Welcome to SEO Boy, the authority on search engine optimization -- how to articles, industry news, insider tips, and more! If you like what you see, you can receive free and daily updates via email or RSS.
Print This Post Print This Post

SEO and Conversion Optimization: How to Use Data and Testing to Improve Conversion Rates

March 13th, 2009 | | Analytics, Conversion Optimization

Last week I got the SEO conversion optimization ball rolling by talking about how user experience affects conversion rates. As promised, today is the sequel – part 2, if you will. Still open for discussion are the topics of making data driven decisions to increase conversions and revenue and the ever popular subject of testing.

Making Data Driven Decisions

When managing a search engine optimization campaign, your web analytics data is of extreme importance. Without it, you’re flying blind (today’s “duh” statement). For the sake of conversion optimization, there’s a wealth of analytics data available for you to leverage to increase conversion rates. Everything from tracking user behavior, keyword conversion rates and keyword-level revenue can lead you to making data driven decisions for your SEO campaign.

  1. User Behavior: Last week I talked about how to update the actual content and design of your site to affect the user experience. But today I’d like to make you think about looking at the results of that work on the back end.
    1. When a visitor arrives at your site – what do they do? Some of the obvious stats to look at include bounce rate, pageviews per visitor and time on site. These stats will give you an idea if your content and optimization is resonating with your visitors. Bounce rate too high? You likely have a disconnect from search intent to the content on your landing pages. Time on site too low? Visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for (or maybe you’re just converting them really quickly – in which case ignore!). Take a step back and review your targeted keywords compared to your end goal, the conversion, and determine if you’re targeting the right customers.
    2. More to the point, how do your visitors arrive at the point of conversion? Use analytics to track visitors through your site’s conversion process – whether it’s an ecommerce shopping cart or merely a shiny button and a lead form. Creating goal funnels is a simple way to acquire this data, and one of my personal favorites is the Reverse Goal Path report in Google Analytics. Find where visitors leave your conversion process and find a way to “patch” that gap! (refer to the next section on testing)
  2. Keywords and Conversions: This is the obvious 800 lbs gorilla in the room. After performing your keyword research, if you aren’t carefully monitoring the performance of those keywords on your site – you’re leaving cash on the table! Assuming that you have goal funnels in place for your conversion events, tracking keyword-level conversion rates is a cinch. Easy and important – what more could you want? On a regular basis, you should be reviewing keyword conversion reports for your SEO campaign. Here are 2 specific tactics to tie keyword performance to conversion optimization:
    1. Fact-Check your keyword targeting. You’ve invested your (or your client’s) time and money on creating content and optimizing a website for a set of keywords. Now that you’ve achieved rankings and the visitors are rolling in, is the investment paying off? Use keyword conversion reports to ensure that the keywords you’ve targeted are actually converting and achieving the goals you’ve set forth for your SEO campaign. If not, review your keyword research – perhaps you missed something, or worse yet, missed the point altogether. Determine what is working, and make a plan to target the right keywords for your campaign.
    2. Look for new keyword targeting opportunities. Pull keyword level conversion reports and scrub this list with the keywords you have already optimized your site for. You will find that several keywords (in many cases long-tail variations) are converting on your site that you haven’t specifically targeted or that you never actually considered. Take these keywords and run a ranking report. Because visitors are finding your site in the SERPs with these terms, you’re likely already ranking. The goal here is to see how close you are to page 1 – or how high on page 1. If these keywords are right on that rankings tipping point, create new content to target those keywords and push them to the top of the rankings – increasing traffic, conversions and fully utilizing those keyword opportunities.
  3. SEO Data and Business/Marketing Decisions: The actual performance of your SEO campaign can lead you towards making overall business and marketing decisions. Whether it’s seeing what products or services are resonating best with new customers or what messaging works best for converting visitors, there’s a ton of information at your finger tips.
    1. Need to increase your business’s bottom-line revenue? Easy! Review your analytics reports for the top converting products or services. In many cases, there will be “that one product” that will convert under any circumstance. The customer demand for that product outweighs any other factor. What can you do? Increase the price point. Simple enough, but will make huge waves in your bottom-line revenue.
    2. Because you’re a smart SEO, you are testing everything. I’ll get into that in a second, but what this means is that you have access to important data about what messaging resonates with your customer base. This meaningful data is not only important for your SEO campaign, but can be carried over into other aspects of your business’s marketing efforts. Understanding the impact a certain headline or call-to-action has on conversion rates can reap huge rewards in email marketing and any other potential sales collateral you may be using!

Never Stop Testing

I’ve already mentioned it a few times in this post, but testing is SO important for conversion optimization. No one can create the perfect website on their first try. There will always be room for testing. Testing design, testing messaging, testing everything.

  • With programs like Google’s Website Optimizer at your finger tips, there are zero excuses for not testing your website. By utilizing multivariate testing methods, you can literally testing everything on your site.
  • More specifically, what should you be testing? Like I already said – test design and layout, test headlines and body copy, test conversion triggers and calls-to-action. Use the resulting data to make meaningful changes to your website and continue to increase your overall conversion rates.

There’s so much more to be said about conversion optimization and SEO, but I’ve got to draw the line somewhere for this post! Just remember that you should always be conscious of how the user experience, actual performance data and conversion testing can and should be a part of your search engine optimization campaign. Conversion optimization is what allows us to be called search engine marketers.

Do you have any suggestions or declarations about using data or testing for SEO conversion optimization? If so, let me know by leaving a comment!

Facebook   IN   Stumble Upon   Twitter   Sphinndo some of that social network stuff.