3 Strategies to Improve Web Site Conversions

Business owners invest a lot of time and money getting their web site ranked well in the search engines, yet often completely ignore conversions. But if your visitors aren’t buying from you, then all the money you spent on SEO was wasted. Here are three things you should do to make sure your site not only ranks well, but also sells well.

It happens more frequently than you might think. People spend a lot of time and money getting their sites ranked highly in the search engines, but give little or no attention to converting their visitors into paying customers. What’s their logic? From what copywriting prospects tell me, “I wanted to get my rankings in place before working on my conversions.”

It may look as though I’m sitting firmly on the fence; however, I don’t think SEO and conversions are separate entities. I believe you need to work on them together. Let me tell you why from a copywriting and marketing standpoint.

People mistakenly think search engine optimization is the one-step process of getting ranked highly on search engines. You “do” SEO and when you’re finished *poof* your site is ranked highly. In reality, SEO has numerous steps, all of which intertwine with the foundation of your marketing plan. For instance, if you were creating an online marketing plan for a new site you wanted to launch, what would the process include? Certainly there are numerous steps, but let’s focus on the three below for now.

Creating An Attractive, User-Friendly Design
A recent study by MarketingExperiments.com found that using eight particular elements in your site design can improve conversions by more than 70%. You would want a design that instills trust and confidence while reducing anxiety.

Organizing An Effective Navigation Structure
Obviously, you want it to be as easy as possible for visitors to find what they’re looking for. If they aren’t able to navigate the site quickly, they’ll get frustrated and leave.

Writing Persuasive Copy That Informs and Sells
Just having words on your pages isn’t enough to connect with your visitors. You want specific copywriting about each product or service that entices, explains, convinces and converts.

Amazingly, these same three steps are fundamental to developing a solid search engine optimization strategy. So what’s the problem? If you complete the steps with SEO tunnel vision – without giving any thought to your visitors along the way — you may be doomed to repeat everything you’ve already finished. Here’s why:

Creating An Attractive, User-Friendly Design
Many times, sites designed strictly to rank highly in the engines neglect the design process. You can have a site that’s at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) and gets a ton of traffic, but causes visitors to immediately click away due to lack of trust. If this is the case, you’ll need to change some or all of your design elements, which could possibly have a bearing on your rankings.

Organizing An Effective Navigation Structure
I’ve read about companies who develop navigational structures specifically for the engines. They tell their clients to avoid cross-linking between certain pages or areas of the site so as not to “confuse” the search engines. Whether it confuses the search engines or not, if you want to make more sales, cross-linking and up-selling are excellent strategies that make it easier for your visitors to find — and buy — what they need. If you’re ranking highly but not making sales, it may mean you need to radically improve your navigation, which could change your rankings.

Writing Persuasive Copy That Informs and Sells
Keyword-stuffed, third-grade-level copy that is repetitive and boring won’t make sales. If you’ve slapped up any old copy thinking you would improve it later, you’re probably in for a rude awakening. Copywriting is a pivotal element in search engine optimization. Unless you’re having great success with a massive linking campaign, copywriting will play a major part in your rankings. Changing copy can (and almost always will) cause either a negative or positive change in positioning. Oftentimes, pages fall, then return with higher placement — but not always. If your copy is preventing your site from converting, it needs to be changed immediately even if that means a temporary drop in positioning.

The search engines do not make your site successful. The search engines don’t buy anything from you. All they do is send traffic your way. Although there is no discounting the value of free traffic from the engines, you can get traffic from countless other online and offline sources. Your site is what makes you money and it needs to be developed for your visitors. But by focusing strictly on SEO, it is highly likely you’ll be forced to change most of what you’ve built in order to improve conversions later on. That means spending more time and money on something that could have been turning a profit by now.

Copyright 2007, Karon Thackston, All Rights Reserved

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