Steps to Higher Rankings and Traffic

There are a number of things you can do to rank more highly on the search engine results pages. In this article we cover keywords in title, internal anchor text, the inverted pyramid concept and introduce you to conversion rate optimization basics.

Target More Than 1 Keyword Per Page Title

SEO is about all numbers – links, rankings, pages, algorithms. Each page can target at least two phrases. Instead of shooting for one keyword, shoot for two or more. For example, if the primary keyword is “golf club sets,” then do more keyword research with this phrase and add broader keyword combinations:

  • golf club sets – primary

  • mens golf club sets – secondary

  • complete golf club sets – secondary

The headline can look like this: “Complete Men Golf Club Sets,” while anchor text distribution will be:

  • golf club sets – 55%

  • mens golf club sets – 15%

  • complete golf club sets – 15%

  • another 2 – 4 sets of keywords – 15%

In the example above, 15% of link anchor text is reserved for other keywords, not the ones you’re targeting. It’s important to vary the anchor text of incoming links, since Google punishes an unnatural-looking distribution.

Anchor Text in Internal Links

In order to classify the theme of your pages, search engines look at both the internal and external link anchor text of your pages. The easiest way to tell search engines what you want to rank for is to use descriptive anchor text in internal links. Instead of “click here,” use “mens golf club sets,” and instead of “home page,” use “golf club sets”.

Copy Summaries – Inverted Pyramid

Newspapers and press releases summarize the story in a couple of sentences in the beginning of paragraph, providing the most important points and enticing the user to read more. This approach is called the “inverted pyramid.” Instead of building up to the sweetest spot, let it out at the beginning. Read Wired.com, CNN.com, the Wall Street Journal and other professional publications to learn from the best.

Example: http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/12/cyber-crook-ple.html

A 28-year-old man caught in the act of using hacked ATM codes to loot Citibank accounts last May pleaded guilty this week to a single count of access device fraud, bringing to five the number of defendants who’ve entered guilty pleas in connection with an intrusion into an ATM processing server that led to at least $2 million in fraudulent withdrawals this year.

The headline is also part of the inverted pyramid. Use the headline to both summarize content and plug in keywords for search engine rankings. For instance, check the headline from the Wired story above:

  • Cyber Crook Pleads Guilty to Looting Citibank Accounts With Hacked ATM Codes

The headline clearly describes the content of the article. To give you a better feel, compare it with:

  • Cyber Crooks Get Caught in the Act

Google Sandbox

Google can delay the rankings of a site for a few months, especially new ones. It makes sense, because the site has little history and there is no reason for Google to trust it. When, after a few months, Google decides to “trust” the website, the process is called “getting out of the sandbox.”

On the other hand, trusted sites can get “sandboxed” and can be removed from search results due to a “violation” of trust through shady practices. Once the site is in the sandbox, the only way to get out is to remove whatever it is you were getting penalized for and apply for inclusion.

Conversion rate optimization, also known as CRO, is the method of enticing a larger number of visitors to become your customers. Conversion rate optimization can double website profits without an increase in website traffic. For example, a 100% increase in conversion rate from 5 out 100 visitors to 10 out of 100 doubles your profits without increasing visitor traffic (investment in PPC/SEO).

Conversion rate optimization uses a variety of practices which include: copy writing, web usability, credibility design and testing.

Average Conversion Rates

Vertical

ConversionRate (%)

Catalog

6.1

Specialty stores

3.9

Fashion/apparel

2.2

Travel

2.1

Home and furnishing

2.0

Sport/outdoors

1.4

Electronics

1.1

All verticals

2.3

Source: Fireclick Index

From http://www.clickz.com/3362641

With an increase in competition in search engine ranking and a rise in PPC prices, conversion rate optimization helps marketers get more out of what they already have. 

Credibility – People believe messages from sources that appear credible, so if a website is considered credible, messages will be more persuasive. Take mainstream media for instance, such as CNN and FOX News. They appear credible yet propagate lies and twist opinions in line with political agendas.

By and large, the reporting is based on credibility factors such as “an official said” or “experts from this field say” etc, with little or no proof to back up the claims other than “he/she said.” People perceive officials as truthful authority figures and lies fly undetected.

The web works in a similar fashion. Once you have credibility on your side, your message is trusted more than a less credible competitor. Compare buying a plasma TV from Amazon or an unknown website. Which one has more credibility and trust?

Research shows that websites perceived as credible have a professional look and feel. They have well-structured content and easy navigation. Those websites also have a clear unique selling proposition that clearly states why they are better than the rest.

Credible websites also download quickly and focus on “you” language instead of “we.” They steer clear of an aggressive sales pitch, but state the benefits of their products/services.

Credibility Factors

Brand – Brand is your biggest credibility booster. Once you have the brand, customers will find you more credible than an unknown. 

Professional Design – An ugly design scares people off, even if you have a good offer on the table. Apart from being appealing, professional designs load very fast. If a website is slow to load, visitors will simply click the back button without waiting. There a hundreds more sites; why wait for yours?

Another aspect of a professional website is a mistake-free text/presentation. It includes no coding errors, no misspellings or incomplete content. Errors reduce the perception of quality, and with it, credibility. Even small errors can become big issues for your visitors, such as a misspelling in your text or unfinished pages.

Navigation – Users often state they cannot find the information they’re looking for. When this occurs, they abandon the website and head back to the search engines. The design must allow visitors to get where they need to be in a minimum number of clicks, no matter which page they land on.

One of the ways to make navigation easy is to rely on content links and guide users to appropriate pages as they read content. Make sure to style links in a distinct color (and make them bold, preferably) for easy scanning.

Logo – The logo is one of the first things users see on your website, thus it is vitally important to present a logo that helps to reinforce your credibility and professionalism. Hire a professional to craft a logo if you want a good one.

Slogan or Unique Selling Proposition – The logo, slogan/USP are the key elements that identify your brand. Together they create weight and help you differentiate your company from competition that has no clear slogans/USPs.

A unique selling proposition, often used as a slogan, tells visitors in one sentence why they should pick you instead of other companies. For example, Avis: “We’re Number Two We Try Harder” or Fedex: "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight." It sets the frame and sparks light bulbs in visitors’ minds in a manner that makes them think: “that is something I appreciate.”

Successful slogans and unique selling propositions can increase conversion rates by two to four times, thus there’s big money in those short tag lines. Good slogans should communicate biggest benefits, be simple, easy to remember, use an active tone, link to your brand name and differentiate.

Link Length – Studies show that action-oriented, active tense, long links get more responses than short links. Sometimes, due to SEO constraints, long links are not an option.

However, if you’re linking out to a form or order page which has ranking value, then it’s okay to create a 5 – 8 word link with a clear call to action. For example: “save on plasma TVs and get free shipping.”

Content Positioning – Make sure to position your most important content above the fold. Studies show that nearly three-quarters of users click on links, fill out forms, and read content located above the fold.

Sales Copy – Persuasive, benefit-oriented copy crafted by a professional copywriter can double and triple conversion rates. Online copy writing is a craft of its own and cannot be covered in two, three or 10 articles.

If you want to get started in online copy writing, browse Michel Fortin’s blog (Copyblogger) and get Persuasive Online Copywriting.

Images — Images significantly improve conversion rates for merchants who sell physical products. Service providers also benefit by demonstrating an end result and making a website more alive, as sites without human imagery lack the “human touch.”

Use only high quality pictures; poor images lower credibility. Try to keep the image on the right side, because it’s uncomfortable to read text on the right. Make the image clickable, with an option to see higher resolution versions.

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