“We strive to deliver useful and relevant results.” – Google
What does this statement mean in reality?
What does the above enigmatic statement mean in actual everyday search optimisation?
A huge fucking amount and not what is commonly stated.
How do I know this? We tested it.
But let’s play the speculation and conjecture game for a little while.
User behaviours on your site are a direct ranking factor. There are around 100 people in the world who know this for a fact, so now is the time to act on it. Not all but specific ones. Time on page (which is the most commonly shared one) means nothing.
The strategy that I’m going to give you will help you make more money from your existing traffic as well as increase your organic search traffic. Sound good?
Make your existing traffic happy, send more happy traffic to your page and it will rank better.
What is happy traffic
Again some of the things mentioned here are not directly evidence based, so treat this section as such, I’ll let you know when this is the case.
Happy traffic is determined when the search cycle is completed on your page.
What do I mean by this?
The user should NEVER go directly back to Google to perform a related search after visiting your page, this means the back button is officially the new enemy of any page listed in search results.
Of course, it’s probably impossible to avoid people clicking the back button by 100% (people shopping around, comparing products/offers etc) but the goal is to reduce it to the lowest possible number.
The same can be said once people are on your site, clicking around your various pages provides similar numbers in terms of demotions and promotions in search.
This means that your site should have a clear visitor journey, that ends in a conversion.
There is some discussion on how “happy traffic” is determined (this is the guesswork part I mentioned above). There is some data to suggest that the chrome browser determines how you act on a page that you are interested in, how often you click/highlight/hover etc.
I don’t personally prescribe to this but it looks like “they” are able to determine what a conversion is for a given page. The counter argument being that they cannot know a conversion has occurred if the conversion takes place off-site (by phone or text for example).
The only way to ensure that your traffic is more happy is to perform analysis and conversion rate optimisation. Ensure that you have a clear customer journey and people follow it as often as possible.
But what if you have no traffic?
The amount of traffic that your site gets is determined by 1 thing; how much money you have to spend on it.
In 2019 we see plenty of options for buying relevant traffic, the key word being “relevant”, we want to send as many people as possible to your page that will interact and preferably convert.
The best option currently is to buy from search engines, Google, Bing, Youtube, Facebook etc where these platforms have excellent targeting options and should allow you to calibrate who sees your content to the finest details.
Not all industries are allowed to advertise on these platforms, so you need to determine which platforms your target audience is using and see if it’s possible to buy access to them such as Reddit, Twitter, native forum ads, Snapchat, Instagram etc.
This guide isn’t about paid traffic, so I’ll leave it there for now.
Find where your target audience is, figure out how to get them from there to your pages.
Let’s talk about quality
One of the biggest buzzwords in the SEO community is “quality” but what does it mean?
Quality is determined by how visitors interact with your page and essentially how many of them convert (more “educated” conjecture).
Again, we need to stop your visitors from:
- Going back to Google to perform a related search
- Clicking back on your conversion pages and flip-flopping around your site
I have a working theory, backed by some data but not enough for me to say it emphatically, but I’ll let you in on my thinking anyway.
On-page work and links determine the position that you rank theoretically and for testing purposes, the closer, the thing that ensures you either keep your position or increase your position is your quality score.
This is what it looks like when you have good on-page, links and poor quality.
This page, for this keyword is constantly being tested, usually as high as top 10 position (it is at position 3 in the image above), it will remain there for several days and then drop out, you can see this by the broken purple line.
However nobody clicks on the result no matter how high it ranks (as can be seen from 0 clicks).
My current hypothesis and plan of action for this page is to:
- Send paid traffic
- Optimise the meta information for clicks
- Use the paid traffic for conversion optimisation on the page
The hypothesis is that this page will settle in the top 3-5 results and gain a large % of the search traffic for this high value term.
The takeaway from this section is that on-page and links show you potentially where your page can rank, quality and user interactions determine if it stays and refines your position.
A framework for success
I’m running out of available words so I’ll give you a very quick outline on how to add this to your marketing tools.
- Run correlation reports on your individual pages for specific keywords (Cora is great for this)
- Gain parity with the top ranking results (match content length and other key factors)
- Determine what the key factors are by running tests on them, or buy access to existing data
- Optimise for conversion both in meta-data (to encourage clicks) and to raise your quality score by making your visitors happy, stop them clicking back, especially to Google
If you already have a page that is suffering in similar ways as the one in the image above is, then here is how you fix it:
- Run a complete audit (if you need to learn how to do this it’s probably best to contact me via Facebook)
- Create an action plan, what needs to be fixed and in what order, fix those things
- Have the page re-crawled by Google in Search console. This updates your cached page, which is what Google ranks
- Repeat and calibrate
Conversion rate optimisation action plan
General philosophy when it comes to conversions are to calibrate constantly based on data, you can see a video I made about this here danray.me/cal
- January – Redesign (optional)
- February – Mobile first
- March – One off optimisations
- April – Hire a pro (optional)
- May – CTA (call to action)
- June – Product and offer
- July – Home and landing pages
- August – Navigation and customer journey
- September – List building and upselling
- October – One off optimisations (yes… again)
- November – Sales landing pages
- December – Holiday testing
There were originally individual action points for every month, it’s extremely details but it fucked with the word count so I’m gonna have to remove it, offer it as a content upgrade, while helping me build my list. Win-Win!
It will tell you the exact things to optimise for and when to see the most effective increase in conversions, which as explained above, helps your rankings.
You can grab a more detailed daily pdf of this plan at danray.me/commission
Tools to track all of this
You’re gonna need:
- Heatmap/ video tracking (clicktale/ Hotjar/ Crazy Egg)
- A/B testing software (Google Optimise/ VWO)
- A way to track conversions (Google Analytics)
Do these 7 things and start printing monehs!
- Set up goals and conversions in Google analytics for everything that you consider a conversion on your site, ask yourself “what is important?”
- Install a heatmap software software such as Clicktale / Hotjar/ Crazy Egg so that you can see where any blockages are, video tracking is preferable but more expensive
- Create an action list of things that you determine can be improved based on what you see in the heatmaps and videos, prioritise them based on importance
- Use a A/B/n testing tools to test any changes that you decide to make, good options are Google Optimise is a great free tool, VWO (visual website optimiser) is the one that I use
- Send enough traffic to the tests to determine a winner
- Keep whichever option wins
- Repeat steps 2-6 FOREVER!
Not to start another topic, but installing retargeting software is an excellent method of increasing conversions, although not the most efficient. You should be using Google Ads and Facebook at the absolute minimum.
This article is not some sort of SEO hack, it is simply good business practice, ensure that your site is doing everything in the most efficient manner and you will make more money. It also happens as a nice side effect that this comes with increased organic rankings.
- Determine user intent
- Satisfy that intent
Come and find out more about all of this stuff in my FB group – danray.me/fb
If you see me at a conference, you’ll recognise me from the front cover, come say hi, and if you need help with traffic try to hire me.