Search Engine Optimization is a well known term and online marketing tool. Most companies spend a pretty penny on SEO and consulting services. A good portion of these same companies become so wrapped up in optimizing their websites for the search engines with the goal to drive the most traffic as possible to their site. "The more eyeballs the better", they might say. While it is essential to drive targeted traffic to your website, it is also important that these visitors take action once they get there. This very important step is often times forgotten. If your website's visitors are not taking the next step and becoming a customer or a lead- in reality, this traffic isn't helping your bottom line. This is where conversion optimization becomes part of the website success equation.

One of the main goals for a corporate website is to improve the business's bottom line and generate sales/leads. Conversion optimization helps achieve this goal by making it easy and simple for visitors to your website to become a customer or prospect. A conversion can range from an online purchase of a product to downloading a white paper or filling out a Contact form. The major conversions on a website will depend on the nature of your business.

Any good web design firm understands the importance of generating conversions and will produce a website that is laid out and designed to accomplish this goal. There are numerous ways to optimize a website for conversion generation. Below are some tips that may help increase the amount of leads and/or sales that your website delivers:

  1. Attract the right type of visitors. In order to generate conversions, there has to be qualified traffic coming to the website. This can be accomplished using a variety of search engine marketing tactics such as PPC advertising, Facebook advertising, display ads and especially SEO. The more specific you are in your optimization and advertising- the more qualified the traffic coming to your site will be. And qualified visitors are the best type of visitors!
  2. Create targeted landing pages. Targeted landing pages are not only important in online advertising but also on your website itself. You will want to have a specific page dedicated to each of your products or services. This will help visitors find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Directing traffic to a specific page helps aid in the conversion process.
  3. Research internal search queries.  Examining the keywords and phrases that visitors type into your internal site search can provide a great deal of data and insight. This will help you to determine where your site's main navigation and organization is lacking and will help you to identity changes that will potentially increase the likelihood of conversions.
  4. Provide a Help and/or FAQ section. People like to know what they are getting before committing to a purchase or filling out a form. The less unknowns there are about you and your business, the more likely and comfortably a visitor can take the next step. Provide them with important information and help answer their questions firsthand. Build trust and expertise early.
  5. Turn a visitor's interest into desire. When a visitor comes to your site via an ad, search result, link, etc., they are more than likely already interested in what you have to offer. The interest is there, but you have to make them take action. Try highlighting the benefits of your products/services rather than simply listing its features. This desire will most likely lead to action.
  6. Use a strong and unique Call to Action (CTA). Make it easy and clear to visitors how and where to take action. Include a strong and well-written CTA throughout your entire website. You can even have more than one CTA. The conversion doesn't have to be a hard sell such as a purchase either. A soft sell such as obtaining a visitor's email address is a huge win. Soft sells are low involvement ways to capture visitors' information (such as an email address) so that you can contact them in the future.
  7. Make it easy for visitors to convert. There are numerous ways to make it easy for your visitors. Provide your phone number on all pages of the website, use quick contact forms on the most important (if not all) pages, etc. Don't frustrate your users, it is very easy for them to click the Back button or leave your website to go to a competitor's.
  8. Never be satisfied and don't stop testing. Very rarely will you create the highest performing website or landing page on the first attempt. It is imperative to never stop testing the changes you make to a website. Using multivariate or A/B testing will provide invaluable data into what is working and what is not. There are numerous testing programs available including Google Optimizer which is free.
  9. Use your data to track and refine. From the very start of your optimization efforts (for search engines and conversions), it is essential that tracking is in place to measure results. Once enough data has been generated, you should use these metrics to shed light on adjustments that should be made to your site. Some metrics to pay attention to include: bounce rate, time spent on each important landing page, exit rate on form pages, the % of visitors exiting during the purchase process, etc. This will help you identity and improve the underperforming areas of your website.

Your website is a sales tool for your company and should be treated as such. In order for a website to drive the highest level of sales/leads, it has to be optimized for the conversion process. The tips above provide a solid starting point for your optimization efforts. However, it is important to note that every website is unique and results vary from case to case and industry to industry. Similiar to SEO, conversion optimization is an ongoing strategy that takes effort, time, patience, testing and data analysis. But in the end your efforts should pay off in the way of increased conversions, an improved bottom line and a happy management team. And that's always a good thing!