Week 5: How Google works, Intro to Analytics and 3 Landing page mistakes
How Google search works:
Sometimes we feel that Google search works by magic. And to some extent it does, but more like David Copperfield than Merlin. Perhaps the biggest illusion that people have of Google is that it searches the internet the moment you press search. But to be able to serve results as fast as it does, it couldn’t possibly do so (or you’d be sitting there for days waiting for a result).
What google does is more like a card catalogue. First they read or “crawl” through all the pages they know of, and new links they’ve found. The do this using very specialized programs called “bots” or Googlebots in particular (they are sometimes called “spiders” as well). These programs then make a card catalogue or index of all the words, links and tags on a website. Unfortunately these bots are a blind when it comes to media like Music, video and images. So transcripts and tags explaining what they are help. All of that work is done well before you visit Google.
When you do visit and type a search, Google looks at over “200 factors” while you type, to serve you the right page. One of these factors is the patented PageRank, which basically is a popularity contest of how many pages link to yours. (But Google does rank the quality of sites and their links, so you can’t just go out and make 100,000 spam pages that link to yours to increase your PageRank). PageRank and the other factors go to work on their huge card catalogues/indexes of the internet, to find just the right pages that you might want. And with the speed that they do it, it really is like magic.
Now if you were Google, trying to provide your visitors with the best pages, what factors would you include? How could you stop people from “gaming” or “playing” the system to manipulate the results?
Intro to Google Analytics
Now lets take a look at perhaps Google’s most powerful tool for businesses and marketers. Google Analytics. Using a small piece of code, that you place into your web pages, Google is able to provide real time information about the audience you are attracting. Not only does it provide city-level location data, browser, and how people are using your site, it also provides tools to measure your Return on Investment(ROI) and keep track of your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). And Google Analytics also integrates with other Google products like Google Play, Android and IOs SDKs, AdSense, AdWords, Google Plus, WildFire and more.
I’m really excited about WildFire, which is an Social Media Management platform that they bought in 2012 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Google).Though wildfire seems to be invite only right now, you can check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8FsCrzWqD4.
With all the metrics that analytics tracks, it’s no wonder that the likes of GoPro (http://www.google.com/analytics/customers/pdfs/go-pro.pdf) , Puma (http://www.google.com/analytics/customers/pdfs/puma.pdf) and the Obama Campaign (http://www.google.com/analytics/customers/pdfs/obama-2012.pdf) use them to great effect.
And the best part is Analytics is free to use (though you can upgrade to premium as well).
3 Landing page mistakes
So lets say you’ve tweaked your website using analytics, had someone search for you and they click to come to your site. What do they see? Are you putting your best foot forward with your landing pages? Lets look at the three places you’re most likely making mistakes (unbounce).
Talk Benefits, not features
People buy products based on how it’s going to improve their business or life, so talk about those benefits. Features like “uses electricity” are great, but seriously, why is your product going to make my life easier? And part of that sell is making a Headline with impact. Tell me why I want your product and why I should keep reading.
Focus on one thing
Don’t try to sell them on something they did not come to your site for yet, build the relationship with the thing they searched for first. And make it one thing and one goal. Do you want them to sign up for a free trial? or do you want them to request more info? Make it simple, or you may find people will leave because you didn’t keep their focus.
Also, while focusing on one thing make sure it’s easy for visitors to know what you want them to do. Don’t disorient them by putting tons of options in the header or footer, just drop all the extraneous links. And Write copy that matches your offer. Don’t switch to talking about your great company when you’re trying to get them to sign up for a free trial, tell them about the free trial. That is why they’re visiting right?
Design for conversions
Finally, present a well designed page. Make it look like a sharp suit (or equivalent wear for your market), and not like a pair of cut-off jeans and a cut up shirt. In addition to having a quality designer work on and test on your site, make sure the thing is legible. Don’t use difficult to read wedding fonts for the body copy, use something people can read. And make sure that any design elements don’t interfere with legibility either. And if they do, fix it. If it’s difficult to read, you’re telling your visitors that you don’t want them to read it, and they’ll leave.
Additionally, fix your forms, make them stand out and drop any unnecessary fields. One researcher (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/6748/3-Form-Fields-That-Kill-Landing-Page-Conversion-Rates.aspx) found that excluding an “age” field would increase conversion by 3%. Excluding “phone” can increase your conversion by 5%, and excluding “street” can increase your conversion by 4% (city and state can earn you 2% each). Heck with our current technology, you could even pre-fill, city and state, or even put demographic info like that on a second “complete your profile” page. This way you can have the simplest name/email request on first page. And when they click “Download Report” (don’t use “submit”, it’s a waste of copy, use something that calls to action), they get their report and can fill out more info if they like. If they don’t you can then funnel them into a warming up process. And if they do, they can be sent right on to your sales team.
Can you think of any other ways of streamlining your landing pages? Have you ever tested the effectiveness of your pages?
Figure 1: http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16571