Is It Time for a Site Audit?
So by now, you know that content really is king (can you believe we used to debate about this?).
Content is the backbone of your site. Content is what will help you rank #1 on Google. And, when you’re ranking #1 on Google, content is going to be what encourages your customers to buy your products, sign up to your mailing lists… whatever.
We hound on content a lot. But it’s for very good reason. And if you’re having any difficulties in your business (low conversion rate, low customer retention rates, high bounce rates, etc), it will almost always be traced back to content.
Although this won’t ALWAYS be the case, a good rule to follow is, if your business is lagging behind in some area, it’s likely because of the content.
Of course, content is going to make or break your site on the Google rankings. Remember Panda, that pesky algorithm we’ve been talking about for the last several years? How could you forget!
Well, when Panda came out, Google wanted to make one thing crystal clear: content matters more than almost anything else. If you have bad content, you’re not going to rank on page #1. It’s that simple!
As you can see, if you have poor content (hint: 500 word articles are bad), your business will be hurting.
What can be done to fix it?
Well, when Google released Panda, they gave us a list of questions we could use to audit our content. Not-so-surprisingly, all these questions also have to do with the quality of your BUSINESS. It’s not just SEO – it’s everything!
Here are some of the questions:
1) Would you trust the information presented in this article?
2) Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
3) Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
4) Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
5) Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
6) Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
7) Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
8) How much quality control is done on content?
9) Does the article describe both sides of a story?
10) Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
11) Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
12) Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
13) For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
14) Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
15) Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
16) Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
17) Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
18) Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
19) Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
20) Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
21) Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
22) Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
As you can see, content that answers positively to all of these questions is, simply put, great content! And that’s all there is to it. Whether you want to get more sales or rank on page #1, by using these questions as a guideline, you can’t go wrong.
Split Testing to Improve Your Site’s Performance
Once you have created your website, targeted your keywords and set everything in order to optimize your site for the search engines, you still have work to do to keep your site’s SEO up to par. As you probably know, the internet is extremely competitive and no matter how successful you are with the page rank of your site, there will always be a competitor who is trying to knock you out of your position. So how can you continue to keep your SEO sharp in the midst of such a competitive marketplace? By the effective use of advanced split testing strategies, and this article will help you develop a plan for making that happen.
Why Split Testing?
According the Google Patent Application, your customer’s behavior is a key factor in determining the relevance of your website. Split testing is a means of testing variables on your site such as links, content, headlines and graphics in order to find out which variations will yield the greatest number of positive behaviors from your customers. Once you know what is working, you continue to apply it and to test in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of every visitor to your web site.
Applying Split Testing to Your Web Pages
Before you can effectively apply split testing strategies to your web pages, you must have an objective for your pages. This will help you to focus your split testing by having a primary goal to focus your testing towards. For example, if you are using split testing to optimize your home page you have to determine if your goal is to collect opt ins, make sales or get your customers to click on a link which leads to an offer.
Split Testing Example: Page for Collecting Opt Ins
If the goal of your page is to collect customer emails through an opt-in form, the ultimate goal of your split testing is going to be getting your opt-in percentage up. To begin, create two separate pages (page A and page B) which are identical with the exception of ONE variable. If you change more than one variable on page B you will not know what is making the difference in the results between the two.
The best variable to start with is the headline, but if you have a graphic at the top of your page you can also start with that. Just make sure that it is the most noticeable thing on your opt-in page and make sure that it is the only difference between page A and page B. Next, use A/B split testing software such as Google Optimizer or Google Analytics to alternate between pages A and B every time that a new visitor clicks on your opt in page. This is known as 50/50 A/B split testing.
After you have run A and B for a few hundred visits, it is time to examine the difference in results. There are two things which you will want to look at:
- Time spent on the page
- Amount of people who filled in your opt-in form
If you get a longer amount of time or a greater number of opt-ins or both from either page A or B, that page is the one you want to make your new opt-in page. If there is no difference, you keep your opt-in page the same and move on the next variable. The next variable might be the content which is above your opt-in form, and just below your headline. However, if you tested the header (top graphic) of the page first, then you test the headline next.
Just make sure that you are only testing ONE new variable at a time. Repeat the same process with pages A and B and you will find out which page is getting better results in regards to time spent on the site or opt-ins. Once you have found the winning variable, move on the next feature of your web page until you have tested every variable on your opt-in page.
Examples of Things to Test on Your Opt-in Pages
The following is a list of the variables which you can test with A/B split testing:
- Header graphics
- Content (one line of one paragraph at a time if needed)
- Calls to action
- Opt in buttons
- Spam disclaimers
- Background color of web pages
- Font types
- Font colors
- Font sizes
Other Kinds of Approaches
If your opt-in page is longer, or if you are split testing sales pages you can have multiple calls to action on your page and test them one at a time just as you would part of content. You can also split one page into several pages by having a link at the bottom of each one which goes to the next section of your content. This works very well for long form sales pages where you need to test dozens of variables. For an example see the “Fat Loss for Idiots” sales page.
Some Goals to Shoot For
You might be wondering what realistic goals you can set for your split testing strategies. The following numbers will give you an idea of what to shoot for:
- Opt in page conversions:
15% to 40% depending on how competitive your niche is. Some opt in pages which use videos can get as high as 50% conversions.
- Sales Page Conversions:
1% to 8% depending again on how competitive of a niche you are marketing to. Sales pages which are preceded by opt in pages will almost always yield higher percentages.
It is also important to consider the traffic sources and make sure that they are relevant to the offer of your site. This is something else which you can test if you are not getting the desired results on your web pages.
If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. However, with a little time and patience split testing can yield tremendous results in regard to the SEO of your website and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.