With the recent update to Google’s algorithm, designed to improve their search results and punish content farms, SEO has been a hot topic. I get many industry newsletters each week and the majority are discussing topics related to Social Media, but SEO has seen a nice bump in awareness given Google’s recent update in late February. However, companies who focus too much on how their website performs in the Google index can miss the most important aspect of their internet presence. How well does the website perform when someone actually visits the site? Regardless of the source of traffic (organic, paid, referral, or direct) your site’s ability to convert visitors into customers relies more on usability than your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Think about your site’s performance in terms of visitor engagement. Do many visitors leave after viewing only one page (in other words, do you have a high bounce rate)? Is there a statistically significant percentage of visitors who view many pages per visit but never complete the desired call to action on your site? Testing different colors, images and page layouts can help determine the best website design to convert your visitors to customers. While it way seem elementary to test a blue background versus a white one, you may be surprised to see how even subtle changes can increase your site’s performance.
An excellent way to leverage your visitor’s interaction and help increase the performance of your site is through usability experiments. Google Website Optimizer (GWO) is an easy to set up (and free) tool that allows you to test different page layouts, images, and color schemes to determine which best leads to a desired result. Moving an image from the right hand side of the page to the left may be just the change needed to increase conversions. Using bullet points instead of paragraph text may help lower a page’s bounce rate. There could be hundreds of different combinations in which to layout your pages and test which performs best. Think about your site’s usability and the user experience while you are reviewing your next traffic report. The changes you make to increase your site’s performance should be born from usability experiments rather than how well your site ranks in the SERPs or the volume of traffic your site receives.
Those of you who are familiar with Google Website Optimizer (GWO) know the importance of testing your online marketing efforts. Testing really is the best way to know whether or not proposed changes to your website are going to have a positive or negative impact on your bottom line. If you haven’t tried a GWO experiment, I would highly recommend it. For more info on conducting an experiment, you should read the blog post 6 Critical Steps for Starting you Google Website Optimizer Experiments.
The world of website testing is continuing to develop, which is great. All online marketers should be testing their online marketing initiatives, whether it is elements on their website or keywords within their campaigns. Google AdWords has followed Google Website Optimizer’s lead and is now offering another way to conduct tests; this time with your AdWords campaigns. This new program, called AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE), will enable you to test changes to your bids, keywords, and ad groups before applying those changes to all auctions for which your ad could appear.
For example, if you want to measure the impact of increasing a keyword’s bid, you can easily accomplish that without having to test all auctions. With ACE, you have the ability to select the control / experiment split for your changes. You can choose 50% control / 50% experiment, 60% control / 40% experiment, and so on. Similar to GWO experiments, ACE runs the experiment or test seamlessly with the existing campaign set up.
This tool can be found within the settings tab for your campaigns, and since you can set the experiment splits and the start and stop dates, you lower the risk of testing new ideas. If you want to test increasing a keyword’s bid without ACE, the new bid would be applied to all auctions. The problem is that even if the results were good, it is difficult to be 100% positive that the results were not due to other contributing factors.
So, next time you are thinking about making changes to your campaigns and would like to test the results first, look into using ACE. It may help you to determine whether or not this change would be beneficial.
While running an internal campaign for mobile website development, I stumbled upon an issue that I can imagine many people are having besides me. The issue is conversion tracking when a user is not filling out the form on the page that you are sending them to.
In this case, we are driving visitors to our mobile landing page development form and requesting them to fill it out. After a user clicks on the ad and is driven to the landing page and doesn’t fill out the form, but performs another action on the site, would that constitute a conversion? Any visitor that comes from a cpc ad and completes any action on a website (not necessarily the one you wanted them to do) and has conversion tracking code implemented, will show up as a conversion from the original cpc source.
So if you’re targeting a user to complete a sale, and they fill out a form for a newsletter, then your Adwords account will still show a conversion. Adwords conversion tracking won’t follow a user around your website (unlike retargeting that will place a cookie on the browser), so any action that has conversion tracking will capture that as a conversion. One way you can verify what conversion is being completed is to set up goals within Google Analytics. By cross referencing your cpc campaign with your analytics account, you can find out who completed what goal and attribute the goal to the conversion. If you use both of these tools in-conjunction, you will be able to pinpoint with accuracy where your conversions are coming from.