educational

Boosting Search CTR, Landing-Page Optimization

Stephen Yagielowicz

Experienced search marketers know that having your listing seen is one thing, getting it clicked on is another matter entirely. Continuing education is required to get ahead in the web search game and one leading venue for this knowledge gathering is the recent Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in London, where attendees benefited from an array of helpful tips for profiting from the Internet today. Included in this information are various strategies for landing page optimization — one of the most important aspects of maintaining an effective Internet presence — such as the following pointers courtesy of search services company Wordtracker (www.wordtracker.com/academy/smx-london).

Adobe’s Ben Beard says that sitelinks are responsible for the biggest increases in search results CTR.

When testing buying pages, the call to action button is the biggest priority. Owners should focus on measuring specific conversion actions, not page views or time on site. -Guy Levine

According to Google, sitelinks are links shown below certain Google search results and are meant to help users navigate a website. Google analyzes selected sites’ link structures, identifying shortcuts that save users time by allowing them to quickly find the information they are looking for. Typically, sitelinks lead to individual content categories or content offerings. For example, Google’s current listing for XBIZ includes sitelinks for XBIZ Awards, 2011 XBIZ Award Winners, Calendar, Directory, Legal and News.

Beard reports that a single line sitelink may yield a 17 percent CTR uplift, while a 40 percent average uplift can occur with as few as three sitelinks. Beard also advises online marketers to test the click-through rate of their images on Facebook — adding the best pulling ones to Google’s Merchant Center.

Once the prospect clicks on your link, showing him what he expects to see is your next challenge.

Sticking with standard design types that your audience is used to and avoiding hard sells, such as ads proclaiming “Buy Me Now!” are among the tips offered by Malcolm Graham (www.limetreeonline.com); who pointed to Mailchimp.com as an example of a site with a great landing page.

“If you’re selling complex and expensive products, you’ll need lots of informative content, or people won’t buy it,” Graham stated. “Offer something free with lots of branding to get good conversion rates.”

For website operators with self-explanatory offers, such as an adult paysite, “informative content” may not be required — especially if well-branded freebies accompany the tour.

Guy Levine (www.returnondigital.com) told SMX attendees to avoid copycat advertising, to stand out from the crowd of similar ads; for example, by looking at how magazines grab reader’s attention.

“Think above the fold. Repeat your messages and lead the user by the hand to show them what you want them to do,” Levine said, advising listeners to restrict their site’s navigation so as not to give users too many options and underscoring the need for a tight correlation between ads and landing page copy.

Levine says that every landing page should have a purpose and define its most required response, which can be encouraged by using action convincers such as any media mentions, awards you have won, and association membership logos. Adult site operators can implement that last step by prominently displaying their ASACP and RTA logos, helping to build a level of trust between the site and its visitors.

Regardless of how much trust exists between websites and their visitors, Levine reminds listeners, not everyone is in “buy mode” — thus advising the use of an informative, two-step sales process to get prospects back to your site.

Levine also says that forms should be used scientifically, explaining that shorter web forms are more likely to be filled out, while longer forms improve the quality of submitted information — an important consideration for paysite operators seeking to improve form submission ratios.

“When testing buying pages, the call to action button is the biggest priority,” Levine notes, adding that site owners should focus on measuring specific conversion actions, not page views or time on site.

“The home page is not a great place to send PPC traffic,” Levine said. “It’s just a waste of money.”

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