Searchers aren’t like your other online customers. As a result, converting searchers to customers requires a different way of thinking.
Sites are typically designed with a series of paths or funnels in mind. Customer A starts at the homepage, wants to buy Product Z and click click click -- there’s your path to purchase. This path assumes a single start and finish, with each page along the way contributing to the experience and the customer’s decision-making process. This is the way it works for direct traffic customers -- folks typing in your domain.
Or the customer may interact with an email newsletter, display ad or paid search ad that makes a promise and delivers a specific landing page designed to fulfill that promise.
With organic search, you can’t control which page the customer lands on in the same way. For many of them, this will be their first experience with your site and possibly your brand. Customers from organic search know what they want and ask a search engine to find it for them. Then they drop into your site on any page the search engine feels is relevant to that query. That makes every page on your site a landing page with the responsibility of engaging and converting customers.
For example, a customer that searches for “wool sweater” and lands on a category or product page featuring wool sweaters will have a higher likelihood of sticking around to purchase. But what if they land instead on the FAQ page full of useful information about taking care of wool sweaters? Chances are, this juicy FAQ page will have a lot of keyword relevance and may win rankings. But it’s not going to convert to sale without some planning ahead.
Try approaching conversion optimization for SEO in this mindset. Take a look at the pages receiving organic search-referred visits in your Web analytics. The diversity of entry pages will probably surprise you, as will the diversity of bounce and conversion rates for each of the different pages.
Let the data tell you which entry pages searchers actually land on and how those pages convert. Then analyze the pages for opportunities to improve conversion. Could you add a cross-selling widget or useful “related products” links? Is the navigation to the product catalog clear when you’re outside the core selling pages? Is the promise and reward clear on each page so that the customer understands the value of clicking to the next page to stay engaged?
Jill Kocher is a seasoned SEO professional and all-around technogeek. By day, she manages Resource Interactive’s SEO practice here in Chicago and serves as contributing editor at Practical eCommerce. By night, Jill landscapes her home in the far northern suburbs of Chicagoland while enjoying a glass of wine and thinking about SEO some more. Family discussion centers primarily around SEO, analytics, social media, mobile apps, android, iOS, how-was-your-day and cats.