As is often the case when I speak, I tell the audience that their website is like a leaky old bucket with traffic falling out the holes. I let them know we all know their website sucks and mine does too. However, when speaking at ConversionNation (formerly Fusion Marketing Experience) in Antwerp, I was politely shown by my friend Joost de Valk how badly I sucked.
Joost did his presentation after me and decided on the fly, while I was presenting, that he would use my website to show how with a little WordPress SEO (his speciality) and more importantly a little conversion help, I could suck a bit less. I’ll share with you some tips he gave me, but more importantly I’ll share with you why all our sites suck and what you have to do suck less.
As Joost picked through the issues on my blog and speaking page, I didn’t sit back and sulk. I didn’t say that he was wrong. I opened up my WordPress admin and went to work. Before his presentation was finished, 95 percent of his recommendations were in place. I’m always trying to improve. I was thrilled to have the feedback in order to suck less. Like you, I don’t have unlimited time and resources. We all have more things clamoring for our attention that we can ever handle.
However, to be successful today you must adopt a culture like Pixar’s willing to accept sucking and is willing to take criticism from everywhere within and outside your organization. Of course, getting advice from an expert like Joost is priceless and I was getting it for the price of being happily, publicly humiliated.
Your culture gets there by allowing for mistakes, letting people take calculated risks, by having your CEO be the chief experience officer and taking responsibility for your conversion rate, by having an executive in charge of optimization and by putting the tools, people, and processes in place to make quick and agile changes.
So, in order to suck less in 2012, use all the methods and tools available to get insight into your customers’ behavior and purchase processes, gather feedback from them, get some experts to review your efforts, make changes quickly, test, and measure and then respond to make things a little less sucky. According to research, the companies with the highest conversion rates tend to employ the greatest amount of optimization techniques.
Here are some of the tips that Yoast gave me and I’ll keep them general so that you may be able to use them too.
1. Avoid dates in your blog posts. This is especially true if you are not publishing news and your content is evergreen. Or make sure your dates are recent if you want people to click on the links in the SERPs (search engine results pages). In fact, with the release of WordPress 3.3 this week, Joost suggests you remove dates from your permalink URL using a tool to create the redirects for your old posts.
2. Optimize your meta tags not for spiders but to persuade people to click on the result.
3. Ensure that the thumbnails appearing in universal search are the most persuasive. (In the case for my speaking page, he wanted the thumbnail to show me speaking, duh.)
4. Plan for what happens next. I didn’t have a related post plug-in for my blog because when I first set it up, I had very few posts and thought I’d get back to it at some point. I forgot because it wasn’t a priority. So now when people get to the bottom of one of my posts, they are shown two related posts with thumbnails to make them more visually interesting.
5. Don’t make people click to another page to contact you. When I ran an agency, every page of our website had a contact form in the footer. We knew exactly what kind of lift in conversion and data that brought us. However, I didn’t have a contact form on my keynote speaker’s page – it was only on the contact us page. Now that has been added.
I wish you continued success in the coming year. May you suck every day a little bit less!