Category : SEO


10 Conversion Rate Tips Smart Marketers Must Know

Conversion rate optimization can feel like a bit of a mystery. If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve put together 10 simple tips anyone can digest that will help you boost conversion rates and turn more visitors into paying customers.

1. Give your page just ONE goal.

When it comes to driving conversions, focus is key. You shouldn’t try to use the same page to drive someone to 8 different offers – your customers will get confused, and their attention just can’t split that many ways.

Decide on what the overarching goal of the page is before you even start writing or designing – then direct every element of the page toward that goal.

2. Answer 4 questions in the first 5 seconds.

If you want to convert a lead, you need to answer three of their most pressing questions almost as soon as they enter the page:

  • Who: “Who are these guys? Am I in the right place?”
    Answer this by showing your logo and tagline above the fold, making it obvious that they’ve come to the right place.
  • What: “What are they offering me?”

Again, it should be abundantly clear not just who you are, but what the offer on the table is. For example, if you’ve never heard of Unbounce before, you may not know that it is CRO software; that ambiguity needs to be eliminated quickly.

  • Who: “Who is this for? Am I their ideal customer?”

Not every product is right for every customer; you need to make it obvious who your solution is for. This can be done by saying so (e.g. “A recruiting tool for small businesses”), or even by putting up a testimonial from a company that reflects who your ideal customers are.

  • Why: “Why should I keep reading? Why should I care?”

Your unique value proposition needs to be front and center. Don’t just explain the offer literally – what’s the big benefit you’re promising back to the customer? Make it obvious.

3. Match referrer intent with landing page context.

If you’re going to be driving leads to a page through advertisements, then the context of the page should match the ad that sent them there. This sounds obvious – but it isn’t always.

For example, if your ad emphasized the importance of a key benefit or value, that value should be front and center – in your headline, in your body copy, and in your calls to action.

If you’re targeting a specific segment or audience, the language and offers on the page should be tailored to them.

Customers should feel like the page was written JUST FOR THEM based on the context of the ad that drove them there; give them that experience.

4. Eliminate unnecessary escape points.

Imagine your landing page as a Styrofoam cup. If you poke just one hole in the bottom, water will leak exactly where you intend it to.

If you poke holes all over the place, water will rush everywhere – not necessarily where you intended. Your landing page is the same way.

If you distract your visitors with too much information and give them a whole bunch of exit points – like a side bar or busy primary navigation bar – they’re going to be tempted to click all over and explore instead of continuing down the page towards a conversion.

Unless a link absolutely HAS to be there to improve the customer experience, get rid of it.

5. Color matters – but contrast does, too.

You might’ve heard all those rumors and case studies of how changing the color of a button lead to X% in conversions.

People get hung up on these stories and suddenly expect small color changes to have a HUGE impact. And while sometimes that’s the case, what’s usually more important is color’s cousin – contrast.

Contrast in visual elements makes some blend in and others pop out.

If a button is blending in – for example, if the color matches the background or if it has no color at all – then it won’t be as likely to get noticed.

Contrast also plays into usability. White text on a bright background, for example, is very frustrating to read and makes your audience less likely to invest the effort in digesting your information.

Use contrast to make the things that should stand out, stand out – and avoid color pallets that make anything difficult to process.

6. Use social proof near areas of friction.

“Social proof” is a fancy way of referring to third-party proof like testimonials, reviews, lists of your clients or examples of sites that have featured your content.

Social proof is a hugely persuasive element because it gives readers the chance to see stories and experiences of people similar to them who made a purchase decision and are happy with the outcome.

One tip you can start using immediately is to place that social proof near areas of friction – places where your reader might feel like they’re taking a risk or get apprehensive. Some examples of this are near pricing information, by a call to action button, or early up on the page where they’re figuring out if they can trust you or not.

Try to make sure that the testimonials you choose support any arguments you’ve made nearby. For example, if you’ve just written about a particular benefit or feature, a testimonial that speaks to that specific feature is more powerful than a generic, “This company is really great!”


7. Turn calls to action into calls to value.

Your “call to action” should be worded as an invitation for the lead to receive something they want instead of a demand to take action.

For example, a button that says “Submit” is not an action anyone wants to take, and it’s not an invitation to value, while a button that says “Get My Free Ebook” or “Start Saving Now” is an invitation to receive something your audience is after.

As a quick tip, your call to action should be able to complete the sentence “I Want To…” as spoken by the customer.

8. Ask only for the information you need.

When it comes time for your customer to fill out a form, keep in mind that you’re asking them to surrender something very personal – their information.

Keep forms short and to the point; don’t ask for information you don’t actually need to follow up.

  • Don’t need their last name? Don’t ask!
  • Don’t plan to call them? Don’t ask for their number!
  • Is an address really necessary? If not… well, you get it by now.

Another tip is to break long forms into smaller, step-by-step funnels that show the customer one step at a time.

This makes the process feel much less overwhelming, making it more likely they will finish what they started.

9. Think hard about mobile customers.

One of the most common mistakes I see is designing only for desktop. But especially for local businesses, a huge portion of your customers will be coming in on mobile phones or tablets, and the experience needs to look great for them, too!

  • Consider using a mobile variant of the landing page with your phone number right near the top, since local customers often want to call and need contact information quickly.
  • Ensure there’s plenty of room between any buttons or interactive elements, to avoid slipped thumbs and lost conversions.
  • Be careful that any graphics also look great on mobile – especially screenshots or any photos of your product/service in action!
  • Don’t autoplay video or rely on video to carry the conversion load on every device. Data-sensitive mobile users probably won’t watch it (but test that assumption before doing away with it).

10. Always, always, ALWAYS test!

There are no guarantees in conversion rate optimization – no practices that aren’t subject to scrutiny and testing. You should always A/B test variants against each other, challenge assumptions and be willing to be wrong – because it’s the data that ultimately decides which variants perform best!

Never roll with just one version of a landing page, and make sure the pages you’re testing against each other start out being quite different. Small changes come with diminishing returns over time, but wildly different variants can yield unexpected (and lucrative) insights.

Take these tips, get out there and start optimizing!

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Will 2014 Be the Year Strategy Makes a Comeback?

Everyone understands the value of a great strategy, right?

After all, every business person will at very least pay lip service to the idea that having a plan is pretty critical for success, whether in operations, branding or marketing.

But if we’re all being honest, the “strategy” part seems to have been overlooked for online marketing for a long time.

Take for example the statistic that just 39% of B2C businesses and 42% of B2B businesses have a documented content strategy in place. Instead, many jump straight to content production, publishing as much and as often as they can but without much of a framework to bring it all together.

Or consider how for years, SEO has been looked at like a group of tactics – a little link building here, some on-page optimization there, and poof – rankings, right? Well, in theory, anyways. Even new developments like Google+ Authorship tend to be looked at in terms of their immediate return (a little picture by your listing) instead of their long-term value (becoming a trusted publisher over time).

Even PPC hasn’t been exempt from this kind of ad hoc approach. Too often, businesses just choose the highest traffic keywords, set up their bids and hope for the best.

But maybe worst of all is that companies treat all the different online marketing channels as silos, each operating independently instead of combining to achieve a common, defined goal. Sometimes, the teams working on these different channels won’t even communicate with each other, creating enormous missed opportunities to share data and learn from the successes of the others.

It’s all a bit of a rat race, with parts moving in every direction. So, why has strategy been such an oversight for so many businesses?

It starts with perception.

For years, online marketing was pitched as a “silver bullet”; a cheap, fast and mostly technical undertaking that could yield big results without much sustained effort. Online marketing “packages” were sold – a one-size-fits all approach for a process that should have been custom tailored to the business being served.

Agencies also contributed to the idea of “Silos” by selling services separately instead of holistically, reporting on each different channel independently of the others. But as we approach 2014, the lines between channels are becoming increasingly blurred, feeding into and complimenting the activities of one another.

The perception of online as simple, push-button marketing is slowly changing as the web and digital marketing mature. Outside pressures are starting to force marketers to rethink their approach to the online medium, some of which include:

  1. Google algorithm updates have made it increasingly more difficult to succeed with tactics that were once quick wins. Now, success means catering to the user – and businesses are realizing they’ve never taken the time to define those users, their pain points or their buying cycle.
  2. PPC campaigns have become much more varied and complex with a dizzying array of potential extensions and options to exploit. While “just push play” is still an option, the sheer number of ways to spend your ad budget are giving businesses pause and making them question whether or not they’ve taken the best approach with their investment.
  3. The amount of content being published daily is skyrocketing, creating an avalanche of noise that sub-par content cannot break through. Companies that were outsourcing their content creation to the lowest bidder or guest blogging on shell websites for links are starting to see diminishing returns on their investment.


  1. The massive uptake of mobile (56% of the world’s population owns a smart phone, and there are more mobile devices on the planet than people) has forced businesses to reevaluate whether or not they are equipped to meet users on mobile platforms and highlighting the need for a multi-tiered approach to their online presence.
  2. More and more businesses have clued in to the potential of online marketing and are investing in it, creating a landscape far more competitive than in years past. The winners are really cleaning up, while the losers are further behind than ever before.

Only Fools Rush In…

Even as the processes become more involved, businesses are usually eager to get moving as quickly as possible. They want to see progress immediately and results yesterday.

This kind of “must-move-quickly” pressure can cause businesses to skip the most critical, foundational steps; the gritty but crucial jobs of research, planning and analyzing.

Slow Down. Think Critically. Action Carefully. Win big.

What’s missing for marketers in 2014 isn’t the ability to take action or the expertise to execute – it’s the time and effort invested in creating and documenting the underlying strategy before moving forward.

In 2014, I think we’re going to see this start to change – but mostly because it has to. Smart businesses will be the ones who don’t just pay lip service to strategy, but embrace it as an integral, mission-critical part of online marketing.

So what about your business?

Can you articulate your current strategy when asked? Do you know what’s working, what isn’t – and why? Have you taken the time to develop personas, map out buying cycles and plot out campaigns? Do you have a roadmap in place to guide how your budget is spent and rationale as to why your dollars are allocated the way they are?

If not, are you ready to change? If you are, 2014 could be your year – the year you helped strategy make a much-needed comeback.

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SEO Social

Using Pinterest For Online Reputation Management


Using Pinterest for reputation management is a topic that has been overlooked in the current buzz around this social photo site. If you are a brand or an individual looking to control the search engine results (SERPs) around your name, Pinterest as well as other social photo sharing sites can be an effective tool.

Let’s use Pinterest as our example in leveraging social photo sites for reputation management. Pinterest is currently ranked as the 16th most popular site in the United States and 62nd globally (Alexa). With over 11 million unique monthly users and an average time on site of 98 minutes per month (TechCrunch), you can see why we are going to leverage this site.

So to start, if you have not already set up an account on Pinterest you can request an invite directly from the site. The invites are currently taken up to two days to get confirmed. Once in, you are ready to start to build upon you current online reputation.

I have been testing a couple of things on Pinterest to familiarize myself with their service and what I found was that a properly optimized “Board” (think of it in terms of a bulletin board) or “Pin” (this would be the individual post) can quickly show up in the Google SERPs for your targeted keywords. However, I have not seen the same thing in Bing or Yahoo as of yet. So this example will help you cannibalize the Google SERPs for your personal name or company name. Here is my strategy for online reputation management using Pinterest.

When setting up you account I strongly suggest that you use your proper business name in the First Name field. I found that Pinterest does not have a character limit on the First Name field. Also create a username that matches your brand, but is not too long for people not to remember it. For example Martha Stewart Weddings Middle East uses the username MSWME. For individuals, use your first and last name that you have consistently used online. The “About” section on the initial profile has a 450 character limit (includes spaces). Create a concise company overview or bio using your targeted keywords within this character limit.

pinterest boards

Image by Flickr

When setting up a Board on Pinterest you need to keep in mind that the Board name will be used as the page title as well as in the H1 page heading. So use your official company name or proper name when creating your Board. You will also be able to create a Board description. The Board description has a maximum character length of 500 (includes spaces) and it will be used within the Open Graph description tag. So I recommend that you create a concise business overview or a bio using your targeted keywords. Don’t just copy and paste it from the “About” section, modify it a bit to create additional unique content. Once that is set up you will need to edit the Board and choose a category. If you are setting this up for a company, choose the best category that matches closest to your industry. If you are setting this up for a personal brand, choose either the “People” or “My Life” category.

With the initial set up of the Board you can go ahead and start adding Pins to it. So let’s say you are a law firm, you could add a Pin for each of the lawyers in the office to assist in their own online reputation management. You could add client testimonials to the board. You can add your press releases (those that have images). The possibilities are pretty endless, but you want to keep in mind that this Board should be focused on your brand name and that you should be using your brand name within the descriptions of each Pin. If you are an individual you can Pin your work portfolio, sites that you have designed, or even other social network profiles that you previously created to defend your online reputation.

What other ways have you used Pinterest to enhance your own online reputation?

Guest Post Provided by Brent Nau an Internet Marketing Consultant with Advanced Medical, a physical therapy staffing company.

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Google Testing New Horizontal Map

Wanted to share with you a new test that Google was doing by changing the vertical maps to a “Horizontal Map” for the Local Searches

What I found also that this test affected also Brand search with a Local Map Enabled:

orlando international airport   Google Search


I think these changes have multiple implications on Adwords (now ads are higher on the right sidebar). One more quick note i noticed that i did try multiple searches to trigger the blended search and couldn’t see a blended search with the new map.





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If Page Extensions Changes from .html to .php

Got a question lately where a friend of mine is moving his site from a static HTML website to a .php website. One of his questions where if he needed to add a redirect from his Old URLs to his New URLs, where the the only changing part in his URL structure is the Extension. For Example:

  • Old Url: /wissam-dandan.html
  • New URL: /wissam-dandan.php
Unfortunately, Yes! Google Sees these as 2 different pages and a 301 redirect is needed to preserve the link juice and so it can be transferred (most of it) to the new URL.
Luckily the only variable in this move is the extension which it can resolve with  a 3 line of code in .htaccess to make this a successful move:
Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)\.html$ $1.php [R=301]
This solution will redirect OLD URLs using a 301 Redirect to new one’s .
On the OTHER Hand, i would approach this problem from a different way, if I was involved from the beginning. what i would do is use the Mod_rewrite and rewrite the URLs so they don’t have any Extensions. This way when your changing CMS platforms or even software used (PHP/ASP/ASPX) all the URLs will be the Same.
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How to Implement rel = author on WordPress Blog


As my first blog post on my personal blog, I will start it with the reason that let me setup and launch my personal blog, the Authorship markup.Google has gifted all authors a rel=author markup in search results. this will help searches discover great content.

To identify the author of a blog or article, Google checks for a connection between the content page (such as an article), an author page, and a Google Profile. Authorship markup uses the rel attribute (part of the open HTML5 standard) in links to indicate the relationship between a content page and an author page (** Authorship markup)

To implement it in my blog, I create a an “About me” and i used custom menus to be able to add the rel=”author” in the href linking to my about page. to do so you need to:

  • Create About you page
  • Go to Menus under Appearance
  • Create a Menu, click Save
  • Check the “About me” page in the left column and click “Add to menu”
  • In this step you have to click “Screen Options” on top and check “Link Relationship (XFN)”
  • now go to the “about me”  showing in the Menu and click the small down arrow
  • fill the rel box with “author”.
adding rel author to menu
  • Now while you write your About page make sure that every social profile, author page on a different blog and your Google + profile. you need to add a rel=”me” in every link.
  • in this final step go to Google Rich Snippet testing tool
verify with google rich snippet tool
and Voila !! The connection is verified, and now basically you have to wait for Google spiders to recrawl your website and do their work.
One last important note is in the you need to fill out this form, in case you missed something in the implementation of the authorship markup.
A big thank you to Yoast and his great guide he have about the rel author implementation in WordPress.
If you have any question, I ll be more than happy to answer them,
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