SEO, Web Site Usability Drive Conversion Rates

Chris KnochEffective search engine optimization (SEO) can improve query rankings, but companies also need to give consumers easy-to-use Web sites to boost conversion rates and close the sale. More visitors to the site is great, but if the price of average orders drop, marketers should rethink strategies, according to panelists on a Webinar Tuesday.

Search Engine Land Executive Editor Chris Sherman moderated the Search Marketing Now Webinar, "SEO and Conversion Rates: Hand-in-hand," sponsored by Range Online Media. Herndon Hasty, senior SEO evangelist, Range; and Chris Knoch, principal search engine marketing (SEM) consultant at Omniture, presented and fielded questions.

Bringing online the keywords that do well offline might not work in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. It's important to consider offline data driven by online interactions, and that could mean "you're optimizing to the wrong metrics," Knoch said.

Companies need to become more aware of the keywords driving consumers to the site and those that prompt an interaction with blogs or forums. Looking at page views and tracking bounce rates provide insight into when consumers left the site.

Making sites accessible to consumers has become critical. Some are paying the price for being a bit remiss by opening their wallets." Target recently had to pay a $6 million settlement over the accessibility of their Web site," Hasty said.

While SEO has been viewed as a strategy to build organic search engine rankings to drive traffic, Hasty said it's important to add content that appeals to shoppers who want to quickly find information. Changes to SEO affect how easily consumers navigate the site, and one is dependent on the other.

A site that ranks well in search engines but can't convert customers from browsers to buyers is just as bad as a site that provides a great user experience but search engines cannot index it, Hasty said. So, he suggests starting with a foundation to ensure that both search engines and customers can move through the site intuitively.

Making the site accessible to people who search on mobile devices and without Flash or JavaScript is important. Header tags that subdivide pages will make it easy for customers to find information. Images and videos also play a more important role, but make sure they are accessible to search engines.

And when it comes to keywords, don't invent new words for familiar products. Search engines won't rank them among similar products or services. For example, consider the picture of the product for sale on the site. While lip color typically comes in one type of applicator, lipstick comes in another. Also consider Blu-ray vs. DVD player. It can make a difference in how well the terms rank in search engines.

Tags: online, search, seo
Recommend (3)