Summary: Conversion Rate Optimization and SEO with Kate Morris on #SEOchat

Guest: Kate Morris. Discussion: Conversion Rate Optimization and SEO.

@katemorris is an SEO Consultant for @distilled and works in their Seattle office.

@AlanBleiweiss: Historic Fact: @KateMorris did her graduate thesis on Thesis #Genius
@katemorris: hahaha, did not #longstory

@shuey03: From what I’ve read about her, @katemorris is usually on her Macbook playing with metrics, code, or PPC campaigns.
@katemorris: In fact @shuey03, I am on said macbook right now.

@shuey03: tell us one thing that no one in your office knows about you.
@katemorris: wow @shuey03 well, not sure people know that my graduate thesis was to be on the impact of the length of online reviews to sales.

Name the top 5 things businesses can do to improve conversion right from the get go

Define goals to start, be it leads, purchases, visits, clicks, whatever. Find your KPIs. Find your best landing pages and analyze for the main call to action, make sure there is ONE focus. Get to know your analytics package, spend time with data, you never know when an error is impacting conversion. Titles, images, content ? Pick one thing and test. It’s worth it!

Ask for the minimum amount of information you need in a form, make it easy on users. Test something, anything. I usually start with form length as that is almost always too long.

@shuey03: One focus like a form? phone number? etc?
@katemorris: One focus being what is best for that page, what the user you want on that page should be giving you.

@kmullett: heh, stop going after kw that won’t convert with an site architecture that sucks.
@katemorris: hahaha, very true #seochat gotta stay focused.

@shuey03: How long should you run a test for?
@katemorris: I prefer that tests run for MINIMUM of a month … but it varys by company, you need good data.
@shuey03: If you get thousands of visitors a day, would you still run a test for a month?
@katemorris: exactly, that is what is needed, the company has to know how much traffic you need, depends on conversion rates too.

@lyena: Do you prefer multi-step forms on one page form?
@katemorris: That totally depends on how much info you HAVE to have. If it’s a lot (financial) then yes, I like multi-step.
@saffyre9: Multi-step, but tell the user where they are in the process ie. step 1 of 4.
@lyena: Dawn, multi-step like that did perform better in my experience. I personally dislike long forms on one page.
@saffyre9: It’s too overwhelming… as a user I *hate* sites that do that.
@iNeils: I’d pay to see a stat where 1 long form performs better than multi-step. Shouldn’t even be a debate. Multi-step all the way.
@aknecht: See some people get fed up with multi step usually around step 6 or 7, if that many steps go long.
@shuey03: I’m usually gone by step 5… way too long for me.
@matt_storms: The simpler a form is and if it is clear I will be tempted to fill it out.
@scottcowley: I have clients that intentionally switched to longer, more detailed forms to weed out unqualified customers.
@kmullett: and for the love of Pete put something like “we don’t sell or rent bla bla in there!” Big difference. But that would be AFTER establishing too many unqualified leads right? Back down from there.
@scottcowley: Exactly. I say start with a minimalist form, but it doesn’t mean you have to keep it if longer tests better.
@matt_storms: I agree, it’s all in the target, if you are trying to weed out, then go long, if you want more, go short.
@kristy: @kmullett Have you tested w/ & w/out? Just curious on percentage diff. Im sure it’s there, but I don’t know if there’s an ind. avg.
@kmullett: @kristy in every instance it was a clear & marked improvement but we (i know, i know, wasn’t my call) measure specifically.

What is the number 1 thing business owners do wrong in regards to better conversion & their websites

Not focusing on one thing for the landing page, one conversion; they throw everything on the page. Again testing here is necessary, but giving 5 different starred, red stand outs is way too much.

@kmullett: Believe it or not when we give them header pic control via CMS the image can impact conversion.
@katemorris: The image on the page can totally impact conversion, seen it before, it’s all about the eye draw and doing it properly.
@kmullett: We’ve seen “unique” navigation nomenclature just KILL avg page visits per user. We’ve trained people, don’t fool them. An agency did the site. No logical reason outside of it looks good. Seriously.
@aknecht: Well agencies make more money of funky designs that functional sites. Charge 2 or 3 times for design time then coding.
@kmullett: Oh brother do I know it! (shaking head )

@jeypandian: Clicktales form analytics will help with the dropoff between fields and where they stop or balk at filling fields.
@shuey03: I’ve never used that… great recommendation

@AlanBleiweiss: How do you handle a site that gets minimal visits? (extreme niche site) Can’t wait a year to test.
@katemorris: Paid search, if the traffic is not there naturally, to test you must get it there, run a targeted paid campaign.
@jeypandian: And in the process make sure you tag the full conversion funnel else its useless lol.
@kenjansen: What does tagging the conversion funnel mean? noob
@katemorris: It’s tracking the whole process so you can see where you lose people if at all, helps with fixing things.
@aknecht: Conversion funnel, is the visualization of a defined series of steps in the conversion process. With the visualization, you can see where ppl enter & leave the process. Used to be called step diagrams.
@inflatemouse: It means giving event tracking to each step, like Cart, Payment, Success.

@matt_storms: What are your thoughts on what is next in conversion? I do think that Geolocation is gonna get bigger, much bigger.
@katemorris: I’m also curious to see how mobile usage and tagging gets involved there too.
@kmullett: Just did a check across multiple client types. Still only seeing 13% on highest side mobile. Big # though.

@AlanBleiweiss: Do you ever capture partially filled out forms in testing for breakdowns?
@katemorris: Yeah did it for a few clients in the past, let’s you know when things get too long, wrong questions, etc.
@aknecht: I’ve set up analytics to report on which fields in long forms get filled in before user abandons it. Always enlightening results.

@lyena: In GA, would you track the funnel with steps or create a goal for each step?
@katemorris: Depends on the complexity of your site, but I usually prefer setting up funnels.

When performing a conversion analysis, what are some of the more common problems you encounter?

Incomplete Date due to tracking issues, too many variables, too many goal focuses. Many times people will try to test too much at once, skews the data. You have to keep testing simple. Unless you do multivariate, but getting people to just do A/B is hard enough.

@JoshuaTitsworth: What’s the most people should be testing at one time?
@katemorris: In an A/B test? one key thing, but you can add outliers (small color changes) if you plan on consistently testing.

@aknecht: Any preference between A/B testing & multi-variant testing?
@inflatemouse: A/B and multivariate shouldn’t be either/or. If have push back go getting started A/B, to prove testing value.
@katemorris: I have no favorite, it’s what the client has resources for.

@shuey03: With testing for 30 days… it could take forever to test a whole page.
@katemorris: It could, but most times you are not testing 10 things, it’s typically much easier than that. This is why I hate putting dates on stuff, sometimes it’s less, but if hand testing things, a month is usually required.

@matt_storms: I wish people would just do A test.

@ivanmelvin: Has there been a specific variable you’ve tested that routinely has significant impacts on CRO?
@katemorris: Title and form variables.

@kmullett: I love hearing people wax on about multivariate and a/b, when some client won’t even post content or pay for it. :(
@aknecht: Love it when you do the tests/have proof then get overruled b/c the client likes the look of the other
@jeypandian: It helps if u can show $$$ gains / losses with regard to design. $$$ almost always trumps everything.
@kmullett: Better is in the eye of the wallet holder. I have a long bit I have honed over 13yrs that works…sometimes.
@aknecht: Agree $$$ usually wins, but with some clients even with $$$ proof they will argue & that equal. #fail

@jeypandian: Is it a good idea to create a hypothesis and conduct a test according to the scientific method?
@katemorris: I can’t say I ever have … too time consuming, but I can see the merit in it After doing my thesis, I really know how long and tedious that process can be but is sometimes necessary.

@VillageAdsSeo: If one doesn’t have any experience in A/B or multivariate testing, how do you recommend they learn?
@katemorris: Pay attention to #crochat and build a site, start using Goole Website Optimizer, just jump on in.
@JadedTLC: You can try google’s testing tool if you can’t separate traffic in house.

What is the hardest part of A/B testing and how do you overcome it?

For me, it’s getting buy in from clients, having the resources and time is the hardest thing. The way to get past that is to do one test, and get results, or just put the potential results in numbers. The numbers and showing the impact on the bottom line for your site or someone else’s almost always works.

@AlanBleiweiss: took me 2 years 2 get client buy-in for A/B tests on a site. UnFrakkin believable :-) 20% increase 2 conversions eventually though.

@aknecht: Try getting the client involved in the test. Ask them what they’d like to test – when they see real results of it, they’re hooked. Hardest thing in A/B testing is patience. Clients want answers yesterday don’t under stand life cycle testing.
@jeypandian: Show incremental gains – if you go for big wins without solid client rapport – it will almost always fail. On the other side of the equation, build your client rapport and trust factor – it will bring more money in the long run.
@katemorris: We have a saying @Distilled – communication solves everything – if something fails its bc we didn’t communicate.

@katemorris: What’s the hardest thing for everyone else? Who’s done A/B testing? What have you seen?
@aknecht: Now have a client so excited about testing they are testing their own ads & landing page combinations. We just have implement.
@inflatemouse: #CRO comes down to 3 factors clear Relevance, clear Value, & clear Call To Action; work that into every page.

@jeypandian: Don’t set it and forget it unless you are @katemorris or @anniecushing (geniuses)
@aknecht: What worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow.
@katemorris: The whole SEO industry is proof of that, and PPC, and Mobile, and Local

@matt_storms: I like to test but when I do I make sure I keep notes to track what I did for each step. Never know when 2+9 steps back might work.
@katemorris: Great point, detailed notes are so important, its great when the clients know what’s been done in the past too.

@AlanBleiweiss: Biggest challenge after 2 year buy-in? client thinking they know usability better than I do. My policy: if client thinks they know better than I do, lets run with it. They inevitably defer to me :-)

@lyena: Any advice on how to avoid duplicate content when testing? Which tools handle it best?
@katemorris: Oh, if testing CRO, specially with paid campaigns, noindex those pages, but if natural, just make sure they are served randomly to all … including bots. And use hashtags to differentiate, or parameters with rel canonical.
@jeypandian: Use reg expressions to filter out duplicate content with regards to website testing – Kate how do u handle it?
@JadedTLC: I would also try to A/B Test on your own server so the URL is the same no matter what version.

What are the top tools you use for better conversion?

I use Google Analytics, and services like Ion Interactive/Website optimizer – You don’t need tons of tools. In my opinion tools help with resources are scarce, but tools can’t match the SEO’s brain.

@aknecht: So are you preparing for the “Do Not Track” legislation & its impact on analytics & testing?
@AlanBleiweiss: When “do not track” legislation passes my plan is to throw a frakkin party! #CantWait #RetargetingIsEvil
@VillageAdsSeo: But what will that do to CRO?
@AlanBleiweiss: It will make marketers change to un-sleazy tactics #AllForIt
@aknecht: Start the party, the EU is already there & USA legislation is looking even worse.
@kmullett: Or find new equally sleazy albeit different tactics if history tells us anything.

@Matt_Siltala: I was gonna say the biggest tool is what’s in the brain.

@inflatemouse: Traffic Analysis, Common Sense, Naive Users, Crazy Egg, and Silver Back
@matt_storms: I used to use crazy egg till GA came up with their own system ad its free.

@JadedTLC: I worked for NewCars and you can license their technology at CPCLogic.com. Automated bidding tool that tracks conversion for PPC

@PrestonVanDyke: Never heard of ion interactive. What does it provide the others do not?
@katemorris: They allow marketers to create and testing landing pages without dev resources.

@techvivekparmar: Any other tool or wp plugin you recommend which helps in tracking visitors in real time.
@katemorris: In real time? log analysis? Back in the day I used Hitslink and they were very realtime.
@techvivekparmar: Realtime means who comes to your blog (means recent visitors)

@shuey03: Now to the REAL last question of the night… what time is this big announcement from @distilled tomorrow?
@katemorris: the annoucement should come around 9-10am GMT @shuey03 so it’ll be out there when we get up in the morning.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) & SEO with Kate Morris (@katemorris) #seochat

On Thursday, March 17, 2011 Search Marketing Weekly will be hosting an #seochat on Twitter. Kate Morris (@katemorris) will be our guest answering questions about Conversion Rate Optimization & SEO.

Details:

Starts at 7:00 pm Mountain Time
About 1 hour long
Use hashtag #seochat
Host: Greg Shuey

Transcript

Questions Answered

1. Name the top 5 things businesses can do to improve conversion right from the get go.
2. What is the number 1 thing business owners do wrong in regards to better conversion & their websites.
3. When performing a conversion analysis, what are some of the more common problems you encounter?
4. What is the hardest part of A/B testing and how do you overcome it?
5. What are the top tools you use for better conversion?

About Kate Morris

kate morris on seochatKate Morris is an SEO Consultant with Distilled. Kate has worked in every part of online marketing from SEO to PPC, in-house, agency, and independent.

A native Texan by birth, Kate got her BBA from The University of Texas at Austin in Marketing and MBA from Texas State University – San Marcos. When she isn’t on her beloved Macbook playing with metrics, code and PPC campaigns, Kate enjoys reading, Crossfit and writing.

You can catch her speaking at many events like PubCon, Affiliate Summit, SMX, and many other search related shows. She also has a monthly PPC column at Search Engine Journal and writes regularly for Distilled and SEOmoz.