Archive for category Training

Conversion Rate Optimization

The term CRO (conversion rate optimization) is relatively a new one – but the idea behind it is not. How do we get more sales from the website? How do we better convert the website traffic we are getting? These are the type questions most website owners will ask at some point along the way.

The thing to realize about CRO is that no one has the exact answer for every website because there are simply too many variables. So a good first step is to study the “best practices” about how to convert website traffic, and then implement them into your website. Doing things like:

  • having a good call to action button (CTA), and good placement
  • having dedicated landing pages
  • having a good offer or incentive
  • good website content
  • adding trust symbols to the page

All of the above will help, no doubt, but it only works so far. At some point you will simply have to test it, whatever “it” is. What do I mean? I mean set your website up to do some A/B testing of the supposed improvement. Google Experiments works pretty good, and is easy enough for anyone to use. Basically you set up 2 webpages, the only difference between the two pages being your hopeful improvement idea.  You let it run for a couple weeks, and you see which version of the page converts best. Presto – we have a winner! Sometimes the improvement might be something as simple as the color of the button being used – and you will see improvement.

A key point is to think long-term about CRO.  You will rarely see large improvements in the conversion rates unless your page really sucked when you started – so you should be shooting for incremental improvement. Try to improve the conversion rate one-tenth of a percent this month – for each month this year – so that by the end of the year you have solid improvement.

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PPC Strategies

So you want to do better with your PPC campaign, but you are not sure what to do, or how to do it. There are lots of different strategies you can try, if you find the current one isn’t working. Some work best in certain industries, while others don’t, you just have to try them out and see what works for you. And these work in either Google Adwords or Microsoft AdCenter.

So here are some helpful suggestions for what you might try in your PPC campaigns before walking away in disgust:

  1. The most common strategy to follow is probably a position strategy, in that you increase or decrease your bid to achieve a specific average position. So if your target position is 3 and the average position for the keyword is higher than 3, then you increase the bid, but if it is lower than 3 you decrease it.
  2. Another strategy is what I call the ‘long tail’ strategy, in that you use the more obscure phrase and exact keywords, and then bid low on them.
  3. Try using a ‘geo strategy’ when you want to keep your business local, so you screen out any clicks from outside your target area.
  4. If you know all your conversions occur during working hours, usually with a B2B business, set the campaign to shut off after hours.
  5. Try using the display network. I know I know, it almost never works, but sometimes it does. Make sure you set it up in its own campaign for better tracking.
  6. Test using all 3 versions of the keyword; broad, phrase, and exact. You will find that some will convert while others don’t, and the conversions occur at different bid levels. You can keep them separate ad groups for better tracking.
  7. How are your ads? The keyword and its bid is where it all starts, but look at improving the ads on a continual basis. Always have at least 2 ads running in any ad group, and every couple weeks throw away the loser and try and come up with a new one that can then beat the winner.
  8. How about the landing pages? If you are sending your traffic to your website homepage, this is almost always a mistake. Just like with the ads, always try to keep improving your landing pages since that is where the conversion is taking place.

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Reciprocal Linking

Is reciprocal linking bad? This is the practice where you place a link on your site, in exchange for someone else doing the same back to you from theirs.  I think the answer to this question depends on your site, how well known it is already.  Because if you have a new website with few or no backlinks coming to it, then getting reciprocal links can help you to get started, to help you create your ‘web presence’.

On the other hand if you have an older established website that is already decently ranked by the search engines, then reciprocal linking can be bad. By linking to other sites, you lend your good credibility to them and can thus dilute what you have.  So as your site moves up the ranking ladder, you don’t want to be linking to sites of lesser or questionable value.

And if you do create a link page on your site, here are a few rules to follow:

  1. Give it a good name like “Partners” or “Sites We Recommend”.  Don’t call it your backlink page.
  2. Place links on the page that really will be helpful to your website visitors.
  3. The links should be helpful to your customers, relevant to your industry, and be quality sites
  4. Include not only sites that are linking to you – also link to sites that don’t. Magazine sites about your industry, trade groups, and any other sites people might consider ‘helpful’ to them.

Having nothing but a bunch of links to bogus sites is bad, it identifies your site as nothing but a spammer site engaged in a linking scheme. Google says this about it:

“some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites… and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results”

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Sitemaps for Your Website

Sitemaps are very important for larger websites. If you own a website that has many webpages, say over 50, then it becomes increasingly important to have a site map. If you create a new webpage, you don’t submit it to the search engines – you just need to add it to your sitemap.

There are basically two types of sitemap:

  1. Site maps to help your website visitors, and
  2. Site maps to help the search engines

Sitemaps for your website visitors are meant to help website visitors find stuff on your site. Usually a link is placed at the bottom of the page saying “sitemap”, and it is a HTML page that you create that basically organizes your site into categories, kinda like a Table of Contents in a book.  The HTML sitemap page shouldn’t have every page in your site listed – it should just have all the important pages, or the ones people tend to look for or that might be hard to find.

Sitemaps for search engines are meant to help a robot spider your website. The spider can just scroll down the list of pages you have made showing it every page you want indexed. The sitemap file for Google is an XML file called “sitemap.xml”, and is placed at the root directory of your site like this: There are lots of sites that will make the file for you, the best I’ve found is XML Sitemaps. This particular service, which is free, also generates a second file called “urllist.txt” which is the file that the Yahoo spider looks for.  You just run the service on your site, download the two files, then upload them to your root directory, it is that simple. (you double check the files first, of course)

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