On the Ecommerce Outtakes blog, we talk a lot about what not to do online. In fact, our main focus is to point out where websites go wrong—with the intent, of course, to help improve the e-commerce experience across the web. One trend we’ve been noticing a lot lately is a lack of good filtering and sorting options. It’s a widespread e-commerce epidemic, and it’s high time we cured it.
Adwords by Google is a proven way to generate traffic, leads, and sales. It is a tool that some marketers are using on a regular basis to drive business goals. While there are a few using this tool to great effect, several more are striking out and in the process, throwing a lot of money out the window. Having success with Adwords calls for you to take the same approach you take to generating visibility for your organic content — optimize. However, the actual steps to optimization are a bit different in this arena.
1. Learn to Bid and Budget
Understanding how to bid and budget your funds is crucial to Adwords success. Spending $20 a day may appear to be the way to go for cost-conscious advertisers, but a budget that low will also limit your ability to profit. Likewise, bidding low initially can save you some money, but it might not get you very many clicks. While you don’t want to spend beyond the budget, you also don’t want to limit your potential, so learning how to manage your funds in accordance to the ad platform is key.
January 2013 – Last spring Google posted about Responsive Web Design on their official webmaster central blog and though the flavor of their article was fairly mild, they made it very clear that their “commitment to accessibility” includes a very important message to web designers – “Mark up one set of content, making it viewable on any device.”
I’m sure by now everyone has seen that Google allows you to set up authorship credit for the content that you create. Credit is given by a picture of the author along with a link to the author’s Google Plus page as well as a link that allows you to read more posts by the author.
Setting this up for a blog with only one author that is posting content is pretty straight forward and there is a lot of good information available on how to do it. The problem comes when you have a website or blog that has multiple or more than one authors posting content. Unfortunately the steps that would allow this to work in a single author instance do not work when there are multiple authors and you would end up with the wrong author receiving credit for the content.
After a fair amount of searching I was still not satisfied with any of the answers I had found on how to create the authorship credit when there is more than one author. A lot of the posts that I found contained old and outdated information or steps that are honestly not necessary to this process. Finally after piecing together a bunch of information, I was able to find a solution to my problem that was surprisingly even easier than I had expected! In these next couple sections I will cover how to configure the author credit for both of these scenarios (single author or multiple authors) in WordPress.
Mobile technology is changing business faster than the Internet did at the time of its birth. The web opened opportunities for all businesses and even created a few new ones, but with the speed in which consumers are adopting mobile technology the impact on almost every industry is going to be profound. So with apps for just about everything where are the SEO tools? Sure customers are searching from their phones, their tablets and theirTricorders or whatever but as a search engine optimization professional what mobile tools are available to us? It would seem there are plenty.
Here are three qualitySEO tools available now for Android users that will help any webmaster keep up with his or her online business on the road or in the yard. Not all of us are road warriors after all but it’s still important to keep our finger on the pulse of our business while hanging out next to the pool.
Aaron Wall of SEOBook recently predicted that, in 2013, SEOs who “remain overly-public will continue to invent language to serve their own commercial purposes while chastising those who do not fall in line.” I appear to be living up to (the first part) of that promise because I’m calling it: the breakthrough ranking factor of 2013 will be “waves,” a term I just made up.
This will be a somewhat speculative post, so I feel compelled to say that these opinions are my own, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Northcutt as a whole.
Where did this crazy idea come from? It started with the realization that, back in 2009, Google’s Chief Economist told McKinsey Quarterly “I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s?”
Another Facebook advertising glitch yesterday, December 7, 2012. A poorly built system now completely not able to launch an ad. Not sure who else has experienced the new approval method on Facebook for ad copy, but it will blow your mind how moronic it is. Surprise surprise, Facebook advertising not working again.
Yesterday when I updated a routine ad campaign, to advertise a recent post for a client, I performed the usual: chose a recent post, and unpaused the campaign. Typically the ad stays in Pending Review and is automatically approved within a few hours, and we receive an email confirming when it launches. Not this time. With no explanation, while I happened to be on my personal Facebook page, a frame “Your Ad is Almost Ready!” and invites me to Finish My Ad. That’s odd since I finished it hours ago.
This takes you a Review page to name and review your ad. But it’s not the ad I chose, so I have to chose Edit Ad. This takes me to a dead page. It’s broke.
Round two, the following day, ad campaign still pending review, nothing launched, I see the same Frame “Your Ad is Almost Ready” and this time the ad is correct. Success you think? Afraid not, clicking Approve Ad also takes you back to the same page, nothing will approve and the ad will not launch. It’s broke.
Facebook just implemented a system where an ad you already approved has to be approved by you a second time? And you only know this if you happen to log on to your Facebook page later that day? No email notice for this? No warning you will be expected to approve it? And then it does not even work? That has to be great for conversions! The most popular website on the planet in dire need for advertising revenue, and their systems are not tested before launch.
This is the equivalent of checking out at Amazon, and randomly visiting their site later in the day to be asked “Are you sure you really really want to buy these things?” and they are not the right things. Or you do click Yes I Really Really Want to Buy These Things, and are ignored. No sale, no shipping, no conversion.
I wish I could share a solution for anyone experiencing this right now. Yeah yeah, try a different browser, clear your cache, delete the entire campaign and start over, RIIIIIIGHT, I’ll get right on that. I think I’ll turn up our AdWords campaign instead.
Part II in this series covered the importance of the roles of testing and modification in the development of successful conversion optimization. Now we will attempt to make sense of what we convert.
Step 7: Measure
I must admit, I thought that was pretty cool and used it myself a time or two to impress people. But experience has shown me that quality data is really the key, because today we can measure things to the point of becoming overwhelmed.
Metrics are everywhere. Just watch a sports show on TV and you’ll see how every aspect of player performance has some sort of statistic. And if you have ever witnessed a presentation of data in a meeting you have probably also witnessed eyes glazing over and slow little pools of dribble accumulating out of the mouths of those present. Try and avoid that.
Quality data starts with the basics first:
- Who – as much as we can easily collect by name and contact info
- What – was it a red squeegee or an SEO scorecard request?
- When – because at some point, we’ll need to know if the weekends are an active time period for us or not.
- Where – Why in the heck are we getting so many sales out of Kentucky?
- How Much – our average sales are below $2.00 – the merchant fees alone are killing us!
- How Many – we took in 10 case forms yesterday, more than we did during all of last week. Why?
Once you have these core metrics you can compare them based on historical data over time and then you’ve got half the battle won already. But there is more to know. And the more you immerse yourself in simple data, the easier it becomes to start to peel out more granular information that turns into actionable data, such as:
- The day of the week to send emails based upon highest open rates
- Testing a new form with modified fields, resulting in a 40% increase in forms received, when previously two out of every three forms were abandoned
- Determining sticky (or confusing) landing pages to increase average minutes per visit
In Part I of this series, we examined what to measure, The Funnel, and landing pages. In Part II we will put this preparation into action.
Step 4: Test
After all the effort people put into setting up programs and campaigns, nothing amazes us more than how seldom site owners or managers check to actually see if their whole process works. Emailed form results that disappear into cyber oblivion, missing images, or simple broken links are among the most common things we witness.
But these mistakes can be far worse.
I recall a client coming to us several years ago with a very nice healthcare supplement website he just had built. It was well designed and e-commerce equipped and he had product ready for fulfillment. He asked us to see if we could strengthen some of the marketing copy on his order pages as his orders just seemed to be “way down.”
We dove in to take a look. The site was organized and some of his product names were very clever. After spooling through several categories and pages, we decided to see how easy his purchase process was. And we liked his site so well, we thought, What the heck, even if we end up buying something just to test it out, it’s worth it. Some of us could certainly use that Ear Nibbler Female Pheromone! We zeroed in the product, chose our quantity, resisted the add-ons and upsell items, broke out the credit card, armed ourselves for purchase, and hit BUY NOW.
Only to stare in disbelief as an error page came up. FAIL.
Can you imagine? All the time and money that went into gathering that sale ended in error. And he didn’t just have one page like that, he had many. Needless to say, all the slick copy in the world wasn’t going to improve his sales. But the larger point is, while we’re not saying you have to be perfect, if you don’t test to see if your setup works, all you’re setting yourself up for is failure.
Step 1: Determine the scope of what should be measured
Think of it like this: You’re trying to track a long-distance runner during a race, but you stop clocking him before he finishes.
So…what was his final time and finish position? Before you high five all of your colleagues and look back with pride on the fact that you had a runner, realize that with true conversion optimization, you should not only know what the finish order was, you should even be capable of measuring whether your runner slowed down for water along the way.
While this may seem obvious, in nearly every conversion optimization instance we’ve examined, site owners or managers had either no idea what to measure or were trying to assess only half of what was truly measurable.
Before you begin, make sure you are prepared. When it comes to leads, there can be many, many steps along the sales cycle before you have cash in your hand.
- Make a list of everything you would like to know – even if you’re not sure if it can be measured. Desired data you may wish to gather might include leads that offer name, address, and emails and information after the sale, such as the number of items purchased, how much was spent, and how long it took for the customer to buy.
- Be certain all notification points are set up both for you and the user – if a lead or sale comes in, who gets alerted? How are they identified? Do you have a code or a naming convention?
- Group, categorize, and organize data – if you don’t you can’t measure it. And you don’t have to have a fancy database to store it all in, but if you want to know if you get more prospects for blue widgets, yet you find you’re selling more yellow widgets instead, you’ve got to have some of sort of system in place.
- Determine what you consider to be an actual conversion – Is it a download? Is it a request for service or a free estimate? Is it a newsletter signup? Is it a contact page visit?