Welcome to part two of the blog seriesTips for Improving Your Conversion Rates. In my previous post, I explained that investing in online marketing campaigns such as pay per click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) to send web traffic to a site with a low conversion rate is essentially the same as paying to send leads to a sales rep that can’t close. I also walked you through the importance of visit-to-lead conversion rate and showed you the tools needed to accurately track it. Every business owner I know hates wasting money and resources – myself included. Yet they do it all the time by not accurately tracking their visit-to-lead conversion rates – remaining blissfully unaware of just how poorly their website engages visitors. I’ve personally reviewed thousands of websites and, collectively, our team has reviewed considerably more. By my estimates, fewer than 5 percent of businesses accurately track and monitor their website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate. Some business owners and marketing executives believe they are tracking the percentage of visitors that become leads, but what they’re doing is not even close to accurate.
In this post, I’m going to show you a simple way to use Google Analytics to measurably improve your site’s conversion rate. Ready? Here we go!
Using Google Analytics to Improve Conversion Rates
In the not-so-distant past, all your website visitors entered your website via your home page. Today, if your site is properly coded and optimized, people will typically enter your site via the web page that is most closely related to whatever they searched. For example, with Blue Corona, someone searching “SEO for plumbers” will probably see (in the search results) and enter our site through this page as opposed to our home page. When you think about it, Google doesn’t really rank web sites. Google ranks web PAGES. Generally speaking, this is a good thing. It is also a fantastic opportunity to increase your website traffic and convert more visitors into leads. By creating unique web pages for the individual keyword phrases for which you would like to rank, you’ll tend to rank more prominently in the organic search results than more generic websites. As an added bonus, the more relevant and specific a page is to a topic, the higher the conversion rate tends to be.
No longer is your home page required to be all things to all people. The problem is many business owners don’t realize this is happening. The vast majority of business owners I speak with have no idea that searchers are finding individual pages on their website using keywords that, in some cases, do not closely match or align with the content on the page. Their ignorance is costing them conversions and money. Think about your own website… Aside from your home page, what are your top 10 landing pages? Would you even know where to look? Which pages are you currently tweaking to better align the content with the keywords searchers are using to find the page? How long is your list of new pages to create?
If you have no idea, don’t panic. I can help.
There’s a simple report you can run in Google Analytics that shows you the exact pages people are using to enter your website. This same report can be set up to show you the keywords people are using to find each page, and from this, you can identify conversion rate improvement opportunities. All you need to do is go into your Google Analytics account (Don’t have Google Analytics set up on your site? Contact us.) and look at the left side-bar navigation.
From the left side navigation in Google Analytics, click on Content > Landing Pages and you should see something like this:
There are all sorts of advanced ways to use this report, but for the purposes of this blog post, let’s focus on organic traffic. To filter out any PPC traffic, go to thetop of the page – just under the heading that says, “Landing Pages” – and click Advanced Segments. Now, uncheck “All Visits” and check “Non-paid Search Traffic.” Doing this will remove any PPC visitor data and leave you with only visits from organic search.
Note: If your business only services a certain geographic area, you are probably going to want to build a Custom Segment to limit the visitors you’re seeing to ONLY those living/searching within your service area. You can do this by clicking Advanced Segments > +New Custom Segment. Like this:
With only Non-paid Search Traffic selected, go down to the button immediately below the graph, the one that says, “Secondary dimension” and choose Traffic Sources > Keyword (it should look like the screenshot on the right).
The output of this process is a report that shows you all the landing pages (entrance pages) of your website with the keyword used by the visitor to find the page. Once you have this done, you’ll want to sort everything by Bounce Rate. You can do this by clicking on the Bounce Rate column heading.
Important note: You’re probably going to see a lot of (not provided) listed as the keyword the visitor used to find your page. You see this when someone is searching Google while logged into their Google account (gmail, Google+, etc.). To protect their users’ privacy (and make webmasters miserable), Google has encrypted the keyword data. If you’d like to learn more about keyword (not provided), read this FAQ.
When someone visits a page of your website and leaves without visiting another page, this is called a “bounce.” Generally speaking, a high Bounce Rate (BR) suggests that the content on your site was not what the visitors was hoping to find or that it was not engaging enough for them to go deeper within your site (i.e. view more pages). Of course, before you demonize all the pages on your site that have a high BR, make sure that the keyword used by the visitor with the high BR is even relevant to your business. You also want to think about whether you run the type of business that requires visitors to see more than one page.
As an example, if the toilet in the bathroom just off of your newly remodeled kitchen isoverflowing, you’ll probably Google, “emergency plumber + your city,” click on the top search listing, and immediately call the company before running out to your garage to get some old towels! To the plumbing company, your visit would be seen as a 100 percent bounce, but you called them so should they really care??? The answer is no.
High Bounce Rates are okay IF your visitors are viewing a single page and then calling you (another great reason to invest in call tracking).
Exceptions aside, most businesses see a strong correlation between the number of pages someone views on their site and the likelihood someone will become a lead. A great way to improve your site’s visit-to-lead conversion rate is to use the report we’re building in Google Analytics to investigate the pages people are using to enter your site. By comparing the keyword they used to find the page, the BR, and the content on the page itself, you can come up with a list of things to TEST.
Here’s what your Landing Pages report should look like:
It should be noted, that I created an additional Advanced Filter to narrow the pages displayed in the screenshot above to only blog posts. Don’t mistakenly assume that, because all you’re seeing in the screenshot are blog posts, blogs tend to have high Bounce Rates. On a side, but related note – Advanced Filters are really helpful for companies actively investing in content marketing campaigns. For example, let’s say as part of our content marketing campaign, the Blue Corona team is creating blogs, FAQs and case studies. With this report and Advanced Filters, we can very quickly get a sense for the performance of each content type. Food for thought and fuel for a future blog post.
Back to the example above… I’ve used the red rounded rectangle in the screenshot to highlight a web page that I suspect could benefit from some conversion rate optimization analysis. The screenshot above is from a chiropractor and wellness center. The keyword “yoga alternatives to spine surgery” (with a small typo in the search query) is very much related to the services they offer. Why weren’t we able to engage this visitor and get them to book an online appointment, learn more about one of the doctors, view the available yoga classes, etc.?
We need to view the web page while putting ourselves in the seat and mindset of the searcher…
If someone searches Googlefor “yoga alternatives to spine surgery,” what are they looking for? How do you think they are feeling? What questions might they have? If it were me, I’d be wondering if yoga IS an alternative to spine surgery. I’d be wondering if others with back pain bad enough to consider surgery have successfully used yoga as an alternative treatment. I’d wonder if there are there special yoga classes or instructors that specialize in people with severe back pain. The list goes on and on. If the web page above is going to have any hope engaging and converting this visitor, it’s going to have to pretty quickly identify with the searcher and then encourage him or her to read more, and then finally ask them to do something that would seem to be a logical next step – like downloading an e-book titled, “How to Use Yoga to Avoid Back Surgery.”
Let see if the webpage above does any of these:
I’ve grayed out the page a bit to highlight the fact that the word “yoga” is found just a couple times on the page. Although this page does a pretty good job connecting or epathizing with a reader with back pain considering surgery, you have to wonder if adding more yoga related content and/or replacing the Categories and Archives elements in the right sidebar of the page would improve the visit-to-lead conversion rate.
My guess is that both changes should be tested.
As I mentioned in the part one of this blog series, you have to accurately track your visit-to-lead conversion rate so that you can monitor and improve it. It’s difficult to win the game if you don’t know the (right) score! For most businesses, accurately tracking your visit-to-lead conversion rate requires website analytics software that has been customized to record various online leads and a call tracking platform that offers dynamic number replacement. You might also want someone that can analyze and interpret the data as well as implement and oversee the tests designed to improve your conversion rates.
With the right tools in place and some simple reports (like the one above), it’s easy to measurably improve your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rates. This is important because a higher conversion rate opens up the door to all sorts of new marketing possibilities – from investing more in SEO to being able to profitably achieve a higher PPC ad position.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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“Would you ask a plumber to install a air conditioner? As a mechanical contractor we are technically literate in our field of HVAC not SEO. This is why we chose Blue Corona. After phone interviews with several SEO companies we chose Blue Corona based on their professionalism and confidence to design and deliver a site based on our needs. The entire process to date has been more than expected and we are extremely happy with the staff's expertise, friendliness and professionalism. All expectations were clearly defined from the beginning and everyone at Blue Corona has been awesome to work with. It is very refreshing to work with a professional group that delivers on their word. ”