My Site Under Construction
I need a new web site. I have built dozens for myself and others over the last 11 years, but circumstances being what they are, it’s time for a new one for moi. I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t, having created two sites that have stayed at or near the top of Google for my targeted serps since Google was launched. They also generated business – as they converted traffic to leads.
The challenge now is to see if I can pull off the hat trick and do it a 3rd time. With the constant posts on SEO, conversion, IDX issues, and social media as a business source, I thought this might be an interesting adventure to share. Here is you opportunity to see what I think works, or watch me crash and burn.
I have a domain and my WordPress platform and am ready to rock. Everyone knows the rest of the punch list right? All I need now is a theme, some basic content, an IDX solution, a few cool plugins, some on page SEO magic and links or a ppc campaign to drive traffic, and I’m golden.
Well, not quite. See, the thing that matters most with a web based business model is that it needs to actually generate business, not just traffic. You could have the coolest plugins and the best SEO going, but the only magic that happens is when the traffic converts to a lead. Overlooking or not understanding conversion is why most real estate sites online are more hobby than business. My approach and focus is first and foremost on conversion.
Determine The Goal(s) And Then Work Backwards
With this site I want to find people who are going to buy or sell residential property in San Diego County. I want to do this effectively, and I want to get as many as I can by converting as much of the site traffic as possible. I also know that I’m greedy and I want to hit every community (well, almost every one). To that end I have already started to create a page for each.
You Can’t Measure Conversion If There Is No Goal
So now you may be thinking that I already stated the goal – buyers and sellers. That is the big picture – the goal of the site as a whole. However, conversion occurs at the page level, so in order to create high converting pages, we have to first determine the following:
- What is the intent (goal) of each page
- What drives the visitor to each page
- What is the intent (goal) of the visitor
- What is the call to action
Conversion Occurs When Visitor Intent Intersects With The Intent of the Page
Once you have created a page, there are four likely scenarios you will see:
1) Bounce rate above 50% and very low or no conversion rate
Synopsis: Little or no relation between the visitor intent and the intent of the page.
Exception: The page is informational with no conversion goal intended or defined. Most blog posts fit in this category.
2) Bounce rate above 35% and low to medium single digit conversion rate.
Synopsis: Some relation between the visitor intent and the intent of the page manifested in one of a few ways:
a) Some overlap exists, but not very much,
b) Some overlap exists, but the intent of the page is hard for the visitor to figure out.
c) Some overlap exists, but it’s too hard or annoying for the visitor to complete the goal.
3) Bounce rate above 25% with medium to high single digit conversion rate.
Synopsis: Good match between visitor intent and the intent of the page. These pages generate business.
4) Bounce rate under 20% and double digit conversion rate.
Synopsis: The brass ring. An excellent match of visitor intent, content, and the third critical factor – the call to action. You have reached Nirvana.
The difference between #3 and #4 is frequently due to usability. If so, then this will likely be reflected in your analytics where the top referring keywords closely describe the content on the page and matches visitor intent. Time to play with the call to action. For the average real estate site, this would be the IDX for buyers and a form of some sort for sellers.
Moving from scenarios 1 and 2 to scenarios 3 and 4 may seem like an easy task, but this is where we see the most common problem issue – the disconnect between the strategy behind the intent of the page, and the strategy behind what is actually driving traffic to the target. Something has to drive traffic (the visitor) to a page. If the visitor expects ‘x’, are they getting ‘y’ instead? Look at what traffic sources deliver to the page. Is the promise ‘x’ or ‘y’? Many tend to confuse this with longtail. The longtail is great, but if it delivers to the wrong page, it isn’t really longtail and conversion isn’t likely.
note: This is also where a PPC campaign can serve as an effective a/b testing ground as well as drive traffic while you are working on your organic rankings. Just remember that if the page doesn’t convert with a PPC campaign, it wont convert organic traffic either.
You can also use this as an outline to evaluate the pages of an existing site, but in reverse.
1) What is the call to action I want the visitor to follow on this page? Does this page have one? Is it intuitive? Eliminate anything that distracts or detours the visitor away from the desired course of action. Add one if one doesn’t exist.
2) What is analytics telling me about the visitor intent? The top referrers and keyword searches are representative of the visitor’s intent. Are they collectively on target with the intent of the page? If not, you have a few options:
a) Adjust the SEO or PPC campaign that is driving the traffic so that it matches up better.
b) If it’s SM driven, then change the target to a more appropriate page
c) modify the page intent to be in align with the traffic
3) Evaluate your goals within the context of your content. If you are goal is more business, then your content needs to be in line with that. We’ll examine this aspect in more detail next time.
Ok, any questions or comments?