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Can you imagine a world without search engines?
You’d be stuck combing through endless pages of web content in a frustrating and usually vain struggle to find super important things like “chiropractors near me” or “1976 Best Picture Winner.”
Luckily, search engines do exist. And because they do, there’s a real need for skilled professionals who know how to optimize websites to show up at the top of their rankings.
Are you trying to get started in the field of search engine optimization (SEO)?
I’ve probably interviewed and hired over 100 different people in SEO & search marketing roles over the past 20 years and have learned a lot of things that can help you make the right impression.
Here are my tips for landing your dream job and starting your career in SEO.What Types of SEO Jobs Are There?
Every business, blog, and ecommerce store can benefit from a search engine optimization expert to boost their online presence.
But each organization has different needs. And this, of course, means lots of different job opportunities.
While it would be impossible to list every SEO role, here are some of the more common jobs in the field:Content Creator
When it comes to digital marketing, content is still king.
Content creators elevate a website’s search engine ranking by writing copy using keywords.
Tone, style, and readability are also important considerations to content creators.SEO Analyst
These professionals are responsible for maintaining the success and relevance of an organization’s website.
By tracking and implementing the latest best practices, they keep websites informative and accessible, measuring success by analyzing performative data.SEM Specialist/Strategist
They work with the SEO and marketing teams to drive traffic and attract customers.SEO Account Manager
Commonly found in agency settings, SEO Account Managers oversee SEO strategy and operations for one or several clients.
They provide customer service and serve as a liaison between the client and the technical team.Link Builder
These professionals focus on building and maintaining backlinks that will increase traffic to a page.
They develop partnerships using email outreach, blogger networking, and posting on forums.SEO Consultant
They will analyze the current website and content, making recommendations to improve results, and in some cases, even lead a redesign of a client’s online presence.Is A Career In SEO Right For You?
As an important part of any organization’s digital success, the demand for SEO professionals is high and continues to grow. But like any career, it’s not for everyone.
To help you decide if this is the right choice for you, let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons:
Pro: It’s well paid. Let’s face it, money matters. Because SEO is so vital to modern businesses, they’re willing to generously compensate people who can get the results they need.
Con: It’s tricky. SEO is a constantly shifting landscape. Just when you think you have it figured out, Google changes the algorithm, and you have to rethink your entire strategy.
Pro: There’s a lot of variety. As discussed in the previous section, there are countless opportunities for SEO professionals.
From non-profits to professional sports franchises, mom-and-pop stores to multinational corporations – you can work in almost any industry, either independently or as part of a team.
Con: It takes time to get good at. You’re not going to become a search engine wizard in one day. You’ll spend a lot of time combing through Google Analytics, and it takes constant research to stay up to date on the latest techniques and best practices.
Pro: You’re constantly learning. If you’re the type of person who enjoys self-development, SEO may be perfect for you. From writing keyword-rich text to designing webpages, search engine optimization is anything but boring and provides you with easily transferrable skills.
Con: It requires patience. It can take days, weeks or even months for your latest implementation to reap rewards.
Quality optimization provides rewards in the long-term. But even after all your hard work, you may not see the results you wanted.
There are hundreds of ranking factors, many of which Google doesn’t reveal, and sometimes even a great strategy can come up short.
Whether the pros outweigh the cons is completely up to you. But if you haven’t been dissuaded, read on for tips on landing the career in SEO you want.1. Identify What Employers Are Looking For
The key to finding a job, SEO or otherwise, is to have the qualifications the employer is looking for.
But there usually isn’t one set requirement for every SEO position. Instead, it will vary from organization to organization.
For example, some employers want applicants to have a college degree, while others will accept applicants solely on the strength of their professional portfolio.
Carefully peruse the job posting (if one exists) and consider the type of expertise the employer requires. Do you need in-depth technical skills or knowledge? Some positions may require someone who knows their way around Python NLP libraries, while others will want a Google Analytics wizard.
Some of the most common skills needed include target audience identification, knowledge of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, experience with website audits, keyword research, and competitive analysis.
In addition to digital marketing experience, many companies also prefer candidates with proven verbal and written communication skills.
You can learn more about some of the most common SEO job requirements here.2. Get To Know The Companies You’re Interested In
Before you ever send off an application, you should know as much as possible about the companies you’re interested in.
This will not only increase your chances of securing a job, but it will also help you determine if it’s a good cultural fit for you.
Research the organization’s history. How long have they been around? What are their primary products and services? Who are their competitors?
Spend some time investigating their core values. Peruse their website. Read their mission statement. Look them up on sites like GlassDoor and Indeed, where you can read employee reviews.
This is a great way to get an inside look at the culture and what working at the company is really like.
LinkedIn is also a great tool for research.
Look into company leadership, as well as the team you might be working with. See if you share any connections or interests. This can help build rapport during the interview process.3. Stay Current With Emerging Trends And Hone Your Skills
Search Engine Optimization, more than almost any other field, is a constantly shifting landscape.
Whether it’s changes to Google’s algorithm or emerging new technologies, what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.
Best practices are constantly changing. To stay at the top of the field, you need to know about them.
Show potential employees you’re not only aware of the latest trends and techniques, but you understand how to use them by applying them to your current work.
Stay up to date by reading blogs and web resources (like the one you’re on now, for example).
Participate in SEO forums where you can ask and answer questions. Enroll in free certification course that will look good on your resume.
And of course, don’t forget about Google Career Certificates, a low-cost way to earn the equivalent of a four-year degree in just a fraction of the time.
You can read more about how these certificates can help you fast-track your career in this article.4. Build Your Online Brand
In an evolving job market, which also happens to coincide with a look-at-me social media environment, it’s more important than ever to stand out.
And that means more than simply doing good work and having an amazing portfolio – it means building your brand.
Not sure what that is? Think of it as how other people think about you. It’s both your talents and who you are, and it’s what differentiates from everyone else.
A good place to start branding yourself is with a personal website. More than a way to tell your story or show off work, also lets you show employers your web-savviness.
Think about it: What could prove your expertise with search engine optimization better than a personal site at the top of the rankings?
In one fell swoop, you’ve demonstrated both your expertise and experience. And if you need a little help getting that new website off the ground, we have a handy guide to get you started.
You may also consider optimizing your social media profile for the job you want. Make sure you’re presenting a consistent, professional message across platforms. And yes, that means deleting those embarrassing party pictures from college.5. Customize Your Resume To The Role
Many jobseekers fall into the trap of creating one “good enough” resume and submitting that for every position they apply for. That’s a mistake.
Employers want to know you not only read the job posting, but that you’re qualified for the role.
Before hitting “send” on your next application, take some time to assess your strengths and feature the qualities hiring managers are looking for.
It may be as simple as restructuring your bulleted list of skills. Or, it may call for a massive rewriting of your entire resume to focus on more relevant experience.
Do a web search for resume examples for similar roles and tailor yours around them. SEO jobs want to know the specifics of your performance.
Did you take a website from the third page of Google results to the top spot? Highlight that.
Did you grow organic traffic by 32%? Your resume should show it.
Make sure you list not just your experience but your achievements, as well.
For more assistance in crafting an SEO resume, be sure to read this article.6. Nail The Interview
Your resume has been polished, and you’ve attracted the attention of the hiring manager. Now comes the really tricky part – the interview.
Most people know better than to show up with uncombed hair, in ripped jeans and a wrinkled Justin Bieber t-shirt, but there’s so much more to good interviews than just looking great.
Body language is also important. Sit up straight, look people in the eye, and smile. Basically do all the things your kindergarten teacher taught you.
Come prepared with pointed questions to ask. Interviewers love when you have done your research. It shows your interest in the position and that you are taking the interview process seriously.
Rehearse your answers to common interview questions and be prepared to highlight your creativity and relevant skills.
Not sure what kind of questions you may be asked? We’ve provided a list of 46 common questions that may come up during an SEO job interview.7. Know Your Worth
All your life you’ve probably been told it’s bad manners to discuss money. There is, however, one exception to this rule – during job interviews.
Be confident in your skills and ask for compensation commensurate with them.
Research how much jobs at this level generally pay based upon job title and experience. Not sure where to start? Take a look at State of SEO 2023 SEO Salary Report.
And, be prepared to negotiate. Most jobs expect you to have a counteroffer.
A good rule of thumb is to ask for 10% more than you think you’ll get.
Provided your counter isn’t completely unrealistic, it’s not harmful to ask for more money, and who knows? You just might get it. But you won’t know if you don’t ask.Takeaways
In the course of this piece, we’ve taken a look at what types of SEO positions are out there, what the pros and cons of a career in this field are and some strategies for landing the job you want.
If there is one thing you take away, let it be this: SEO is a good career choice, where you will be in high demand.
With the huge global shift into digital, people are more connected to the web than ever before. And that means more content in need of optimization.
According to Business Wire, the global market for SEO services is expected to grow by 19.6% to reach $83.7 billion in 2025.
And that means the sky is the limit for SEO professionals right. Now go out there and get that job.
Featured Image: iJeab/Shutterstock
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Google shares six SEO tips that combine structured data and Merchant Center to get the most out of your website’s presence in search results.
Alan Kent, a Developer Advocate at Google, describes each tip in detail in a new video published on the Google Search Central YouTube channel.
Throughout the video, Kent emphasizes using Google Merchant Center because it allows retailers to upload product data via structured feeds.
Merchant Center feeds are designed to be read by computers, which means data is extracted more reliably than Googlebot crawling your website.
However, that doesn’t mean you should forego using structured data on product pages and rely on Merchant Center alone. Product structured data remains essential even if you provide product data directly to Google with a Merchant Center feed.
Google may crosscheck data from the Merchant Center feed against structured data on your website.
Google’s SEO recommendations for ecommerce sites revolve around getting the most out of both tools.1. Ensure Products Are Indexed
Googlebot can miss pages when crawling a site if they’re not linked to other pages. On ecommerce sites, for example, some product pages are only reachable from on-site search results.
You can ensure Google crawls all your product pages by utilizing tools such as an XML sitemap and Google Merchant Center.
Creating a Merchant Center product feed will help Google discover all the products on your website. The product page URLs are shared with the Googlebot crawler to use as starting points for crawls of additional pages potentially.2. Check Accuracy Of Product Prices Search Results
If Google incorrectly extracts pricing data from your product pages, it may list your original price in search results, not the discounted price.
To accurately provide product information such as list price, discounts, and net price, it’s recommended to add structured data to your product pages and provide Google Merchant Center with structured feeds of your product data.
This will help Google extract the correct price from product pages.3. Minimize Price & Availability Lag
Google crawls webpages on your site according to its own schedule. That means Googlebot may not notice changes on your site until the next crawl.
These delays can lead to search results lagging behind site changes, such as a product going out of stock.
It would be best if you aimed to minimize inconsistencies in pricing and availability data between your website and Google’s understanding of your site due to timing lags.
Google recommends utilizing Merchant Center product feeds to keep pages updated on a more consistent schedule.4. Ensure Products Are Eligible For Rich Product Results
Eligibility for rich product results requires the use of product structured data.
To get the special rich product presentation format, Google recommends providing structured data on your product pages and a product feed in Merchant Center.
This will help ensure that Google understands how to extract product data to display rich results.
However, even with the correct structured data in place, rich results are displayed at Google’s discretion.5. Share Local Product Inventory Data
Ensure your in-store products are found by people entering queries with the phrase “near me.”
First, register your physical store location in your Google Business Profile, then provide a local inventory feed to Merchant Center.
The local inventory feed includes product identifiers and store codes, so Google knows where your inventory is physically located.
As an additional step, Google recommends using a tool called Pointy. Pointy is a device from Google that connects to your in-store point-of-sale system and automatically informs Google of inventory data from your physical store.
The data is used to keep search results updated.6. Sign Up For Google Shopping Tab
You may find your products are available in search results but do not appear in the Shopping tab.
If you’re unsure whether your products are surfacing in the Shopping tab, the easiest way to find out is to search for them.
Structured data and product feeds alone aren’t sufficient to be included in the Shopping tab.
To be eligible for the Shopping tab, provide product data feeds via Merchant Center and opt-in to ‘surfaces across Google.’
For more on any of the above tips, see the full video from Google below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from chúng tôi August 2023.
Want to land that dream job in social media? This guide includes templates, tips, and free online courses to help you get there.
Wondering how to get a job in social media? The road to success in this industry isn’t quite as cut-and-dry as more traditional careers (so your cousin’s a doctor! Who cares!) — and getting your start in the field can be overwhelming.
They’ve shared their best tips for landing a job in social media, from skills to practice to courses to take to resume tips (and even some red flags to watch out for when you’re poring through job postings).
Here’s everything you need to know about kickstarting a career in social media marketing.
Bonus: Customize our free, professionally designed resume templates to land your dream social media job today. Download them now.
Of course, if you want to learn how to become a social media manager, we highly recommend watching this video first:What is a job “in social media?”
First things first: What does “working in social media” really mean?
The job of a social media specialist or manager looks different depending on the size and type of the company they work for.
Small businesses often have a single person handling all of their social accounts — or even all their marketing efforts, even the ones happening outside of social platforms.
Larger companies may have a team of people dedicated to managing social channels with more specialized roles, like social media strategist, community manager, or social engagement specialist.
Here are the main types of roles in social media:
Social media management (includes social media strategy and performance tracking)
In smaller companies, these roles may all be bundled into one position. That means when applying to a small team, you’ll likely want to present yourself as a social media generalist, with broad skills across all of these areas. When applying for a role on a larger social team, you’ll want to highlight your specific expertise in one key area.
Daily tasks also vary from company to company—and even from day to day. “In this job, you’re not restricted to anything,” says Trish. “Social media changes every single day, and you need to be able to adapt to that.”
Here are some common responsibilities that might be expected of you as a social media manager:
Social ad setup and optimization
Performance tracking and data analysis
End-to-end planning of social campaigns
Communicating with company stakeholders
So, as you can see, a job in social media can involve wearing many hats.
— Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite) August 4, 2023How to get a job in social media: 6 tips from real-world experts
1. Grow your own social media presence
Building your own social media accounts is an effective way to prove to a potential employer that you know your stuff — and the best part is, you can make your personal content about whatever you want.
“Create your own social account about something you’re passionate about and invest time in it,” suggests Brayden.
If you’re in college (or even high school), you can also take on the social media marketing manager position for a group there— “Join a club at school and lead their marketing efforts,” says Brayden.
2. Complete a social media certification
There aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to qualifications for working in social media (more on that later), but completing a social media certification is an asset.
“There are so many resources out there—webinars you can complete, Hootsuite Academy courses you can sign up for—that are recognized by people in the marketing industry,” says Trish.
“By educating yourself using free resources, you’re showing potential employers that you have taken the steps you needed to take in order to proactively build your knowledge base.” – Trish Riswick, Social Engagement Specialist at Hootsuite
Hootsuite Academy has everything you need to get schooled. Courses include:
… and more—plus custom course options so you can set a curriculum that’s best suited to your needs.
Many social networks also have their own training and certification programs to help social media professionals learn the best ways to use each network’s specific tools—and highlight that proficiency to potential employers on your resume. You can learn from:
Find more industry courses in our post on certifications that will make you a better social media marketer.
3. Job search using social media
The best way to find a job in social media? Using social media, of course. LinkedIn, the “smart one” in the social platform family (Instagram’s the hot one, Facebook’s the mom friend, you get it), is one of the best places to nail a new gig.
“I found my job at Hootsuite on LinkedIn,” shares Trish. “The best part of it is you can see other people who work at the company, connect with them and ask them questions.”
LinkedIn has some built-in job search tricks too. “Create a search and save notification function on LinkedIn for targeted keywords of jobs you’re interested in,” suggests Brayden.
4. Know what to look for in a social media job posting
The marketing industry is always growing and changing—type “social media manager” into a job search engine and you’ll get lots of hits (a quick Indeed search just yielded 109 jobs just in Vancouver, BC — and that’s only one of many online job boards out there).
So how can you tell a good job opportunity from a bad job opportunity? Here are some red (and green) flags from our experts.
Red flag: You can’t tell what the company does. It’s important that you’re managing social media for a company that you actually care about, and if you can’t even tell what the company does from the job description, that’s a bad sign. “I have seen so many job listings that don’t actually tell you what the company is or what they do, and that means you have to do all that extra research. Applying for a job shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt,” says Trish.
Green flag: There’s a healthy work-life balance. “Burnout is real in the social media space,” says Brayden. Work-life balance is something you can discuss with a potential employer, or even a LinkedIn connection working at the same company. You can also get a feel for the company culture by taking a look at their social media posts.
Red flag: The job description is too long. “A really lengthy job description can mean that the employer doesn’t necessarily know what they are looking for or have realistic expectations,” says Trish. “Having five or six specific points shows that the employer knows what their goals are.”
Green flag: There are opportunities for growth. Ask about this in a job interview (you know, at the very end when the boss asks “Any questions” and you suddenly forget your own name).
Green flag: You have the support you need. Even if you’re taking on the job of a solo social media manager, you don’t want to feel like you’re completely on your own. “If you’re going to be a one-person team, make sure that you have the tools and mentorship you need to succeed,” says Brayden.
5. Don’t be afraid to take a step back
6. Make your resume stand out
Your resume is the very first impression that you make on a potential employer, and there’s a lot of competition out there—here are some tips to stand out from the crowd.
Bonus: Customize our free, professionally designed resume templates to land your dream social media job today. Download them now.Showcase your creativity and personality
“Your resume shouldn’t just be on a blank page with writing on it — let’s see some creativity!” says Trish. Social media management is a job that requires originality, so you should be displaying that skill in your resume. Show, don’t tell.Modify your resume for every job that you apply to
Read the job posting carefully and make sure your resume addresses all of the points required. You may even want to mirror the language from the ad to make it easy to match your experience to the requirements — especially in case the first sort is done by software.Show your industry experience
You don’t necessarily need paid experience in order to put your best foot forward on your resume. Any concrete practical knowledge is worth highlighting, says Brayden— “even if it’s running social for your personal account, or school projects you did that aligned with social media.”Quantify your results
Many organizations are focused on proving the ROI of social, so showcase experience that demonstrates that your social marketing strategies yield results. Including numbers from real-world wins goes a long way.
For example, you could highlight the growth of social channels during your time managing them, the success of campaigns you ran, and so on.What qualifications do you need to work in social media?
This is tricky to answer, because really, it depends on the person and the company.
“We’ve seen stories of people on TikTok who have become very successful social media managers with just high school education,” notes Trish.
With a natural marketing instinct and some luck, you can make it with very few formal qualifications. But that’s not to be expected—here are the social media qualifications that most hiring managers are looking for:
A college or university degree. A post-secondary education in the arts is an asset, especially in something writing-related. “You need creative copywriting skills,” says Trish. “Being able to create content that isn’t generic is much harder than a lot of people think.”
A certification in social media. Good news: social media certification is a lot cheaper (and takes a lot less time) than a college degree. Hootsuite offers social media courses through Hootsuite Academy and free online social marketing training on Youtube. Completing these kinds of courses gives you a concrete achievement to list on your resume, and to refer to during a job interview.
When it comes to working in social media, skills are just as important as qualifications. Here are the most important social media skills you need, according to the experts.
Be adaptable. “This space changes at lightning speed! I’m not kidding you, there’s something new to stay on top of every day,” says Brayden. “You need to be comfortable with change and ready to hop on a new trend, change in the algorithm, or update your content strategy like it’s no big deal.” Trish agrees: “Social media changes every single day, and you need to be able to adapt to that.”
Be creative. “Creative copywriting is the bulk of what we do,” says Trish. “There’s a lot of noise on social,” Brayden adds. “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but you need to have creative ideas that serve a purpose for your brand and get your audience engaged.”
Be versatile. “Social media managers don’t just do social media. They need to have a digital marketing generalist mindset because of what the role encompasses,” says Brayden. “It’s not just about creating videos or graphics,” says Trish.
Manage social media like a pro with Hootsuite. Easily schedule posts, collect real-time data, and engage with your community across multiple social media platforms. Try it free today.
Do it better with Hootsuite, the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.
Being one of the most popular content management systems in the world, Joomla is used by more than 30 million website owners. What makes Joomla so popular is its features for communities. If you are such website owner, you should consider making your website more attractive for search engines.
Although, there are many extensions for search engine optimization, I just want to share the best among those I had tried and some helpful information about them. In this way, I hope to save you some time and help with the overall process.The Very Basics
Even if you do not have a clue what SEO is, you’ve probably already heard or read somewhere about its basics. They usually include properly optimized body content, page titles and META descriptions.
To start with, I would like to mention that in order to avoid keyword stuffing do not place your main keyword on the particular page more than 15 times. This includes the headings, the title, the description and the body of the page.
Now, it is time to mention the first module to help you with this task – SEO Generator. This simple module will allow you to automatically create descriptions for all pages on your website by just pulling it from the content. The best thing is that this plugin analyses the keyword density of your page and based on this makes the tags for all of them. You also have 6 different layouts for page titles, and you can easily choose the one you like most. The plugin is available for free download here.SEO Friendly Redirection
Depending on what server you’re using to host your Joomla website, there are different ways to solve the most common SEO issue – www to non www or vice versa redirection. Here is how to do it depending on whether you are using IIS or Apache:
IIS 7+ Redirection – To make the redirected work you will need to have URL Rewrite module installed and use the following code to make it work:
You can check out the source here to learn how to solve Canonicalization and implement SEO friendly URLS on your web server.
Apache – For Apache web servers to make those important redirects is a lot easier. However, before making any changes in your .htaccess file, make sure you have the original version saved first.
After implementing those basic redirects, you can install Source Redirect Plugin. With this plugin, you’ll be able to implement more complicated redirects all over your website. Some such examples are from desktop to mobile versions or displaying different language versions based on the user’s location. If all this is not enough to make you choose this module, check out its page at Joomla and learn more about its other features.Sitemap, Headings, SEO Friendly URLs and More
Although, this module first started as a free one, today you can get it for 35$ per year. This might seem a lot to spend, but with its help, you’ll be able to improve a large majority of SEO factors, which are likely to influence your positions on Google. Some of the features of the SH404SEF are:
SEO friendly URLs
Removed duplicate URLs
Automatically creates URLs for your content
Allows you to access Google Analytics from your Joomla administrative backend
Ability to insert H1 Tags into the Joomla content-heading and component-heading headings
You can still download some older versions of the module free online, so if you are not using the latest version of Joomla you might avoid paying for it. Furthermore, for Google analytics there are plenty of other modules to choose from such as the Google Analytics Tracking Module and J!Analytics.
Now it seems that the only thing left to do is to implement a sitemap on your website. That way you will ensure that Google is indexing your website properly. The modules I recommend are XMap and JM Sitemap, since they work with all versions of Joomla. With both modules, you’ll be able to exclude particular pages from your sitemap, which is important for websites that sell goods or allow user registration.
Finally, you should create a chúng tôi file and place it in your root folder. Depending on what you want, you can:Allow the indexation of everything:
Disallow:Prevent the indexation of particular folders or files:
After installing and configuring all the modules I’ve mentioned on my list, you are now ready to compete with all the other websites in your niche. Here are the most common SEO issues covered:
SEO friendly META Description and Page Titles
Proper Keyword Usage in the body of your pages (including the H1 Tags if you had used SH404SEF or you had entered them on your own)
Your website redirects from www to non www or vice versa
You had removed the duplicate URLs from your website
All of the URLs of your website’s pages are search engine friendly
You have properly configured and have working sitemap
You have working chúng tôi file
You can track the website’s traffic in Google Analytics
Your website shows different language versions based on the user’s location
The mobile version of your website is properly separated from your desktop one
My last tip is for organizing the whole SEO process. You can either use Woorank to check what onsite SEO factors you’ve covered, or try this basic SEO analysis framework to check if all best practices are implemented properly.
“Every paid search campaign needs a dedicated landing page.”
Unfortunately, a specific format – a “dedicated” standalone landing page – isn’t all that’s needed to guarantee a successful paid search campaign.
So what causes dedicated landing pages to fail?
Pages that ignore the needs and desires of their visitors won’t inspire them to take action.
Here are three case studies I’ve seen first hand where focusing on page elements rather than people can cause your campaigns to end in disaster.Mistake 1: You Launched a ‘Radical Redesign’ Rather Than Listening to Your Audience
You’re changing your offer. Targeting a brand new audience. Introducing new features and options.
You’re in full renovation mode in your business, and you want your landing page to perfectly reflect all the excitement and possibility that these changes will bring.
You hire a copywriter, find a designer, review, tweak, review, and tweak some more. You finally hit “publish” on your new and improved landing page and await fanfare and conversions.
Except – the fanfare and conversions don’t happen.
In fact, nothing happens.
It’s a devastating outcome you never saw coming.‘New and Improved’ Isn’t Guaranteed to Win
When you’re in neck-deep in a redesign, it’s hard to imagine that all the work being done might not improve conversions.
Thanks to survivorship bias, we usually hear stories of successful landing page launches – often in the form of case studies that reinforce the positive results of the work.
You won’t find many before-and-after photos of people who gained weight after starting a new diet, and you won’t find too many stories of companies that invested thousands of dollars in landing pages that don’t beat the control. But these untold stories happen far more often than you’d think.
The problem with radical redesigns, where multiple elements are changed all at once, is that they don’t allow for genuine testing. Ideas that seem good (or “good enough”) are all published at the same time. Marketers can only guess the cause of the results.
Since all changes are wrapped up in a single page variation, new pages are more likely to get scrapped entirely than modified. It’s disappointing and frustrating for everyone involved, because there was usually a high cost to the redesigned page, and a vested interest in it driving better results.Real-World Trouble with Radical Redesigns
We weren’t seeing the traction we wanted to see with the paid campaigns, so we started split-testing the traffic between the new landing pages and the original offer on the home page.
The original home page had a conversion rate 71 percent higher than the new pages.
But visitors were less likely to convert on the second step: the updated pricing page.
The update reflected a change that was important to the business but less desirable to their prospects.Improved Conversion Rates Come from Improved Audience Learnings, Not Just New Pages
When radical redesign landing pages are launched, it’s often with expectations of improved performance.
Flint McGlaughlin of MECLABS Institute explains:
“The goal of testing is not simply to get a lift, but to get a learning … Because with that learning, you can map the mind of your prospective customer and create a model that predicts behavior.”
For improved conversion rates, don’t rely on design or expert copy alone.
Start your projects with hypotheses about your audience, and create pages that can be used to validate and inform assumptions.
Incremental changes and valid tests can drive better offers and better conversion rates over time.Mistake 2: You’ve Confused Clarity with Brevity
The success of paid search campaigns depends on clarity. But clarifying means eliminating confusion, not eliminating all context and information that isn’t a call-to-action.
There’s a common marketing myth about how users search. It goes something like this:
She visits your page.
If there are distractions, she’ll get confused and leave.
If there are no distractions, she’ll have no option but to complete the form.
The truth is, most people who are in research mode don’t follow this process. Instead:
She starts exploring her options.
If she doesn’t see the choices and information she needs, she’ll close your tab.
If she has enough context, she’ll continue on your page.
And yet, thanks to the myth, we build our pages as if we could “capture” our visitor simply by removing options.
Most “best practices” about clarity in landing pages tend to be limiting and reductive, like:
One idea per page.
One single call to action.
While these suggestions can help transform cluttered, dense pages into focused landing pages, they can lower conversion rates if taken too far.Cleaner Landing Page = 35% Conversion Rate Drop
Let’s look at what happened to one of my colleagues.
His client “refreshed” their website with a beautiful redesign.
The site is stunning. Cluttered, text-heavy pages are gone. There’s a simplified, streamlined look throughout the site and for all PPC landing pages.
A 35 percent drop in conversion rate.
The “old” landing page would not impress a web designer, but it had important information that helped visitors want to take action.
The new page has more white space and fewer “distractions,” but it doesn’t give visitors the information they need to want to fill out the form.
The cluttered page didn’t win because it was cluttered. It won because it clarified the benefits of taking action. In the simplified version, visitors didn’t clearly understand the benefit of completing the form.Optimize for Clarity, Not Minimalism
Even the big landing page software companies – like Unbounce, Leadpages, and Instapage – don’t expect an empty page to drive conversions.
All of these companies orient their visitors by using global navigation or multiple CTAs on the landing pages they’re using for their paid search.
Dropping your visitors on a ghost town of a page with no options or context is a bad user experience, and is unlikely to maximize conversions.
Give your visitors clear reasons to take action, and you’ll have a better conversion rate than if you simply strip away options.
No matter how much you limit choice on your page, you can’t limit the choice provided by your competitors, or the choice of simply closing the browser window.Mistake 3: You Optimized for Attribute Checklists Instead of Your Prospect’s Needs and Wants
I love checklists. There’s something so satisfying about knowing exactly what needs to be done and ticking off the boxes as you go. Ah, dopamine!
As busy marketers, we rely on checklists and standard operating procedures to guide the work we’re doing and track our progress along the way.
But itemized to-do lists are no substitute for knowing your audience and developing a landing page that drives them to action.
I used to manage paid search for a fitness center with multiple locations. Our paid search campaigns drove visitors to a dedicated landing page where they could sign up for a 7-day free pass.
The page checked all the boxes of standard landing page best practices:
No external navigation or links.
Simple form with high-contrast button.
Trust indicators and social proof.
Compelling offer (free pass!).
Strong page headline.
Did the landing page drive conversions? Yes, it did. But here’s where it gets interesting.
Our client launched a site redesign, and they added the 7-day free pass as a pop-up offer across the site. So we ran an experiment.
We A/B tested the final URLs of our paid search traffic using both the dedicated offer page and the home page.
When visitors landed on the home page, they were twice as likely to sign up for the free trial offer.Why Did the Home Page Outperform the Dedicated Landing Page?
Our prospects weren’t just looking to work out for a week. They were shopping for the right gym to join; one they would go to for months and years.
They needed to know about classes, schedules, hours, locations, childcare and other amenities. There’s no point in getting a free pass if you can’t use it, and they couldn’t tell from the landing page whether the fitness center would help them meet their fitness goals.
The laundry list of best practices failed to cover what visitors cared about the most. Meanwhile, the impact of having club and amenity information was so compelling that we switched all traffic to the home page (gasp!).
We saw our year-over-year conversion rates double for each of the next 12 months by driving visitors to the website rather than dedicated landing pages.
Driving traffic to the home page, year-over-year conversions were up 80 percent, with a 98 percent increase in conversion rate
Well-designed landing page experiences prioritize the audience over any checklist.
If your visitors can’t understand your offer, your process, your price, or how their lives will be better by taking action… they’ll be less likely to convert. It doesn’t matter how cool your hero image is, what color the button is or where the model’s gaze falls on the page.
Want your visitors to take action? Ditch the checklist and speak to what they care about.How to Prioritize Your Audience for Better Conversion Rates
With so many marketers fixated solely on page software and elements, it’s extremely common to optimize for the page while ignoring the audience. But it’s not inevitable.
Fortunately, even checklist-loving marketers can get it right by following smart guidelines that go beyond button colors and navigation.
Nicholas Scalice of Landing Page School offers a suite of questions that every page should answer for better performance.
This process may not be as concise, binary, or easy as just stripping content from a page, but it’s what makes the difference.
As you build and evaluate your landing pages to meet the needs of your audience, your campaigns will improve, regardless of the specific page format of the final URL.
Remember, landing pages don’t convert; people convert. So give them the context and motivation they need to take action.
All screenshots taken by author, February 2023
The Telegraph, a respected UK news site, has compiled the suggestions of some top SEOs in the UK. While the list touches on several vital points, it also makes a couple miss-steps. Here are the specifics.The SEO Tips List
Produce unique, dynamic, and authoritative content.
We can all agree that this is a key to getting a website into a successful position. Beyond avoiding the “spam flags,” quality content also increases social sharing and the likelihood a site will be linked from off-site.
Utilize long-tail keywords.
While it’s absolutely true that long-tail targeting is an important tactic (especially for small- to medium-size businesses), it’s important to keep in mind that organic CTR is also dramatically lower for long-tail terms.
Optimize meta tags.
Yes and no. Don’t optimize all your meta tags (meta keywords are dead, and dozens of extra meta tags exist for specialized purposes), but optimize your meta title and description.
Run a blog.
It’s definitely a good way to build reputation and communicate with people, and it’s a great place to put content, but this is more a social tactic than an SEO. The amount of link juice a blog will generate for the main portion of your site is nice, but certainly doesn’t deserve the #4 position on a top ten list.
Optimize for local search results.
That’s definitely true, especially with the rise of smartphones and the “blended pages” from Google that provide Google Places pages on the home page.
Invest in an SEO and user-friendly domain.
Domains are certainly important, but note that they’ve continued to decline in importance over the last few years. Aim to have a keyword present while keeping the domain memorable and professional.
Analyze your competitors.
It’s definitely a good springboard into other tactics, and helps you learn how your own industry performs.
Use content as a platform to build links.
Pushing for organic links by sharing content is by far the best way to get effective, honest links. Just remember to post it on your main site (i.e., not on an article site, not on a sub-domain, etc.).
Set realistic goals.
While being realistic is important, it’s more important to focus your goals on maximizing ROI. Your objectives shouldn’t just be “increase traffic by X amount,” but “increasing profit by X amount.” The traffic is just one of several important elements of this.
Invest in social media marketing.
It’s certainly true that brand awareness, link-sharing, and increased visits to the website will help. It’s also a great way to build relationship. Of course, social media marketing – while it belongs to the “web marketing” category in general – isn’t exactly SEO.Anything They Missed?
Telegraph touched on some of the key points in the broadest possible sense, but they didn’t go into specifics. Things like how to make content shareable and how to write quality content are far more important than knowing that those are your targets. They also didn’t mention any of the ways that websites so often shoot themselves in the foot – especially in the post-Panda world.
If I were to add one thing to the list, it would be: “Add value with everything you write.” It’s at the root of quality, user experience, shareable content, and being social. It’s a vital element to SEO for any company.
What would you add to the list?
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