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

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12 Inbound Marketing Tips

I did a short presentation last week for the first ever startup/marketing meetup that our company has organized.

The pointers from my talk were mostly based on my personal experience for the past 3 years of my career as an online marketer and a business owner – so I was really excited to turn my slide deck into a blog post as well.

Inbound Marketing’s popularity as a medium to exponentially grow a business’ ability to attract customers and establish its brand as a leader in its space, has certainly increased these past couple of years.

I believe that it’s not just because everyone’s turning to it these days, or because it’s not as expensive as paid media.

But mainly because of the scalability and longevity of the results it is capable of providing, knowing that it involves data-driven (and measureable) processes – such as SEO, content marketing, social media, analytics, and conversion optimization.

This approach to marketing has helped me develop a one-man consulting business into a 20+ person company in 2 years.

I witnessed its power firsthand, and I’ll definitely be glad to share the key things I’ve learned from doing it.

#1 Great products make great marketing campaigns, not the other way around

Marketing a business is a lot easier when you’re offering a product that no one else in your market can match.

Users/consumers most likely share a product/service that they find really valuable to their peers (word of mouth marketing). And products that can be considered as one of the best solutions in solving a certain problem are definitely newsworthy.

It’s important to genuinely believe in the product that you’re trying to sell (or market). Because it is the driving force of your marketing campaign.

Although, this core principle doesn’t just apply on the product itself, as the entirety of the branded product can also be heavily affected by other factors surrounding it – like customer support/service, packaging, company culture, etc… (think of Zappos).

So when you’re offering a great product that’s in a very competitive market, then your brand’s unique value proposition will really matter, a lot.

#2 Understand the 2 core factors of SEO (for both site and page-level)

Relevance and Authority.

Search engines use hundreds of factors to determine sites/pages that they’ll be displaying to their users. But many of those factors stemmed out to become more accurate in gauging both relevance and authority.

For instance, optimization methods such as improving information architecture, implementing structured data, proper distribution of keywords, content optimization (title tags, meta descriptions, content matching the given title, internal/external links, etc…) and a lot more, all help search engines better understand what the information/products your site is providing and be able to determine if your site is relevant to what their users might be looking for.

Whereas links, brand signals (social, unlinked mentions, etc…), domain authority and sentiments from other entities about the brand tell search engines how popular and authoritative your brand is.

A good question to ask yourself every time you optimize a site for search:

Is this the most relevant and most authoritative site in this vertical for it to rank for keyword xxx?

If not, then you have a lot of work to do.

#3 Design is 50% of the battle

I actually got this tip from one of Rand Fishkin’s presentations (can’t remember which one though).

The more web consumption grows, the lower an average user’s attention span gets. Design separates many successful websites from their competitors, especially in persuading and engaging new visitors to stay longer on the site, because:

  • Sites that provide better visual experience look more credible and trustworthy to users.
  • It makes it easier for visitors to use and navigate the website (UX, usability and site architecture).

This area of marketing can strongly impact your site’s ability to convert visitors. It’s smart to invest more on it.

#4 To educate is the best way to sell

I learned this from my former employers (Simon Slade and Mark Ling) while working full-time for Affilorama and Traffic Travis.

They’ve been giving ton of valuable information for free (through their content marketing efforts) which helped them established their brand(s) as an authority on their respective fields. And it’s a conventional wisdom in any industry that it’s easier to sell when people see you as an authority.

An effective content marketing campaign almost always aims to educate its target audience. Since having the ability to spread new and/or actionable ideas is one of the best ways to be remembered by your audience (influence).

This is the very reason why I always try to write extremely comprehensive blog posts (with ideas that I don’t usually see on other blogs) for the past 3 years of blogging. Because the more I teach my readers the things I do (and how difficult it is, sometimes), the more I can attract people to avail the services we offer.

#5 Invest on developing more “Big Content”

Content marketing has been the center of all attention these days in the world of online marketing – because it’s the center of it anyway. Content ties everything in digital marketing, that’s why it’s king.

When you have the best content on the web about a certain topic, you can get almost everything you need to fuel an online business:

52a7c530381288.29059360

And a comprehensive branded content (that’s purely informational) can certainly do well in search results these days (and can even outrank Wikipedia).

REI-1

Many brands in our industry have already been implementing this (ex: Moz’s beginner’s guide to social media and QuickSprout’s advanced guide to content marketing), seeing that they’re getting a lot of good results from it (plus the fact that it’s a scalable landing page – since the content is evergreen).

big content

This marketing initiative can amplify your brand’s online presence, especially when the content is specifically targeted to a set of audience that can potentially be your future customers.

#6 Earn brand visibility from high-traffic industry communities

Google has brought down a lot of link building techniques over the past decade (from comment spams, article directories, badges, reciprocal linking and now to guest blogging). But perhaps, this is the only artificial link building tactic that will not cease to exist – providing real value to other online communities.

I’ve preached this approach many times in the past, because I’ve had many successes with it.

moz

Instead of submitting one-off content to hundreds of blogs in your industry, why not just focus on regularly contributing content to one or two top blogs in your space that are sure to pass on more quality traffic back to your site.

Being associated with high-traffic online publications can improve the perceived value that others see in your brand. Become more visible to your target audience through them.

#7 Content and brand identity fuel social media campaigns

This one’s very basic, but many people seem to forget how content plays a big role (a very huge chunk actually) in social media marketing.

Content initiates interactions in the social web, and content can also display a brand’s identity or what differentiates it from its competitors.

Most successful big brands in social media integrate content with their campaigns (like Red Bull), so why would it be any different to the smaller ones.

Understanding the types of content that typically get shared (a lot) on social networks is crucial to be very effective on this area of inbound marketing.

#8 Personal branding is vital in Inbound Marketing

People tend to follow, interact and listen to other people, not brands.

personas

Aside from the benefit of improving the ability of the site to earn its target audience’s trust, having strong personas behind a brand also serves as a strong signal that search engines can use (for entity search).

#9 Use Analytics to find opportunities and traffic assets. Identify what’s working, then do more of them (80/20)

Many practitioners use analytics for reporting, but forget to use their data to actually improve their sites’ performance.

Identify what’s continuously bringing high-quality traffic and conversions to the site (whether it’s high or low in volume), so you can maintain/improve them and take more advantage of them. These traffic assets could be:

  • Landing pages or existing content assets
  • Keyword rankings
  • Linking domains/pages (via Assisted Conversions)
  • Locations where you’re getting more conversions
  • Mediums (email, social, referrals, search, etc…)

conversions

#10 Optimize for remarkability and experience

Think of ways how you can make every visitor feel different when they’re on your site, because that’s what will make them come back.

In my case, I focused on including ideas on many of my blog posts that I think my readers wouldn’t find elsewhere. That was the unique selling point I planned to focus on for my blog’s content development a couple of years ago.

Because I believed that element will somehow make my brand more remarkable. And I think it kind of worked.

If you’ve built your business for the long haul, this should be a high priority. Knowing that eventually, brands and standalone platforms are what will matter most in the web’s ecosystem.

One good sample of this is CollegeHumor.com. They’ve established their brand very well through consistently providing remarkable content, which also impacts the experience their users get every time they go to the site.

logo_collegehumor

Many of their content get shared a lot on social media, and I believe many of their followers just go directly to the site (due to the consistent content updates they do on their site).

The cult following they have built is enough for search engines to understand who they are.

funny videos

#11 Maximize earned visibility to improve owned media

Use or test multiple CTAs on pages constantly generating new traffic to your website.

Calls-to-action shouldn’t just be used on your site’s transactional landing pages, because there are so many other secondary CTAs that you can use to build up your other marketing activities, such as

  • Encouraging visitors to follow you on social networks.
  • To subscribe to your blog’s feed and/or email newsletters.
  • Check out products you sell that they might find interesting (based on the topic of the content they landed on).

#12 Do everything the hard way

The harder the things you do, the more your work becomes valuable. It also makes it harder for your competitors to replicate what you’ve done to succeed.

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

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Using Analytics Data to Improve your Traffic Generation

Measurability is what sets digital marketing apart from other traditional marketing channels.

The accuracy of data collection through web analytics has played a vital role in online marketing for years now, not just because it makes reporting look cooler, but because it helps marketers make better decisions and for campaigns to have better directions.

Web analytics has 4 major uses, and it seems that many of us tend to forget the last one:

  • Collect
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Optimize

As I have been mentioning a lot lately – it’s not about how much data you have; it’s about how you use your data to your advantage.

So in this post, I’ll be sharing several methods that you can implement to get the most out of the data you’re getting from your digital marketing activities.

Improving Site Discovery and Traffic

John Doherty wrote a great piece a month ago on Moz on how to build marketing funnels using Google Analytics, which has also discussed this topic. I highly suggest checking out that post as well.

marketing funnel

In optimizing your website for it to be more visible to your target audience, it’s important to first understand the channels where you are getting the most traction from.

You can start by checking your site’s most visited landing pages, including the mediums that they are able to constantly get new visitors from.

Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages > and on the “Second Dimension” tab choose Traffic Sources > Medium:

site discovery

Determining which sites have referred the most engaged traffic to your website is another data set that you’ll have to consider checking (referring sites with low bounce rates, high visit duration and high percentage of new visits).

Acquisition > All Referrals:

acquisition

On making use of these data:

Putting more efforts on those that have proven to drive results is a conventional wisdom in online marketing.

  • Be consistent in building brand exposure on sites that have constantly driven visitors to your website – by becoming more visible on their sites through continuous content contribution or by making sure that the pages from their domain that passes on traffic to your website will continuously get traffic (by helping them rank better or by building 2nd-tier links).
  • Update and solidify your site’s top landing pages, particularly those that have low engagement rate, as these pages are the ones that help people discover your site/brand.
  • Find sites similar to the websites sending targeted traffic to you (using Google search or Similar Web) and aim to gain more brand visibility from them too (given that they also cater to the same audience you’re targeting).

related search

Understanding the customer journey

Traffic generation is not just about bringing new traffic to your website, as the process’ entirety also involves nurturing your audience (growing your returning visitors) for it to be truly efficient.

What are the things that I can do to keep my visitors on coming back to the site? That’s one good question to always ask. And a few answers to this question are:

  • Continuously growing your content resources (blog, content assets, newsletters, etc…).
  • Building an interactive community within the site (forum, community blog, etc…).
  • Providing free web-based products/services.
  • Making all of your brand’s offerings (ex: whitepapers, newsletters, videos, etc…) very visible on the site’s key pages (as CTAs).

But the main key to really make your site sticky for new traffic is to provide a unique experience (that they’ll want to share and utilize again).

That’s why it’s very important to determine which mediums are mostly used by people to find your site and what possible elements of the site make them want more.

Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths

top conversion paths

Turning to Mobile

Mobile internet usage has clearly been huge for the past decade (and is still continuously growing), making the available data from Google Analytics more valuable than ever.

Aside from the fact that these data can help you decide if it’s really right for you to invest on mobile marketing, it also gives you insights/opportunities on how you can diversify your brand’s growth in terms of traffic generation and product offerings.

Audience > Mobile > Devices 

mobile devices

On making use of these data:

  • Optimize your website for mobile devices (and OS) that are sending conversions to your website – by making your site responsive or building custom mobile versions of the site for devices that are yielding results. This can tremendously affect your site’s ability to rank better on mobile search.
  • Improve the site’s loading speed. For more tips, you can also check out Sean Si’s extensive guide on how to improve site speed.
  • Build site features that are specifically targeted to mobile users (like offering different formats of your content such as audio, video, downloadable PDFs or mobile apps).

Social Traffic

Knowing which social networks that are driving the most traffic and conversions to your site is just the first step. It’s also imperative to identify those that can help diversify your site’s traffic sources.

You can easily determine these social networks by gauging which ones are sending high percentage of new/unique visits, with low bounce rates.

Acquisition > Channels > Social

social

Making use of these data:

  • Start building your following base on these other social platforms, by spending more time to interact with its other users (particularly those that are in the same niche/industry).
  • Create content specifically targeted to these platforms (like developing original images and promoting them through Pinterest, or creating more slide presentations then uploading them on Slideshare, etc…).
  • Cross-promoting your content on these channels on social networks where you are already established.

Improving landing pages with low organic traffic

Export the list of your site’s landing pages into an excel sheet (including the mediums sending traffic to them, by adding it on the secondary dimensions of your landing page’s analytics report).

This way, it’ll be easier for you to sort the list and determine your site’s weak pages in terms of search visibility.

Make a list of these pages, and assess the importance of each, especially with the search terms they’re aiming to rank for.

On improving your weak landing pages:

  • Optimize them to become more evergreen (update the information it contains).
  • Make it more comprehensive – especially if the content provides answers to frequently asked questions (or frequently searched queries in your space). As this can also help unleash your content’s full potentials, such as in optimizing your sales training, as well as customer service awareness.
  • Build more thematically relevant internal links to them, to pass more link value and ranking power. For more tips, you can also check this guide on content optimization.

Do the math in your landing pages

If every page on your site is getting 100 visitors per month on an average, then adding 10 new more unique and useful pages will allow you to attract a thousand more visitors in the next month.

But of course, this is not a precise amount of increase that you can actually expect. However, having a deep understanding of the capability of your site to make its pages earn visibility and traffic is extremely crucial when it comes to growing your audience/customer base.

Always look for opportunities that can help you expand your brand’s reach, like implementing these things:

  • Regularly checking your site’s internal site search data to see what topic areas your visitors are really looking for (Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms).
  • Understanding your target audience’s other interests, so you can come up with content specifically targeted to these users (Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories).

affinity categories

  • Identify countries, cities and languages that you have a strong market, and create content specifically tailored for these site visitors – as this can result to getting more long-tail keywords that you can target and rank for (Audience > Geo > Location or Language).

geo

Make your site more remarkable to improve return visits!

Whether you’re running an online publication, SaaS company, ecommerce site, B2B or an offline business, in the long run, visitor retention will be far more valuable than new visitor acquisition – because these are the people who are ready and willing to spend more in your business.

new vs returning

How to make your website remarkable:

  • Invest on content that people won’t find anywhere else (thought-leadership)
  • Invest on design
  • Invest on building relationships
  • Invest in branding

More helpful resources:

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

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Advanced SEO in 2013 – SEMTrends 2013 Presentation

Here is my slide deck from SEMTrends 2013 that was held yesterday in Iloilo City, Philippines. The topics I covered on my presentation include some of the most important factors used in the realm of search today such as on-site technology, link development, authority building, online branding, and a few tricks on Analytics.

I had an awesome time with the other speakers – Mark Acsay and Grant Merriel, as well as the event organizers (SEO.org.ph Iloilo chapter) , attendees and friends from the SEO Organization Philippines (Ricky and Cell).

Great people, food and booze, as always. See you guys again next year!

Just me, doing my thing.

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

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Creating Great Experience for SEO

Improving a website’s usage data is very essential in SEO nowadays, as these signals highly reflect the quality of the site and the level of experience it can provide to its users.

Another reason why optimizing for experience is so important in this new age of search is because of the fact that Google Panda filters are now being integrated to Google’s search ranking algorithm.

If in case you’re wondering what Panda has to do with experience, here’s a brief description of what the recent Panda updates do:

  • It targets poor-content pages (pages with low user activity and short-clicks from search results).
  • It targets duplicate content pages (as they also have low user activity).
  • Search listings (amount of pages accessible through search) that have high bounce rates/short-clicks.

Google has also updated their SEO advice recently that strongly hints that webmasters should focus on improving site experience:

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”

And Rand discussed this update from Google and shared an easy-to-digest list of categories that SEOs should be optimizing their site for in order to rank better on search results:

  1. Make the page more relevant
  2. Make the page higher quality
  3. Make the page more well-cited
  4. Make the page more accessible
  5. Make the page’s listing in the search results more compelling
  6. Make the site the page is hosted on more relevant
  7. Make the site the page is hosted on higher quality
  8. Make the site the page is hosted on more well-cited
  9. Make the site the page is hosted on more accessible
  10. Make the site the page is hosted on a more recognizable and compelling brand

SEO as a marketing practice has clearly evolved – wherein optimizing for humans is far more important than optimizing for engines.

So what are the things you can do to improve the overall experience that your site can offer to its users?

UX and Usability

Have a deeper grasp of what your target customers want for them to explore more on your site. Making a good impression (by making sure that they’ll find your site useful/valuable) is very crucial – given that it can affect other areas of your campaign (particularly in retaining visitors and improving site usage).

Sabina Idler did a great piece a month ago on understanding the user experience, which explains comprehensively how each aspect of UX can be implemented. The dissected aspects of UX include:

  • Usability (availability & accessibility, clarity, learnability, credibility and relevancy)
  • Aesthetics (making the design appealing, effective, pleasurable and memorable)
  • Customer service (building trust and relationships with users – just like SingleHop‘s approach to customer service, making it very visible on every page of the site)

singlehop

  • Brand consistency (which results to customer loyalty)
  • Personal impact (as positive emotions help people remember brands)
  • Readability (content must be easy-to-comprehend and scannable for skim readers)
  • Easy-to-follow site navigational structure (like using breadcrumb links to pass ranking power back to your site’s major categories)

breadcrumb links

For more detailed tips on usability, you definitely have to check out Jason Delodovici’s guide on improving your site’s usability.

“Every page is a landing page” mantra

Pages that you allow to be accessible through search are considerably landing pages that can send leads/sales to your business.

Adapt conversion optimization strategies, not just on your site’s key pages, but also on your overall content strategy.

There are several tactics that you can implement to your site’s inner pages to improve their conversions, or to just help you get your visitors closer to your end-goal. Jessica Collier wrote an exceptional post on different approaches that you can try on optimizing landing pages, which includes:

  • Segmented experience – which focuses on optimizing for unique visitor experience through building different specialized landing pages or content targeted to different set of audiences, rather than building a single landing page targeted to all types of audience. This is also a great method to use in growing your site’s content portfolio.
  • Use of social logins – given that it helps improve user-experience through reduced form fields, faster access and accuracy in data collection.
  • Progressive conversion – wherein the method aims to get multiple interactions from users, which is a better way to build trust and to have better chances of having them convert on your end-goal conversion action.
  • Device optimization – using responsive web design to make sure that your pages are highly-optimized for any device.
  • Creating effective CTAs (on all of your site’s searchable pages)- making sure that they are in context with the content they are hosted on and making them very visible.

Resource-Landing-Page-2

  • Considering eye-tracking and heat maps could also be very beneficial in improving your pages’ ability to attract, retain and convert visitors.

You can also check out Unbounce’s unique landing page strategies for more ideas. And for more conversion optimization tips, you can check out these guides:

Improving visitor engagement, long-click and reducing bounce rate

Improved visitors’ time spent on site/pages is a strong indicator of great experience. There are many ways to optimize your site’s ability to engage visitors such as

  • Making sure that your pages’ titles are accurate and match the information provided by their content, to prevent incoming search visitors from bouncing back to the search results.
  • Displaying social proof and trust indicators in the site’s key entrances (like what Coops and Cages did to their key pages that increased their conversions by 40%).

coopsandcages

  • Increasing internal links in your pages’ content. This can help make your visitors stay longer, especially if you’re internally linking to other useful and relevant resources hosted within your site.
  • Improving readability by testing different fonts, changing content structure (like breaking long paragraphs or designing content for skim readers), and testing/using better page headlines.
  • Blocking access to poor-content and duplicate pages in the site (by adding the noindex tag on these pages). This will improve your site’s ranking power, since it won’t be displaying any unimportant pages on search results.

Site Speed

Google is obsessed with speed, as they try to get people to use the Internet more. There are many ways to improve your website’s performance in terms of speed, especially nowadays that there are available tools that can guide you in optimizing your site – such as Page Speed and Pingdom.

Google’s search team has also been very transparent about site speed being a huge ranking factor in their algorithm. The good thing is that there are tons of available resources on how you can optimize your site’s speed, and you can check out some of them below:

Learning from Analytics data

Your analytics data can help you better understand what your users want and look for. Some of the areas where you can discover more opportunities to improve your content and business strategy are:

  • Your site’s worst landing pages (pages on your site that have high bounce rates and low engagement rates) – as these insights can help you improve them as well as your approach in optimizing all of the site’s pages.
  • Keywords that send good volume of traffic but with no conversions or have low engagement rate. Identifying these keywords and understanding why people aren’t converting can help you in optimizing their designated landing pages.
  • Site search data. As this can get you more information on what your visitors are looking for – which can help you identify other topic areas that your audience is also interested in. For more in-depth tips, you can check out this guide on using site search data to improve content strategy from Search Engine Land.

site search data

Targeted outreach and content distribution

The more you’re visible on highly relevant traffic-referring sources/sites, the more you are able to generate highly targeted and easily-engaged visitors.

Associating your site with other authority online publications where your target audiences are can extremely help you grow your site’s usage signals, especially when people are sharing your content (which is another strong indicator of quality experience).

Focus on acquiring links, coverage and exposure that can generate more actions on your site. This is doable when you’re getting links/mentions from the right places (on sites where your target market is).

Some of the marketing activities that you do to get more qualified traffic (that will actually do stuff when they’re already on your site):

  • Regularly contribute content and/or participate on discussions on high-traffic sites that are topically relevant to yours.
  • Reach out and connect with industry influencers who’ll find value in and most likely share your product/content to their network/followers.
  • Continuously grow your site’s content assets and keep on educating your audience, so that people will have more reasons to share, subscribe and interact with your brand.

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

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How to develop ROI-driven Inbound Marketing Campaigns

Inbound marketing has proven itself to be very effective in terms of helping small to enterprise-level brands reach business-related goals.

This marketing process involves a series of data-driven key initiatives. But the one key component that makes any form of marketing campaign actionable and successful is making certain that every action is goal-oriented.

goal-setting

Aligning methods/tactics to the business’ targets is crucial from start to end. Because this assures that every initiative will have impact (whether it’s big or small) to the business’ long-term goals – and this is the bottom line of what we’re doing.

It’s imperative to have a deeper grasp of what your client or your own business aims to achieve, as this makes it easier to determine which marketing channels to tap and take advantage of.

methods

There are several online marketing practices that are within the inbound marketing realm, and there are also ton of ways to make certain that each approach will be result-driven.

Will this action help us achieve our goals?

Keyword Research, Content Strategy & Consumer Insights

The best way to optimize for searchers and search engines is to be able to provide the information (in great detail and presentation) that your target audience are specifically searching for.

As I’ve mentioned on one of my recent blog posts (on how I win in search and content marketing), it all boils down to understanding what your target audience wants, needs and obviously seek for.

And again, goal setting plays a big role in SEO as well as in building a solid content strategy. Determine how your content will contribute to your organization and consider them as brand assets that can help:

  • Build authority and strengthen brand presence.
  • Generate leads and/or close sales.
  • Nurture potential customers and retain existing customers.

Start with FAQs. Because this is what your target market will continuously search for. Focus your content strategy on topic areas that have greater demand and likeliness to convert readers.

People search for answers. And it’s our job to make it easier for them to find the solutions.

There are many ways to identify and understand what a business’ target consumers may need in terms of information:

  • Getting more search query and content ideas by using keyword research tools.
  • Using Consumer Surveys to get actual insights from your target audience.
  • Studying popular communities (forums, social groups, blogs) in your industry and taking note of the most commonly discussed topics.
  • Using social listening tools, like Topsy, to gather topic ideas that are shareable and have strong social traction.

Integrating consumer insights with your SEO and content marketing will allow you to drive more targeted traffic to your site.

Another advantage is that it’ll be easier to tailor your content assets’ CTAs and special offerings based on what your target consumers need and will most likely convert to.

For more extensive tips on this area, you can also check Heidi Cohen’s checklist for content planning.

Authority Building

Establishing your brand as an authority or expert in your field can heavily influence how people interact with your brand – which often leads to better search visibility (since Google favour brands) and better conversions.

Aside from helping improve brand equity, being an authority may also have an indirect, but positive impact on a brand’s market and mind share.

That’s why investing on building a strong online brand presence is very important these days, as it can be an unfair advantage for a business competing for online-driven customers.

So what are the steps that companies can take to build themselves as an authority in their online space?

Content development

Being consistent in pushing out – not just great content – but content that will certainly be useful and compelling to your audience is the most fundamental step to becoming an authority on the web.

I’ve mentioned this as well on a post I’ve written few weeks ago – that the other key to winning in content marketing is to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ content campaigns.

As these insights will help you build a robust content strategy, which are based on your competitors’ flaws and efficiencies.

Focus on USP

Aim to become a top player in a niche in your industry. Because it will be easier to expand and target a wider audience once you’ve already proven your brand to be an authority.

Getting more coverage for your content and press mentions for your brand (through online/offline activations) will also be a lot easier if your unique value proposition stands out from the rest of your competition.

Strategic content partnerships

Build relationships and establish partnerships with other known publications in your industry. Identify sites where your target audience are, and make your brand more visible on these channels through:

  • Actively participating on their communities’ discussions (blogs, forums, etc…).
  • Regularly contributing content to absorb more readers back to your site (guest columns).
  • Inviting their authors to contribute content to your site as well.

These partnerships can be a powerful asset that can constantly bring more targeted traffic to your site, and improve social proof (that can build trust and brand perception). Think Distilled and Moz.

rand+wil

Social

Identify industry influencers that you want your brand to be associated with (use Followerwonk). Then build alliances to improve or semi-automate your content distribution – and to attract more social shares and followers as well.

For instance, if you look at Link Club, it’s a group that’s comprised of thought-leaders in the SEO industry who specialize in link building. Each individual is helping out each other to get their own personal brands out in the open.

This type of partnership/content collaboration is definitely beneficial to everyone who’s part of the alliance (which can help in terms of branding, lead generation and in discovering more business opportunities).

Email marketing and list building

The more you’re driving targeted traffic to your site through search and authority building (via content, strategic partnerships, link development, social media, etc…), the more it will be important for your organization to have a stronger grip of your continuously growing audience.

And this is where email marketing comes in. Since this is a channel that you have full control of. A robust email list can give your business the capacity to draw visitors (who’re already aware of who you are) whenever you need it, which also have higher chances of converting.

The key to building a strong email list starts with building the right traffic to your site, because they have the reasons to sign-up – which will make it easier for you to grow your list.

Kristi Hines recently wrote an exceptional post on how to effectively build an e-mail list. The post breaks down the most important aspects of list building, which includes:

  • Placing opt-in forms in high-traffic areas of the site
  • Integrating your mailing list with other platforms.
  • Offering specials to subscribers

Other email marketing resources that you might also want to check out:

Analytics – measure, analyse and improve

Understanding the data and results of your inbound marketing efforts is very important, as this gives you insights on how you can scale and how you can make your campaign more efficient.

Data simply guides your campaigns’ actions and it allows you to discover more opportunities that you might haven’t optimized your site for yet.

Several metrics that you should be taking a closer look at in Google Analytics, which can help improve your overall marketing initiatives:

  • Top content assets with high engagement rate and conversions (Content > Site Content > Landing Pages).

landing page

  • Top traffic sources – including each source’s engagement rate (avg. visit duration, % new visits and bounce rates) and conversion data.

traffic sources

  • Top conversion paths (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths) – to determine which areas of your campaign are driving more conversions to the site.

conversion paths

Once you have measured your campaign’s results and have analysed your data, you can then come up with the necessary actions to further improve your results from a conversion standpoint.

Some samples of areas that you can analyze and then optimize through Analytics’ data are:

  • Assisted conversions – which can help you know which sites are sending you traffic with high conversions, and take advantage of them (ex. contributing more content to them to get more traffic or building 2nd-tier links to linking pages sending high volume of traffic/conversions).

assisted conversions

  • Identifying most effective channels – for instance, if your SEO efforts are driving more targeted traffic and conversions (basing if your site has already increased its ranking power), you can create more landing pages that can target other industry terms and long-tail keywords.Same approach may also apply with content and social, where you can create more content assets based on your campaign’s past successful/failed assets (and on which channels they have been effective in terms of promotion).

effective channels

Determine which methods are working and are able to bring you results. Do more of them.

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

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How to Increase Conversions through Brand Strengthening

I remember being asked about the single best piece of advice I can give for improving conversions on a group interview on Crazy Egg late last year. Although there are a lot of factors that can really influence site conversions, I chose the one which I believe has the biggest impact – branding.

I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot, but if I have to choose one, I’d definitely say the perceived value and trust built through the middle of the funnel processes. These processes involve content and strong brand indicators that a site builds to promote itself such as highly-informative blog posts, design/presentation/experience, reviews and mentions from other people/sites, and a lot more.

These things have fueled my business, seeing that most of the clients we have acquired through my SEO services page (3% – 5% monthly conversions) are majorly attracted by what they have seen from my content and from what others are saying about my brand.

The truth is, it’s easier to sell things when people (especially your target consumers) are already aware and fascinated by what your brand is putting out on the web (think Amazon, Zappos and Shopify).

Basically, by building a strong online brand presence, you’ll be able to acquire more qualified traffic that can easily be converted into leads and/or sales.

Conversion Optimization is a broad marketing principle, which encompasses different sets of activities (such as A/B, MVT testing, data interpretation, landing page optimization and more). And if you’re more interested to learn about those stuff, here are some useful resources that you might want to check out:

I’ve shared these guides and tutorials upfront, as I won’t be covering any of the topics discussed on those articles on this post. This guide will be more focused on how brand building can improve your site’s ability to convert visitors.

Brand Positioning Factors that Improve Conversions

Building a strong online presence allows brands to easily communicate with their target market, which deeply contributes to how a brand can persuade its audience in using their products/services.

Awareness

Letting your target consumers know how your brand can help solve their problems – through education – is an important aspect of online branding, as it can influence buying decisions and brings them a step closer to your goals.

Differentiation

Brand attributes such as unique value proposition and pricing, can also increase a brand’s chances of getting more interested users/consumers than its competitors. Highlight how your brand is unique or different in your space through your branding activities (on and off the site).

Perceived value

The way how people see or think about your brand or the quality of its products/services can extremely affect your site’s conversions. It also scales your brand’s marketing process, given that it naturally generates endorsements from satisfied users/customers, which then raises your brand’s credibility.

Online Marketing Mediums used for Brand Strengthening

The efforts you do to get your brand out in the open, opens more great opportunities – like brand mentions, links, social shares, endorsements, brand impressions, traffic – which all can help build trust, authority and conversions.

Content Marketing

This marketing platform is probably the best method to educate potential consumers. It’s also one of the best ways to get discovered over the web, seeing that seeking/relaying information is always the first big step.

Another thing to consider is that this marketing practice blends well with search marketing (and as everyone says – “content is king”).

Popular types of content that you can utilize to communicate and engage with your audiences are:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Visuals (infographics, images, interactive landing pages, etc…)
  • Ebooks and other web-based comprehensive learning materials

Creating the content is just a fraction of the entire process, since promoting them makes content marketing whole.  Here are several content promotional techniques you can try implementing for your content:

You can also check out Quicksprout’s advanced guide to content marketing for more extensive tips on content marketing.

Always remember that the more you push out useful and relevant content to your target audience, the more your brand gets stickier to them.

Social Media

Social media marketing is not just about utilizing different social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many more) to promote your brand.

It should also involve and integrate other online marketing activities – such as content, relationship, and influencer marketing as well as using it as a customer relationship management platform – for it to be really effective as a branding tool.

Use social media to leverage your site’s existing assets and also to build new ones. Some of the significant factors in which social media can bring to your branding efforts are:

  • Constantly grow brand loyalists and followers through content and interactions.
  • Build relationships (with influencers and target audience), which can help produce more endorsements for your brand (ex: using positive mentions to your brand as testimonials).
  • Forcing virality through relationships and following base.
  • Improving your brand’s perceived value through connections and associations.
  • Build trust and improve brand perception when social media is used to address solutions to customer-related issues.

Authority Building

Becoming a leading brand in your space can certainly translate into more conversions/sales, because people already know what you are capable of providing.

There are so many online marketing strategies that you can implement to gradually become the go-to-brand in your industry. Some of the most effective tactics may include the following:

  • Connecting and getting endorsed by other influencers in your field.
  • Getting press coverage (which is very doable if you’re focusing on promoting your brand’s unique selling point).
  • Publishing content regularly on other popular publications in your industry.
  • Getting interview opportunities.

Another advantage of getting brand mentions from top influencers and publications is that it’s a great trust indicator/seal when placed or showcased within your site (which is a powerful element that can affect conversions).

trust seal

Optimizing for experience and engagement

Offering the best experience possible for your users/visitors is imperative in this age of online marketing. Aside from helping your site perform better in search (as most of Google’s algorithmic updates are based on usage), it can also help make your site become more remarkable to its users.

It’s easier to get endorsements when people are sticking around and getting remarkable experience from your site.

Areas of your site’s pages that you can continuously test to improve experience and visitor engagement are:

  • Call to action
  • Readability
  • Content structure
  • Thematic internal linking
  • Design
  • Accuracy of headlines and meta tags

Improving your site’s engagement rate can definitely increase its conversions, since people are more willing to take the next necessary action.

Other resources that you might find helpful in improving user experience and visitor engagement:

Measuring the impact of your branding efforts

Monitoring and analyzing your marketing activities has been more essential than ever, and that’s the best about doing it online – it’s measurable.

Analytics is a very vital marketing process, because your data gives you better insights on how you can further improve your campaign.

It allows you to easily identify what’s working, so you can do more of it.

There are a lot of ways to determine if your online branding campaign is yielding results, especially when it comes to driving conversions.

But it’s also important that you’ve set up your site’s goals on your Google Analytics account, so you can efficiently measure each branding channel you’re utilizing.

In case you haven’t setup your Goals in Google Analytics, you can check this step-by-step guide from Google.

Monitoring brand mentions/links with conversions

In your Google Analytics dashboard, go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions and then click on “Referral”.

referral-ac

Monitoring social networks that are sending converted traffic

Go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions, and then choose “Social Network”.

social-ac

You can also monitor it by choosing Traffic Sources > Social > Conversions.

social-conversions

Monitoring branded content assets with high conversions

Go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages. It will then display your site’s top landing pages (that will certainly include your content assets).

Once the list of the pages is displayed, check the upper right corner of the traffic graph, and then click on the “Goal Set”.

goal set

This will show your top landing pages’ conversion data.

content-conversions

Monitoring the conversions of your branded search

The best way to determine the conversions of your branded organic keywords (people using your brand name or product’s name when searching) is to create a Custom Channel Grouping.

To create a Custom Channel Grouping, go to either Assisted Conversions or Top Conversion Paths, choose “Channel Groupings” on the primary dimension tab, and then click on “create a custom Channel Grouping”.

channel grouping

In creating your channel groups, you’ll first need to input a name for your grouping and its label rules, and then to set specific rules. For branded organic keywords, you can just set it to only include keywords coming from organic search and then define the brand terms that people will most likely use in finding your brand.

branded keywords

Whereas for the non-branded search, you can just exclude the branded terms that you’ve defined on the branded organic keywords’ group.

generic keywords

This will make it easier for you to monitor how your branded keywords are performing in terms of conversions.

branded vs generic

Again, these things will give a good direction for your campaigns, as the data that you’ll be able to collate will help you identify the tasks that are bringing you great results.

Identify what’s working, and do more of it!

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

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5 Inbound Marketing Methods that can Drive Traffic and Conversions

interactive content

Inbound marketing – or combining different online marketing processes such as SEO, content marketing, social media and conversions – has been one of the most effective ways to hit a site’s various business goals in one go, like driving more specifically targeted traffic, improving revenue and/or building a stronger brand mind share.

Aside from involving practices that is measurable, utilizing inbound marketing as an approach to reach a business’ target audience (without disrupting their online activities) has proven itself to be very effective in terms of scaling and growing businesses in a shorter span of time.

Some of the most known advantages of implementing these practices as a whole are:

  • Processes involved are cost-efficient and can be implemented in-house.
  • It works on almost any size of site/business and on almost any industry.
  • Can help cumulatively achieve business goals (like constantly generating traffic, leads, conversions), through all the past and current efforts done to improve the brand/site.

There are so many tactics that you can choose inside the inbound marketing realm that can really help your business grow. Although, in this post, I’ve chosen to highlight a few strategies which I believe can really grow both traffic and conversions when implemented continuously.

Find and optimize for long-tails with high engagement rate

I wrote an extensive guide about this keyword audit process 3 months ago, which I didn’t really expect to become popular and well received.

The whole strategy only requires 2 things: basic SEO skills (basic content optimizations) and your site’s search traffic data from Google Analytics.

As I’ve explained on that recent post, its core concept is based on two aspects:

  • Determining variations of search queries that are sending highly qualified traffic to my site (often keyword variations that I haven’t primarily targeted for my existing pages/posts).
  • Optimizing the pages/posts to match and be ranked/served on those long-tail searches.

Basically, you’ll first need to find and uncover search phrases (that you didn’t really intend to optimize your site’s pages for) that people use to find your site’s inner content.

You can easily identify these search phrases or keywords through your site’s search traffic data (on Google Analytics), by using and depending on engagement metrics such as Average Visit Duration and % of New Visits.

excel

By segmenting your list of keywords using these 2 metrics, you can get the keywords that are working really well on attracting highly qualified traffic to your site (as these new list of keywords are generating highly engaged visitors to your site based on your data).

Once you have already determined which keywords are driving highly engaged visitors to your site, you can then start reoptimizing the pages where those keywords are generating quality traffic.

Areas in which you can use those newly discovered keywords to target for your already existing pages can be through their Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and/or through building internal links using the new set of keywords as anchor texts.

viral-marketing

For more tips on how to do this optimization strategy, you can check out the full case study here.

How does it improve your conversions?

Since you’ll be able to attract more qualified traffic to your site, getting more visitors that will more likely convert and take actions will be a lot easier.

Regularly contribute content on high-traffic publications

Getting regularly seen on high-traffic publications in your industry is one of the best ways to solidify your brand presence in the online space.

That presence doesn’t just help you reach your target audience, but it also helps your brand establish itself as an expert in the field, which makes it easier for your brand to gain your market’s trust (that often leads to increase in conversions).

Trust is a very important factor in the online marketing sphere, whether it’s about building strong trust signals to get better search visibility or getting more people to buy from you. And this inbound strategy is definitely one of those that can really boost the trust that both search engines and real users can see about your brand.

contributor

Becoming really visible in your online community, by contributing on popular blogs/content hubs in your industry, will help you absorb the right traffic back to your website.

And the best thing about it is that the traffic that you’re generating will have higher tendencies of converting, since they’ve found you through known trusted sources over the web.

Finding the top blogs/publications in your industry is easy (use Google Search). Make a list of them and segment your list by using site and traffic metrics to gauge each prospect (I prefer using DA and Alexa traffic rank in determining strong sites).

blog prospecting

Pitching to become a contributor or a columnist is the challenging part. Here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting accepted:

  • Prove your expertise by making sure that you’re also providing exceptionally useful content on your own site. These can serve as your writing samples once your target prospects start asking about what you can offer to their readers.
  • Be a part of their community by participating and adding value in their popular discussions/articles.
  • Know and understand what their audience want and what types of content are working well in their blogs, and use this knowledge as your pitch’s value proposition.

Build content that drive conversions

Content is imperative in this age of marketing, because it can be considered as a platform wherein a business/site can initiate communication with their target audience.

Web-based content assets are stronger when they are created for a purpose or if they have goals set to be achieved, as they can serve as landing pages which can attract your incoming visitors to take actions that will benefit your business. Content goals may include:

  • To increase social media followers or social sharing activities.
  • To attract or acquire links.
  • To build relationships with targeted influencers.
  • To rank for an industry keyword in search results.
  • To increase subscriptions (newsletter, feed, tools, etc…)
  • To drive more leads or sales.

There are plenty of types of content that can help generate conversions to a site, such as:

Case studies

case study

How to increase search traffic through keyword audit on Google Analytics

Comprehensive guides/tutorials

tutorials

The Advanced Guide to SEO

Interactive Content

interactive content

Life of Pi on Digital HD

Ebooks

ebook

Branding in the Inbound Age

Using content assets is certainly one of the most scalable ways to market and grow a business online, seeing that it can almost automate the marketing and sales processes of a website.

Content assets, especially evergreen content, can help websites get found easily (particularly if you’re providing information that is frequently searched). Another advantage of having ton of content assets within your site is that they enable you to continuously nurture potential customers, without the need of directly engaging new traffic/leads.

The more you help your prospected customers understand and be informed with the solutions you are offering (through your content assets), the more it’ll be easier for your site to sell its products/services.

How to create and promote content assets:

There are 4 phases in using content assets as a part of your marketing strategy.

Research

  • Know your content’s primary goals (is it for links, shares, lead generation, etc…).
  • Implement keyword research to ensure that you’ll get maximum results, especially when the content asset gets older.
  • Analyze its potential audience, and determine how you want the content to be consumed by them.
  • Gather all necessary information when drafting the content to make it comprehensive, as well as to make it hard for your competitors to replicate the content asset.
  • Visualize the outcome of the content while on the ideation process. It can help straighten out the development process.

Development

  • Build the content according to your research and outline/draft.
  • Have the content proofread and edited before launching it.
  • Ask other departments or other industry experts/bloggers for feedbacks if necessary.

Promotion

  • Make sure that the content is optimized for search.
  • Reach out to industry influencers, particularly if your content is of high value and can be really useful to their followers.
  • Reach out to known linkers in your industry.
  • Use paid channels to make the content more visible to targeted users if necessary (like Stumbleupon ads, Facebook’s sponsored stories, etc…).
  • Leverage social sharing and linking through existing relationships (through content distribution, guest blogging, their newsletters, etc…).
  • For more tips, you can check out these posts on viral marketing techniques and content promotion strategies.

Measure and Optimize

  • Track your content if they are achieving the goals that you’ve originally set. Learn from your data and make your content marketing process better and replicable.
  • Maximize your content assets by regularly updating their calls-to-action (like promoting your site’s new offers).
  • Study its search traffic data and see what other variations of search terms that people are using to find that content. Optimize the content for those other keywords to generate more traffic to it.
  • Update the content whenever something new comes up (that’s relevant to its topic). This will help the content maintain its search visibility and for it to also be the go-to-source whenever the subject is being discussed (think Jon Cooper’s complete list of link building strategies!).

User Experience and SEO

Improved usage data results to better search rankings, given that search engines are after what users really like.

Offering better user experience also increases the shareability of a site, since users more often share great experiences, and this precisely means more referred traffic for you.

Aligning UX with SEO is very important these days. I really liked what Jonathon Colman mentioned on one of his past presentations, that:

“SEO is about helping people find what they want and presenting it to them in a way that they expect.”

And UX is pretty much based around the same principle. So below are some areas of a site that you can improve to increase both its traffic and conversions.

Site Speed

Optimizing your site’s loading speed can bring tremendous results to your business, such as:

  • In improving customer satisfaction.
  • In improving search rankings, particularly on highly competitive keywords, as Google use site speed as one of its major ranking factors.
  • In reducing bounce rates and improving conversions and transactions.

There are lots of resources over the web that you can check out for improving site speed, such as this, this and this.

Information Architecture

Making it easier for your users to navigate your site is a huge factor that can really increase activity on your website. And this also affects how search engines can easily crawl, access and rank all of your site’s important pages.

Here are few guides on how you can optimize your site architecture:

Here are 9 more tips for creating great user experience:

Absorbing more followers through collaboration

Collaborating with other influencers, publishers or organizations in your industry to create content is another great way to generate free content that can attract more visitors to your site.

Using this strategy to drive traffic to your site is easy, since you can surely get views from the followers of those whom you’ll be collaborating with.

Few great samples of this type of inbound tactic in actions are:

Another way to collaborate and get maximum results from other influencers in your field is to invite them to become guest authors in your site’s blog. It’s one of the easiest ways to get more readers, followers, expertly made content (which can rank on SERPs) and links to your site.

How does it improve your conversions?

Associating with other known brands in your industry can increase your brand’s perceived value, which can help improve your site’s conversions.

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

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Advancing from SEO to CRO: Using AB Testing to Maximize Conversions

Nick-Eubanks_SEO

This entry is a guest post by Nick Eubanks, the VP of Digital Strategy at W.L. Snook and Associates, Inc. You can follow him on Twitter: @nick_eubanks

SEO moves fast.

I realize this contradicts the fact that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint, however I’m not talking about the process or the results, but the industry…

In a recent post by Matt Beswick he compares SEO to “trying to build a house in a fault zone,” and specifically that “by the time you have laid down the foundation, the gound underneath may have shifted.”

I know often times SEO’s focus on the on-page factors before jumping into link building, but there is usually a lot of money conversion left on the table.

Even when you have maxed out your on-page optimization efforts, there is always room to improve the experience and the focus of your content to drive more conversions.

As I showed in my post last week, in many cases non-branded search (earned organic traffic) often accounts for more transactions and drives significantly more revenue. Which means if you are acquiring the organic visitor and not converting them, you just missed a layup.

Optimizing For Conversion

I have always been a firm believer that the job of the SEO is to acquire targeted traffic to the right pages via search engines. In this same vein the job of the CRO is to constantly analyze page analytics and user heuristics to gather data use to inform changes that will increase conversion rates.

There is a lot of overlap between SEO and CRO.

I realize I sound like a broken record, but for a campaign to be successful it needs to close the loop from query to conversion, meeting user expectations and conversion requirements to nurture each prospect all the way through the funnel.

Once on-page SEO has been maxed out, optimization doesn’t stop, but moves into the next stage of the lifecycle; conversion rate optimization. Now that you know how to acquire new visitors (and hopefully are diversifying your inbound traffic channels) it’s time to find out what triggers the emotions that will drive conversion.

The Power of Split Testing

Even if you start small, you need to begin thinking about all the known unknowns.

The fact of the matter is that you may know your customer profile; their pain points, their business cycles, and what they need, but this isn’t enough. You need to accept that 1) you are not your customer, and 2) you don’t know what resonates with them personally.

This is the true power of testing for conversions… it takes the guesswork out of identifying the emotional triggers needed to generate your target conversions, and it all starts with a simple hypothesis.

For example, on one of my projects our target conversion was to have users submit content in the form of a review. We were getting decent traffic to the conversion form page but our conversion rate was abysmal… around 8.25% when we first started.

This may not seem like a low conversion rate, however, our traffic is so highly targeted and qualified that by the time they get to the conversion page there is really no reason for them not to convert; there is no sign-up, cost, or any other impedance that should cause them to bounce, or so we thought.

One of the greatest challenges was to think of what we might be doing wrong, and how we could test these ideas to confirm or deny if any of them were impeding our conversions…

Hello reference cases.

Thanks in huge part to one of the investors on the project for being savvy at, well, being an investor; he knew that re-inventing the wheel would cost more money and worse off, more time, with the opportunity cost being the content we were so desperately after.

What he recommended was that we look at commercially successful websites not necessarily within our industry but that had similar target conversions or conversion paths. He wanted my team and I to scrutinize these reference cases to discern any nuances, no matter how slight.

Here is one of the reference case boards:

The result was a laundry list of items to test.

One of the first differences I noticed was that on one of the major review websites who used a dedicated form like we did to gather user-generated content, they removed all additional page elements that may cause the user to be distracted or leave the page without converting…

So we decided to test this, very simply, by removing all page elements that were not required to create the conversion, including the main navigation.

AB Testing Results

This test resulted in a 63% increase in conversion rate, taking it to 13.44%.

I immediately realized the power of small tests and taking nothing for granted; I was never so happy to begin identifying elements of the site that maybe were sub-par…

The next observation we noticed and decided to test was the addition of social proof, so we added in some recent reviews from other users…

Again, we saw a massive increase in our conversion rate, to the tune of 105%; we were now converting 28.25% of visitors to our conversion form. For more details on recent split tests I have worked on and their actual results, check out my June presentation for Shame On UX.

If you are beginning to salivate at the opportunities that are probably sitting right in front of you take some time and go check out recent results from other people splits tests over at abtests.com

Size Matters

In a very useful study by EricGraham, he looks at a number of major conversion elements when it comes to links and buttons.

This test identifies that conversion rates increase when link behavior provides not only primary link feedback (color change or cursor change) but secondary link feedback (having both color change and cursor change).. he then took this a step further and tested the size of the text.

I found this very interesting because for a long time now I wondered why Woot.com used such a “stupidly large button,” (see image below) but based on these findings and the fact that woot.com is in the Alexa Top 1,000, I imagine this was exhaustively tested.

The Shift From SEO to CRO

If you are a pure-play SEO the idea of using data to design, implement, and analyze tests may seem like a big shift but consider the following:

  1. You most likely already use data to drive your SEO strategies
  2. You’re already using analytics to measure the impact of your optimization campaigns, you have the data you need to measure lift in conversions
  3. Using test results allows you to better inform personas and keyword targeting
  4. You are already an analyst; you are already doing this kind of analysis.

Here’s your action plan to begin shifting your thinking, and more importantly, your doing:

  1. Find a place that you have to look at everyday while you work; a whiteboard, your cube wall, or a whole wall in your office (that’s what we did).
  2. Segment your business or website into categories, starting at the highest level. For example if you sell phone accessories for cars your taxonomy would look like this: automotive > automotive accessories > electronic accessories > mobile phone > accessories.
  3. Identify 10 websites within each category and subcategory that represent the ‘best in class,’ both in terms of revenue (where available) and visitors
  4. Spend time on these sites and take a screenshot of each interface that drives toward conversion starting either with a top-level landing page or the homepage
  5. Take an hour out of every day and glance over your reference cases, look for patterns. After time you will begin to notice things like colors, white space, placement of call to action, supporting content, etc.
  6. Keep a list on a whiteboard, notebook, or your phone of ideas for tests as they come to you.
  7. Try to rank these tests based on your gut-feeling for which may have the greatest impact on conversions.
  8. Start testing. To get started for free you should take a look at Google Content Experiments.

If this post meant something to you… if it inspired you, please send me a quick note on twitter. I am also happy to help you get started and answer any questions you may have, at absolutely no cost, just because I love testing – and can’t get enough of it.

Thanks for reading.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed (Kaiserthesage) and follow Nick on Twitter and Google+.