From Click-Through-Rate to Conversion Rate
With the emergence of social media, real-time search and location-based services, as well as other evolutions in search marketing, the conversion process has undergone significant changes.
On Thursday, August 11 at 1PM EDT (10AM PDT) Optify and Search Marketing Now (SMN) held a joint webinar on how to select the best keywords for your business and optimize your landing pages in order to drive more traffic and conversion from search. Optify Co-Founder and VP of Products, Erez Barak, delved into Optify’s recent Organic CTR study, and shared best practices on selecting the best keywords for SEO and SEM.
Conversion expert Tim Ash explored how marketers can optimize their landing pages for conversion, examining both SEO landing pages and SEM landing pages. Following the presentations, the speakers took questions from the audience. The recording, slides and the full Q&A are available on this post.
From Click-Through-Rate to Conversion Rate: Conversion Tactics for SEO and SEM
Presentation: From Click-Through-Rate to Conversion Rate
To learn more, check out these resources:
- Download the presentation
- Download the full study, The Changing Face of SERPs: Organic Click Through Rate
- Read our blog post The Changing Face of SERPs: The Durable Elements of SEO
- Check out our webinar on: How Social Media Has Revolutionized Search Marketing
- How were the thresholds for head/long-tail determined; did keyword length/intent play a role?
Erez: Yes, Keyword length does play a role. The thresholds of our study were variable based on a number of the head and long-tail terms used in the test period. Search volume effects CTR. Long tail terms (under 100 monthly searches) yield higher overall CTR on the first Search Engine Result Page (SERP), while head terms (over 1000 monthly searches) yield higher CTR on the first results but lower average CTR on the first SERP. As such we did not necessarily qualify a term as ‘long tail” based on keyword length so much as we did search volume.
- How did you isolate the traffic to the different position for each query?
Erez: We captured, and analyzed the search results on Google (US) for the keywords driving traffic in our test set. For our research, we used a sample set of our database, constructed from organic keyword visits (Google US) from a variety of B2B and B2C websites.
- Is traffic greater on lower CPC terms because ad volume is lower?
It is our hypothesis that traffic is greater on lower CPC terms because more ads are displayed and clicked on more expensive terms. While not a zero sum game, traffic relationships between PPC (paid) and SEO (organic) do vary inversely. Our study corroborated this finding.
- These CTR% seem incredibly high, can you explain why?
Erez: Yeah, we were surprised too. While looking more closely at the data, in the majority of terms in the universe of terms, CTR is high. It’s only when you get to expensive terms and sometimes head terms, when you really start to see the variation at the upper end of the scale, and gain some insight into the tuning range and strength of Google’s algorithm. You can understand how Google’s economics are so strong, due to this variation.
- What year is this data from?
Erez: For our research study, we used a sample set of our database, constructed from organic keyword visits (Google US) for the month of December 2010.
- Are head vs long tail a good apple to apple comparison? Don’t the long tail terms have far less impressions, thus reducing the denominator, and increasing the CTR?
Erez: We did not seek to compare head and long tail terms. You used a variety of terms, long term and head terms in the analysis. Our CTR curve might differ from other curves reported due to the specific click rate distribution that we saw in our study. That said, we have reported a blended CTR which includes both ‘head” and long tail terms, what we think is representative and reflective of user population use on Google US during the test period.
- Is this Organic CTR results for Google only? Or did you test on multiple SE’s?
Erez: For our research study, we used a sample set of our database, constructed from organic keyword visits (Google US).
- Are you taking Local Search into account – which as I’m sure you know can push the Organic listings down by 7 positions (the Local Search 7-pack)?
Erez: We’re looking at organic ranks 1-10. If there were other interspersed listing (eg. Local, universal, media, news, etc) they were were not directly counted as locations in our study. They said, those interspersed listing may have impacted the CTR on slots which might list below these universal listing.
- Are there standard metrics for each area that we should look at to be our benchmark?
Erez: Yes, the key performance metrics you should look at are;
1. Keyword Ranks
2. Keyword Trends
3. Ranks in Specific Engines
These are all metrics that Optify can help you measure in real-time.
- Can you offer any tips about using product detail pages as landing pages?
Tim: If you have a lot of SEO (organic) traffic deep-linking to product pages within your catalog, it is important to treat them as front doors and not side doors. You need to include trust and credibility indicators (various seals, logos, and badges) on the page to make sure that people immediately understand the global context.
- How do you determine when to show information pages vs strong CTA pages for certain keywords?
Tim: Both information-consumption and more direct CTA’s can be present on the page. You just need to separately delineate them with clear labels in action blocks.
- Guidelines on how to cut down text?
Tim: Get rid of all adjectives. Then get rid of any unsubstantiated claims (“marketise”).
- How do you get approval to use your client logos on your website?
Tim: I am not a lawyer, so I can just share our policy. As long as we have a legitimate relationship with the company and are not prohibited by confidentially agreements to keep the fact that they are a client secret, we use the logos. If they ask us to remove a logo, we would of course comply immediately. As a practical matter, this has not happened to us to date.
- What is your experience with the value of placing a video on a PPC landing page?
Tim: It is not the presence or absence of a video that matters. The situation is much more nuanced. You need to make sure that you have the right length, actor, production quality and content. In addition, the properties of the actual video player matter a lot – do you autoplay, do you start with sound on or off, do you show the video to repeat visitors? Those kinds of details matter a lot, so you should test everything.
- Is it always true that PPC Landing Pages can’t perform if they have copy? I always though that if people are genuinely interested in what you’re offering, they will read your relevant/informative long copy.
Tim: It is not always true. Long-form sales letters work very well for some product categories (informational products for example). However, people have a very short attention span and generally do not like to read. You can always hide detailed text under a “more details” link.
- On trust building – what are your thoughts on including testimonials on landing page and how should they be featured?
Tim: We are big fans of what Robert Cialdini calls “social proof” – demonstrating that lots of people have had a good outcome with your service or product. This serves as a shortcut to decision making. I generally do not like full-text testimonials on the page. But a scrolling lightbox popover with lots of testimonials can be very effective – e.g. “Over 3,000,000 Happy Customers, See Testimonials”.
- There seems to have been a high emphasis on SEM-driven landing pages. In order to get a page indexed and ranked in organic results, there must be text. How can minimalism and having enough content be balanced.
Tim: Put the minimalist stuff at the top of the page and the unadorned SEO text below the call to action.
- What is a good example of non-transacting landing page for eCommerce store?
Tim:Homepage, search results page, category page, product detail page, all of the cart and checkout steps. Basically any page in the critical path to making a sale.
- Tim, You’ve given great examples on Landing pages, but not much on Google Ad copy. Do you have experience in that area? If so, what are some key tips for improving CTR with adcopy?
Tim: The key to conversion is creating an alignment with the user’s intent. So the ad copy should be clear and let someone know what will happen on the landing page. Once they get to the page there should be continuity and a clear path for them to follow. In other words, make sure that your landing page can keep the promises that you have made in your upstream ad.
- Is it possible to do a A/B test for content? How do you measure the impact of your title and description?
Tim: Sure, headline testing is a very common and potentially impactful type of testing. Just do a parallel “split” test by randomly showing all of your variations to new visitors.
- Shouldn’t we at least ask for email before the download of a white paper? I’m sure people who are getting a quality white paper for free wouldn’t mind sharing their email.
Tim: Actually they often do. Please go back and read Seth Godin’s excellent book “Permission Marketing”. Basically you should offer as much value as possible and as for as little as possible in return. If you don’t ask for an email, you may significantly increase your e-book download rate (and subsequent viral distribution). As long as you have a link in your PDF to take them back to the appropriate page on your site, you should be fine. It just means that you collect the email later in the process, once more trust has been built up.
- How can you show your trust if your a service provider instead of eCommerce?
Tim: Client logos, case studies, industry associations and affiliations.
- Can you explain how to Optimize an SEO landing page? Since it’s not a ppc landing page you don’t always control what page it would be and changing the content completely might get you dropped in rank.
Tim: I am not an SEO expert. However, it is my understanding that only about a third of your search engine juice is due to the actual on-page content. Don’t let this paralyze you from making changes. You can also evolve your page incrementally to eventually get to the desired version you want safely.
- I see worst to best, but if we are establishing metrics up front, are there average targets we should look at?
Tim: The targets should be relative to where you are right now. Industry averages are not that useful – since you can’t do anything about them. Just keep trying to beat your best version.
- How do you tests pages–on actual website or simulated test with consumer panel?
Tim: It is always best to get statistically significant landing page tests. Although informal remote usability studies such as those available through UserTesting.com can be very valuable for coming up with ideas for what is broken on your page.
SiteTuners is a landing page optimization firm that works with companies to improve online conversion rates. From landing page diagnostic services like the affordable Express Review, to custom conversion consulting, test planning and strategic mentoring, SiteTuners is the consultancy of choice for organizations seeking the very best in conversion rate optimization services.