Is your site getting lots of traffic but no one is buying? Conversely, are your product and website so awesome that almost everyone who visits buys, but no one is visiting.
Search Engine Optimizion (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) are concepts that can seem to be at odds with each other at times. If you were to think of nothing but SEO when designing your site it would look great to a robot but would be anything but user friendly and the text might be so stuffed with keywords as to make it unreadable for a human.
SEO is for robots, not for humans. Knowing what the robots like today and what they will like tomorrow is often a guessing game. There are certain elements you can always count on such as quality inbound links, keyword relevant text and fresh content. Other parameters are more fluid; constantly changing as the SEO industry figures out new ways to cheat the system.
There are design elements that may be more user or design friendly but do nothing to aid your SEO efforts and in fact may be a hindrance. For instance, if you design your whole site in Photoshop (including text, headers, etc.) and post the images as the pages of your site, the robots can’t read the text. They have no idea of the content of that page beyond the fact there is an image there. Oh sure, you can add meta tags in the background that give the robots more information, but it’s not the same as far as rankings go. That text is now static as well, meaning you can’t easily update the page so the robots won’t consider your content to be fresh.
Flash banners containing information that would really be attractive to your potential buyers can’t be seen by the search engines either, only once the human visits your site will they see it. That great sale you are having? Google knows nothing about it.
Conversion Rate Optimization or (CRO) on the other hand is all about human behavior. What will induce or persuade your visitor to pull out the credit card? How easy is the navigation, how well are the products displayed, is the user engaged, how easy is the checkout, how long are visitors staying on your site? Why should they buy from you instead of a large retailer who has an established reputation? All are things to consider.
Check your reports; how many people abandon their shopping carts? If that number is significant you need to figure out what’s going wrong in the checkout process. Do you have a secure site? One that includes https: and not just http: in the address? Some people won’t give out their credit card unless it’s got that URL even if you are using a secure processor. Is it hard to change quantities? Are your shipping charges too high? Do you ask for too much personal information? These people were ready to buy your product and changed their mind. You need to figure out why.
What is your “call to action”? For instance a sale that is only on for a few more days or free shipping this week only or free giftwrapping but only if they buy in the next 48 hours! A constant call to action showing why they should buy right now. Even if you offer free shipping all the time, you don’t have to word it that way. Get creative! You can say “Free Shipping Today” or “Buy Now for Free Shipping”. Constantly have some kind of promotion going that requires them to buy now.
If you don’t like that much high pressure, then make your softer call to action be why they should buy from you instead of someone else. Make the experience enjoyable, informative, and build loyalty.
Some sites engage the customer so shopping is an enjoyable experience. The customers enjoy the site so much that they keep exploring stumble across products they didn’t even know they wanted! The descriptions of their products pull you in as though you are reading a story. You can envision yourself wearing that parka on your next ski trip as you slide down the mountain and lookin’ good!
Those descriptions probably aren’t keyword rich, as the search engines would want but your customers love them! Can you keep the same tone but sprinkle some of your keywords in? Conversely, if your description simply describes the item but includes all your keywords, your customer may be bored away after the first line. Check out woot.com for a great example of a site that has engaging descriptions but is keyword rich at the same time.
It’s all a balance, what looks good as opposed to what works well. What is user friendly and robot friendly at the same time. SEO and CRO – there is a difference.
Woodshar Professional Services