14 Tips From the Pubcon Experts About Landing Page Optimization

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I recently had the good fortune to attend a session on landing page optimization at PubCon.com, the annual conference about search, social media, Internet marketing and website operation. I learned a lot, so I thought I’d share the 14 top takeaways from the session with Small Business Trends’ readers.

Landing Page Optimization

The experts who shared their knowledge at this session were Joanna Lord, Director of Customer Acquisition for SEO Moz; Kate Morris, SEO Consultant; and Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners.com. Here’s what each of them had to say.

There Are Tons of Tools to Help You—Use Them!

Joanna Lord’s presentation was focused on tools and programs you can use to discover which pages on your website and what types of content are converting well or poorly. I came away with lots of interesting tools I’m going to try.

1) Use Google Analytics to data mine. Google gives you so much information to uncover what parts of your site are working to convert customers and which are not. Everyone should start with this tool.

2) Use heat mapping. (In case you’re not familiar with this term, a “heat map” uses colors to show the areas of a Web page where users most frequently scan.) By seeing where users spend the most time, you can improve your click-through rates and conversions to products/services. Here are some heat mapping tools Joanna suggested trying: Clickheat (this is a free tool); Click Density; and Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg is Joanna’s favorite heat mapping tool. While some heat mapping tools update you on the most popular areas of your site every 24 hours, Crazy Egg provides hourly live reporting.

3. Do user surveys. When people leave your site, do you know why? No one likes a popup box on a website, but if you can get useful information by running a popup or exit survey for a week, a temporary decrease in conversions is worth it for the long-term health of your site. Here are some user testing tools Joanna likes: Assistly.com (free trial), UserTesting.com ($39), Keynote (free trial), Providesupport.com (free trial) and Zendesk (free trial). The tool SEO Moz uses is KISS Insights ($29/month). Joanna likes KISS Insights because it has great survey options, including surveys via popup boxes or upon user exit.

4. Test out new options. After you have surveyed your users, make changes and test their effectiveness. Tools Joanna recommends to test different landing pages: Unbounce.com, Google Website Optimizer and Optimizely.com.

Think Like a User

Kate Morris offered some great advice as well.

5. Know your product and always keep in mind user intent. What are users trying to do when they are on your site, and can they do it easily? Assess your site from the viewpoint of the user trying to accomplish a goal. Can they check out quickly? Can they navigate back to a prior page? How good is your search function?

6. Identify high-traffic pages that are not converting and make changes. If a page is getting lots of traffic, great! But if that traffic isn’t converting, not so great. Kate suggests using Google Analytics to pinpoint these pages. She used the example of one customer that had a high-traffic page with lots of white space on the right nav. She had them add a form, which helped increase conversions.

7. Look at “top landing pages” in Google Analytics and search for outliers. Are there pages on your site that are receiving zero visitors? Is your internal linking structure poor? Do you need more links to those deep pages?

Image—and Images—Matter

Tim Ash’s presentation was extremely visual. He showed a number of before and after pictures for sites and displayed heat maps for the old and new pages so we could see the comparison. I will mention a few of the sites that he has worked on, so you can check them out for yourself (unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the “before,” but hopefully the “afters” will inspire you!).

8. Create trust. Many sites don’t convert because they lack credibility and fail to establish trust with users. Consider displaying seals (Truste, McAfee, BBB, VeriSign and the like) as well as displaying the logos (he couldn’t stress enough the importance of images, not just the names) of large companies that you do business with.

9. Keep it simple. Don’t offer too many choices on the home page. Keep strong images of what you are selling on the site, but don’t clutter things up with unnecessary Flash (especially not fast scrolling Flash shows). Tim showed us the “before” look of MosquitoCurtains.com (which was very scattered) compared to the new look. Cleaner and simpler is much easier for users.

10. Read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

11. Adjust guarantees. Don’t offer 30-day guarantees; offer lifetime guarantees and watch your purchases increase. Lifetime guarantees make the user feel much safer.

12. Ask for the sale. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of asking for the close. Tim showed us the “before” for 1-800-Flowers. Their order form was so buried and blended in that users never clicked on it. After changing things up, the order form was much more prominent and got a ton more clicks.

13. Check out B.J. Fogg from Stanford Labs. B.J. helps organizations use technology and new media to influence people. Tim suggests reading through his papers and articles on customer interaction and usability.

14. Remember, you’ve only got an instant to make a good impression. Tim emphasized that customers make up their minds in a fraction of a second whether or not they want to interact with your site. Good, clean design is of paramount importance.

What tips and tactics have worked for your website in improving conversions and click-throughs? Share them in the Comments.

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Chad Fisher Chad Fisher of Pyramid SEO assists businesses with online advertising and web development. Chad has also created Car Insurance Quotes Comparison for easy access to auto insurance information to make informed buying decisions.

11 Reactions
  1. I also had the chance to attend this session and it was full of great suggestions.

    One suggestion from Kate Morris was to put a conversion on the About Us page. This page often gets a lot of traffic, but doesn’t actually ask for a conversion. Don’t miss opportunities!

  2. Wow! This article is so full of great and valuable information. I’ve saved all the links and will return to each of them later. Also linking to this article in one of my articles on lead conversion to benefit my readers.

    One thing that I’ve found is that Google Analytics does not provide the level of detail that I prefer in my website traffic. I use http://opentracker.net/, which costs $19 per month, but gives the ability to drill-down to the visitor detail in terms of referring site, IP Address, location, page views, time on each page, dates visited, etc… It’s much more detailed and helpful.

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Thanks for those useful tips. According to me, Google analytics is the most powerful tool.

  4. Chad Fisher: Thanks for all the tips on the landing page optimization. It will take some time to “chew” it.

    Robert: Do you mean that you should add a comment feature or update your about page now and then? I have added Formspring.me to you About page, saying the following:

    “Please feel free to send me a question by filling out the form below, or by clicking the link to Formspring.me. For information on Formspring, listen to Amber MacArthur’s and Sarah Lane’s interview with Ade Olonoh, CEO and founder of Formspring.me.”

  5. Your article has given me a chance to reevaluate my site to a large extent. I am fairly new to online business, but am really interested in making the most of it. The “Keep It Simple” advice is really crucial since many people are interested in finding what they are looking for and quickly leaving. We are an impatient society now-a-days.
    Also, from looking at the replies, Robert Brady has a valid post in asking for a conversion on the About Us page. I’ve never really thought about it, but I frequently visit the page…why, not sure other than looking for an address or indication of how to contact them for followup/returns.

  6. What about split testing copy and designs?

    I agree with Cindy about GA – it’s super super powerful when you have enough statistically significant traffic to analyse.

  7. Hi Chad,

    Thanks for the complete and thoughtful writeup.

    If people want to get more info about conversion rate optimization they should also check out the http://ConversionConference.com events. Many of the top conversion improvement experts in the world will be there as presenters.

    Warmest Regards,


  8. Some great advice here, and I know I need to improve on at least 4 or 5 of these, probably more. For me, one of the biggest things to have that trust factor, wherever possible, before they hit the sales page or landing page. Not always possible, I know, but it sure can help!

    Thanks for the great tips!

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