Great search engine rankings, but poor conversion rate

By | July 2, 2006

So now you have a website that has great rankings. You somehow managed to get your website into the top ten, or better yet the top three in all of the major search engines. Good for you! But wait a minute, your getting dozens of hits from the search engines however nobody is buying from your website. What’s going on here!

I’m afraid that you fell for the old joke that good rankings are everything. Let me tell you a little secret. They’re not!

Sure having good rankings increases the amount of visitors you will get to your website, you lucky you. But what then. What is the visitor going to do after he visits your website. Two options basically, well initially anyway. The visitor is impressed and decides the website is worth a quick read. Or they don’t like what they see, worse yet is they don’t see what they like.

You may think that your website offers the visitor everything he wants, but somehow they disagree with you. Don’t believe me, try a poll among your visitor base to find out what they think about your website and if it helps them to achieve their goals. How they do this, well they’ll start scanning your website to look for signs they like. If they don’t find it changes are against you and the visitor will return to the search engine. Finding out what these signs are is not that easy, and can’t be discussed in this post as they vary per audience. What I will do is give some general pointers that may help you in figuring out what your visitor is expecting from you. When a visitor comes to your website they are looking for the following things:

  • Keywords that they actually used, not that strange considering they found your page with these.
  • Benefits that you or your products can bring to them
  • Either information on a product or service or a way to purchase the desired product or service

Note that the list mentions nothing about features or your goals. The reason is very easy. Visitors don’t care what you want or what your goals are!

Lets take the example of a web shop that sells vacations. Lets also presume that your website has top rankings but for some reason fails to sell your product. So what now, I’ll try and give a somewhat general list of reasons for this.

  • The pages are loaded with beautiful pictures about the vacation spots. You think this is a benefit to the visitor. Well its not!

    I’m not willing to wait for dozens of high resolution pictures to load unless I’m really interested. If I just want to get a feel for the vacation location I don’t want all those damn pictures.

  • The page that I land on contains no information that’s relevant for me when I’m looking for more information on the travel destination. If you only provide options for visitors to buy a vacation, but not additional information about the travel destination then why on earth would I buy from you. Gives me the feeling of shouting “NEXTâ€?.
  • The page is filled with features, but tells me little of the benefits for me.
    Don’t get me wrong its wonderful to now that my room has a view on the landscape with a bathroom and queen sized bed. But that’s not gonna sell it to me. I’d prefer something more along the lines of:

    “The rooms will give you an ultimate experience of the local culture with their overview of the local flora and fauna. After a day of enjoying the nature you are able to relax in the modern styled bathroom with luxurious bubble bath or enjoy some rest in the queen sized bed.â€?

    I can already picture me in that room and better yet on that vacation. And that is what you want. Make people think about your product or service, make them longer for it.

I know this example contains a far from complete list, but it does give a general idea of what people like and what they don’t. Now please don’t use this for granted, every audience is different. So make sure to do some marketing research into who is going to buy from you and change the website to please them. And forget about pleasing everybody, it’s impossible.

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