How do I test my site’s conversion rates?

Conversion, in Search Engine Optimization terms, means the rate at which your site prompts visitors to engage with you. For instance, if your site has a call-to-action that says, “Call us now for a free quote”  that directly leads to a visitor of your site to call you for a project estimate, you have converted a website visitor into a customer. Though it seems like something that might be difficult to track, conversion is such a large part of making money from your website that it has become an SEO metric. How can you make it happen with your website? One tool that can help you analyze and then improve your site’s conversion rates is the Google Website Optimizer.

How do I test my site’s conversion rates?

Improving your conversion rates means prompting people who visit your website to pick up the phone and call you. If you use the proper tools for analyzing your optimized site’s conversion and then implementing the appropriate changes, your phone will be ringing off the hook.

Google Website Optimizer

Google describes its Website Optimizer as a free optimization and site testing tool that allows you to test your pages and content. With this tool, you can design alternatives for your existing content and then test them by showing the different variations to your site’s visitors. The Website Optimizer can then tell you which design combinations lead to the highest conversion rates. Essentially, the Google Website Optimizer allows you to split test your site, all the while compiling reports for you about what works best for maximized conversion. The best part about Google’s Website Optimizer is that you can test multiple elements at once. For example, you can test the images, headers, and buttons on your site – all at once. Then, the Website Optimizer tells you which version of the images, headers, and buttons each individually inspired high conversion rates.

What are some examples of elements I can test?

For example, let’s say that, hypothetically, Google were to use the Website Optimizer tool for doing multivariate testing (testing multiple variables at one time) on its own main search page:

How do I test my site’s conversion rates?

Google would test out different versions of the two search buttons (“Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky”); they could test out different locations for the buttons, different designs, and different text on the buttons. The tool would tell them which one the site’s visitors liked best. Simultaneously, Google could test out different designs for its logo as well. Google could also test out different designs for the options bar up top; maybe Google could try different colors, different orders for the options, etc. The search engine would do all of this to see which variables are most appealing to users (via conversion rate tracking) and then combine all of the best variables to have a site that has a high conversion rate.

For another example, let’s check out EverSpark Interactive’s own home page:

How do I test my site’s conversion rates?  The green arrow points to all of the news outlets that have featured EverSpark. Could we change the color of these graphics? Could we change their order? Maybe the first and last ones should be switched, since more people view BNet (hypothetically). The purple arrow points to text; we would test multiple versions of the text to see which ones inspires higher conversion rates. Red points to our tabs (Services, blog, etc). We would test different orders, different colors for these. The yellow arrow indicates that we might consider moving our logo – and we would test it in different locations on the site. Lastly, the blue arrow points to  our call to action; should that even be there? Is it distracting? If we move it to the bottom, would it be less distracting to the site visitor? These are all answers Google Website Optimizer could help answer.

Let’s check out what one of the sites we frequently reference, SEOBook.com, would test with the Google Website Optimizer.

How do I test my site’s conversion rates?  So, what would Aaron Wall and his team test with the Google tool? He might test the placement of the SEOBook logo, or the placement and/or color of the call to action button (where it says, Click Here, Subscribe Now). He might also try out different locations for his social media buttons (so important now since the Google Caffeine update). They might even test the size and color of the lettering of “Work with 100’s of Proven Global SEO Experts.”

Now that  you know what types of elements to test, it’s time to think about ways to improve your conversion rates once you have analyzed your site on Google Website Optimizer.

Ten tips for testing and improving your site

1. Make sure you keep the test going on for a few weeks. Give yourself time to gather enough data!

2. Supplement an A/B split test (which is a test in which some visitors are shown variable A and others are shown variable B; so you can show half of your visitors image A and half image B, and then see which image gets the better response) with a survey that each customer has to fill out asking what they loved about your site and what they hated.

3. Test out bold new ideas (don’t waste your time testing small changes! Chances are your site’s visitors wont notice these anyway.)

4. Make sure that your call-t0-action is bold and draws your visitors in (Check out SEOBook.com’s call-to-action, with the arrow in it, for an example).

5. Highlight important words. You don’t literally have to highlight them, but try out every font capability when you are doing your testing: bold, italicize, underline them or write different words in different colors.

6. Put the most important information, and the thing you want your visitors to look at first, in the upper left hand corner of your site (which is where you’ll find both EverSpark’s logo and SeoBook’s logo). Studies have shown that this is where people will look first. Then, they’ll check out your headline, so make sure it is compelling! If you are selling a face wash product, you could use the following headline: “Five reasons why [your product] works.”

7. Make sure the important stuff is above the fold on your site (the screenshots above, of EverSpark’s site and of SeoBook’s site, are both screenshots of information that is above the fold; you can see that this information includes the call-to-action, contact information, and other eye-popping elements). If a person is deciding whether or not he or she wants to stay on your site, they probably won’t scroll down to check it out more before making a decision. He or she will probably glance at what is above the fold and decide based on what is there.

8. Use trust links – and place them above the fold. This may be tip #8, but it is extremely important not only for conversion (if people trust your site, they are more likely to do business with you) but also for your site’s SEO. When the Google Panda update came out, the Webmaster blog noted some important guidelines websites should follow to maintain high rankings; one of them was that people who visit your site feel that they can trust it. A trust link will help you meet this guideline.

9. Don’t be too verbose in your content. Write in a straightforward manner; users will want to work with you more if they feel they can understand you easily!

10. Note any special offers or promotions you have going on in large letters, above the fold.

So, try out Google’s Website Optimizer and see what different parts of your pages bring in the most customers. Then, tweet us at @EversparkSEO with what you learned about your website in the process!