In "SEO the SERPs and Your First Impression," I emphasized the importance of creating a great first impression for searchers in the hope of driving traffic to your site. This is achieved through a concerted effort to create relevant content for all that is visible in the SERPs.
Of equal importance is your "second impression," or the moment a referral reaches a landing page. Within search marketing the old adage rings true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.
In the rat race of SEO we often become consumed with reaching top rankings and driving massive amounts of traffic. We then forget to assess the next step: helping these visitors reach our intended goal.
Step 1: Identify Your Intended Funnel for Visitors Entering Your Site
Before you delve into what your visitors are actually doing, it's wise to step back and ask yourself a series of questions:
- What message am I delivering to my visitors when they reach a site page?
- Where do I want my visitors to go next on the site?
- Are my calls to action prevalent on site pages?
Step 2: Assess Your Visitor's Landing Page Behavior
To gain a complete understanding of your visitors landing page behavior, you must review a few areas of your site analytics. I use, recommend, and provide examples with Google Analytics.
To begin, we can easily take a look at bounce rates and exit rates to get a broad view of what top landing pages just aren't working. However, a more thorough view is often needed.
Review the Entrance Paths report in Google Analytics. This data will show you that from a given landing page what pages are visited next as well as the overall percentage of visits traveling to these pages.
Taking your analytical abilities to the next level, view site pages from within the Google Analytics On-Page Analytics section. This section, once known as Site Overlay, affords you the opportunity to view your site pages with appended CTR percentages on page links to help you better identify where your visitors who decide to stay on the site are going next. This provides a better visual representation of what's going on for those of us who like images more than reading numbers.
Step 3: React
By now hopefully your analytical data has given a clear indication on where your traffic prefers to go when entering your site. For many, it may become apparent that your intended funnel isn't represented well on your home page or other top landing pages. Traffic may be traversing your site in an unintended path due to several different reasons.
Ways to improve your Visitor Click Path:
- Include top site pages (products/services) at the far left of horizontal main navigation or at the top of vertical navigation links. Leading navigation sections with your intended "next-page" helps to reinforce to users where they should travel next. On that note, ensure that you use similar footer navigation so that anyone who reaches the bottom of the page knows where to head next.
- Text links in your body copy should link to supporting pages relevant to the content of the respective, or one step closer in the conversion funnel. Visitors who are interested in the page often use these first text links to travel further into the site. Ensure that these links direct traffic closer to your goal not further into other areas of the site.
- The "good stuff" goes above the fold. Calls to action and product offers must be above the fold of the page. If you don't present a reason for a visitor to continue through your site, why would they want to scroll down the page and search for a reason? There are many types of searchers on the web but few wish to continue searching for your offer if you don't quickly make it available. At first sight, the page's above the fold view should contain a compelling headline, supporting content that helps to validate your headline, and links to current products/services or promotions.
Depending on what your data reveals, you may need to get "nitty-gritty" and step into A/B and multivariate page testing to assess what will give you a more direct visitor click path and get you to higher conversion rates. However, the above steps serve as a quick way to help you identify and answer questions about your site traffic.
These steps also ensure you have the simple steps covered that many people don't realize they are forgetting.