If you want to have a healthy site, then reading a few articles about SEO isn’t going to help. Why? Because reading and learning about SEO is a daily process… actually, there was a recent review about Level 343 and what we do as a company 10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Taking SEO to the Next Level with Gabriella Sannino by Karl Smallwood. Not only is it a catchy title, but it also made me ponder how true to form that title really is. What we offer at Level343 is more than SEO, and if you’ve been reading our blog, then you know SEO is not the end-all of a healthy marketing campaign.
Yes, I said it. SEO is not EVERYTHING. Consider this, we have daily requests from clients, asking us to resolve their site issues in one conversation. Or rather, send them a quote based on a traffic drop. I’ve already given you my opinion in SEO with Bite. Take a look and you can see, I’m not a fan of cookie cutter anything, especially SEO. So please don’t call us for a one size fits all package.
Look, I’ve probably written over 500 articles in some variations or other about marketing, SEO, PPC, conversions, content strategy, social networks, etc. and I would say about 40% to maybe 75% are still valid in today’s evolving search behavior. I blame it on my understanding of marketing 101, A/B testing and human behavior.
So Many Changes, So Little Time
Google changes constantly, the buying cycle may not if you have a good site, but algorithms will adjust to what Google is doing. Smart companies know how to adjust to those changes when needed. But one thing that will always remain constant is people. They want what they want and they really don’t care what Google is saying or doing. Therefore, it stands to reason how you approach a campaign in order to get the results needed is what you should be concerned with. Sometimes I may have a great idea, or the client comes to us with an amazing campaign that was working but now is defunct. The problem may be something as simple as bad content, or a little more complicated, due to the client’s unhealthy link profile. Either way, it’s time consuming and can be quite frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing or looking for.
Dealing with Bad Content
Bad content is easy enough to resolve, or so you would think. However, quality content isn’t something you can simply buy. It has to be created, with not only the client’s goals in mind, but with specific steps in order to get the action you desire. However, just because you have great content doesn’t guarantee you’ll have the traffic, so you’ll still need to use search and social in order to initiate the process of building a healthy site. In order to find out if your content is the culprit in your buying cycle, you really should consider A/B testing your pages. It’s a simple strategy, when approached correctly.
What is A/B Testing?
For those of you who have no idea what A/B testing is, in simple laymen’s terms, it’s a marketing technique that has been used by agencies through their R&D for years; actually we used it with the ad agency I worked with on a Pacific Bell account. Did you know people prefer using a red phone to a black phone? But I digress. Back then however, we had core focus groups of live people coming into our conference rooms in order to find the variation points (different features) that would result in those conversions (sale).
Now digitally, in order to A/B test you have to take a few elements of a page in order to hypothesize what changes you’ll need to make in order to improve your conversions. The method and process you take will be your starting point. So let’s say your content is weak and you have no CTA on that page. Then create the page with a content change and test out a new CTA (call to action button) it can be something as simple as “join the discussion” (if you want them to chat about the post) or it can be signing up for a newsletter. Whatever your goals are, they need to be reflected in a CTA.
Actions To Take
Now each and every visitor that comes to that page will see the varying versions of that page. You can test your content, forms, images, etc. Keep in mind to make the changes drastic, especially if the page is not working at all. This will give you a better understanding of where and how to find a solution. There are some refined methods too, especially if a page is working but the readers are not buying or converting. It could be the title of the page, or maybe the image is confusing – split testing some of those elements can make the difference between a good page and a great page. Another option is to change the colors on that page. Or my favorite is testimonials; those always have a huge positive impact when testing. Make sure to add them if it makes sense. Therefore make sure when you do take on split testing, that you follow some simple rules.
If you’re going to refine a page, then consider using more content rather than less. Longer titles, (when relevant)versus shorter titles. Maybe the content is focused on features instead of benefits. Make sure the changes are clear enough for you to track them after your testing. Last but not least, people ask how long should an A/B testing last? What we’ve found to be successful is to have the test running for at least 30 days or at the very least, a couple of hundred visitors. Depending on your traffic and your goals, don’t worry – it doesn’t hurt your site or your visitors’ interaction with the page.