Website Conversion Guide
This article is written by John Wright from HorseshoeAgency.com The word 'conversion' in marketing is probably the most important aspect of being a webmaster that encompasses everything that makes a great website. Those things being quality of product, quality of content, search engine optimization, design and user experience. A website that does an excellent job of converting will have all of these areas covered and will have done a better job at this than their competitors. The word conversion can also be completely misunderstood as most people think of this as simply being 'call to action' or just simply improving click through rates. When it comes to online gambling there are a few examples of affiliate and operator websites that do things well with the majority of them having a weakness somewhere. This guide will aim to showcase some of those websites that do an excellent job of conversion and to educate you along the way to help you improve your website. There will be resources listed about the topic of conversion so you can read up on the subject and stay on top of trends. Here is a quick itinerary of this article:
- Analysis of elements
- Websites for reference
- Resources & Tools
Before proceeding any further I would like to state I am not the authority when it comes to the topic of conversion rate optimization but I do believe I can help most websites. I do have my own experience from making mistakes along the way and I have read as much about the subject as I can while staying up to date on changes. Most importantly there are a few people I consult with when I need opinions when it comes to marketing and conversion and I recommend you always ask for opinions on your designs and on your websites to ask how can you make it better, how can you improve the conversion. I would like to credit the following people for their help over the years: Josh & Nik from LatestCasinoBonuses.com, Igor from AskGamblers.com, and DealerDan from AffiliateBible.com. Now that I got the ass kissing out of the way, let's get to work!
1. Analysis of Elements
Ignore the fancy name for this section for a moment and understand that when I say elements I am referring to all the parts that contribute to the whole of making your site and pages optimized for conversion. That is design and content both need to be optimized if you want to improve your conversion rate. I also want to include SEO as a separate topic even though it is first related to content and now related to design more than ever thanks to Google giving credit to bounce rate. Within design you'll hear even more buzz words such as call to action (CTA) and User Experience design (UX Design). For content there are also many ways of breaking this down both in terms of quality and in presentation which of course implies design.
1.2.1 Call to Action (CTA)
Call to Action (CTA) is another buzzword for conversion and is possibly the #1 element of this whole article that for some websites could mean the difference of 100% improvement in performance! Some areas where this is completely neglected on sites is at the top of the page, the middle of the page and the end of the page and in the worst case scenario some pages have no CTA. To put this into perspective take a 1000 word article called 'blackjack bonuses' and we have a few options on how to present this data. Here are the options:
- (a) Completely unformatted (no paragraphing) with no links and no images
- (b) formatted with paragraphs with no links and no images
- (c) formatted with paragraphs and a few links with no images
- (d) formatted with paragraphs and a few links with images and banners
If this was a quiz most people would answer (d) as having the best conversion rate. However if we started taking samples of websites we would find that most affiliates are either (b) or (c) whereas anything described as (a) would nearly be considered a legal document and most people simply don't want to read this. The best example of (d) is Wikipedia, formatted text, easy to read, important points are highlighted with titles, images and links. A 1000 word article implies the user will have to scroll below if they want to read all of it. On many articles at the centre of the page it is just a wall of text. At the end of the article the worst thing you can do is leave the user with nothing to click on, it then becomes easier for them to leave. To improve this a link would help, a few related links would be better, a banner would be better than nothing and a custom graphic such as a button could be the best. When I critique a website and I am viewing their pages I am always asking the affiliate, what do you want or expect the user to do on this page. Most of the calls to action I see are not that intuitive for the user. Remember that people prefer to scan first before they read. You probably scanned this page first before you started to read it.
1.2.2 User Experience Design (UX Design)
UX Design is aptly named however when it comes to graphic design, there are not many designers that consider themselves UX Designers. The reason is they never heard of the term before and because they never cared about what the user needs. That is they only care about producing an esthetic design to please the buyer in order to get paid. This means you end up with an attractive design that isn't good for the user and will probably hurt your conversion rate. Likewise most webmasters themselves have a difficult time thinking like a customer. In 2012 and beyond you cannot neglect the user anymore and you must help the user buy and lead them. The presentation of content is possibly more important than the graphic design component in UX Design. You can have the best slots article in the world but if the presentation of the content is not optimized then you could have a higher bounce rate and lost your conversion along the way.
1.2.3 Design Principles
This section I will keep short as for most webmasters the principles seem obvious but in 2012 there are still websites that continue to strive for doing things completely wrong. In short most people expect certain things when viewing websites or using programs. Those being text links are blue, background is a solid colour and not an image, text is readable and uses a standard font that isn't too big or too small. Another important but overlooked principles include using headers and images to complement the content.
Many webmasters have their own ideas of what they would define as good content and how to market that content for conversion. This section will breakdown content to talk about quality of content, presentation and copywriting. I will finish this section with some discussion of how SEO can be an important factor for conversion.
1.3.1 Quality of Content
Many webmasters would agree that having quality content is important. If I were to survey webmasters and they said this was important, I would probably find that many of them don't have quality content. Everyone has their own definition of quality content but I'll give you mine: “Quality content is more than just having proper spelling and grammar in an article. Also having 500 words in an article doesn't make it better than one with 200 words. If you are writing an article that hundreds of others have previously written about and you haven't added anything new or different, this is low quality in my books. All of your pages and posts have a purpose which is to entertain or educate. The top affiliates tend to have higher quality content because they spent more time and money producing it and they know it makes more money.”
1.3.2 Presentation of Content
The presentation of content is highly underrated and is one of the easiest things to fix with noticeable benefits. Many affiliates don't take the time to improve the appearance of their content and this is what separates the top affiliates from the rest. Here are some easy tasks that will greatly improve the appearance of your content:
- Make use of Headers
- Break your content down into paragraphs
- Avoid run-on sentences
- Use Bold to highlight important parts of the article
- Use italics and underline to complement other parts of your article
- Make a larger text quote to highlight the most important part of the article
- Use bullet points to summarize the article
- Add links to other sections of your website
- Add icons, logos, pictures, buttons and banners
- Add videos
All of these suggestions to improve your presentation will have 2 very important benefits. Your conversion rate should increase which will increase more sales and your bounce rate will have decreased which is something Google factors into rankings. Having a lower bounce rate is good for SEO.
The irony of becoming a webmaster is that not everyone is good at selling and once again the top affiliates are either good at this from experience or they have taken the time to learn it. Call to Action and copywriting go hand in hand. When you are writing content there are certain ways of saying things that can improve conversion. The bottom line is you have something to sell and you need to choose the right words to get the most sales. Simply saying “click here” is nearly not enough these days. There are other words and phrases you can use near your final call to action to complement the sale such action words: Call, buy, register, subscribe, join. You can add in more phrases to help the sale such as exclusive offers, offers that expire, guarantees or testimonials. For more information about this look at the resources section at the end of this article. Learn the art of selling!
1.3.4 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In my books a good SEO specialist is also a good conversion rate specialist. That is, what good is it to rank for a keyword that gets a lot of visitors but you can't make good money off of it. Your content and design are more connected to SEO than it has ever been and bounce rate is a very important metric that you should pay attention to at all times and on ALL pages. The definition of bounce rate from Wikipedia: "Bounce rate is an internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and 'bounce' (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site." The quality of your content, the presentation and copywriting all contribute to your bounce rate. A high bounce rate implies the content of the website is low quality. Remember google knows fairly accurately what the bounce rate of your website is and google does their best to give higher rankings to websites with quality content.
2 Websites for Reference
It is difficult to find websites that do the best job of design, content, seo and conversion but the following is a list of websites that I feel implement as much of these conversion elements as possible.
3 Resources & Tools
Conversion rate and landing page optimization is something you should stay up to date with. The following is a list of the tools and resources to learn more about conversion, stay on top of trends and tools to help improve your conversion.
Site Tuners by Tim Ash Conversion Optimization by Khalid Saleh Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion by Ben Hunt Power Sales Writing by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore
Google Analytics – You have to be using some sort of analytics tool and you want to see your overall bounce rate and the bounce rate on each page. When you see pages with a high bounce rate then it means you might want to find out what is causing it and spend more time improving the pages. Google Website Optimizer – Part of the analytics tools and this is a free AB split testing tool. Split testing lets you test out different text or images on some of your pages to see which version performs better.
If you want to try to separate yourself from the crowd of affiliate sites, improving the conversion process of your site is a great way to do that. You will want to get the most out of your traffic if you search for case studies you'll find some websites have increased their performance anywhere from 10% improvements and over 400%. If you are part of a larger company, you might want to consider hiring an expert. But for most affiliates you will want to read up on the topic as much as possible and apply the principles to your website. If you have a website and you want a critique from a conversion point of view then email me email@example.com.