If you’re getting a lot of traffic to your website, you probably feel like you’ve won the internet battle. In a way you have – getting to the point of having a healthy traffic tally is a real triumph. But what about after that first step?

There is a long and winding road between a customer seeing your listing in the search engines and the customer buying your product. If you’re hoping your site will do more than act as an online business card, you need to look at conversion paths while you’re thinking about SEO and building up your online presence.

1. The big don’ts

The first thing to do for your conversion paths is, naturally, to plan and lay them out. However, knowing what not to do is going to make your job a lot easier. There is a whole mountain of reasons a customer might look at your site but not buy your products or services:

  • Trust triggers – Looking unprofessional, out-of-date or otherwise unreliable is a good way to turn a customer back to the SERPs so make sure you examine your website thoroughly
  • Wrong landing page – A very common error in SEO and marketing is to mismatch pages with customer drives. A customer searching for ‘dog biscuits’ might be searching for information on healthy dog treats, or they could be looking to buy immediately. Pick the wrong approach and you lose the customer.
  • Broken links – This may seem like a strange one to include as a ‘don’t', but site malfunctions can be a drain on profits if they aren’t seen to swiftly.
  • The siphon effect – Moving customers away from the landing page too soon can lead them away from the conversion. Try not to clutter your conversion paths with lures to more interesting products or information.

2. Laying down your conversion paths

The length of your conversion paths will depend largely on what you’re selling. Most retail sites have short conversion paths because customers visit the site when they’re thinking about buying. Services sites may have slightly longer paths, as the service needs to be explained and then sold. Lead-generator sites will have much longer paths between the landing page and the information request form. Plan out what is most important for your target audience.

The important point with planning out a catchy conversion path, as the above indicates, is to know your audience. User studies can be a great way to figure out what is best, but for those of us whose budget doesn’t stretch quite that far, then competitors are always a good gauge. Check to see if your competitors use bright, flashy calls to action or go for the subtler, content-based approach.

Any business owner knows that a conversion is by no means guaranteed when customers click onto a website. If you can, though, wouldn’t you like to have some influence over the percentage of customers you do convert? Choosing the right kind of conversion path, and working it into your search engine optimisation and internet marketing plans can boost those conversion percentages just that little bit more, making your marketing efforts all the more efficient.  It can be surprising the impact that one little change can make.

Bonus tip: If you haven’t yet started looking at marketing for second-time visitors in your web marketing plan, then you’re possibly missing out on a big chunk of your market. It’s important to look at ways of catching those who come back for a second look – their attitudes and needs can be different from those of first-time visitors.

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