If you want to take your website beyond amateur hour, you’ve probably already realised that it’s not enough to get lots of people to visit. If it was, black hat SEO techniques (like putting ‘free porn sex hot girls free car win’ in white text on a white background) would be more excusable mistakes.
But here’s the kicker: it’s not enough. Not only do you need to very quickly convince a searcher that your description in the SERP is their perfect match – you also need them to continue believing that when they arrive at your site.
I’ve got a few pieces of advice to help you get that conversion rate up.
A massive mistake that I see time and time again is putting too much importance on these so called ‘keywords’. If your site is relevant to the search, it will naturally have keywords that create that relevance. I’m not saying ‘Don’t worry about keywords’ but at least be clever, rather than just spraying your website with supposedly valuable hooks in an act of desperation.
For a start, using keywords like ‘car for sale’ or ‘nail salon’ is a) pitting you against millions of other results and b) not specific enough. That searcher wants a blue car with room in the back for his mountain bike, and the nail bar has to be within walking distance of York town centre.
You can only target people whose needs YOU ARE GOING TO FULFILL – otherwise your site is useless to them and you will never make a conversion. You don’t need thousands of people to be drawn to your website; you just want the ones who want you as well.
When I’m trying to find something in a hurry using my terrible Blackberry or in a dodgy Wi-Fi hotspot, the last thing I have time for is an unresponsive or poorly laid-out site.
If you want your website to be anything other than an online ad, your site must work at least rudimentarily for mobile devices. I only ever use a PC at work because I have a tablet and this is true of millions of other internet users. We want answers and we want them NOW. If a site gives me that when I’m rushing or panicking, I’m pretty likely to engage in a transaction and therefore no basket abandonment or the equivalent.
You need to make sure your site isn’t garbled for a tablet user in case they spend five minutes filling in a form only for your ‘Submit’ button not to work. Get your visitor from A to B as quickly and fluidly as possible so they’re buying before they know it. Utilize available software such as cross browser and automated testing tools to ensure that every visitor is seeing your site correctly.
If you are a great company offering a great service, make sure you really sell what’s special about you on your site. Mumbling on for paragraphs about your ‘business solutions’ is a sure fire way to get people clicking off. Just remember that no one actually cares where you went to university; they just want to know how you’re going to make their life easier and nicer.
With that in mind, don’t just list your services; tell visitors how those services will solve their problem.
For example, ‘We provide a drain jetting service’ could become ‘Your blocked toilet will be a distant memory after our drain jetting treatment’. That’s what I’m after – thank you Mr Plumber, I’ll see you Friday. Always remember that your visitor may not know what the solution is, but they’re an expert on the problem.
Here’s a good general rule for writing copy that aids conversion: ‘We’ is old and ‘You’ is gold.
Your design appeals to all the subconscious decision-making your visitor does in their journey from search to sale. Any little thing can put someone off, but there are a lot of general design rules that can help you with conversion rate optimisation.
Vitally, your site must be clean and uncluttered, with plenty of space. Huge blocks of text will be avoided, poor colour choices will annoy, and badly-organised navigations will cause a high bounce rate.
Lead your visitors’ eyes to important directive phrases with stand-out calls to action (CTAs). ‘Order your free glossy treehouse brochure’ needs to be placed above the fold so everyone sees it, and should take some kind of graphical style so that it’s distinct from other text. This combination of directive language and eye-catching design is a great way to up your conversion rate.
The world of online marketing is being forced to become a nicer place. The importance put on good website design and engaging copy is inescapable – and you shouldn’t want to escape it. Google’s motto ‘Don’t be evil’ can be applied here: make choices based on what your customer wants and you’ll not go far wrong.
What other advice is there for website owners worrying about their conversion rate? If you’ve run into trouble or you have some great tips, let us know.
About the Author
Honor Clement-Hayes is a web project manager who’s seen an awful lot of bad websites in her time. She has a deep love of quality copy and web design and wants to help other people get there too. She writes for Strategy Internet Marketing.
Image by John. Karakatsanis