The 5 Keys to Conversion Rate Optimization

five-keysWhile search engine marketers are frequently vulnerable to obsession with data points, such as unique visits and rankings, the success of any SEM program will ultimately be judged by bottom-line revenue.

One of the quickest ways to improve ROI from search campaigns is to improve conversion rates from current traffic. Even a 0.5-1 percent conversion rate increase can have dramatic results in the overall health of a company.

Below are the top five ways to improve conversion rates for organic and paid landing pages.

1. Relevancy

Depending on your ad copy or snippet, your users will have a preset expectation upon arrival. It’s important to set expectations in ad copy and then meet this expectation in the landing page to help reduce bounce rates. Here are some simple ways to relay relevance to your audience:

  • Make sure the H1 closely resembles the key phrase used to drive traffic.
  • Use images to reinforce relevance as the image is likely to be one the first things that catches the eye in the critical two seconds that follow the page load. Be sure to apply action captions that also use relevant text.
  • Use keywords in scannable content portions.
  • Domain relevancy is shockingly important. We’ve found through domain split testing that keyword relevant brands can increase conversion rates upwards of 4x, which in the case of one client was the difference between +/- ROI.

2. Proposition

It’s imperative for a user to be able to understand your business proposition quickly and efficiently.

  • Introductory text should focus on framing the product/service as a need and not a want.
  • Prioritize key features and benefits in the scannable area of the body content.
  • Experiment with mixed media delivery. Give users the option of understanding your brand through images, text, and video. Be flexible enough to cater to your users preferred method of information consumption.
  • Understand your consumer’s key fears/apprehensions and then address them.
  • Don’t inundate user with too much information as an abundance of information can satiate a user to the point where he/she loses incentive to interact with the brand. Instead, a soft call-to-action such as a downloadable FAQ, demo, or whitepaper will assist in starting the sales while also capturing key sales information.

3. Trust

Empirically, this is one of the most overlooked factors that can have a dramatic impact on conversion rates. Users are habituated to search for genuine trust signals that help them judge the credibility of a page and, to a certain extent, the brand.

A website’s ability to quickly create confidence means more conversions and a shorter buy cycle. Remember, skepticism and a lack of information are the primary catalysts for comparison shopping. Try to:

  • Include reputable third-party badges, certifications, or awards.
  • Use trust-inducing language in calls to action, such as “check out using secure server” and be sure to include small privacy protection disclosures below information requests.
  • Include reputable and verifiable testimonials. Anonymous testimonials reek of insincerity and are likely to trigger alarm bells. Video content that relies on user testimonial can be surprisingly effective.
  • Create a design that has depth and detail. A detail-focused landing page communicates that the brand is strong, reliable, and reputable. Also, expensive-looking design does not always have to be expensive with a solid outsourcing strategy and clear vision.
  • Offer easy access to a sales rep/customer service in order to ask a question.

4. Understand User Intent

Think of a conversion as a two-way communication between a brand and a consumer. For non-branded search traffic, this is typically the first opportunity for a user to enter the sales cycle and become a prospect. Converting this traffic requires a firm understanding of your brand’s unique sales cycle, the user’s confidence level in your offering/brand, and the user’s position in the buy cycle based on conversion:

  • Stick to this general rule: the more expensive/complex the business proposition, the longer the sales cycle will be. I recently conducted a conversion audit in which a $2,000+ service attempted to push the user into the sales signup directly from the home page. The result was .0023% conversion rate over 2.5 years.
  • Offer a mix of soft and hard conversion types and measure results, enabling you to connect goal values to conversion rates. This will then allow you to refine landing pages in order give primary weighting to the most profitable conversion types.
  • Be creative. One of the most unique and effective calls to action I’ve ever come across was “Add this event to your Outlook,” By infiltrating a target audience’s Outlook Calendar, one conferenced-based company was able to increase attendance rates by discouraging potential attendees from booking conflicting events.
  • Let conversions pop from a design perspective. Use colors/sizes that will draw user attention, such as the famed BOB (big orange button). Furthermore, don’t hesitate to test the action language used in call to action buttons.
  • We’ve found that conversion rates generally increase when calls to action are placed on a right sidebar.
  • Don’t waste the post-conversion “Thank You” page. Use it as an opportunity to engage users with additional content such as key social media channels or additional digital assets that will increase brand awareness. These steps should help increase the lifetime value of a consumer.
  • Remember your user “persona” and cater message style, design, and imaging in a way that will most appeal to this segment.

5. Remove Distractions

Distractions are any piece of design or content that prevents the user from graduating to the next step of the sales cycle. Try to:

  • Remove all global navigation from your PPC templates.
  • JQuery is a great way to prevent users from leaving the sales funnel. Try using tabbed pages or JS overlays to keep users on the page in order to access less essential information such as highlights from the “about us” page.
  • Avoid off-topic content that will fracture focus and burden the user.
  • Avoid distracting images such as those with poor lighting or odd angles/sizes.
  • Limit the amount of information requested in conversions. Require only the most essential customer data required to move the sales forward.
  • Keep messaging on-point!


There are thousands of ways to cut a landing page, and just as many ways to test them. The easiest way to minimize time and resources lost to bad landing pages is to first make a strong effort to understand your consumer’s needs, goals, and apprehensions. This information will help to clearly drive messaging, imaging, and aesthetic.

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