Doing SEO is just half of the job done. SEOs are under pressure when it comes to converting traffic, now that it has been demonstrated that clicks through rates on SERPs are decreasing. It seems like Google searches resulting in Zero clicks is increasing.
A research from McKinsey showed that the linear funnel that customers follow from a primary touch point to the last conversion rate is failing. They are taking irregular paths to convert.
This is even more evident by the statistics that confirm loyalty program failing to keep customers attached to brands.
In the digital world, your consumers can’t help but shop around.
These are new realities coming up and disrupting the old way of thinking about customers-brands relationship.
So if the old funnel doesn't exist anymore, what do we have instead?
This is a great question to ask. What we have now doesn't have a proper name yet, but some call it the Tornado funnel. This new funnel is not linear, nor it shows an orderly process from first touch point to purchase.
This is a valid concern. You don't want to cut the price of your products to make people buy and you don't want to spend all your marketing budget on AdWords. I always recommend AB testing pages and nurturing leads before selling anything to make sure your page is performing at the best.
Finding quick wins in CRO can be a daunting task even for the most experienced SEOs. The reality is that it doesn't have to be such a painful experience if managed correctly.
I am going to share my five tips for increasing conversion rates using purely analytics data in Google Analytics.
Tip 1: Identify your funnels with Reverse Goal Path
In Google Analytics you may have used already the Reverse Funnel Report. It's a report that is often ignored, simply because we assume that our funnel is what we have already built in Google Analytics.
We set goals for ourselves and the funnel of actions that help convert that goal. The funnel report in Google Analytics explains how people achieved that goal.
Unfortunately, the old fashioned funnel doesn't exist anymore. More often than not, there are many different types of funnels that lead to the same goal and there isn't any formula that can be repeated to reach the same goal again and again.
Luckily, we have a representation of this tornado funnel also in Google Analytics and it looks like this one:
The Reverse Goal Path report allows you to see the steps that led a person to the point of conversion. This steps provides an overview to help you understand the Reverse Goal Path, along with tips to help you get the most out of the data through customisation.
I spent a lot of time analysing funnels and understanding touch points in an effort to align my marketing strategy to the new consumer decision journey. What I found was the following:
Developing a deep knowledge of how your users interact and engage with your pages is as important as ever.
Experimenting new pages and ideas should become the norm in every company with a website
Google now understands topics much better than before, this means that if you excel in content marketing for a topic, rather than a keyword, you have more success of starting the funnel from search engines.
Reverse Goal Path is showing you what services and offers are popular and this can sometimes lead to surprises. You might find that some underrated pages actually play a strong role in the path to conversions.
The Reverse goal Path is able to tell you how people enter your website from, which is not always from your home page. This is when SEO and CRO marry up together.
Once you find a list of funnels, you go through each of them and just implement the suggestions I have given you above. You should then start seeing some improvements over the coming weeks.
Tip 2: Segment the traffic for powerful insights
This tactic is about segmenting the traffic to understand your audience better. We are going to uncover how your users find your website and from third party referrals.
When I was chatting with SaaS companies in the past, one of the biggest concern was to achieve more traffic from other websites because they were concerned they were too much dependent on Google.
This is a valid concern. Every time Google launches a new algorithm, websites can lose or gain traffic, it's hard to keep up to every single change. In the last 2 years there were 2 core Google algorithm updates and this is something that can ruin a website traffic.
So it makes sense to understand in which sea we need to go fishing. This is where the referral traffic segment is so useful.
Take this report for example:
This is the graph of all websites that send traffic to a landing page, where a form will capture people's details and convert them into leads.
Look at the referral #5, and compare the 36.18% conversion rate to Google at 25.79%. Look also at the pages per session at 6.78 vs Google's 5.94.
Finally, have a look at the avg. time on page 00:08:34 vs Google's 00:06:03.
The Association for Nutrition bringing much less traffic than Google, but it's showing 30% better quality traffic.
We want more of this type of traffic, not only from the Association of Nutrition, but also from similar referrals. How do we get more traffic of this quality?
SEO Backlinks strategy
Tip 3: find out to which landing pages these referrals are sending traffic to
We need to build a segment to find this out.
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages and the add a new segment.
Call it with the same name as your referral website, in this case AfN.
From the filter dropdown choose Source > Contains > your referral website
We should have a report that show all the pages to which this website is sending traffic to.
Why do we need this information? It's very useful to find out how the landing page is converting and compare it to the "All Users" segment.
We will get this report:
This graph shows the amazing conversion rates of the AfN vs All Users and the better engagement of this type of users. This only confirms our trend above: when your users are visiting a trusted third party website, they are much more likely to convert.
This means your users have taken the decision to convert before even getting into the landing page. This is what sometimes causes the AB tests on the landing to be inconclusive. In other words, users landing on your landing page have heard of your company from a trusted website. This is a sort of online word of mouth, which is proven by a Nielsen Research, to be the most effective marketing technique to convert more users.
Tip 4: Heat maps on your landing pages
Armed with this information on referral traffic, is now time to analyse your landing pages with heat maps. Heat maps are absolutely a gold mine of information for earning highly valuable insights on users. Lots of people are being put off by the type of information they give, they don't find them very useful, but that's because they don't hack the process as I do!
Let's say you know what is going on on your landing page, your bounce rate is high above 70%. With heat maps you can find out the reason, you go from WHAT to WHY.
All you need to do is to install the snippet code on your website and then choose which pages you want the software to analyse. Last year I have explained on SEMRush how using heat maps to improve user experience (UX) can actually help you to increase organic traffic.
Here is an example of what an heat map looks like:
The insight here is that many people are clicking to the text, but there isn't any hyperlink on them! This is the reason why that page above had a very high bounce rate, for example.
This is the process for getting valuable insights:
Step 1: choose one of the following software
There are several software we can use to do this. I have worked a lot with the following ones:
Hotjar, which I have reviewed (free and paid)
Lucky Orange (paid)
Step 2: Choose your landing pages
You are going to choose which page you want the software to analyse for you. You need to carefully choose your pages from your funnel. These software don't read past information, so the earlier you start, the earlier you are going to get data.
Pro Tip: use the confetti reports to highlight where people are clicking on your page
If you need software to build your landing pages, you can use these ones:
Step 3: Analysing the information
The key is to find struggling points, where your users are having some difficulties. It has been demonstrated that better UX can not only improve your conversion rates, but also your organic traffic and ranking.
Tip 5: Polls to understand the WHY
Polls are, together with heat maps, an invaluable source of information. How effective they will be for your conversions, hugely depends on how you use these tools.
For websites with lots of traffic, this tactic can bring so many new feedbacks. That said, you don't need to be a big brand to have results from this.
In short, this tactic is about collecting feedbacks directly from your users on key pages on your website and then use this new knowledge to build better landing pages and improve conversion rates. Once you have a high number of feedbacks, you can find trends in their answers and discover what really bothers your users while navigating your website.
This is very simple to do and also very effective.
I have done this many times on projects I have worked on and this is the process I have used:
Step 1: identify the page objective
First of all, you need to think about what you want people to do on your page, whether it's doing a checkout, subscribing to a newsletter, filling up a form or simply clicking to an important link on the page.
Make sure you have only one objective per page because your polls will have to ask questions on that objective.
Step 2: set up the questions you need to ask
My favourite tool to do this is Hotjar.com. You can quickly set up a poll with the free version of Hotjar.
Depending on the objective you have on your page, questions should be aimed at identifying issues that users have in completing it. For example, what would you do if you notice that 75% of people do not complete the form on your page?
One of the questions to ask is this one: "What is stopping you from completing the form?"
This question will help you understand the WHY.
This is a list of questions you can ask for different KPIs:
KPI #1: Reducing bounce rate and Exit Rate
Is there anything we can improve on this page? - understand if they find issues
Is there something that bothers you on this page? - understand if they don't like something
Have you found what you were looking for? - understand how effective your content structure is
How do you find the content of this page to be useful? - understand if the like what they read
KPI #2: Understanding their first impression
How did you find our website? - understand what brings them here
Do you fully understand what we offer? - get feedbacks on how clear your offer is
Is our pricing clear? - identify issues with your pricing offers
KPI #3: Improve conversions
What's stopping you from continuing? - identify bottlenecks
The above question can be followed by: how can we improve your experience?
What's the one thing missing on this page? - find out if you are not providing a key info or service or content
KPI #4: Identify success factors
These types of questions should be asked AFTER a conversion happened, normally on the thank-you page to understand what motivated users to complete the desired action:
What persuaded you to purchase?
How would you rate your overall experience?
Would you recommend our service/ product to your friends/ colleagues?
What was the one thing that almost stopped you from purchasing?
KPI #5: Improving usability
These questions are related to how to improve user experience on the website.
How would you rate your payment experience? on a scale from 1 to 5
If they have answered with a low score on the above question, you can have a follow up one: what can we do to improve?
But if they have answered with a high score, you can ask the second question: What did you like the most about your experience with us?
Step 3: Decide the timing
Once you have all questions ready, you need to decide to ask them for each users, or for just a few of them. Or maybe you can decide to delay questions after users have navigated 10 seconds on your website.
I like not to be invasive so I only ask for feedbacks on a permanent basis with the small icon on the right, like this one:
I would recommend using Hotjar to manage the whole process of feedbacks, because it can be time consuming and you'll be surprised of how many answers you will get. Hotjar will allow you to save time and have everything into one place.