Testing, testing: How does your SEO copywriting fare out there?

Welcome back!  In this year’s final post of our SEO copywriting “how to” series, we’re going to wrap up our discussion of measuring our success.  Last week, we looked at search engine ranking as one way to gauge the success of our SEO copywriting efforts.  Today, we’re going to look at the second way, conversion metrics:  sales, leads, and ROI from our SEO campaign.

The groan is almost audible.  No worries.  This is simply a matter of using free Google Webmaster tools, and it only requires a snippet of code on your site to access all kinds of truly valuable conversions data.

Before we launch into Google Analytics, let’s quickly restate what we mean by conversion metrics.  Simply put, it is a measurement of success in terms of conversions, be it in increased dollars, average order volume, lead generation, number of subscriptions or donations, whatever your end goal may be.  After all, while it’s fabulous to achieve a top-ten SERP ranking, it’s even better to also realize profits!

Sales/Leads as a Measurement of Success

Going into your Webmaster Tools screen, you can then access Google Analytics.  Some of the cool insights you can glean are:

  • How many unique visitors you’re getting, compared to last month, or even last year  — are those numbers going up? Down? Holding steady?
  • The average time spent on your site – if folks are clicking off after 30 seconds, then you know there is a problem needing your immediate attention.
  • The page/s that people tend to exit from.  If you notice a lot of visitors are leaving the site from a particular page, a rewrite may be in order.
  • The links that people are clicking…or not:  if they’re not clicking those links at the bottom of the page, they’re probably not reading through all your copy.
  • The main sources of your traffic and the performing keywords driving that traffic.  Did your Twitter campaign drive any traffic to your site?  Or you new Facebook Business page?  You can readily find out!
  • Is the keyword that’s positioning well also helping you gain leads?  Or should you be focusing on other, higher-value keyphrases that actually convert?

Google Analytics can seem overwhelming, and it’s not something you’ll master in one sitting.  But it is well worth your while to just take your time, go through the tutorials, and read their blog.  Your investment of time and patience can save you marketing dollars.  For instance, if a keyword isn’t making you money, you’ll know.  The same can be said for links and campaigns.

The knowledge gained is powerful.  You’ll know exactly where your traffic is coming from, and what folks are doing once they visit your site.  Yes, knowledge is power!

A Note for Local Biz Site Owners:

If you’re strictly local and prefer low-tech — and your customers tend to contact you by phone rather than use the “contact us” form — a super simple way to measure conversions is to assign a unique phone number to your site.  The operative word here is unique – it has to be different than the phone number you use on other marketing materials, or in the phone book.  Then every time your “website line” rings, you’ll know to count the lead towards your overall site success.

The Power of the A/B Test

Another powerful tool, the A/B (“split”) test, is as old as direct marketing itself.  Then, marketers would mail out two slightly different variations of a direct mailer and watch the results to see which one performed better.  Now, we can do the same online by testing out two slightly different versions of a web page.

The A/B test gives you actionable insights into your target market’s psyche, and takes the guesswork out of copywriting.  You can see what works, and what doesn’t.  After testing your top sales and lead generation pages, you can figure out how to hone them even sharper, and use that knowledge to tweak and test your other pages.

A low-tech way to create an A/B test is to write two different variations of a web page, and drive traffic to the first version (A) through a PPC campaign.  Then, after at least 100 unique visits, run version (B) through the campaign and compare the conversions data from each version.  It’s not a perfect measurement, as people who click on an ad may behave differently than organic visitors, but it can be done with minimal time and effort on your part.

Another way to run an A/B test is through Google’s Website Optimizer.  You’ll find the Optimizer link on your Google account home page.

Setting up your A/B test is relatively simple.  Again you will need to copy and paste a bit of code on your site (which is different than the Analytics code).  It will take at least 100 conversions per page variation to gather reliable data – for some sites this could take only a day, while for others, it might take a couple of months.

Be prepared for a learning curve.  You’ll see terms that at first may make no sense to you, like “multivariate” and “conversion rate range,” but in time you’ll become familiar with the jargon and find it comprehensible.  Google has loads of helpful resources that will help demystify the process for you.  Once you’ve a handle on it, you can transform your web pages from good to golden!

That’s all for today, and for our SEO Copywriting “how to” series of 2010.  Thanks for checking in!  Let us know how you’re doing with your SEO copywriting campaign in the meantime, and as always, your comments and questions are welcome.

Have a wonderful holiday, and we will see you in the New Year!