Search & Conversion helps website owners and search marketers guide the searcher from search engine results pages – both organic listings and search ads – to relevant landing pages and complete a desired conversion action, whether that means an e-commerce transaction, engage in a phone call, an email newsletter sign-up or filling out a lead gen form. Columnists provide tips for taking searcher intent through to the finish – with landing page testing and tuning tips, techniques for moving searchers through the conversion funnel and how to feed valuable conversion data back into search campaigns.

Framing Landing Pages In The Bigger Picture

Landing Pages in Paid, Owned, and Earned Media It's wonderful that landing pages have become so widely known, at least in search marketing and conversion optimization circles. They're a well-honed tactic that everyone in our space understands. Want to improve your conversion rate on search campaigns? Direct your clickthroughs to targeted, contextually relevant landing pages. Works like a charm. But there are two reasons to step back and look at the bigger picture. First, the term landing page still gets interpreted literally as a single page. That cripples their creative potential. In some cases a single page is best, but in other [...]

Use Open Graph To Get Video Thumbnails Into Your Search Results

Joel Harvey is, among other things, the Video Scientist at Conversion Sciences. Over the past four years, he has developed video strategies for a large number of online retailers. We've found that video is great for drawing and converting qualified search traffic, so I asked Joel to tell us his tricks for getting video ranked on Google. He doesn't disappoint. Search marketers are always looking for strategies to give them an edge. Ever since Google first announced Universal Blended Search results in 2008, search marketers have been looking for ways to consistently use the blended results t [...]

12 Navigation Ideas To Give Your Website ‘Story’ A Happy Ending

[caption id="attachment_126013" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Every visitor to your site is a story. Give that story a happy ending!"][/caption] Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. It starts with the set-up, moves into the conflict and wraps up with the resolution, or climax. In the story of online marketing, each visitor to your website follows the same pattern – a beginning (What brought them there?), a conflict (Will they find the information they are looking for?) and a climax (What will they decide to do?). However, unlike a good story, which relies on c [...]

Have You Adopted Agile Marketing Yet?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a column that introduced agile marketing — a management approach that adapts agile software development methodologies to marketing projects. I suggested that adopting agile marketing management practices might be the single most important factor in building a successful, ongoing conversion optimization program. Two years later, I believe that's more true than ever. For all the advancements in conversion optimization tactics and technologies, it's the speed and flexibility of the marketing team that has the greatest impact on what can be accomplished. The [...]

How To Get Management Excited About Conversion Optimization

As search marketers, your job is to generate traffic. More traffic means more sales. As we become more wise to the math of conversion, we begin to realize that it may make sense to shift some attention away from the unending search for higher click-through rates and toward getting higher conversion rates on our sites. If you have gone to bat for adding some serious conversion optimization to your search campaigns, you know that it isn't an easy sell. We tell the powers-that-be how higher conversion rates effectively reduce the cost of the search marketing by lowering acquisition costs. W [...]

A Look At Cross-Device Search & Conversion

Mobile and Tablet strategy was a heavily discussed topic at SMX Seattle earlier this month. While there were no major revolutionary insights; I did feel that the many of the experts had important general consensuses regarding the non-PC space. Mobile search is exploding in volume and shows no signs of slowing down. As search marketers, we have no choice but to create online strategies that addresses both the strengths and limitations of Mobile advertising. Two Main Takeaways • It is best practice to break out your PPC program by device (mobile, tablet, desktop) allowing for higher resoluti [...]

Death To The Cliché Landing Page

This week at SMX Advanced, I gave a talk titled Death to the Cliché Landing Page (link will open the deck on Since the slides are mostly visuals, I thought I'd offer a written narration for you here. Originally, this talk was simply Death to the Landing Page. But since that might have been a bit too much cognitive dissonance in a session about landing pages, I tweaked it to insert the word cliché. But why would I be calling for such an ignoble ending to the landing page as we know it, cliché or otherwise? Actually, I come from a background of loving landing pages. I'v [...]

5 Ways Conversion Takes Market Share Like Candy From A Baby

candy-baby-featured They are out there, and they are not nice. They seek to take food from the mouths of your children and to put your career at risk. They are your online competitors, and they won't think twice about leaving you crying helplessly as they eat your ice cream cone. In every industry, at least one business is embracing conversion disciplines and dominating their marketplace online. Extra Space is doing it to Storage, Inc. and someone is making the move in your industry. Is it you? These stone cold sharks are refining the online formula that works best with their prospects -- and yours. They [...]

New Exact & Phrase Matching Behavior: Early Findings

In a world where lots of search marketers are still reluctant to use broad match type due to its lack of relevance and control, Google has released two features to have more advertisers show their ads on all those very long tail queries: The broad modifier feature was rolled out in July 2010 in the U.S and was mostly aimed at scaling up those accounts not already using regular broad match type. Search marketers have to then build new broad keywords using "+" signs to effectively unlock the broad modifier feature. Because it requires some time and effort, not all advertisers have actually [...]

Early Stage Landing Pages At The Top Of The Funnel

Big Data: Oracle's Landing Page For many B2B and considered purchases, buyers go through several stages of evaluating the market and choosing a seller. Different stages naturally benefit from different kinds of landing pages and conversion strategies. Here, we'll take a look at the very top of the funnel, to see how three different companies are handling early-stage interest on the same keyword phrase: "big data." With all the talk about big data these days, you can picture many people searching on this topic. Even though they're probably not yet evaluating vendors at first, they may be open to educational materials pr [...]

10 Great Adwords Options For Boosting Conversions

We all know that Adwords is the most used system in the world to drive paid traffic to websites. The Adwords system is an extensive system with a lot of complex options to optimize campaigns and increase conversions. Advanced PPC managers should already know all of these features, but beginners and intermediate level Adwords users can definitely get some new inspiration and ideas from this list to boost up performance. In this article, I will highlight 10 features that I love and frequently use. 1.  Adwords Keyword Tool The Keyword Tool is a great starting point when starting a new Adwo [...]

Advanced Landing Page Techniques: Searcher Personas

There are a million rules for search landing page design. You have to optimize the content and decide whether more stuff is better or worse for conversion. But it’s all moot unless your focus is on getting into the head of your customers. Searcher personas are the tool that delivers clarity as you develop ads and landing pages. Personas are different from demographics. Demographics tell you valuable things about ages and income brackets that you may or may not be able to influence on your campaigns. But personas tell you about motivations and behaviors that anyone of any income, ethnicity [...]

5 Colorful Sketches On Conversion Optimization

The Conversion Funnel They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But are five sketches are worth approximately one column's worth? Doodling with a new drawing app on the iPad — 53's Paper, which is a real beauty — I took a pass at illustrating what I consider to be five important ideas in conversion optimization. The Conversion Funnel As marketers, we obsess with the prospect-to-customer funnel. Getting more people in at the top. Moving more of them through the middle faster. We talk about top-of-funnel (TOFU) tactics and middle-of-funnel (MOFU) tactics. All of which is good to a point. But the r [...]

Remarketing For Conversion: The Long Way Rocks!

We all try to send loads of search traffic to our websites. We invest loads of money in high rankings in the organic SERP's and we make sure we have some huge budget we spend, spend, spend on clicks. The result? Maybe 2 or 3 percent of this traffic makes it through your website's funnel and converts. It's why we get asked the following question a lot: How can we make all these investments in Search more effective? While it's not always easy, there are several existing options available. For example, we are focusing on capturing all traffic (including your valuable search traffic) in ve [...]

Hack Your Web Developer’s Questionnaire For Higher Conversion

I was recently asked by a prospect to help them complete a website design questionnaire, the document utilized by design firms that drives the design of a website. The company doing the redesign of this site specializes in e-commerce sites, so I had expected their questionnaire to focus on conversion, business goals, etc. I was mistaken. Rather than be exasperated by this, I saw it as a teaching moment for my prospect and for you. If you are driving search traffic to an online store, online service, or subscription site, I recommend that you add some hacks to your website developer’ [...]

Getting Organized: Paid Search, User Intent & The Search Funnel

There is no shortage of literature covering: How to organize a paid search program to reflect your site map and product offerings How to maximize quality score How to categorize queries by user intent (informational, navigational, transactional) Yet, I have not found any literature addressing how to put those three concepts together. In a world where more and more campaign management solutions allow search marketers to allocate revenue across impressions and clicks involved in a conversion, it makes sense to organize a paid search program to fully leverage attribution modeling. [...]

6 Interview Questions For Conversion Optimization Hires

Conversion Interview So you're looking to hire someone to do conversion optimization on your team? Here are six interview questions that you might consider asking. The answers aren't necessarily black-and-white, but these kinds of questions can help reveal how a candidate thinks about conversion optimization. 1.  How would you approach deciding what to optimize first? For most businesses, the potential universe of optimization opportunities — from their high-level home page down through highly targeted campaigns that have yet to be conceived — is extremely large. How would the candidate decide what to p [...]

How To Design Your Website For Dollars, Not Your Ego

[caption id="attachment_113573" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Traditional design is different from designing for dollars."][/caption] My partner Joel Harvey is fond of saying, "My favorite part of a design is the money." He's been part of many a web design project. His perspective comes in response to the number of times he's heard things like: "I want the design to pop!" "I want my site’s design to be groundbreaking like nothing else out there!" "Let’s turn it up a notch on the design." "I want the site’s design to reflect the high value of our product." In an [...]

The Conversion Chain In Paid Search: Beyond Traditional Key Performance Indicators

A typical way of thinking of a SEM program is to look at multiple metrics individually, such as the average rank, cost per click, click through rate, conversion rate, cost per action, return on ad spend. Analyzing these metrics separately is a good start but does not allow search marketers to get the full picture. I like thinking of a SEM program as a whole, or more specifically as a chain. Just like a computer is as fast as its weakest component, a SEM program is as strong as its weakest link. This holistic approach is actually pretty straight-forward and originates from the user experienc [...]

Want Quick Money? Improve Your Shopping Cart!

Conversion testing is the holy grail of ROI on the Internet. Every day, more of our customers start picking up their phones, asking what new test we are planning for their website. Or may that be a result of sales people "incidentally" dropping Conversion Optimization and in doing so, providing the big eye-opener to customers? For whatever reason you get asked, there’s always a test you can simply roll out: Optimize your shopping cart. Optimizing your Shopping Cart is a very nice and clean way of starting your conversion optimization process. It’s where the customer has done everythi [...]

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