Let’s start by explaining what SEO and CRO are, then we’ll dig into why you need them!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the act of making improvements to your website in an attempt to increase your ranking on search engines.
Here is how Google defines SEO:
What is CRO?
CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization. It is sometimes referred to as Conversion Optimization. CRO is the act of improving pages and systems on your website to enhance the user experience and increase conversions.
So, now that we understand what SEO and CRO are, why do you need both?
Why SEO and CRO Work Best Together
If your SEO efforts are successful, you’ll get more traffic. And traffic with no conversions is useless.
Likewise, if your CRO efforts are successful your landing pages will be intelligent and beautiful. And a beautiful landing page with no traffic is useless.
SEO is the acquisition method you leverage to get more traffic to your website. Once you have the traffic, you leverage CRO to make sure that traffic converts. These two pieces create the funnel you want users to flow through.
CRO Leads to Long-Term SEO Success
Focusing on Conversion Rate Optimization can benefit SEO because they ultimately have the same goal. CRO can be the key to long term SEO success.
The goal of search engines is to provide the best results for the user. The goal of CRO is to provide the best experience for the user on your website.
Focusing on CRO allows you to align your efforts and goals with those of the search engines. That doesn’t mean you should ignore SEO, but instead be mindful that you aren’t optimizing for SEO at the expense of usability.
CRO and SEO Share Some Success Metrics
There are a few metrics to track that can improve both SEO and CRO.
Improving your page speed has been important for years. Especially on mobile devices. 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Improving page speed can help CRO by making it possible for users to navigate your site with ease.
Page speed has also been one of the many factors used to calculate search engine rankings for years.
The other shared metric is Bounce Rate. If a user bounces, that means they saw the website and immediately realized it wasn’t a good fit. You want your target audience to understand how you can relieve their pain or support their needs within 5 seconds. Clarifying the benefit on your landing page helps CRO while reducing bounce rate.
Reducing Bounce Rate can help increase SEO by reducing what is referred to as pogosticking. Pogosticking occurs when a user visits your website from a search engine result, then goes right back to the search and clicks on another listing. This effect creates a higher bounce rate, and can also negatively impact SEO.
A continuous focus on SEO is great. Improving your CRO is fantastic as well. But consciously focusing on both SEO and CRO will allow you to multiply the value you receive from either effort.
Do you prioritize SEO over CRO or vice versa? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for a way to have a large impact on your website conversions? You should be looking into conversion rate optimization. This tactic is becoming one of the most popular strategies to move the needle in your business.
When you think of conversion rate optimization, you probably think of a/b split testing, multivariate testing, and user testing. Don’t get me wrong, those are some excellent tactics and some of my favorite conversion optimization tools. However, depending on your budget and your website traffic, sometimes those tools aren’t a good match for your business.
So what do you do if you want to apply some conversion optimization strategies to your website but you’re a startup with low traffic and zero budget? You stick to the basics, start with best practices. Honestly, even if you have the budget, best practices are still a great place to begin.
Here are some of the tried and true conversion optimization strategies you can apply to your landing pages.
1. Reduce Form Fields
This is one of the most basic rules of conversion optimization, reduce form fields to increase your conversion rate.
Getting data is great, but is it worth missing out on conversions? Remove anything that isn’t 100% necessary. This is sometimes a struggle. Instead of looking at each field and asking if it’s required, start with just one field. Can we limit this to only email address? Think about how you can make it happen. The answer might be absolutely not, we have to have a minimum of email, name, and company. Okay, great! We just got rid of business type, phone number, and location.
Try to keep your forms with between 1-3 fields. This won’t always be possible, but just keep it in mind as you’re creating forms and trying to improve your conversion rate.
2. Use Contrasting Button Colors
Everyone wants to know what the best color is for a call-to-action button. Is it orange, is it green? The answer is: it depends. Don’t get me wrong, color is important. But, when it comes to a call-to-action button, contrast is more important than the actual color.
The key is to make sure the button stands out and is a contrasting color to the background and the rest of the site. As long as the call-to-action button is noticeable, the color isn’t as important. The one color you should stay away from is grey. Grey buttons look like they’re inactive and aren’t as likely to be clicked.
3. Your CTA should describe the action
Write the text on your call-to-action button so it finishes the sentence “I want to…” Clearly describe what will happen when the user clicks that button. Not only does this help manage the user’s expectations, it also helps increase the conversion rate.
4. Keep a CTA Button Above the Fold
Even today, people still don’t scroll down. Make it easy for users to see your primary call-to-action as soon as the page loads. Keep that in mind for both desktop and mobile. If the page is long, repeat the call-to-action at the bottom or in the middle, or both if it’s long enough to be useful.
5. Use Unique Relevant Images – Not Stock Photos
Having images is important. But, more specifically, having unique custom images is important. Stock images seem like a great idea, they save you time and money, but they don’t add value. Stock images are seen over and over again. The same images are not only used on numerous websites, but also on billboards, ads on buses, and magazine ads. Whether users consciously recognize them or not, their brains have already seen the images and they are subliminally ignoring them.
Take the time to get a custom image. If you can take a photo yourself, do it. If you can take screen shots of your product to create images, do that. Do what you need to get some high-quality custom images. It will go a long way with establishing trust with your users and increasing conversion rates.
If you use a stock photo, try to edit the image to include your branding. This can be done a few different ways. You can overlay an image of your product on a device or computer. You can adjust the overall image color or saturation to match the tone of your brand. You can crop the photo in a particular way and embed it in a template for your brand.
Editing photos doesn’t need to be difficult and you don’t need to be a Photoshop expert. All of these examples below were done using an online tool called Canva. Canva has a ton of pre-built templates and elements that make it simple for anyone to design a graphic.
6. Include a Sense of Urgency
Finding a way to include a sense of urgency helps increase conversion rate. There are several ways you can go about doing this. You can include a limited time offer with a countdown. You can show inventory numbers and display only X left. You can display how many other people are watching this same item.
Carry the idea of the sense of urgency into your call-to-action buttons as well. Use words like “Now” and “Today” to stress the urgency.
7. Include Social Proof
People like what their friends like. People like knowing that this product has helped someone just like them. Add testimonials that your key demographic can easily identify with. Make it clear that this is a product for people like them.
Another way to add social proof is sharing your social media metrics. Show how many followers you have. You can also show user metrics specific to your product to help show that your product has helped many people just like them.
8. Add Trust Symbols
If your company has any affiliation with known brands, make sure you advertise that on your site. Were you mentioned in any popular publications? Have big brands used your product? Do you integrate with recognized brands?
Share those logos that people will recognize. They might have not heard of your brand, but if you can add a brand to your site that they have heard of, they’ll trust you more.
Be careful, logos can steal a lot of attention. They’re important to have, but you don’t want them to steal the focus from your call-to-action. Consider de-saturating them so they are gray-scale. That way, people can see them and identify the brands, but they don’t capture too much attention.
9. Make it Easy for Users to Contact You
Clearly list your contact information on your website. Don’t make users have to search around for a way to contact you. Even users who aren’t actively looking to contact you are comforted when they notice how easy it is to get in touch when needed.
How you add your contact information is up to you. You can add your phone number in the header or you can add your full address and phone number in the footer. You can have a live online chat option that floats in the bottom corner of the screen. I’d recommend a minimum of including a “contact” link in your main navigation. On the contact page you can include any contact details you’d like your users to have as well as a webform to make it easy for users to send you a message.
10. Include Persuasive Copy – A USP and Benefit Statements
Make sure to include copy above the fold that clearly describes the benefit of your product to the user. Why should they choose you? Include your unique selling proposition (USP) at the top with your headline text. Remember to not only list features (what the product can do) but also include the benefits (what the product accomplishes).
Unbounce.com offers a great guide that describes not only how to include these items, but where on the landing page they should be placed.
11. Include Emotion
Keep People Happy
Try to incorporate elements in your landing page design that stimulate an emotional response. One of the emotions you can aim for is happiness. Try adding cute animals to your design. Or, include images of happy smiling people. If those items don’t work with your brand or the particular page, try adding bright colors.
Show Pain Points
Another emotion you can try to capture is pain and frustration. Remind users about the irritation they want to avoid. Once you’ve done that, tie it in by making it clear how you’ve solved their problem.
Hopefully these best practices give you a nice place to start with your conversion optimization. Once you build up your traffic and your budget start testing some of these assumptions. Best practices are a great place to start, but remember, your audience could have a different preference.
Do you have any conversion optimization tips to add to this list? Any interesting insights from split tests you’ve performed on these items? Let us know in the comments.
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of running a split test. In fact, the excitement always seems to generate a flurry of great ideas for the next test. How do you organize and prioritize all of these thoughts into actionable test ideas? You create a conversion test scoring system.
What is a Conversion Test Scoring System?
The important thing to know about a conversion test scoring system is that it organizes, clarifies, and prioritizes your split test ideas. The actual system can vary depending on your business. Several industry leaders have documented their systems for scoring conversion test ideas, including Optimizely and Chris Goward. The conversion test scoring system I’m going to outline is a combination of those systems. It’s meant to be easy to use with simple yes/no questions. With this system the hardest part is coming up with the hypothesis, determining the prioritization is quick and simple.
How to Create a Conversion Test Scoring System
Chris Goward’s system uses a simple formula where you put in a value for the potential (P), importance (I), and ease (E) for each idea. The result is a numeric value representing the average of those numbers, PIE. This is a nice system and a great way to think about your test ideas. However, the problem I’ve had with this system is it’s subjective. I’ve found that the PIE metric doesn’t accurately prioritize the test ideas unless I review and adjust the parameters for each test every time. The values seem to vary depending on my mood, data from recent split tests, and changes to business priorities. So, it’s important to review and update all metrics when any new data is added.
Optimizely has created a different system. Their system looks at ten different rules. If a test idea meets a rule, it gets one point, otherwise it’s assigned zero points. The points are added together and the idea with the largest sum is the highest priority.
I liked the idea behind Chris Goward’s system, and the simplicity of a yes/no system introduced by Optimizely, so I made a system that combines these two great tactics.
This combined system looks at a total of nine rules that are assigned one point if an idea meets the requirement, and zero points if it does not. Three of the rules identify the potential, four of the rules determine the importance, and two of the rules measure the ease. We then calculate a PIE metric by taking the sum of the average of the three categories, and dividing by 3.
||Makes a change above the fold
||Makes a change below the fold
||Adds new information or a new element or removes an element from the page
||Makes a change to the existing elements (copy, color, UI, etc.)
||Borrows from a success on one of our prior experiments
||No benchmarking best practice
||Supports our main metric (such as payment)
||Supports a secondary metric (such as subscribe or share)
||Tests a change at the end of the funnel process
||Tests a change located on a landing page, or top of the funnel
||Targets 100% of users
||Targets a subset of users
||Could help reduce the CPA for PPC campaigns
||Has no impact on PPC
||Doesn’t require a developer to implement
||Requires a developer
||Can be implemented in an hour or less
||Would take more than an hour to implement
The rules you follow could vary depending on your product. The important thing to remember is to determine the rules you want to follow to calculate the potential, importance, and ease of your test ideas. Creating concrete rules will allow you to determine the PIE metric without being subjective.
Additional Items to Include with the System
Creating and following the rules to score your test ideas is important. Of course, there is a little more to a conversion test scoring system than just the rules outlined above. Let’s discuss some of the additional fields you should include.
I always like to include a column that documents who submitted the test idea. This helps establish a data-driven culture in your workplace. It’s important to encourage everyone at the office to submit test ideas. If the test is implemented, share the results and findings with the person who submitted the idea. If a test is successful, you can share the results with the entire company and give some credit to the idea submitter.
The test idea should be written in the form of a hypothesis. The idea should be structured in an If…,then… statement. Creating a hypothesis helps you identify the underlying reason you are performing your test.
Once you have a hypothesis, you can identify the specific action you want to take to test the hypothesis. Structuring it in this manner provides an easy way to progress after a failed experiment. If a test fails, the action you took wasn’t the correct one. But, do you still believe in the hypothesis? If so, determine another action you can make to test the hypothesis.
Page / Location
Document the specific page you will be testing.
Identify the Key Performance Indicator (KPI). This will be the main metric you track to determine if the test was successful or not. It’s best practice to track multiple KPIs, but you need to understand the primary KPI this test will affect.
Keep in mind, you want to choose a KPI directly related to the test idea. If the idea tests an element on the homepage which is at the very top of the funnel, choosing payment or a KPI that triggers at the end of the funnel is likely not a good choice. Users will encounter many other variables in the middle of the funnel that could skew the data.
How to Calculate PIE
So, now you have documented the person who submitted the idea, created the hypothesis and action, determined the page and KPI, and determined if each rule receives one or zero points. Now, the PIE metric to determine the priority needs to be calculated.
PIE=((((Value of Fold + New Information + Benchmark)*10)/3)+(((Value of Main Metric + Location + Targeting + PPC)*10)/4)+(((Value of No Developer + Length)*10)/2))/3
The PIE calculation can vary depending on how you adjust the rules. You want to calculate it by taking the sum of all values within each category and multiplying the result by ten. Then you divide the result by the number of values within the category. You add the calculated value for each of the three categories, and then divide it by three. Once you have the final metric, you’ll want to sort the list from highest to lowest value. The higher the PIE metric, the higher the priority of the idea.
Improving SEO and getting people to visit your website is only half of the puzzle. Once they get there, you want to make sure they convert. Increasing conversion rate should be a priority for your website to ensure you get the most value from the traffic you’re receiving. We’ll outline the conversion optimization tools that will help you identify where you may be losing visitors. These are the tools you’ll want to leverage to improve conversion rates.
Heatmaps visually indicate where your website visitors move their mouse, click, and scroll. Mouse movement is a good indicator of where people are looking. Often, where the mouse goes is where the eyes go.
Viewing clicks and scroll data can help you decide how to optimize your page layout. The data allows you to understand what people see and where they click. Is your primary call-to-action visible in the area the majority of people see? Do people have to scroll to see your call-to-action? If so, what percentage of people are doing that? Look where people are clicking too. Are they clicking on an element that isn’t clickable? This means they probably want some more information on this topic. Either add the information to this page or create a new page and add a link where people are already clicking.
This data allows you to rearrange your pages and format them in a manner that makes the most sense for your website visitors.
The tool I use to view this data is Hotjar. They provide heatmaps for mouse movement, clicks, and scrolls. They separate the heatmaps by desktop, tablet, and mobile too. Hotjar also includes many other features which are useful conversion optimization tools; a few of those will be discussed later in this article.
If you’d rather use a standalone heatmap tool, CrazyEgg is a great choice. CrazyEgg allows you to see click and scroll heatmaps as well as what they refer to as a confetti map. The confetti map allows you to color code the clicks based on parameters such as referring site, time of day, day of week, and new versus returning. It is a helpful way to determine how a particular segment behaves.
Verifying that your site runs properly across all popular browsers will save your website visitors a lot of headache. If you only test in one browser it’s possible that there’s an equally popular browser where your main call-to-action doesn’t work properly. If there’s a functionality issue with your site the majority of people will just leave and find a different site. The few people that remain will become frustrated and annoyed.
Before you start reviewing your website on different browsers, check to see what the most popular browser and screen resolutions are for your website visitors. You can do this by reviewing your Google Analytics data. You can determine which browsers are the most popular by going to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS. In that same report, you can adjust the Primary Dimension to Screen Resolution to view the most popular screen resolutions as well. Once you have this data, you’ll be able to confirm the specific browsers and resolutions that the majority of your website visitors view look and function as expected.
To check how your site works in different browsers, the best way to do it is open up those various browsers and take a look. If you need to test on a browser that you don’t have access to, you can leverage a paid tool such as CrossBrowserTesting. With CrossBrowserTesting, you can check compatibility with different browsers and operating systems. You can either do a live test where you can navigate your website or get snapshots of all the popular browser/OS configurations for a particular URL.
There are a few options to check various screen resolutions. If you already have the paid CrossBrowserTesting tool discussed above, you can use that. Otherwise there are a few free options.
You can test screen resolutions directly in Google Chrome. Visit the page you want to test. Then right click and select Inspect. Then either click the Toggle device toolbar icon or press ctrl + shift + M. At the top of that interface you’ll be able to select a device from the dropdown or input a custom resolution.
You can also use Responsinator or Screenfly to view screen resolutions. In both, you enter in the URL you’d like to review then just scroll down and it displays the page in several different resolutions.
It’s important to ask real people what they think. Test your assumptions and make iterative changes based on your community.
There are a variety of user testing tools that you can leverage to make it easy to communicate with people. We’ll go over some of the popular tools, but regardless of the tool you use there are a few principles you should be aware of.
Provide specific tasks. You aren’t looking for people to give their opinions. Instead, you want to observe how website visitors perform a particular action. Then, you can decide if that matches your assumptions or how you can improve the experience.
A task can range from using the internal site search to registering for the product. You can ask people to gauge their initial impressions. You can have them explain what they think the product is that you sell based on your homepage. Or, find out if they trust your website and believe it’s secure.
Also, when performing user tests, you don’t need to stop at your own website. You can use user testing for competitor research. There are no domain limitations so you can conduct reviews of competitors’ sites too.
On any user test, you want to review at least 3-5 people to get useful results. Any less than that and it’s harder to identify patterns and changes that will have a large impact. If you have the budget and time, more data (more tests) can be helpful.
UserTesting.com and TryMyUI are robust tools that allow you to structure a user test for their users to perform. UserTesting.com is pricey so you’ll want to make sure you have a large marketing budget and time dedicated to review tests and implement changes. TryMyUI is a nice alternative to get started with a smaller budget. The videos you receive back from these tools are about 15 minutes long. You also receive short text responses.
UsabilityHub is a great choice to do user testing with almost no money. You can perform a test for as low as $1 per user. The interface is not as robust as the previously mentioned tools. Instead of watching how users navigate your site, they view an image you’ve uploaded for them to answer specific questions. These tests take about 2 minutes and you receive back just text answers.
If you specifically want to test your navigation or website hierarchy, check out Optimal Workshop. Their Treejack and Optimal Sort tools can help provide insight as to what structure makes the most sense to your users.
If you want to perform user tests using your own community you can use Hotjar to recruit testers. Then, you can use these tools to capture the tests with your own audience instead of theirs.
Ask for feedback from visitors that are on your site or have previously converted. You can do this with polls and surveys.
Feedback polls can be placed on particular pages or appear after a certain amount of time. You can use them to ask questions about the user’s hesitation (what is preventing you from purchasing?) or inquire about what led to a recent conversion (what made you decide to buy?).
Surveys can be used similarly to polls. After a user converts you can send them a survey to better understand what influenced their decision. You can also ask what the primary benefit was that they received from your product. Learning the biggest benefit from the customer’s perspective can help you shape your marketing text into highlighting customer benefits.
You can also survey users that abandoned their cart and didn’t convert. This is a good way to identify some customer pain points and hopefully identify ways to overcome them.
As far as tools go, Qualaroo specializes in feedback polls and SurveyMonkey specializes in surveys. They are both great tools. As another option, Hotjar offers both feedback polls and surveys as part of their conversion optimization tools.
Record actual site visitors to see how they use your site. These videos can help you identify usability issues. You won’t be able to hear the user and understand the thought process like a you would with a user test, but you’ll gain valuable insight by watching real visitors.
There are a number of tools you can use for this. ClickTale is a nice robust tool that you can use to capture visitor recordings, but it also has a hefty price tag. If money is no issue, then ClickTale is a great tool to use. If you’re looking for something more cost efficient, both SessionCam and Hotjar are great choices.
Split testing is when you have two or more variations of your site live at the same time and gather data to determine which variation converts higher. The variation can be as small as one button on one page to as large as entire brand overhaul across the entire site. Running split tests on your site removes any doubt about which image, button, headline, or any other variable performs best.
There are a few different tools you can use to perform split tests. My favorite split testing tool is Google Optimize. Google Optimize allows you to run split tests without involving a programmer. You can edit or rearrange text and images. You can manipulate your site in order to create test variations without any coding knowledge required.
Once you start the test you’ll have graphs and data for each goal you’ve set. Goals are easily selected from your Google Analytics account. You’ll be able to review data both in Google Optimize and Google Analytics. This data can help determine a winner or understand why a test failed.
Google Optimize is available for free. If you have the budget, there are a few other split testing tools that are worth using. Optimizely and VWO are both great options.
Make Sure Your Test Results are Significant
Regardless of which tool you choose, remember, don’t end your split test until your results are statistically significant. Google Optimize will notify you when you’ve reached a statistical significance, but you still need to make sure your sample size is large enough.
For your results to be the most accurate you’ll want to run the test for a minimum of one week. Only stop the test in full week increments so the data isn’t skewed due to traffic inconsistencies based on the day. You’ll want to run tests for a maximum of 4-6 weeks because users start to delete cookies after that range and your results will begin to deteriorate.
If your website doesn’t convert at least 500 visitors per month it will be difficult for you to reach a statistical significance. To optimize a site with low traffic, use the other tools mentioned above and make changes based on them until your traffic is large enough to run split tests.
And remember, as you come across new test ideas always document them so you can prioritize split test ideas easily. Even if you don’t have enough traffic to test now, you’ll want to implement these tests soon.
Which conversion optimization tools could you not live without? Leave a comment and let me know!