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Conversion SEO Copywriting

4 Reasons Your Site Doesn’t Convert (And How to Fix Them)

“SEO gets ‘em there and content keeps ‘em there”, is the rule of thumb I often tell people when it comes to making any company’s website successful.  SEO works well for helping your site rank, and simply because you rank highly and have more exposure, you will receive more conversions at your website.  However, two undesirable scenarios may happen even though you rank highly:

  • Your site doesn’t convert well enough to outpace the costs of SEO
  • You feel your site could convert much better than it does

Why Doesn’t Your Site Convert as Well as You had Hoped?

Even though your site doesn’t convert as well as you had been hoping, the fact remains that you can make many adjustments to your site in order to increase its conversion rate.  There are actually a number of reasons sites don’t convert, including a non-user-friendly design, long load time, and a host of other issues.  Since my specialty lies in developing copy, I’ll discuss why your site doesn’t convert because of copy errors.

Title & META Description Focuses Too Much on SEO

The first step in any organic search funnel is the title and META description tags that appear in the search engine results pages.  To effectively convert, your site’s title must contain benefits (not features) people can expect to find at your site.  “FREE” appears often in titles that convert well, but yours might also include a killer price, an awesome ROI, or a great guarantee like “or your money back.”  That kind of talk garners attention.

In your META description, include the target keyword, but elaborate on the benefits-oriented title, while using action-oriented language.  For example, “Explore our website and find the fastest, quietest widgets in the industry,” works much better than, “Fast, quiet widgets of all shapes and sizes.”

Your Landing Page Copy Doesn’t Engage

When discussing organic search, this is usually your home page or one of several of your site’s most important pages.  If you’ve done a good job with the title and META description, your next job is to capture the attention of your site’s visitors right away in that first paragraph.

Always lead with the strongest benefit you offer, while using that action-oriented language from before.  Keep your paragraphs around 5-7 MS Word lines long and use bullets and subheads regularly.  You should use longer copy, as that results in more qualified leads and better conversion rates.  Keywords are important, but fit them in after you’ve written your copy.  Quality/user experience converts better than search engine optimization.

Calls-to-Action Don’t Exist or Aren’t Compelling

People are much more likely to take the action you want if you tell them which one to take, even if it seems obvious what they should do next.  If you have calls-to-action, evaluate yours for power.  An example of a boring call-to-action is “We can’t wait to speak to you, call us now!”

It’s boring to your target market because it doesn’t tell them what’s in it for them.  Instead, try something like, “To receive your indestructible widget and FREE shipping, call us now at 555-555-5555!”  Ahhh, now people see the benefits you are offering them, and they will find it much more attractive to take your desired action.

You Haven’t Performed Testing or Research

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised by what converts best when writing copy.

To find the most effective copy for your site, you have to test everything, even if it seems obvious that a particular set of words or your offer works well.  Every site is different, and the web changes quickly, so make sure you test everything, even things as little as the order of the words in your landing page’s H1 tag.

This is by no means a complete list of everything that hurts the effectiveness of your copy, but it covers some of the most common and major ones.  Which of these do you think would be helpful to test first for your site?

Image © esignn – Fotolia.com

Dan Stelter is a freelance copywriter in Chicago who enjoys creating compelling website copy, blog articles, case studies, and white papers. As a website copywriter, he enjoys clearly communicating your company's message to your target market in a compellling way. Visit his site at http://www.freelancewriterinchicago.com

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{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Euan Robertson April 17, 2013, 2:37 pm

    If there was to be 5th reason….it might be – “Not having mobile friendly web site”.
    Mobile traffic is huge now and continues to grow. If your site doesn’t work well on a smartphone and your checkout isn’t mobile friendly, you won’t convert a thing. Even worse, I keep coming across Flash based sites which I can’t see at all on my iPhone.

    Consider a mobile theme and a streamlined checkout for smartphone users and don’t waste mobile traffic!

  • JV White February 18, 2013, 10:40 pm

    I agree to Dan Stelter. I believe that many webmasters still don’t understand the power of these 4. If one of these 4 is not present or not properly used it will result to a bounce rate. Every webmaster must know how to use these 4 properly and efficiently.

  • GK Adams February 18, 2013, 11:02 am

    Dan, thanks for a wonderful article. I’m looking forward to reading your other posts. I’m just entering the SEO waters and it can be quite intimidating as I try to navigate a smooth course.

  • Kumar Gauraw February 15, 2013, 9:37 am

    Dan,
    “Call to Action” is one of the main reasons and then definitely a bit of engagement on the landing page helps. I think running some seasonal contests, special offerings etc can help very much in this aspect. I am planning to do something like that for my one of the websites as well. But this is a very informative post. Thank you.

  • Arslan Shoukat February 13, 2013, 7:47 am

    Nice one Dan. I like first and third point of titles and call-of-action Call of action really helps in converting. Thanks for sharing tips.

  • Joe Hart February 13, 2013, 3:56 am

    Landing page title and copy are the most vital items that contribute towards conversions…If one gets it right then there will be much better conversions..Sometimes i see some sites which promising one thing in the title and deliver something else in the copy..Such practices are instant turn-offs in my opinion..If you loose the trust of a visitor in his first visit then he is gone for life..One has to be really careful there.

  • Peter Mutiso
    Twitter:
    February 13, 2013, 3:12 am

    I got your point Dan. We have to follow the principles you have outlined and ensure we maximize any opportunity available for conversion of our sites
    Peter Mutiso recently posted..The Easiest Way To Get A Personal LoanMy Profile

  • Vivek
    Twitter:
    February 13, 2013, 1:57 am

    Great post, having attractive call to action buttons, graphics and text are really important to increase your click rates. But what I personally feel is that, you should have very professional design and good looking typography. Other than that A/B testing would hep to find the perfect design which converts best.
    Vivek recently posted..Increase Your Blog Traffic For Free : 6 Simple StrategyMy Profile

  • Peter Mutiso
    Twitter:
    February 12, 2013, 3:50 pm

    Hi Dan,

    I agree with you to some extent. However, i think there is no specific formula on how to convert your site – for instance, what if 10 bloggers used the same criteria?
    Peter Mutiso recently posted..Communication and LeadershipMy Profile

    • Dan Stelter February 12, 2013, 4:00 pm

      No doubt that’s true – that’s why I outline principles. For example, you’ll have to test your own CTA out until it is effective, although there are better ways to create CTAs than others. Same with title/META – you have to figure it out, but for everyone, it’s definitely a factor affecting your conversion rate. Good point for specificity you bring up.
      Dan Stelter recently posted..SEO Copywriting Hot Topic: How Does Duplicate Content Work in 2013?My Profile

  • babanature February 12, 2013, 12:47 pm

    This is a good article and a nice one indeed. It is very good for bloggers trying to get conversions. thanks
    babanature recently posted..Adding Categories And Menu To Your WordPress BlogMy Profile

  • Darnell Jackson
    Twitter:
    February 12, 2013, 12:33 pm

    Good one Dan,

    Excellent point.
    The CTA won’t work if the offer isn’t juicy enough.
    I recommend adding more value for FREE until it has an effect and then bring it back down from there.

    What have you found to be the best “nuggets” to offer in exchange for email subscription?
    PDF downloads, videos, etc?
    Darnell Jackson recently posted..What I learned from Ana Hoffman – Q&A with the founder of Traffic Generation Café.My Profile

  • Lisa
    Twitter:
    February 12, 2013, 7:28 am

    Thanks for the reminders of stressing the benefits. Something I tend to overlook on the retail sites that I should really emphasize.
    Testing is ongoing every day – it’s never done Dan.
    Lisa recently posted..What Is Customer Service During A CrisisMy Profile

  • Ryan Biddulph
    Twitter:
    February 12, 2013, 6:11 am

    Power tips tips, especially the note about leading with the strongest benefit.

    Benefits based copy boosts conversions because you do the mental legwork for the visitor. The individual quickly visualizes how your offer benefits, or improves, their life, and this super quick picturing process puts money in your pocket more often than not.

    The key? Keep stressing benefits. Do not move away from stressing the benefits of all that you can offer, on your squeeze page, blog, or anywhere else where you happening to be attracting visitors.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..Avoid this Internet Marketing Mistake Like the PlagueMy Profile

  • Evan February 12, 2013, 2:26 am

    Hi! I never came across such problem (if i can say that is a problem) but will keep this info in mind! Thanks!

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