This post is a short response to a question I received via email last week. The question was how to do deal with singular and plural versions of a keyword in that page title.
The slightly spammy way that many people deal with the problem is to create two single pages, one for the single and one for the plural version. While this solves the keyword targeting problem, it often creates duplicate or at least conceptually duplicate content. If you don’t understand the difference between technically different and conceptually different be sure to read this classic post from Sugarrae When Unique Content is Not Unique.
However back to the problem of singular and plural keywords in the title: if you can relax your English and grammar a little bit, it’s a problem that’s easily solved. Let’s say you wanted to target two phrases [ipod review] and [ipod reviews]. Here’s how I would do it:
Reviews: Ipod Review – Mike’s Gadget Website
Here’s another example for [kitchen aid mixer] and [kitchen aid mixers] …
Mixers: Kitchen Aid Mixer – Mike’s Cooking Website
So basically what we’re doing is bracketing the common term between the singular and plural versions of the keyword. In addition to getting the singular and plural terms next to each other it puts them at the front of the title, where they are given the most weight. Once you’ve got both keywords in title you want to make sure you have the singular and plural versions in the body of the content. One of the tools I use to make sure I am getting both versions in the text is Scribe SEO (see my Scribe SEO review). While I’m not a fan of KWD density as a leading metric, you want make sure it’s there and you aren’t emphasizing the wrong words. Scribe gives you the results right in WordPress post screen (see below). If you’re interested, use the Scribe SEO Coupon Code [stepup] between now and November 5th and you will automatically be upgraded to the next level for free.
Let’s review how to use singular and plural keywords in a single page title:
This post originally came from Michael Gray who is an SEO Consultant. Be sure not to miss the Thesis WordPress Theme review.
How to Add Singular and Plural Keywords to Your Page Titles
When Bing launched, one of the interesting things they did to make the organic search results appear more relevant was to use link anchor text to augment page titles (where relevant). This would mean if people searched for a phrase that was mostly in your title (but maybe your page title was missing a word or 2 from the search) then Bing might insert those words into the page title area of your listing if they were in some of the link anchor text pointing into your page.
Before being switched over to Bing, Yahoo! would sometimes display the H1 heading as the clickable link to your site (rather than the page title). Bing also uses on page headings to augment page titles.
Historically if Google has thought it would appear more relevant to searchers, sometimes they have shown a relevant machine generated piece of your page displaying those keywords in context rather than the meta description in the snippet, but typically Google has been far more conservative with the page titles. Sometimes Google would list the ODP title for the title of a page, most until recently they have generally typically just listed the page title as the clickable link to your site.
Recently Google has grown more experimental on this front, being willing to use link anchor text and on-page headings as part of the listing. In addition, if the page title is short, Google may add the site’s name at the end of the title.
Here is an example in Google of the page title being replaced by part of an on-page heading & also showing the site’s name being added to the end of the link
And here is the associated on-page heading for the above
I have also seen a few examples of the link anchor text being added to the page title in Google, however it was on a client project & the client would prefer that I didn’t share his new site on an SEO blog with 10’s of thousands of readers.
Last November Matt Cutts recently did a video on the topic of Google editing the page titles for relevancy & how it was a fairly new thing for Google. Even back then Google was quite conservative in editing the clickable link … I think they have only grown more aggressive on that front in the past month or so.
In the early days of newspapers, success and advertising was measured by total circulation. The ability to measure how many people were reading just the business section, lifestyle section, or sports section didn’t exist. As more consumers switch their news reading habits to online consumption, our ability to track which section and pages are being read has improved. However, this enhanced tracking has a dark side: the rise of page view journalism. Simply put, page view journalism is the deliberate creation of stories that are designed to increase page views. It often results in an increase of low quality, high volume reporting and off topic stories.
While page view journalism is often attributed as the primary cause of demand media style content, the fact is it’s so pervasive now that it has almost become the norm. Look at the homepage of Techmeme on any given day and you’ll see an increasingly large number of websites trying to siphon off some of that traffic by “reblogging ” the top stories of the day, adding little or no value to the discussion. While rebloggers are at the lower end of the food chain, page view journalism also occurs at the top. Techcrunch, for example, covers with voluminous detail almost every story that is even slightly connected to twitter. It wouldn’t surprise me if MG Siegler did an expose on how Mary in the AP department at Twitter killed the staple market by switching to paper clips. Don’t laugh…it’s not that far fetched.
Want an example of how to lose your focus? Check out Mashable, a site that regularly stretches to cover things like Tiger Woods and Fashion Week in an effort to bolster page views. The king of page view media is the Huffington Post, which reblogs, over-covers everything, and has gone off-topic so much it no longer has a main topic.
So what’s the cause of this page view journalism? It’s economics. The fact is that an online customer is worth only a quarter of what a print customer is worth. For newspapers, those economics simply don’t make a profit; for virtual newsrooms or lean new media ventures like Techcrunch, they do. As we take advantage of the cognitive surplus and the lower cost barrier to entry, the news shifts from being a scarce commodity to something we have an abundance of. The fact that our attention spans are changing and short, reblog-style posts are preferred by many, as opposed to in-depth 3-4 pages articles in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal also plays a role. Simply put, a newspaper has a hard time justifying a reporter’s salary to cover something in depth when revenues are decreasing and advertisers are paying less. Publishers like Gawker who don’t have to deal with real world expenses like union wages, delivery costs, health care benefits, and pension plans have lower operating costs. Greed, however, is a universal concept. Even if you operate in a business with lower operating expenses, publishers still want to extract the most profit so, instead of overpriced classified ads, they go after high search volume terms to drive up CPM revenue.
As long as there’s a way to make money off of impressions, this trend will continue. As long as there’s a glut of news, the quality will spiral downward. As long as the quality continues to drop, so will the ad revenue … It is a vicious, self-fulfilling prophecy. The only way out is for publishers at the fore to go the route of publications like All Things D to put out quality news. Then people will have to reach the conclusion that there is some quality news that is worth paying to have access to. People may continue to want “free” news, but it’s like the saying goes “if you aren’t paying something, then you aren’t a customer: you are the product that’s being sold.”
Posted by Dr. Pete
Some of you know that I spend a lot of time behind the scenes here on Pro Q&A. One of the challenges of Q&A is that we often have to tackle complex problems in a very short amount of time – we might have 10-15 minutes to solve an issue like "Why isn’t my page showing up on Google?" with no access to internal data, server-side code, etc.
Of course, I’d never suggest you try to solve your own SEO problems in just 10 minutes, but it’s amazing what you can do when you’re forced to really make your time count. I’d like to share my 10-minute (give or take) process for solving one common SEO problem – finding a "missing" page. You can actually apply it to a number of problems, including:
I’ll break the 10 minutes down, minute by minute (give or take). The mini-clock on each item shows you the elapsed time, for real-time drama.
Always start at the beginning – is your page really missing? Although it sometimes gets a bad rap for accuracy (mainly, the total page counts), Google’s site: command is still the best tool for the job. It’s great for deep dives, since you can combine it with keyword searches, "keyword" searches (exact match), and other operators (intitle:, inurl:, etc.). Of course, the most basic format is just:
For this particular job, always use the root domain. You never know when Google is indexing multiple sub-domains (or the wrong sub-domain), and that information could come in handy later. Of course, for now you just want to see that Google knows you exist.
Assuming Google knows your site exists, it’s time to check the specific page in question. You can enter a full path behind the site: command or use a combination of site: and inurl:
If the page doesn’t seem to be on Google’s radar, narrow down the problem by testing out just "/folder" and see if anything on the same level is being indexed. If the page isn’t being indexed at all, you can skip the next step.
If the page is being indexed but you can’t seem to find it in the SERPs, pull out a snippet of the TITLE tag and do an exact-match search (in quotes) on Google. If you still can’t find it, combine a site:example.com with your page TITLE or a portion of it. If the page is indexed but not ranking, you can probably skip the next couple of steps (jump to the 4:00 mark).
For now, let’s assume your site is being partially indexed, but the page in question is missing from the index. Although bad Robots.txt files are, thankfully, getting rarer, it’s still worth taking a quick peek to make sure you’re not accidentally blocking search bots. Luckily, the file is almost always at:
What you’re looking for is source code that looks something like this:
It could either be a directive blocking all user agents, or just one, like Googlebot. Likewise, check for any directives that disallow the specific folder or page in question.
Another accidental blocking problem can occur with a bad META Noindex directive. In the header of the HTML source code (between <head> and </head>), you’re looking for something like this:
Although it might seem odd for someone to block a page they clearly want indexed, bad META tags and Rel=Canonical (see below) can easily be created by a bad CMS set-up.
This one’s a bit trickier. The Rel=Canonical tag is, by itself, often a good thing, helping to effectively canonicalize pages and remove duplicate content. The tag itself looks like this:
The problem comes when you canonicalize too narrowly. Let’s say for example, that every page on your site had a canonical tag with the URL "www.example.com" – Google would take that as an instruction to collapse your entire search index down to just ONE page.
Why would you do this? You probably wouldn’t, on purpose, but it’s easy for a bad CMS or plug-in to go wrong. Even if it’s not sitewide, it’s easy to canonicalize too narrowly and knock out important pages. This is a problem that seems to be on the rise.
In some cases, a page may be returning a bad header, error code (404, for example) or poorly structured redirect (301/302) that’s preventing proper indexation. You’ll need a header checker for this – there are plenty of free ones online (try HTTP Web-Sniffer). You’re looking for a "200 OK" status code. If you receive a string of redirects, a 404, or any error code (4xx or 5xx series), you could have a problem. If you get a redirect (301 or 302), you’re sending the "missing" page to another page. Turns out, it’s not really missing at all.
There are basically two potential buckets of duplicate content – duplicate pages within your site and duplicates between sites. The latter may happen due to sharing content with your own properties, legally repurposing contents (like an affiliate marketer might do), or flat-out scraping. The problem is that, once Google detects these duplicates, it’s probably going to pick one and ignore the rest.
If you suspect that content from your "missing" page has been either taken from another site or taken by another site, grab a unique-sounding sentence, and Google it with quotes (to do an exact match). If another site pops up, your page may have been flagged as a duplicate.
Internal duplication usually happens when Google crawls multiple URL variations for the same page, such as CGI parameters in the URL. If Google reaches the same page by two URL paths, it sees two separate pages, and one of them is probably going to get ignored. Sometimes, that’s fine, but other times, Google ignores the wrong one.
For internal duplication, use a focused site: query with some unique title keywords from the page (again, in quotes), either stand-alone or using intitle:. URL-driven duplicates naturally have duplicate titles and META data, so the page title is one of the easiest places to find it. If you see either the same page pop up multiple times with different URLs, or one or two pages followed by this:
…then it’s entirely possible that your missing page was filtered out due to internal duplication.
These last two are a bit tougher and more subjective, but I want to give a few quick tips for where to start if you suspect a page-specific penalty or devaluation. One pretty easy to spot problem is when you have a pattern of suspicious anchor text – usually, an uncommon keyword combination that dominates your inbound links. This could come from a very aggressive (and often low-quality) link-building campaign or from something like a widget that’s dominating your link profile.Open Site Explorer allows you to pretty easily look at your anchor text in broad strokes. Just enter your URL, click on Anchor Text Distributions (the 4th tab), and select Phrases:
What you’re looking for is a pattern of unnatural repetition. Some repetition is fine – you’re naturally going to have anchor text to your domain name keywords and your exact brand name, for example. Let’s say, though, that 70% of our links pointing back to SEOmoz had the anchor text "Danny Dover Is Awesome." That would be unnatural. If Google thinks this is a sign of manipulative link building, you may see that target page penalized.
Link profile quality can be very subjective, and it’s not a task that you can do justice to in two minutes, but if you do have a penalty in play, it’s sometimes easy to spot some shady links quickly. Again, I’m going to use Open Site Explorer, and I’m going to select the following options: Followed + 301, External Pages Only, All Pages on The Root Domain:
You can export the links to Excel if you want to (great for deep analysis), but for now, just spot-check. If there’s something fishy on the first couple of pages, odds are pretty good that the weaker links are a mess. Click through to a few pages, looking out for issues such as:
Also, look for any over-reliance on one kind of low-quality link (blog comments, article marketing, etc.). Although a full link-profile analysis can take hours, it’s often surprisingly easy to spot spammy link-building in just a few minutes. If you can spot it that fast, chances are prett
y good that Google can, too.
Ten minutes may not seem like much (it may have taken you that long just to read this post), but once you put a process in place, you can learn a lot about a site in just a few minutes. Of course, finding a problem and solving it are two entirely different things, but I hope this at least gives you the beginning of a process to try out yourself and refine for your own SEO issues.
Posted by Danny Dover
This week on Whiteboard Friday we pull a secret out of the SEO secrets vault. This handy strategy helps you take advantage of the specific types of results that Google chooses for people and company based searches and helps you dominate your brand search engine result page.
Building a brand hub is an obvious suggestion but not necessarily for the reason you might think. Use these types of websites to promote what other domains are saying about you or your brand elsewhere on the Internet. This gives those pages (social media profiles, interviews, etc…) link juice and improves their relevancy, thus helping them rank for your brand SERP. (Hint: Use anchor text like "SEOmoz on Twitter" or "John Doe in the New York Times"). You can see an example of me doing this tactic on DannyDover.com
After building your brand hub and linking from its homepage to the other pages you want to rank, you should build another brand site. In practical terms I recommend using a single page on a related domain. (I use this page targeting just my first name, Danny as my alternate). This helps you command a second result in the SERP because it is on a separate (and in this case, a more powerful) domain.
This is obvious. Social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc…) are both great search results for people/brand searches and are on very powerful domains. This makes them great resources to fill up your brand SERP.
Linking to relevant articles/interviews on your brand hub site is an excellent tactic for filling the remaining spots on your brand SERP. Like the last tactic, these pages are helpful search results for searchers and are usually on powerful domains.
This final tactic is less intuitive. Bidding on your name/brand allows you to control the ads on your brand SERP. This is helpful for branding (der…) and it actually tends to increase the click through rates of the number one result on the page as well as the ad.
If you have any other advice that you think is worth sharing, feel free to post it in the comments. This post is very much a work in progress. As always, feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions on how I can make my posts more useful. All of my contact in
formation is available on my SEOmoz profile under Danny. Thanks!
Posted by Oli Gardner
This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
As with that other program, the first and most critical step is admitting you actually have a problem. So go ahead. Shout it out loud so your coworkers can hear:
“My name is Earl. My conversion rate sucks, and I can’t stop sending expensive PPC traffic to my homepage.”
Feel better? You should.
You just passed the “unofficial” first test of landing page rehab, and now you’re ready to take 12 little steps that’ll lift you from that river in Egypt (denial?!?) to a higher place on the conversion charts. This is the intervention your landing pages have been crying out for, so take a deep breath… and let’s get started.
Study the 12-step infographic to see where each step in the program should be applied to the conversion funnel.
(Click to image view full size)
MEASURING YOUR PROGRESS – THE CONVERSION SCORECARD
Before we begin, we need a quick breathalyzer test to get some baseline metrics in place and measure how effective your treatment program is. The conversion scorecard can be used whether you’re using a standalone landing page for your marketing campaigns or sending traffic directly to a page on your website (homepage, shopping cart or registration page) – although it is geared slightly more towards the standalone variety.
(Click to view or print the full size graphic with the complete set of 20 questions on it.)
Scoring your page
Answer each of the 20 questions as honestly as you can and tally the number of “Yes” responses to arrive at your score. The goal is simply to get a ballpark sense of how good your page is. Then take all of the “No” responses and create a “To Do List” of things to improve on your page. You’ll find some guidance and tips for making these improvements as you follow the 12-step program below.
Remember that after you leave the rehab clinic and have made some positive changes to your conversion funnel, you should revisit the scorecard to measure your improvements.
View and print out the full sized Conversion Scorecard
STARTING THE 12-STEP PROGRAM
STEP 1 – Use a Separate Landing Page for each Inbound Traffic Source
The principles of inbound marketing are founded on facilitating multiple streams of traffic. Examples include PPC, email, banner ads and social media. There are two key reasons why you should be using a separate landing page for each source:
Doctors Orders: Start thinking of each inbound source as it’s own mini campaign. You want to have multiple rivers bringing boats to your port (rather than many tributaries feeding one river). Print out the ads for each inbound source (PPC, email, banners, social media) and spend time observing their differences – size, tone, language and visual weight. This will help you design appropriate landing pages.
STEP 2 – A/B Test Your Landing Pages
A/B testing is the process of splitting your traffic between a series of pages to see which performs the best. Anne Holland’s WhichTestWon.com is a fun site that shows examples of A/B tests and lets you pick which version you think would produce the highest conversion rate.
On a corporate level, testing helps to remove conjecture and subjective argument from the boardroom and is a great way of understanding your customers (which messaging and design do they respond to best). It should be done as an iterative process – think evolution vs. revolution.
FACT: Your landing page can always be better. Just like a plant, it needs ongoing attention for best results.
Some online tools/services for testing:
Doctors Orders: Take the plunge and get a tool set up so you are at least able to start testing your landing pages. Then the fun part of trying new ideas and experimenting can come.
STEP 3 – Match Your Landing Page Message to the Upstream Ad
If the primary headline of your landing page doesn’t match the copy on your ad you’ll be getting a lot of action on your browser’s back button. As an example, consider the following:
Bad message match
Ad: Get 20% off a MacBook Pro
Landing page message: Welcome to Bobby’s Computer Store
Good message match
Ad: Get 20% off a MacBook Pro
Landing page message: Get 20% off a Macbook Pro at Bobby’s Computer Store
Seems obvious right? The problem is that most inbound traffic gets sent to company homepages where the messaging is necessarily generic. Using a targeted standalone landing page is key to reinforcing the customer’s belief that they made a “good click”. You will also get a better quality score and thus a lower cost-per-click from Google AdWords if your message match is strong (this extends to the entire content on the page which should be congruent with the headline message).
Bonus tip: If you are driving social media traffic, you can enhance the “social message match” by including an appropriate social icon on your landing page to further reinforce the connection between the source and destination.
Doctors Orders: Learning to construct your campaigns in the right order can help you ensure good message m
atch. Start with a concept based on communicating your product/service/offer to your target market. Come up with your promotional headline and landing page content, then work on a series of ads that closely match the headline. If you do it the other way round (ad first), you are forced into building from what might be the wrong foundation.
STEP 4 – Context of Use
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A better picture is one where your product or service is shown being used in context. Salespeople will tell you to sell the fire, not the fire extinguisher – the point being that you need to illustrate the need in order to develop desire for the solution.
Effective landing pages use photography and video to provide evidence of how your product or service solves a real problem.
A statement like “Our vacuum cleaner is so powerful it can suck up a bag of nails” beside a stock photo of the product against a white background is far less likely to convert than a video showing (and letting you hear) the vacuum cleaner actually doing the job. An example using photography could show a fold-up ladder in two states. Being tucked into a small cupboard by it’s owner, and then extended to show the owner reaching onto high shelves to retrieve something. Simply showing it in it’s intended context of use will improve your sales.
Would you really have bought a ShamWow without seeing it in action?
Doctors Orders: Take your product or service and actually use it for real (you’d be surprised how many people haven’t even used the item they’re selling). This will help you to understand and visualize how it should be presented in your photography and videos. If it’s an online tool, try observing someone else using it.
STEP 5 – Use Videos to Increase Engagement & Conversions
According to a study by eyeviewdigital.com, the use of video can increase your conversions rates by as much as 80%. By providing users with a passive engagement mechanism you can keep them on your page longer allowing your brand message to seep into their subconscious.
Warning: don’t just throw up a poorly animated Powerpoint presentation – nobody will watch it.
If you are peddling a physical product, show people using it as mentioned in step 4. If it’s an online tool, provide a demo of the primary features while narrating the benefits of it’s use (don’t show every step, make it a highlight reel). If you offer a service, put yourself front and center and communicate directly with your viewers. Make eye contact for maximum engagement and make use of directional cues to guide them to your intended conversion goal. Great videos do this by having the host look and point outside the frame towards other elements on the page – bringing the whole page into the experience.
Usability best practices say to never auto play a video as the audio shock can make people hit the back button immediately, especially if they are in a sound sensitive environment – like most offices. However, this is something you should test on your visitors. My advice if you want to start the video automatically would be to at least allow a shot delay before it starts, and make the controls very obvious in case someone wants to mute or pause the video.
(This is a decent example of a nice pause and transition into video – http://raw.glow.com/dms1825/ – warning: the alerts when you try to leave the page aren’t so nice).
Doctors Orders: If you don’t use video yet, plan to start soon. For online product demos, try recording a screencast using software like Jing. It’s really simple and cost effective. Once you get a feel for it you can upgrade to more elaborate tools with stronger editing and post-production features. Audio is very important – write a script before you record so you’re not bumbling your way through and try to use an external mic for better quality.
STEP 6 – Use Directional Cues to Lead the Way
Imagine an airport without the expertly placed wayfinding signs and maps – it would be chaos. If you’ve visited the emergency room at a hospital, you might be familiar with the colored lines they paint on the floor to take you to different departments – follow the yellow brick road. These are examples of directional cues, which can be broken down into explicit and implicit (both of those were explicit).
Directional cues are used on landing pages to guide the visitor to your call to action. Here are some examples of ways to do this:
For a more exhaustive study of the effects of directional cues, I wrote a post that uses photography to illustrate each of the methods above: Designing for Conversion – 8 Visual Design Techniques to Focus Attention on Your Landing Pages.
Doctors Orders: Learn to point. It might be considered rude in some cultures, but in conversionland it’s actively encouraged. Make the intended action of your page as obvious as possible – subtlety is for shy folks. Add at least one directional cue to an existing landing page. If your design is quite restrictive, you can try breaking the visual boundaries by placing an arrow outside of the page edge, pointing in towards your CTA – this disruptive visual tactic can be very effective at directing eyeballs.
STEP 7 – Find the Optimal Balance of Data vs. Conversion Rate
Lead generation is about two things – the size of the barrier (how long, personal or compl
icated the form is) and the size of the prize (what you are giving away in return for the data). If these are out of proportion you risk losing customers.
It’s a delicate balance to achieve: make the form too long and people walk away from the perceived effort, make the questions off-topic or too personal and you wind up with false data. Conversely, if the form is too short you can skew your leads towards those just seeking a freebie instead of real, determined and relevant customers. It can also result in you not being able to qualify your leads accurately.
The other factor that complicates all of this is the giveaway you are offering. If your eBook, coupon or webinar isn’t good enough to warrant the information you are asking for folks will bounce. For a webinar registration keep the info to a bare minimum – name, email and maybe company and role if it’s B2B. If you’re giving away an eBook, it needs to be one of two things: significant in size or significant in it’s exclusive data content. Above all, quality is what counts. You can tease people into completing your form to get your super awesome whitepaper, but if it turns out to be smoke and mirrors, you’ll have a lead that’s disappointed and likely to unsubscribe immediately.
Doctors Orders: This is where A/B testing becomes really useful. Set up multiple versions of your form and test them to find where the balance lies. Is it acceptable to remove a few questions in order to get more leads? Does your conversion rate even get affected by the addition of extra questions. Only testing with your target audience can answer these questions.
STEP 8 – Be Honest About Your Writing & Edit Ruthlessly
Never publish the first thing you write. Unless you are in the business of reportage poetry (I may have just made that name up). Campaigns and their associated messaging need to be refined over time through testing but also through editing. Steve Krug (author of the classic usability book “Don’t Make Me Think”) made the best observation on the subject I’ve heard: delete 50% of your page content, then throw away half of what’s left.
Doctors Orders: Try removing 2 sentences from the main body of copy on your landing page. I bet it won’t hurt as much as you think. If you have 5 bullet points, try going with the 3 most important ones. Keep deleting extraneous words and redundant phrases until your copy is as tight as a Scotsman being asked to pay a bar tab. Like everything you change on your pages, you should make your edits on a duplicate page and run an A/B test to verify if it produces higher conversions.
STEP 9 – Make it Easy to Share
The impulse to share content can be fleeting, so don’t make people work for it. While not applicable to all landing pages, those with special offers or special content (perhaps a great video) – should have a simple way for people to spread the word for you.
There are two great ways to make this work:
Doctors Orders: Design for your audience. If you’re driving Twitter traffic, retweet buttons are familiar and easy to use. The beauty of Twitter @Anywhere components is that they utilize Ajax style interaction and don’t take you away from the page. Similarly if you are funneling Facebook traffic, add a “Like” button to the page. Most Facebook’ers are logged in all the time and the button will add your landing page into their timeline with a single click.
STEP 10 – Leverage Social Proof & Trust Devices
Testimonials work, if they’re real. Avoid stock photos and scripted hyperbole as most people can spot a fake testimonial a mile away. Try a mixture of testimonials that describe how your product or service has benefited someone’s experience, coupled with the enthusiastic style that say “you guys rule!”. I’d only use the latter from a well known industry expert or celebrity.
To modernize your landing pages, illustrate social proof by showing your standing in a relevant social network. There are many widgets available that can show how many people like or follow you. Social capital and the herd mentality of network participants can help convince prospects to become customers.
Doctors Orders: Ask 10 of your customers for a fresh testimonial and add the best to your landing page. Remember to state your usage intentions and ask for a photo if possible. If you have a decent social network presence, try adding a live feed widget based on a specific phrase or #hashtag search to show who and how people are interacting with your brand.
STEP 11 – One Page, One Purpose
Imagine a web page that exhibits the same tendencies as a kid with ADD. If your content can’t decide on one thing to do at a time, then your visitors certainly won’t want to take the time to figure it out.
The principal of congruence states that each element on your page should support a single focused objective. A good way of looking at this is to imagine a series of arrows all pointing to the center of a circle where there is a big button (your CTA). Each arrow represents a piece of content on your landing page, and you need to ensure that they are all in conceptual alignment.
Contrast this to those same arrows all pointing in different directions (conceptually).
To maintain focus, don’t talk about other products or services – you can use a different landing page and ad source for those. An exception to this is on an ecommerce product page that provides the ability to add extra products to the cart as add-add-on’s to your main conversion goal.
Doctors Orders: Try this exercise. Explain the purpose of your campaign to a colleague. Now read the content of your landing page out loud and ask her to stop you if you veer away from the central purpose as previously stated. If this happens, remove the offending content and start over. You will notice a lot more about your writing style by saying it out loud. For visual elements, try writing the goal of your campaign on a piece of paper, then print and cut out the images from your landing page and place them around the goal. Remove or replace any that don’t seem to be in total agreement with this goal.
STEP 12 – Post-Conversion Marketing
Post-conversion marketing is one of the most overlooked stages of the conversion funnel. The confirmation page from your lead gen form, ecommerce checkout, or registration form is the perfect place to start capitalizing on the positive mood of a newly qualified customer.
In the case of lead gen, you achieved the conversion goal of your lead gen page and you are probably going to start sending your new lead a series of email messages to encourage them to step up to the next level. Note that it can take up to 6 or 7 contact incidents to make this happen (according to email provider Constant Contact).
To increase your engagement potential, try to add your leads to other channels in your sphere of marketing influence (from your confirmation page). This amplifies the reach of your messages and can be the difference between being heard and being forgotten.
Some common examples include:
Doctors Orders: Go beyond a simple “Thank you” on your confirmation pages. Start by adding one new link to the page and track how much extra traffic visits that target.
Now you have the tools and advice to break those bad conversion habits and rehabilitate your struggling marketing funnel. Did you do the scorecard exercise? Are you on the epic end of the scale or the “I did like, 19 things wrong!” end of the scale? The scorecard is there to provide you with a "to do list" of conversion improvements. Take every question you answered No to and create a personal task to fix it. Then implement a new A/B test to see how well your new landing page fares.
SHARE YOUR PAGE & SCORECARD SCORE
Show me your landing page and score and see if I agree with your assessment (I’ll run through the checklist too).
Good luck with your rehab, and remember, your landing page can always be better.
Posted by randfish
Sometimes, the page you’re trying to rank – the one that visitors will find relevant and useful to their query – isn’t the page the engines have chosen to place first. When this happens, it can be a frustrating experience trying to determine what course of action to take. In this blog post, I’ll walk through some of the root causes of this problem, as well as five potential solutions.
When the wrong page from your site appears prominently in the search results, it can spark a maddening conflict of emotion – yes, it’s great to be ranking well and capturing that traffic, but it sucks to be delivering a sub-optimal experience to searchers who visit, then leave unfulfilled. The first step should be identifying what’s causing this issue and to do that, you’ll need a process.
Below, I’ve listed some of the most common reasons we’ve seen for search engines to rank a less relevant page above a more relevant one.
Once you’ve gone through this list and determined which issues might be affecting your results, you’ll need to take action to address the problem. If it’s an on-page or content issue, it’s typically pretty easy to fix. However, if you run into external linking imbalances, you may need more dramatic action to solve the mistmatch and get the right page ranking.
Next, we’ll tackle some specific, somewhat advanced, tactics to help get the right page on top:
Be aware that if you’re planning to use rel=canonical rather than a 301 (which is perfectly acceptable), you should first ensure that the content is exactly the same on both pages. Trying to maintain two different version of a page with one canonicalizing to another isn’t specifically against the engines’ guidelines, but it’s also not entirely white hat (and it may not work, since the engines do some checking to determine content matches before counting rel=canonical sometimes).
While this set of recommendations may not always fix the issue, it can almost always help identify the root cause(s) and give you a framework in which to proceed. If you’ve got other suggestions, I look forward to hearing about them in the comments!