If you want to have a successful web site, build it with conversion in mind from the start. Many site owners worry more about creating link paths that are easy to follow by search engine robots. Conversion is an afterthought, and this is one of the reasons why optimizing conversion rates can become extremely difficult and time consuming.
Search engine visitors can land on any page of your site and with completely different expectations. It is not only important to make sure they land on the right page, but also that the page they land on leads them naturally one step closer to the ultimate goal of the site – an RSS subscription, a download, a sale, an e-mail, and so on.
It all starts with careful organization of your keywords during keyword research. My favorite organization method is to group keywords by visitor intention. Visitors looking for information perform generic searches and those visitors must land on the information pages. Visitors looking for a specific brand or product must land on the specific product page. Making sure the visitors land on the right page not only reduces the bounce rate but it also gives the visitor the impression that there is some organization in place on the site.
Each page must be ‘on-page optimized’ for specific keywords that searchers are typing into the search box. These keywords must be tightly related to the content of the page. It is a good idea to have some internal and external incoming links with the keywords in the anchor text (or the text surrounding the link ;-)).
The next step is to make sure that each page has an above-the-fold link—a call to action—inviting the visitor to go to the next page or step in the persuasion process. As I said, this is something that is easier done when the site is being built as opposed to later on when changes prove far more difficult to implement.
There are many ways and concepts you can use when designing or redesigning your site architecture. I prefer this one because it is very simple to understand and also extremely convenient for the user. And most importantly, it works!
September 28, 2007 at 1:31 pm
Interesting. Had never any thought into coming up with a structured way of building the site for conversion. This is something I just built as I thought best rather than coming up with any sort of process. As I am leanring from reading more and more blogs, people have structured approaches for all aspects of web dev. and SEM - even logo design. I think there are two reasons why what you have suggested above doesn't get implemented often: 1 - some SEO comapnies have no conception of SEO beyond link building. 2 - As you touch on above. Most companies don't realise that they need to think about how people are reacting to their site. Once someone has paid for a site where all the programming and markup are jumbled together in a mess there is not choice but to start from scratch and there are not many willing to do that.
September 28, 2007 at 1:51 pm
David - As usual, thanks again for your insightful comments. I can say I have a slightly different mindset as I do SEO primarily for my own sites. They need to make money in order for my companies to survive ;-)
September 28, 2007 at 3:24 pm
I see. It's always different when your doing it for yourself. I see sites going down the pan at the insistence of the client all the time. Other web people tell me the same. Its not even worth mentioning it because they think they know best. As you have mentioned before, failure is in important part of succeeding. You only know how to do things properly once you have realised how not to do them. Like putting all you server-side scripting in your HTML :P I started in business with a terrible failure in an even worse situation, but that expirience has taught me how not to do things - with no though, expirience or planning; which is where your conversion structure is relevent.
October 1, 2007 at 12:14 am
Interesting article and I can see how this would work for a product oriented website but what about a blog? How can you arrange an architecture to a series of chronological postings?
October 1, 2007 at 11:06 am
Caroline - Excellent question. What I do is I optimize the blog posts for the informational searches and for the product and order pages I use static pages.
Web Design Newcastle
October 1, 2007 at 3:31 am
Nice article. I've been using this method for the last 12 months and I have to say it really does work. Conversions are much better. You have to learn to bend the rules a little though - otherwise you can do more harm than good. I think a sensible mix of designing for people but keeping search engines always at the back of your mind is the best.
October 1, 2007 at 11:08 am
<blockquote>I think a sensible mix of designing for people but keeping search engines always at the back of your mind is the best. </blockquote> That is a sensible approach.
October 3, 2007 at 12:50 pm
Aloha Hamlet, I am more of a reader than a poster, but I wanted to stop by and thank you for the post. In my opinion proper site architecture is a key component if you ever wish to have a successful web. I couldn’t imagine trying to drive traffic to a site that has no conversion potential. I think architecture tuned for conversions also adds positively to the customer’s experience, we want conversions as well as raving fans don’t we? Charles
October 3, 2007 at 4:36 pm
Hey Charles, I am glad you liked the post and thanks for commenting. It is always good to meet my readers :-) <blockquote> I think architecture tuned for conversions also adds positively to the customer’s experience, we want conversions as well as raving fans don’t we? </blockquote> Absolutely!
May 17, 2008 at 10:20 am
I like the simplicity of this organizational approach. I just finished reading "Call to Action" by the Eisenberg brothers. It contains a lot of great conversion data but it will be a while before I get it all implemented. One observation: using Google analytics data I noticed that a lot of site visitors were leaving my site at my captcha which follows my "free case evaluation" (mine is a law firm site) input form. I took out the captcha and found my conversion rate improved immediately. Has anyone else had a similar experience?