July 9, 2009
“We need more traffic.” For most websites this is a truism. We all want more traffic. We all would benefit from it. This is the reason that strategies such as SEO are so popular – they aim to build strong streams of relevant traffic to your website. All well and good – this is a bit of a no-brainer.
But this is where many webmasters leave it. They understand that only a percentage of their traffic will convert so they set out to find ways to get more traffic. The thinking is, “if you’re converting a 2% slice of the traffic pie, build a bigger pie.”
The question that is considered far less often: “can we convert more of the traffic we’re already getting?”
There are two ways to get more business out of your website:
- Increase your traffic
- Convert more of it
When you’re operating on limited resources (and, really, who isn’t in this economy?) the question of where to invest them is always a daunting one. Play your cards right and you’ll reap the rewards. Invest unwisely and you may find yourself up that old proverbial creek.
So how do you choose which lever to pull? Conversions or traffic?
Fortunately, there is a way to increase both 1) your organic search traffic and 2) your conversions all in one stroke.
Sound too good to be true? Stay with me…
What you’ll need:
- Access to your web analytics (such as Google Analytics)
- Conversion tracking setup (such as Goals in Google Analytics)
- A rank checking solution (I like SEOBook’s Rank Checker [http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/]) that allows you to export bulk results to a spreadsheet or CSV file.
- Excel (or a similar spreadsheet system)
I’m going to assume, for this walkthrough, that everyone is using Google Analytics, has goal tracking set up properly, is using SEOBook’s Rank Checker and MS Excel.
We’re going to walk through this step-by-step. Now would be a good time to refill your coffee cup, close your email, close the door to your office and power through – this should only take 15-20 minutes.
Step 1: Harvest Keyword Data From Your Analytics
I’m going to assume you’re using Google Analytics since most people are.
- Log in and click through to the “Traffic Sources” section, then “Search Engines” – then click on Google in the list that shows up.
- If you’re running an AdWords campaign you’ll want to select “non-paid” to filter out the paid keyword referrals
- Set your date range for 3-4 months (30 days doesn’t generally provide enough data) – you should now be looking at organic (non-paid) keyword referrals through Google for the last 3-4 months.
- Click on the “Goal Conversion” tab (next to “Site Usage”)
- Click on “Goal Conversion Rate” to sort by the highest-converting keywords
- Using the “Show rows:” drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen, select “100”
- Choose “Export” at the top of the screen, and select the “CSV” option
- Open the CSV file in Excel (or a similar program) – remove the extraneous stuff so you’re just looking at the keywords, number of visits and the goal conversion rate
Step 2: Check Your Rankings
Next we want to figure out where your website is ranking for each of these keywords. For this exercise we only want to check Google rankings, so you’ll save yourself some time if you right click on the Rank Checker icon and set it to only check Google (not Yahoo! and MSN).
- Using SEOBook’s Rank Checker, select the “Add Multiple Keywords” option
- Enter your domain
- Copy/paste the 100 keywords we exported from Google
- Analytics into Rank Checker
- Run the ranking check
- Export your results to a CSV file
- Copy only the “Google.com position” and “Google.com URL” columns and past them into your spreadsheet from Google Analytics – you need to insert columns here, don’t paste over other information
Step 3: Sort, Identify Keyword Opportunities and Optimize!
Relax – you’ve already done the legwork. Now comes the fun part.
Sort your spreadsheet by rank and then by conversion rate.
What you’re looking for are keywords that:
- You’re not ranking #1 for
- Have a high conversion rate
For example, here’s our reasonable expectation: if you rank #12 (on page two) for a keyword that is referring 25 visitors per month with a conversion rate of 20% (5 visitors convert each month), increasing your ranking even modestly will increase your targeted traffic and conversions at once.
For these keywords there are two basic options to improve your position:
- You can re-target the ranking page to rank better for this keyword
- You can create a new page (where appropriate) targeting this keyword
Caution: you need to make some decisions at this point. You can’t optimize for any and every keyword that sees a decent conversion rate – trying to do that tends to turn your pages into a messy soup of keywords that users hate. Instead, identify the best keywords to rank for (based on conversion rate, not just traffic) and aim for the most valuable choices.
Even a modest improvement in ranking for a keyword with a high conversion rate will both increase your traffic and improve the overall conversion rate of your site.
It’s not just about increasing traffic. It’s about identifying the right traffic sources and turning up the volume.