As search marketers, most SEO professionals are focused on the optimization aspects (both on page and off page) that will help a site achieve top rankings in the SERPs of the major search engines. The complexity of achieving top rankings increases by the day with the algorithms focusing more and more on factors that cannot be manipulated by a site owner/webmaster.
In this scenario, it is imperative that a site owner with a fairly new site maximizes her chances of retaining as many visitors to her site as possible by giving them an opportunity to communicate with her site through a comment on her blog, leaving feedback or collecting the visitor’s email address.
This will allow her to sell products/services on the backend through email marketing. This is where website optimization techniques coupled with solid SEO strategy can pay huge dividends in the long run.
Website optimization basically deals with improving a visitor’s experience on your website and increasing the conversion of casual visitors into customers.
Internet marketers have long realised the power of squeeze pages through which they collect email addresses and then sell products/services through email marketing repeatedly. They also know the concept of “The money is in the list” as each email subscriber is a very valuable proposition.
Many a time, sites ranking well on the SERPs can be attributed to the diligent efforts of a search engine optimisation professional. But rankings are not an end in themselves. They are just the means to the end. Better visibility helps a site gain more visitors. But the crucial aspect lies in converting the visitors into customers. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is an important aspect of SEO that is hogging the limelight in the present.
It would be worth the effort for SEO professionals to atleast propose to site owners the effectiveness of retaining visitors and/or upsell/downsell products and services once the site has attained good visibility on the SERPs. Let us consider a few techniques that can be employed in the light of what is being discussed.
1) Undiluted Focus:
If you are selling a product or service, you can be in a situation where you are selling many distinct products or services. This will result in specific money pages (inner pages) which highlight the particular product or service in question.
The page that describes the benefits of the product or service should focus completely on just that and should not diverge to talk about a related product or service.
Remember that prospective buyers will buy benefits and not features of a product or service. So it is important to highlight the benefits clearly on the money page.
2) Strident Call To Action:
With the singular focus described above, the visitor is subjected to a single call to action that specifically sells that particular product or service described.
As a site owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the visitor is asked to take action. If you sell blue widgets, have a big bold button that says Buy this blue widget now. If there is no clear call to action, there is a good chance that visitors will not take action.
3) In the case of visitor trying to move out of the sales funnel:
In the above example where you sell blue widgets on your site, there are many reasons why a visitor is unable to buy a product. The price point can be a major factor as the visitor feels it is too expensive. You cannot predict this until you find out.
This is where the application of a popular internet marketing technique can help you gain a deep insight into the makeup of a typical customer in your niche. If the visitor clicks the Back button or tries to close the tab or tries to type in a new web address in the URL box, then she is definitely not interested in buying your blue widget.
If you use a script that can sense this action, it can popup a special one time offer for the same blue widget at a discounted price. As a business owner, you are cutting your profit by a margin that you can afford. This causes the visitor to rethink and induces her to buy the product at a discounted rate. You are gaining a sale where there was none in the first place.
An increased incidence of the one time offer sales indicates that your produt price is more expensive for most visitors. You have to bite the bullet and reduce the price to attract more sales.
4) Information seekers:
Not all visitors are in a buying frame of mind when they visit your site. There are many seeking information on the blue widget that you sell. For users in reasearch mode, you must have a Resources page on your site which explains all the features of your product.
You can have a review of your product and your competitor’s product and show the superior/useful features your product offers compared to that of your competitor. You can also compare the pricing models. If you have a truly superior product in your niche, then you can certainly justify its higher sale price.
5) Optimizing your site for buyers keywords:
I would like to insert here the idea of optimizing your site for buyers keywords. During keyword research, you are prone to come across keyword phrases that specifically are commercially action oriented in intent. Some examples in our case can be “buy blue widget” or “blue widget software download” (without the quotes).
These clearly show the number of searchers who have done their research and review of the product you sell and are ready to buy. It is ideal to have pages on your site optimized for such buyers.
6) Collecting visitor email address:
You can also incentivize your visitor to submit her name and email address by offering an ebook download that explains the nuances of what to look for when buying a blue widget. For information seekers who have no idea of your niche and/or product, this is a goldmine of information. They would certainly subscribe to your mailing list to get their hands on this great resource.
Now that you have their email address (you have to make it double opt-in subscription process), you have obtained customers for a lifetime (unless they decide to unsubscribe) to whom you can sell products/services in the backend. These offers can be tailor made for just your email subscribers and should not appear on your main website.
7) Collecting Feedback:
At every possible stage of the sales cycle, encourage your visitors to submit their feedback either through a feedback form on the site or through a blog comment if you have an active blog on your site.
The feedback can be about the quality of your product or service offered, shipping and handling concerns etc. It would be ideal to have a 6 to 12 hour turnaround time to respond to queries/complaints.
Feedback is valuable to a business owner to streamline her sales funnel and address issues that she may not have imagined existed in the first place.
Please note that when you sign up for a Website Optimizer account, Google will automatically setup an Analytics account (if you already do not have one) for use with your experiments to collect your experimental data.
Laxity due to Free Traffic:
Though this is not part of the methods actually used to improve conversion rate on a site, many a time, even owners of websites well entrenched at the top of the Google SERPs can be lax as they are getting free traffic from the major search engines.
If a site owner is driving traffic to her site using PPC, she feels the pinch as she is paying for each visitor. This is also the case with CPA (Cost per acquisition) marketing where marketers pay for each visitor to visit their landing page on which they make an offer in the form of a signup to a service for example. They get paid only if the visitor signs up.
It is common for such marketers to employ these techniques mentioned above to gain the maximum ROI for the $ paid to get their visitors into their site.
It is important to realise the value of each visitor to your website. As a website owner, you have to endevour to improve the visitor experience in every possible way and get them to communicate to you their delightful and/or woeful experiences on your site. This will ensure the success of your online business and put you head and shoulders ahead of your competition.
Ravi Venkatesan is a senior SEO consultant at Netconcepts, an Auckland search marketing consultancy  that offers both organic search and ppc marketing  to its clients in New Zealand and Australia.