. You do need about three things:

  • Popular post links – Options to drive them deeper through your site. The longer they stay on your site, the more likely they will buy.

  • Opt-in form – An option to subscribe to your email newsletter or download a free report can boost conversions as high as 100%.

  • Promotion box – And don’t forget to drive them to the flagship product you are promoting.

Anything more than that and your conversions will plummet.

And keep in mind, if you run ads on your website, it’s important that you limit the real estate you give to ads…otherwise you will erode your credibility, mess with your SEO efforts and kill conversions.

Improve your page speed

Slow page speed is another conversion killer. If you have a hard time believing that, check out this page speed chart:

According to web performance optimization company Strange Loop, just a one-second delay in page speed can cost you 7% percent of sales!

What’s interesting are the sort of things that can reduce page speed.

Matthew Ogborne tested his site speed to see how much his Facebook Like button impacted the page load…and he was stunned.

He discovered that that button on the right side of his website was downloading 83.4Kb of data…which amounted to 1.340 seconds of load time.

As you can imagine, he pulled that button immediately.

Last year Joshua Bixby wrote Are Third-Party Apps Conversion Killers? He wrote the article in response to the +1 button when it was new…explaining that it was taking 2 seconds to download.

Two seconds!

Google has since optimized the button so it’s not such a drag on page speed, but it’s a great reminder of how much you need to worry about all the things you are loading on to your site, which includes ads. Slow loading ads are a major cause of high-bounce rates.

There are also applications and browsers that are not compatible. Take Chrome and Shockwave Flash:

Every time I go to Tim Ferriss’ blog using Chrome it stalls and eventually freezes. That is a sure conversion killer. The lesson is to test your site’s performance across browsers.

Your first step to improving your page load is to measure it. Run your site through Google Analytics Site Speed Analytics Report and then follow the recommendations that it spits out.

Create a cool 404 error page

You can do everything in your power to keep from serving up a 404 server error page…but it will eventually happen…

And when it does, it needs to make the user trust you.

A bad 404 error page will drive people away from your site. This is what you want to avoid:

A good error page will reward your user for actually having “broke” something. Think creatively like this:

Or this:

It’s almost like they’ve discovered something cool and now want to share it with others. And this will also encourage them to continue on their site in spite of having landed on an error page.

If they are getting too many 404 error pages, however, and no matter how cool the page is…people will get sick of it and leave.

Increase your site’s social proof

You can also kill conversions by failing to show potential customers that you are a credible expert. This is where social proof comes in.

For instance, Ramit Sethi lets you know that big media endorses him:

His credibility is not in question, is it?

The same is true for Hugh MacLeod, especially when you see he’s done work for TechCrunch, Purina and Microsoft:

Adding social proof to your site can be as easy as embedding the logos for all of the organizations that have endorsed you.

Here is Men with Pens footer:

Social proof is also seen when you display the number of shares your content has gotten across the social web and the number of subscribers you have

I’d say Michael Hyatt is doing pretty good, wouldn’t you?

And finally, providing testimonials is another way to improve conversions on your website. Here’s a sample from Tim Ferriss’ blog:

Not too shabby, eh?

Up your persuasion game

In the end, you might have a fast-loading site, a clutter-free side-bar, a great 404 error page and decent social proof…but if you don’t have persuasive sales copy…you will not convert.

Words are what will convince your potential customer to buy from you. You do that by getting them into a position where they can’t resist.

Here are the three most powerful ways to do that.

Scarcity

This principle works on the idea that there is a limited amount of something left. If used right, it’s one of the most potent copy techniques out there.

How should you use it?

  • Advertise that you have 14 seats left for your conference.
  • Or it could mean that you are running a two day sale…or an intro price. What’s scarce there is time…namely how little time the customer has to buy at a discount.

  • If you are a consultant, you could promote that you are only taking on 4 clients.
  • You are only creating 100 Bentley’s in this model this year.

The point is to weave a sense of limited supply in what you are selling that motivates people to pull the trigger now.

Urgency

Often people want what you have to sell and have the money…but they simply don’t want to spend the money at that moment.

Use urgency to get them to act. Here are some examples:

  • Black Friday – You can get crazy good deals on products the day after Christmas if you are willing to wake up at 3 in the morning. Or earlier.
  • Somebody is going to die – You see this with non-profits fighting starvation and malnutrition. They’ll put a malnourished child on the landing page with the title, “Every X seconds a child dies from starvation.”

Exclusivity

This copywriting persuasion technique is also known as the ”velvet rope,” which is used to keep “average” people from entering a certain club or restaurant.

What’s nice about using exclusivity is you don’t have to have a great product. Just build that sense of exclusion…and you can sell out.

Here are some examples:

  • The club that is only open to movie stars.
  • The golf course that is by invitation only.
  • The credit card that is only for people in a certain high-income bracket.

One last thing on persuasion: like good blog post writing, your sales copy must be clear and concise. It must also be easy to read.

For example, when you use white space between paragraphs and margins appropriately, you can increase reader comprehension by nearly 20%.

Spacing also allows the reader to fly through the copy. This guides the reader through the copy to the call to action.

Create a compelling call to action button

In the end, it should be really clear what you want your reader to do. Give them too many options and you will drive them away.

In the e-commerce world, this is known as “choice paralysis.” Tests have actually been shown that if a consumer is given 24 choices of a product…only 3% will buy.

But if you reduced that count to 6 items…30% of consumers bought!

So, make your call-to-action simple. And use these other best practices.

  • Your call-to-action button should be larger than other elements on the page:
  • Use white space to separate call to action:
  • Float important call-to-action above the page elements:
  • And don’t forget to put it at the top of the page:

By the way, don’t just settle on one call-to-action button. Test the heck out of different variations of it like Optimizely did to boost conversions.

Conclusion

Listen: if making money from your blog is important to you, then you can never stop trying to improve your conversion rate. See, the highest converting blogs got there because they relentlessly tested and tweaked their sites.

Fortunately, with just a little time and skill you can turn any leaky site into a high-powered revenue generating machine. You just have to be willing to find and plug the holes.

What other critical conversion-killing mistakes do you see blogs making?

If you liked this guest post, you should subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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SEO Strategies and Inbound Marketing Best Practices for 2012

SEO is warIn 1998, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin received funding from Andy Bechtolsheim, no one really expected for Google to grow or to be as big as it is now. And perhaps, not one person expected for it to create massive job as well as business opportunities for people worldwide, which is now one of the most competitive and in-demand industries in the web space – Search Engine Optimization.

People have speculated enough – for over a decade of its presence – that the industry is predestined to die (particularly on every year-end posts/articles predicting that next year, SEO will be dead, I guess most of you have seen this statement a lot). Seeing that SEO is still continuously evolving, we all might not see its end anytime soon.

Given that it keeps on evolving, does it mean that SEO will be requiring more advanced methodologies? What is advanced, really? In my opinion, advanced SEO (now) is all about efficiency and appropriate marketing channel integration. That’s how Google is gradually transforming its services, and obviously, search/inbound marketers are already moving at this pace.

So what’s your approach for next year?

Here are some of the best practices (that I know and some of my ideas as well) on search, link development, social, content development, conversions and online branding for 2012.

On-site Optimization

Let’s start off with the basic website optimization processes, as this is the foundation of any online marketing strategy.

  • Site Structure – it’s best to have all your site’s important pages be very accessible to both users and search crawlers through a good site navigation scheme, as this will allow your important pages to be crawled, indexed and be ranked by search engines.
  • Page Titles – use unique titles for each of your site’s page as well as specific “keywords” that actually pertain to your page’s content. It’s also important for your title tags to target humans/users and not search crawlers.
  • Optimized Internal Links – using partial match anchor texts on your internal links to support the site’s landing, useful and deeper pages in terms of indexation and search rankings.
  • Length and value of content – in-depth content obviously gets higher search rankings (in some occasions), especially for informational content, these days.

These four are the foundations of a website that I see that might have bigger impact on search next year. But of course, there are also other areas of a website that need to be optimized for search, as search engines use hundreds of factors to map out the best and most relevant content for their users. For more tips on on-site optimization, you can check out my other (older) posts about it here and here.

Rich Snippet Optimization

Building trust upon first impression of the site is definitely one of the most effective ways to market a website next year (and as always), as it enhances the chance of selling your products/services to your visitors once they can see that you are offering real value to them.

And optimizing your pages to show up trustworthy on Google’s search results by having rich snippets for your pages’ search listings is one way to exemplify trust and prove that you’re an authority in your field. Here are some of the on-site optimization techniques that you can employ in optimizing your pages’ search listings:

  • Schemas – using microdata on your web pages’ source code (you can visit Schema.org to learn more about how to apply microdata on your website).
  • Authorship markup (rel=”author) – you can check out this post for a more extensive guide on how to implement authorship markups on your site/blog.
  • Optimized videos embedded on content, as Google’s search results are also displaying video snippets for pages that contain highly optimized videos.
  • Optimizing your list pages for search
Authorship Markup

The main benefit of having rich snippets for your pages (when they are showing up on search results) is that it increases the click-through rate of your listings – even they aren’t positioned on the top spot –since they are able to psychologically attract users through the perceived value of the content, which strongly suggests that your site/page is worth seeing.

Trust Optimization

As I’ve mentioned above, and even before – SEO is all about trust! The more people trust you, the more that search engines will place you higher on their search results, seeing as you truly deserve the spot.

Rand recently published a post on SEOmoz on how to prove trust over the web, and in this part of the post, I’ll just use one of his graphs in measuring a trustworthy website (since Rand has already mentioned everything that’s significant to this area of site optimization and I personally think that there’s no other better way to demonstrate it).

Mobile SEO

According to Google, 1 out of 7 search queries are happening from mobile devices (14% of overall search queries and almost 30% on some industries such as restaurants) and also reported to grow up to 22% of overall search next year.

Mobile users are still a growing segment of any industry’s target market, particularly when it comes to search, since businesses are also able to target users through building and promoting their own mobile applications, so tapping in to this area of marketing can be very promising for small, medium and enterprise-level businesses in 2012.

Here are some of the best practices on optimizing your site for mobile users:

  • XHTML code validation – you can use W3C’s mobile validator to see if you’re website is mobile friendly.
  • Testing the actual display as well as user-experience of the site when on mobile devices.
  • Implementing traditional on-site optimization such as the use of strong page titles, relevance of content to headline/page description and inclusion of inbound and outbound links within the content.
  • Long-tail optimization for speech recognition search, particularly on pages on your site that are getting mobile traffic or geo-targeted visitors (which you can track via Google Analytics).
You can also check this mobile search optimization guide for more tips and mobile search statistics.

User Experience Optimization

User is king in 2012 – as mentioned by Gianluca Fiorelli on his recent post on SEOmoz’s Youmoz – which makes design/usability testing a seamless strategy to be integrated with your online marketing efforts, since we all do want to satisfy the traffic generated by our campaigns, as this will always give positive results in terms of branding and conversions.

UX optimization usually streams through three major processes:

  • Collecting data from users (feedbacks).
  • Analyzing the site’s performance and results through the users’ feedbacks.
  • Making revisions and testing it again.

Some of the most known forms of usability enhancements are as follows:

  • Ensuring a user-friendly navigation scheme for the site, including the appropriate anchor texts for each destination page, specifically to direct visitors to the information that they’ll be looking for within your website.
  • The internal funnel of the site, an element that contains visitors and making them stay longer on the site (providing what they really visited for or more than what they have expected to see).
  • Site speed optimization, which is very important nowadays, as it’s being used as a factor by search engines in determining high-utility websites. You can use Google’s Page Speed Online to test your pages’ performance.
  • Removing or reducing distracting elements in the site to improve user activity.
  • Testing the site’s display on different platforms (different browsers, screen resolutions, mobile devices/browsers, etc…)
  • Readability, grammar as well as reading level of the content, in which you’ll mostly tailor your content to accommodate the specific audience that you’re targeting.

You can also use free usability testing tools like Usabilla and Silverback to improve your visitors’ experience when browsing your website.

Conversion Rate Optimization

SEO is the part that drives specifically targeted traffic to a website, while CRO is the side that converts the generated visitors into customers by compelling them to take actions once they are on your website/landing pages.  Combining these two practices is probably the most powerful approach to online marketing.

Based on Google’s recent algorithmic changes/updates, it is somehow evident that they are already on this path of determining high quality pages to be returned on their search results, by simply collecting user as well as website usage data.

This just means that the more that the users of a certain website are engaged (taking actions, staying longer in the site and/or frequently visiting the site), the more that it will be granted with higher search rankings, given that users are finding the site useful and valuable based on the usage data.

Conversion rate optimization is an area of website optimization that focuses more on testing site elements in order to refine results, particularly on how to increase user activity and of course, to improve the site’s ability to generate more revenue.

The major processes of CRO can be broken down into 5 segments:

  • Goal setting – identifying and deciding the goals that the website should achieve (leads/sales) as well as in building metrics to measure the campaign’s performance.
  • Measuring the site’s performance – knowing the benchmark of the how the site is performing, specifically with its current capacity to achieve your targeted goals, through analytics, user testing and surveys.
  • Analyzing existing data – this is the process that allows you to identify the site’s problems, which also allows you to determine areas of the website that might need revisions to be tested, based on the collected data from the 2nd stage.
  • Implementing changes for the testing phase – optimizing the conversion rates of the site’s important landing pages is usually done by employing the revisions that you have visualized to have better impact, based from your initial research and analysis. It’s also important to track everything that you’re about to test, as these changes are the ones that will justify your results.
  • Testing – you can use Google Website Optimizer to test the changes that you have implemented from the last stage by comparing their results (through A/B testing or Multivariate Testing).

Here’s a more extensive guide on how to implement CRO to your website from Unbounce.

CRO is a looping process, wherein getting positive results from your tests wouldn’t mean it has to stop, as you’ll need to continuously find more ways to refine the strategy for maximum results.

Enhancing your site’s CRO campaign by using/integrating methodologies that are mostly used in SEO is a strong as well as a scalable approach to marketing medium to large websites. Here are some of the integral methods that you can use:

  • On-site behavioral targeting through geo-targeted, demographic-targeted and/or contextual webpage content.
  • Absolute relevance of the landing page to its targeted keyword(s).
  • Increasing the amount of keywords that a certain strong landing page can rank for on search results, by building more links to it using variations for its anchor texts (short-tail, long-tail and semantically relevant keywords). Given that the more traffic that the page can generate, is the more you can increase your site’s conversions.
  • Segmenting types of traffic through efficient keyword research – and this will usually encompass the implementation of appropriate keyword targeting for the site’s pages (separating buying keywords from general information keywords). Here’s a great deck that explains a lot of SEO methods that can be used to improve conversions.
  • Also, here’s a good line from Patrick Altoft: build more links to important landing pages, rather than important keywords.
  • Strengthening the page’s main call to action by making it more obvious.
  • Putting emphasis on your product/service’s value proposition through the landing pages’ content to improve conversions.

Linked Data

Linked data is a practice that interconnects related data, information and knowledge on the semantic web (as defined by Wikipedia) through URIs and RDFs. Basically; it’s a process that assembles pieces of data retrieved from different open databases to form a single channel that will store all the interrelated information, which can serve as a more extensive resource about a certain subject.

A great example of this type of content is World Bank’s open data – this was a tip sent to me by Hannah Poferl a few months ago.

As you can see, most of their pages (from their data center) contain solid statistics extracted from different open databases that could be very significant to many existing or ongoing studies, which means these pages are of high value to both large and small communities (and would definitely mean a linkable asset that will continuously gain and attract natural links).

Making this a part of your campaign’s content development strategy might just earn you a lot of authoritative links, especially if you can link important datasets related to your industry or to its target market.

The outcome of the content may also be compelling enough to be worthy of ranking for highly competitive keywords, particularly if you can build a good navigational structure for these pages as well as obtain quality links through its promotion stage.

Learning how to create this type of content is quite hard, but the good news is that there are lots of available resources over the web that you can start with to know more and understand how linking open data works. Here are some of the resources that I’ve found very useful through my own research:

Continuously Upgrading Strong Pages for Freshness

I’ve been an advocate of this method for quite some time now, and will definitely be doing this more next year, as I’ve personally tested this method and has proven positive results in terms of getting higher search rankings. Especially now with one of Google’s recent update – Freshness – you can certainly dominate the SERPs for years if you have a solid content that can offer evergreen information.

Freshness doesn’t necessarily imply that a document should be new based on its inception date, but rather plays around many factors that can consider and indicate the content’s authoritativeness. Cyrus Shepard of SEOmoz recently published an article about the factors of freshness that may influence rankings.

A good sample of this method (I’ve been using and over-promoting this one a lot) would be my SEO strategies resources page:

Basically, it’s a compilation of my blog posts that I regularly update – every time I have a new post that’s suitable to be included on that list – which makes the page more powerful, as it’s continuously upgrading.

Here’s another tip:

Linkable Asset Creation

A linkable asset is a robust component of a website that aims to stand as the best content in a specific area of an industry. This type of content is capable of:

  • Serving as a link magnet that can continuously attract linkers.
  • Ranking for highly competitive keywords, as it can attract natural links.
  • Consistently generating traffic, since it can rank for highly searched keywords.
  • Sending out massive brand signals.
  • Producing highly fascinated leads, given that the content is exemplifying your expertise in the field.
  • Improving your site’s domain authority, through generated traffic and usage data.

There are certain elements that a web content must have in order for it to be a scalable asset, such as:

  • Appeals to a large audience
  • Content is evergreen
  • Have high content value

Ross Hudgen’s deck on creating a link building machine is a great guide to start with. And to get you more inspired, here are some of the best samples of linkable assets in this industry:

Using Statistics to Create News

This is probably old news to most of you, but again, solid data is still big news to any industry. Launching a survey that will gather relevant information to give solution to a particular or a well-timed issue in your industry can just give you massive linking opportunities.

You can use tools like SurveyMonkey in conducting your research/survey. Then after collecting the necessary data, you can then present your survey’s results in a graph format or you can as well choose to present the data by including it to rich-media contents (video, slide presentation or infographic).

Extending the reach of your results is very possible once you have released your initial content (that will host the statistics), as it will be easier to pitch your story/statistics as a resource to news websites, columnists, editors and even reputable bloggers in your industry.

Interactive Infographics and Data Visualization

Richard Baxter recently shared a list of interactive infographics that really caught my attention. Infographic creation and marketing has proven itself to be an efficient online marketing tool this past year, and many are saying that it’s already being overused by marketers worldwide, which might lessen its value in the coming years.

However, enriching your approach to data visualization – as a marketing channel for your content development strategy – by making it more interactive is a different story. It takes time to develop one, but its results can definitely be overwhelming, mainly in attracting solid links to your website.

via TheDailyBeast

In creating interactive infographics, here’s a video tutorial that I’ve found useful via Larry Ferlazzo.

Online Branding with Social Media

Branding is evidently one of the biggest factors that search engines will use in determining authority websites next year, knowing that brand-based data is one of the simplest metrics that they can use to measure authenticity and web popularity.

The most common metrics that search engines might use in assessing a brand’s importance over the web could be through:

  • Search volume for the brand name
  • Brand mentions from other websites (without link)
  • Amount of branded anchor text links directing to the website
  • Brand mentions from users on social networks

Judging from these metrics that Google is using, it is somehow certain that branding in SEO will mostly require the practice of social media in order to cultivate brand mentions, brand awareness, branded search queries and most especially brand advocates.

Using Social Media for CRM

One thing that really empowers businesses today in social media, is the benefit of having it used as a tool for customer relationship management (CRM), given that a large share of audience in most industries are actively using the web (particularly social networking sites) these days.

Social media, as a channel for CRM and customer support, can positively impact the efforts of building the brand’s online presence, and can definitely cultivate brand mentions, spread brand awareness, and branded searches from highly satisfied users and from people that the brand will be referred to.

Brand Building through Content Marketing

Externally distributing content or crafting extremely awesome web-based content can also help in building a strong brand presence for your website, as these types of content can send out massive brand signals. Types of content that can boost your social media and brand marketing campaign may come in forms of:

  • Videos
  • Games
  • Applications
  • Free web-based tools
  • Awards
  • Contests
  • Whitepapers
  • Free Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Guest blogging

When distributing or launching heavy content marketing campaigns, it’s also important to make them have strong call to actions, such as following/liking you on social networks (Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+), as this will allow you to measure and scale your campaign(s).

Tracking Brand Mentions and Utilizing Brand Advocates

As you are building your brand and user-engagements through social media, it’s also vital to monitor brand mentions. You can use free tools like Google Alerts and Twitter Search to keep track of people talking about your brand, especially those who are citing your brand positively.

Keeping track of these people also means that you’ll need to make a list of them (use excel), as you can utilize this list in scaling your online marketing campaign (especially in link building). You can segment your list, particularly the ones who are mentioning you on Twitter, and see those who have blogs. Engage this area of your list (like offering freebies for reviews, VIP access, coupon codes, etc…) to get more contextual link opportunities.

Rapport Building through Content Creation

Building relationships has been one of the most effective and scalable ways to build high value links to a website these past few years, given that relationships can also take online businesses to a higher level in terms of acquiring links as well as in generating business leads through network referrals.

There are many ways to build relationships online, which most of the time starts with conversations through community discussions (forums, blogs, Q&A sites, social networking sites) as well as on industry conferences. But targeting to engage influencers in your industry might take you some time, there are still ways that you can do to get into their radar – by simply creating compelling content that features them.

Some of the most effective content formats that you can use to build connections with your link targets:

It’s always important to notify them once you have published your content, as most of them would share it to their own networks, which opens your doors for more linking opportunity, as this can somehow validate your site’s credibility.

Bonus Tip: If your client won’t authorize you to do this within their domain, try to start a niche-targeted blog (that uses a “personal” approach) that will focus on creating these kinds of content (it’s easy to build these types of content, as you’ll mostly focus on researching, curating posts in your industry, outreach for interviews, etc…).

Once you get to talk to your link prospects and have them thanking you for featuring them on your user-generated content, it’s then easier to penetrate guest blogging requests to them (which I think is a win/win/win situation for your client, your self-hosted blog and your link prospect).     

Link Building in 2012:

Link building in 2012

Targeted Link Building

Targeted link building is more of a principle than a practice. It’s a perception that focuses on building the right anchor texts to the right destination pages from the right and highly relevant linking websites. Other factors that make a link building campaign more targeted:

  • Focusing on your list of link prospects! As sometimes, people tend to get distracted by obtaining fast live links from general niche websites. You can refer to my recent blog post for extreme link prospecting, use it wisely.
  • Building links that people will actually click – through the position of the link within the document, or the length as well as the usage of powerful words in the link to attract users to clicking. Studying the top websites sending referred traffic to your site is also a good way to get ideas on how to build your artificial links.

Bonus Tip: Building links to undiscovered powerful pages of the site.

Basically, it’s just digging through your Web Analytics to track unseen opportunities that might help scale your link building campaign – particularly in generating specifically targeted search engine traffic – by pushing pages to rank for the keywords which people use in finding the page.

In discovering powerful pages of your site:

  • On Google Analytics’ Traffic Sources > Keywords
  • Segment keywords that have high user activity, which can be measured through the % of new visits and its bounce rate (keywords that have high % of new visits + low % of bounce rate).
Analytics link building

Having these traffic data segmented will eventually guide you to the right anchor texts to target for your strong pages, as some of the data that you’ll be finding indicates that people see those pages relevant to the search term they have used in finding them.

These pages are then easier to optimize and also have greater chances of achieving higher search rankings, especially when you start building links to them, seeing as they’re already showing up on search results (for their newly targeted keywords), and most of all, the data that you’ve collected prove that these pages have high user-activity.

BizDev Link Building

Recently, Eric Ward’s works and perceptions on link development as well as on how he really sees where this business is going have heavily influenced my own views about the link building business – and his BizDev link building style is certainly one of them.

BizDev link building is a methodology that concentrates more on the business end rather than the site’s search rankings – as defined by Eric Ward.

Brilliant examples of this technique can also be found here:

Although, probably the most excellent example of bizdev link building that I’ve seen so far was a technique that a got from a thread at Webmasterworld (by “viggen”):

  • Find authors of upcoming books (2-4 months before they get released) in your niche on Amazon.com.
  • Contact the author and ask if he/she’ll be interested to review another book or interview another author who writes about the same field or industry (preferably the ones that they might need for their own research), as this can help him promote his upcoming book. Basically, you’ll be offering help to the author in promoting his new book by creating a content that will be published in your website.
  • Once the content is done, you can start contacting the publishing house of the reviewed book and let them know that you have an extensive review of one of their books posted on your website. This can get you some links and social shares from the publishing house’s end as well as the author who wrote the review.
  • Another advantage of using this method is that many universities in the US and UK have publishing departments, which means you can have higher chances of engaging people who are authorized to reward citations from an .edu domain (knowing that they also have blogs and they also enjoy citing resources).
  • Benefits of the technique: you get a link from the author of the upcoming book, you get a link from the publishing house (could be from .edu), you receive a high quality content, and you get to build a strong reputation in the academic sphere of your industry.

User Generated Viral Campaigns

Viral marketing will definitely be still one of the most powerful marketing tools out there next year. This method has a lot of faces, and with social media growing larger every year, tapping more in to your target audience’s passions could be a little more interesting to implement – basing on the increase in web users’ online activity and involvement.

A good approach to this type of marketing is to support or create a movement (could be politically-related, perennial issues, etc…) that relates to your industry or a belief that your business genuinely believes in. Once you have this part sorted out, you can launch campaigns that will encourage actions from your targeted audience such as:

  • Collecting online signatures and compiling them all in a single webpage, which participants can freely share on social networks or link back to (online signatures can come in form of a link to their social network profile/blog, which may also include a statement from each participant). You can also choose to automate this process by allowing users to just key in their contributions using an online form and have all submissions moderated.
  • Interviewing real people (not industry influencers) and compiling their contributions in a single webpage (this will be more interesting if it’s a video). You can also scale this approach by allowing users to send in their own videos (it’s like allowing them to have their opinions about the issue heard).

People are more likely to share the content if they feel that they have slight ownership of it.

My Call to Action

I will have a Christmas/2011 testimonial /link love post this week, so if you liked this post, you can just tweet this:

You don’t necessarily have to say that I’m awesome or what, feel free to say anything alongside the #Kaiserthesage hashtag, and I’ll take screenshots and include them on my next post, and of course, I’ll be linking back to your websites.

Subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Image Credit: Poibuts

 

Guiding Principles in Creating an Effective Web Design

This entry is a guest post by Noel Addison Agnote from NDIC. The views and opinions expressed on this post don’t necessarily reflect my views as an Online Marketer.

Principle Web design is one of the most vital aspect of modern online marketing, as visually attractive websites are very much capable of converting visitors to leads/sales with almost no trouble at all. Designs enable websites to speak for itself, in which they can inject and ignite trust to users upon first impression – seeing that the website has invested on making its users’ visual experience valuable.

On any online marketing strategies, enforcing a creatively done website design can and will extremely improve the site’s performance in terms of:

  • Sending out strong brand signals by visually captivating your site’s visitors.
  • Increasing conversions through clean and succinct display of the website’s elements.
  • Attracting and acquiring natural links, particularly if your site has an exceptional web design like Ben the Bodyguard and Analog.coop, which were able to semi-automate their process of building links through their ingenious design.
  • Usability, which Google loves and in someway is granted with higher search rankings on their SERPs. It is also a good way to improve the user-activity scores (getting more pageviews and reducing bounce rates) of the site.

Simplicity – Less is More

Keeping your website simple should be the primary goal in designing a website. Remember that users are searching for information or answer to a certain question. In addition, Simple websites are easier to navigate, load faster and simple sites are quicker to design and build. So to make your website look simple remove unnecessary decorative elements and make sure that the backend of your site is as simple as the frontend. A simple message will be understood better than a complicated one.

Reduce the Cognitive Load In Your Design

When building a website make sure that your audience will quickly understand what your page is about. The navigation and site architecture have to be spontaneous or else more questions about your site will arise in your audience’s mind. A comprehensible structure, sensible visual clues and identifiable links can aid users to get what they need to know about your page. Let your website be clear and understandable.

Reducing the complexities in your website will make it easier for visitors to get the information that you want to convey to them.

Let Users Explore the Site and Discover Your Services

Remove the barriers that deter your visitors from exploring your website. Try to minimize your user’s requirement when you are offering some service or tools. Less action needed from users to try your service, the more visitors will try it. Let users discover the site and learn more about your services without obliging them to share their private data. It is not practical to compel users to enter an email address only to test your service. Make your users feel comfortable and calm in trying the features of your service.

Keep Your Visitor’s Attention and Interest

Aid your visitor’s eyes to see what’s important in your page and help them concentrate on what to do. Make your call to action different from other things in the page. Your content must be consistent, present things similarly so that it will be more serviceable and easier to learn for your visitors. Also, proper alignment is most likely the most important visual treatment you can do to make a design look visually easier to utilize.

Let the User See Vividly What Functions Are Available

Allowing the user see clearly what functions are available is a basic rule of successful user interface design. Make sure that the content is well-understood and visitors feel comfortable with the way they interact with the system.

Make Use of Effective Writing

When writing for a website come to the point as quickly as possible, use short and concise phrases instead of cute words and exaggerated statements. Use simple and objective language. Give your users some reasonable and objective reason why they should use your service or stay on your web-site.

White space is good

There are several of elements that form a great web design, but one of the most disregarded and underutilized is whitespace. Whitespace is made of nothing, but should not be seen in that way. There are several advantages that a huge dose of whitespace can bring to a design. Simply by increasing the space between elements in a layout, a design can take on a more elegant appearance, and by injecting more whitespace into a web design’s typography, content becomes more legible.

Communicate effectively with a “visible language”

Do the most with the least amount of cues and visual elements. Simplicity includes only the elements that are most important for communication. All components should be designed so their meaning is not vague. The essential properties of the elements should be discernible. The most important elements should be easily perceived. The user interface must keep in balance legibility, readability, typography, symbolism, multiple views, and color or texture in order to communicate successfully.

Test your website.

You will need to extensively test the website to ensure that visitors have a comfortable stay and don’t leave your site in an instant. Testing is an iterative process. That means that you design something, test it, fix it and then test it again.

There might be problems which haven’t been found during the first round as users were practically blocked by other problems. Usability tests always produce useful results. Either you’ll be pointed to the problems you have or you’ll be pointed to the absence of major design flaws which is in both cases a useful insight for your project.

According to Weinberg’s law, a developer is unsuited to test his or her code. This holds for designers as well. After you’ve worked on a site for few weeks, you can’t observe it from a fresh perspective anymore. You know how it is built and therefore you know exactly how it works — you have the wisdom independent testers and visitors of your site wouldn’t have.

About the Author:

Addison AgnoteNoel Addison Agnote is working as an internet marketer for more than 2 years. He is a part of NDIC, a web design company whose dedication is to build quality websites and help your business build a good online presence. For more information, please visit Santa Barbara Web Design.

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Image Credit: SydneyTayler