Social Media Strategy: where to begin?

Social media are a necessary part of any marketing strategy, but they should also be a part of your SEO strategy. As social media become more popular, Google and other search engines can’t ignore them any longer. Tweets and Facebook posts don’t get the highest rankings in Google, but Facebook pages and profiles for sure do. But how do you know which social media to use? In this post, I’ll walk you through the first steps of determining a social media strategy: finding the social media that suits both your business and your audience best.

how to determine a social media strategy

Which social media suit your business?

The first step in determining a social media strategy is whether that social medium is one that you’d want to be found on. In other words, does the social medium suit the message and branding of your company? And on top of that: does this social medium offer the options and reach you’re looking for?

Social media like Facebook and Twitter offer a lot of ways to advertise and make your brand and company known beyond the scope of your followers. With other social media, this can be more difficult and would require a lot of hard work to get the same results. Make sure to think about what presence on the considered social media would mean for your company. Make sure that this aligns with how you want your business to be branded.

Which social media does your (desired) audience use?

Different kinds of people use different kinds of social media. So you have to know what social media your audience uses. And for you to know that, you’ll have to get to know your audience. This requires some effort and research, but it will definitely be worth it. For instance, if your company mainly works in the business-to-business area, you should definitely be active on LinkedIn. And if you have a young audience, your business is best off using social media such as Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr and Instagram:

Image2_Social_media_strategy

Social media you can’t ignore

At the moment there’s basically only one social medium you really can’t ignore and that’s Facebook. Why? Let me show you:

Image3_Social_media_strategy

Facebook currently has nearly 1.5 billion active users every month. That’s over 20% of the entire world population being on Facebook at least once a month. So you can see why this is one bandwagon you’ll want to get on.

A blog or website should thus definitely have its own Facebook page. And your posts should all be shared on Facebook. That way, all the people who follow your page see new posts in their timeline. WordPress can do this automatically for you when you publish an article. Some people will like, share or comment on the Facebook posts, giving them even more exposure.

Think about your social media strategy!

The main thing you should take away from this post is that you should determine your social media strategy, before your start. It’s easy to waste time, effort and money on the wrong media and/or the wrong goals. So bear in mind these 3 key questions :

  • Who do I want to reach with social media?
  • Which social media suits my business?
  • On which social media do I find my target group?

Read more: ‘Instagram for Business?’ »

Google Analytics by Yoast: Free vs Premium

GA free vs premiumWe have two versions of our Google Analytics by Yoast plugin: a free and a premium version. We’ve had some questions about the difference between the two. And while we can mention the additional features the premium version offers, this doesn’t explain how those premium features could benefit you.

So in this post I’ll explain the difference between the free and the premium version of our Google Analytics plugin.

Features

Let me first tell you what the difference in features between the free and premium Google Analytics by Yoast plugin is:

 
Free Premium
Adds tracking code vinkje x2 vinkje x2
Tracking of 404 and search result pages vinkje x2 vinkje x2
Dashboards vinkje x2 vinkje x2
Specific reports vinkje x2 vinkje x2
Custom dimensions vinkje x2
Adsense tracking vinkje x2
24/7 support vinkje x2

You see that Google Analytics by Yoast Premium comes with some extra features compared to the free version. Let me explain what each of these features does.

Adds tracking code

This is really as simple as that: our Google Analytics plugin adds the Google Analytics tracking code, enabling you to start tracking the traffic on your site. This tracking code is also automatically altered when you check certain options within our plugin. So you won’t ever have to look at that tracking code!

Available for: free and premium

Tracking of 404 and search result pages

After you’ve installed our Google Analytics by Yoast plugin, within Google Analytics you’ll be able to find 404 pages that people have visited on your site. Also, if you have a search functionality on your site and you’ve enabled your site search, you’ll be able to see what people have searched for.

Available for: free and premium

Dashboards

This is a relatively new feature. It enables you to see the sessions to your website of the last month, and your site’s bounce rate for the last month. Just to give you an idea, the sessions graph looks like this:

Yoast Google Analytics Dashboard ‹ Yoast — WordPress

This will give you the ability to get a general overview of how your site’s doing, directly from your WordPress install. You won’t have to go to Google Analytics anymore to see what’s going on.

Available for: free and premium

Specific reports

Next to the dashboards, there are also specific reports that you can take a look at without ever going to Google Analytics. You can see your most important traffic sources, your site’s most popular pages, and countries that get you the most traffic from, all ordered by sessions:

Yoast_Google_Analytics__Dashboard_‹_Yoast_—_WordPress

Available for: free and premium

Custom dimensions

Custom dimensions are quite a powerful tool, but also require a pretty lengthy explanation. I’ve written a post about custom dimensions and what you can do with them. We now support 8 different custom dimensions:

  1. Logged In
  2. Post type
  3. Author
  4. Category
  5. Published at
  6. SEO Score (only when combined with our Yoast SEO plugin)
  7. Focus Keyword (only when combined with our Yoast SEO plugin)
  8. Tags

Let me take the custom dimension “Author” as an example to explain what it can do. It shows you how much traffic each specific author has generated over the period of time you select. Especially when you have multiple authors it comes in handy to see which one gets you the most traffic.

These custom dimensions can be viewed in Google Analytics, but also within your WordPress install:

Yoast_Google_Analytics__Dashboard_‹_Yoast_—_WordPress

Available for: premium

Adsense tracking

To be able to see Adsense reports within your Google Analytics, you need to add a specific tracking code to your site. If you have Google Analytics by Yoast Premium, you can do this by checking a box. If you’re a regular user of Google Adsense, this is something you’ll want (and need).

Available for: premium

24/7 support

Alongside those premium features, the premium version of Google Analytics by Yoast will also give you access to our 24/7 support team. If you have any trouble with your plugin or need help installing it, or anything like that, our support team is always ready to help you out!

Available for: premium

Concluding

Both our free and our premium Google Analytics plugins offer you great tracking and easily accessible insights. If you want to get the most out of your tracking and make money from your website, our premium version is the one for you. If you’re looking for more basic tracking features, the free version will probably be enough.

What about you? What do you use our Google Analytics plugin for? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as Google Analytics by Yoast: Free vs Premium on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

A/B testing your newsletters

a:b testing your newslettersEarlier this year, I’ve written a few posts on email marketing. In those posts I’ve also mentioned that doing A/B testing for your newsletters (or other forms of email marketing) are a must. However, there are a lot of things you can test, so what should you be focussing on?

In this post I’ll try to answer that question by explaining what you can test. I won’t go into detail of testing examples, but I will tell you what you should pay attention to when testing.

Subject line

With most email campaign tools, you’ll have the possibility to test the subject line. This means you’ll be able to give your newsletter a number of different subject lines. If you have 2 different subject lines, ordinarily 50% of your newsletter list gets the first variation, and the other 50% gets the other variation.

Testing your subject lines is really only good for testing your open rate and not your click rate. The subject line won’t affect your click rate, since it doesn’t affect anything within the body of the email you’re sending. That being said, testing your subject lines is still very important, as you actually want as much people as possible to read what you’ve sent them, right?

One set of rules that our friend Jordie van Rijn (a great email marketer) taught us and has helped us since is C.U.R.V.E:

  • Curiosity: try to pique the readers’ interest by asking them a question.
  • Urgency: create urgency by having limited time offers or offering things that need to be done now.
  • Relevance: Make sure you’re putting the content that’s most relevant to your audience in your subject.
  • Value: Convey the value of the newsletter by offering something exclusive (this can be an exclusive product offer, but also exclusive content).
  • Emotion: Use punctuation, such as exclamation marks, to elicit emotional responses from your readers.

From name

Another thing you can almost always test, is your from name. This is exactly what it says: the name that shows from whom the emails are coming:

Inbox – thijs yoast com

 

This is, again, something that will only have an effect on your open rate. However, this is one that people tend to forget about, because it’s such a small thing to change. However, the from name can actually be pretty important. This will be the first thing people will see when your email arrives, so it had better be good. Testing this will make sure it is.

Send time

I’m not sure whether all email campaign tools offer this A/B testing option, but MailChimp does. You can test what send time (MailChimp calls this “delivery time”) works best for your audience. You need to do some work here beforehand though, because you’ll be setting the time the variations go out yourself.

So try to find out when most of your emails are opened or at least when most of your audience is awake. Especially if your emails go to an international group of people, like ours, this might be a good thing to test. Sending your emails at the right time can actually make sure more people see it and pay attention to it.

Content

This is the big one. This is where you can go all-out and test basically anything you like. Everything within the content section of your email can be tested, and that’s a lot. You have to really think about what you want to test and treat these A/B tests as you would any other. I’ve written a post which will explain this: Hypothesize first, then test.

I always prefer to begin with this one, because this one is as late in the readers process as possible. This is my personal preference, because I just don’t like the idea of optimizing a part of the process (say, the subject) when what they see next (such as your email’s content) will undo all the optimization you did before.

Just a few ideas of what you could think about when wanting to test your email’s content:

  • Your email’s header;
  • An index summarizing your email;
  • More (or less) images;
  • Different tone of voice;
  • More buttons instead of text links;
  • More ideas on Jordie’s blog.

Before testing

When you start testing, most email campaign tools will offer you two options:

  • send your variations to your complete list, or
  • send your variations to a percentage of that list, declare a winner and then send the winner to the remaining people who haven’t received a newsletter yet.

I’d strongly urge you to use the first option. Let me tell you why. First of all, sending multiple variations to just a sample of your list means that you’re cutting down on “respondents”. You’ll have less data than when you send it to the complete list.

However, if your list is big enough, this probably won’t matter much. The reason I’d still choose the first option is that the winning variation gets sent out hours (or days) later. Especially for newsletters this can be quite crucial, because, well, then it’s not really “news” anymore. This also means you have less control over at what time the mail gets sent out. And as I’ve already said: send time can be quite important.

If timing is of less importance to the emails you’re sending out, then you could probably go for the second option, because then the remaining people in your list will always get the winner.

Results

So you’ve thought up some brilliant variations of your newsletter, its subject, from name or send time. Time to send out that newsletter. Once you’ve sent it out, there’s nothing you can do, you just have to wait until the first results come trickling (or flooding) in. Make sure you take notice of the differences in results. Which version got the highest open rate? Which version had the highest click rate?

In this, click rate always has my preference, because then they’ll probably end up on your site, where you have a lot more opportunities for selling, for example. However, we also always use custom campaigns on all the links in our newsletter. And since we’ve set up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics, we can see which version of our newsletter actually got the most revenue. And if you have a business to run, that’s probably the metric that you want to see increasing.

And unless you’ve set up some kind of eCommerce tracking within your email campaign tool, this metric won’t be available in their results. So don’t value the results of these tools too much. Make sure you focus on what’s important for your business and check those metrics.

Also: don’t be too quick to judge. I usually wait for a few days up to a week before I draw my conclusions, because a lot of people will still be opening and engaging your email after a few days.

Happy testing!

What do you think of the steps and rules we’ve set for ourselves? Do you have similar ideas that you follow? Or maybe something completely different? Let us know in the comments!

This post first appeared as A/B testing your newsletters on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Multivariate testing: what it is and when to use it

Multivariate testingWe’ve written quite some posts on Conversion Rate Optimization and A/B testing on yoast.com in the last few years. However, we’ve never really touched the subject of multivariate testing. In this post I’ll explain what multivariate testing is, its pros and cons and when you should (and should not) be using it.

What is multivariate testing?

Explaining what multivariate testing is, seems quite easy. In fact, when you look up multivariate testing on Wikipedia, it says the following:

“In internet marketing, multivariate testing is a process by which more than one component of a website may be tested in a live environment. It can be thought of in simple terms as numerous A/B tests performed on one page at the same time.”

However, I find this to be oversimplifying things a bit. With A/B tests you’re testing different versions of a complete page. This is not what you do with a multivariate test (MVT). With an MVT you’re testing elements within a page.

So lets say you have 2 versions of a headline, 2 versions of an image and 2 versions of a block of text. With a multivariate test you will test every possible combination against the others to figure out which combination yields the best conversion rate. And this is where things get tricky, because in the setup I mentioned above, there are already 8 combinations (2 x 2 x 2 = 8):

  1. Headline A + Image A + Textblock A
  2. Headline A + Image A + Textblock B
  3. Headline A + Image B + Textblock A
  4. Headline A + Image B + Textblock B
  5. Headline B + Image A + Textblock A
  6. Headline B + Image A + Textblock B
  7. Headline B + Image B + Textblock A
  8. Headline B + Image B + Textblock B

Advantages

The first advantage of multivariate testing is that you can see the effect small changes on your site have. Of course, small changes can also be tested with an A/B test, but that’s suboptimal as you can only test one small change at a time. Generally, A/B tests are used for the big changes and multivariate testing is used for optimizing smaller elements.

Also, by using a multivariate setup, you’re actually able to not only test the effect of changing one element, but you’re also able to test the combined effect (interaction effect) of several elements. Will changing an element still have the same effect if you change another element on that same page? These are questions you wouldn’t be able to answer with an A/B test, but you can answer them with multivariate tests. With multivariate tests you can pretty accurately see what the effect of each element is in which setup or situation.

Limitations

The biggest drawback of multivariate testing is that you need an even bigger amount of traffic and especially conversions than you do for an A/B test. I always say you should have at least 100 conversions on each variation. So if your multivariate test has 3 different versions of 3 different elements, you’ll need at least 2700 conversions (3 x 3 x 3 = 27 combinations with each at least 100 conversions).

And that’s a lot for most websites, especially if we’re talking sales on a specific product. For most websites this also means that the page needs to have quite some traffic on it, since most conversion rates aren’t that high.

Lastly, the multivariate test setup looks at a lot more variables than an A/B test and also looks at how these variables interact. This means there’s a lot bigger chance that mistakes or errors can occur in the reporting. So you should check your multivariate test results even more than your A/B test results.

When to use multivariate testing

As I’ve already mentioned above, multivariate tests are used to test smaller elements on a page. You’re testing small variations of the same element, instead of overhauling the complete page as you would in an A/B test. So first and foremost, multivariate testing isn’t supposed to be used as a starting point.

Obviously, before starting to test at all, there are a few things you have to do. First of all, you should check whether there’s even enough traffic and conversions on the page you want to run a multivariate test on. Since an MVT setup increases your amount of variations really quickly, it’s important that you have an abundance of traffic and conversions. You usually already know whether your traffic and conversion rate are up to par, because you’ve already A/B tested the page in question.

What’s next?

The next step is to find out what kind of changes you think are needed for that page. To do this you first need to be clear on what the goal of the page is. What do you want people to do on your page? Write down what you think could be the cause of visitors not completing this goal. You can find this out by being critical yourself, doing user testing (or even just a survey) and looking at your analytics.

Now you know what your page’s goal is and what could be causing a lower conversion rate on this goal. The next step is that you need to find out what you could possibly change to make more people fulfill that goal. You have to think of different versions of the factors that could be hurting your conversion rate.

When your traffic and amount of conversions are acceptable, you’ve found your page’s goal and causes for it being suboptimally completed, you should formulate hypotheses. Write down what you’ll be changing, what effect you expect this to have and maybe even why. For instance:

  • If we shorten the checkout form, more people will complete their purchase.

To my mind, hypotheses are even more important for multivariate testing, because it is so easy to just add a few more variations. Formulating hypotheses will prevent you from randomly adding new variations. Make sure you have a hypothesis for every single variation you’re creating.

Multivariate or A/B?

If you find your hypotheses are about changes that drastically change the page’s layout or look, then you’re better off choosing for an A/B test. As said, A/B tests give you the possibility to find out whether one (version of a) page performs better than the other.

If however, you find that your hypotheses are about small changes (f.i. text on your call-to-actions) then multivariate testing could be a good choice. But you have to be sure your page meets the criteria for multivariate testing that I mentioned above.

What do you think?

Multivariate testing isn’t as easy as it might seem. It’s something you should only get into if you know what you’re doing. So I’m wondering: have you ever tried multivariate testing? And did you follow my steps? Or do you have other steps you think should be followed? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as Multivariate testing: what it is and when to use it on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Don’t block CSS and JS files

In 2015, Google Search Console already started to warn webmasters actively not to block CSS and JS files. In 2014, we told you the same thing: don’t block CSS and JS files. We feel the need to repeat this message now. We’re currently working on the websites of our first Yoast SEO Care customers, and this is obviously something we’ll look into for them as well. In this post, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t block these specific files from Googlebot.

Get the most out of Yoast SEO, learn every feature and best practice in our Yoast SEO for WordPress training! »

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Why you shouldn’t block CSS and JS files

You shouldn’t block CSS and JS files because that way, you’re preventing Google to check if your website works properly. If you block CSS and JS files in yourrobots.txt file, Google can’t render your website like intended. This, in return, makes that Google won’t understand your website to the fullest and might even result in lower rankings.

I think this aligns perfectly with the general assumption that Google has gotten more and more ‘human’. Google simply wants to see your website like a human visitor would, so it can distinguish the main elements from the ‘extras’. Google wants to know if JavaScript is enhancing the user experience or ruining it.

Test and fix

Google guides webmasters in this, for instance in the blocked resources check in Google Search Console:

Search Console - Blocked Resources example | Don't block CSS and JS files

Besides that, Google Search Console allows you to test any files against yourrobots.txt settings at Crawl > Robots.txt tester:

Search Console robots.txt tester | Don't block CSS and JS files

The tester will tell you what file is and isn’t allowed according to your robots.txt file. More on these crawl tools in Google Search Console here.

Unblocking these blocked resources basically comes down to changing your robots.txt file. You need to set that file up in such a way that it doesn’t disallow Google to access to your site’s CSS and JS files anymore. If you’re on WordPress and use Yoast SEO, this can be done directly in our Yoast SEO plugin.

WordPress and blocking CSS and JS files in robots.txt

To be honest, we don’t think you should block anything in your robots.txt file unless it’s for a very specific reason. That means you have to know what you’re doing. In WordPress, you can go without blocking anything in most cases. We frequently see /wp-admin/ disallowed in robots.txt files, but this will, in most cases, also prevent Google from reaching some files. There is no need to disallow that directory, as Joost explained in this post.

We’ll say it again

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: don’t block Googlebot from accessing your CSS and JS files. These files allow Google to decently render your website and get an idea of what it looks like. If they don’t know what it looks like, they won’t trust it, which won’t help your rankings.

Read more: ‘robots.txt: the ultimate guide’ »

Interpreting your A/B test results

Interpreting your A/B test resultsWe’ve written a few posts on how to set up your A/B tests. However, the setup of your A/B tests is only the first step, obviously. Once you’ve set up a test and you’re getting some results, what should you do then?

In this post I’ll be explaining how you can interpret your A/B test results and what you should look out for.

Test duration

Before you can actually start interpreting your A/B test results, you need to be sure that your test has been running for at least 7 days. This means that you’ll have corrected for the fact that some days get you more traffic, sales or anything else than others.

There are some guides out there telling you to run until your test is at least 95% significant. Marieke has explained to great detail why this is oftentimes not a smart thing to do. Please be aware that this is not a hard requirement to our minds.

Interpreting your results

Sometimes it can be hard to actually know what’s going on when looking at the results of your A/B test. So let me walk you through what I always look at in the results:

Interpreting your A/B test results - graph

We’re using Convert for our A/B tests, and when a test is done, it will us a chart that looks something like this one. There’s a lot going on here, which can be quite daunting. First of all, it shows quite clearly that Variation 1 is the winner. However, I’m always very careful when it comes to this. Let me show you why:

Interpreting your A/B test results - chart

This chart shows you that there’s a pretty big jump in the conversion rate, the improvement is 150% and a nice confidence level. However, it also shows us that all this has been calculated over just 18 conversions. Over 10,000 visits, and just 18 conversions. I prefer to have at least 100 conversions on each variation, so this is pretty slim. Now we know that while this result is pretty awesome, we have to be careful in using this data to support any future action.

So, what’s next?

The next thing I’ll check is the graph:

Interpreting your A/B test results - graph 2

I always take a look at the trend of the test. This graph shows the conversion rate of the original version, the variation, the total visitors and the average conversion rate. The original version (blue line in this case) and the variation (purple line) should not be too close during the duration of the test. If there’s just a spike at the end that made the test variation the winner, you know the results aren’t trustworthy. In this case, it looks pretty good, as the variation outperformed the original pretty soon. But don’t get too ecstatic and stay aware of the low number of actual conversions, in this case.

Be sure you also look at the Y-axis (the vertical one) to make sure the differences aren’t really small. The Y-axis tends to change with results, so small differences can look like big ones.

Other statistics

Convert will give you quite some other statistics that could be interesting and important to look at:

Convert_Experiments

The conversion rate and amount of conversions are obvious ones, but I’m mostly interested in the revenue stats. Which version got you the most total revenue and revenue per visitor? But maybe you’re looking for a higher adoption rate of your product (more people using your product) instead of more revenue. In this case you should look at the bottom one: average products sold per visitor.

These statistics will be available per variation and will give you some detailed information on what the difference between the variations actually was. So be sure to look at these and use them for your interpretation!

Implementing the winning variation

In this case, we have chosen to implement the test variation, but we’ve also kept a close eye on the amount of sales and the revenue. We have checked the amount of sales and revenue against the weeks before, to be sure it wasn’t a fluke during the tests. And I implore you to do the same. It will probably not go wrong a lot, but when it does, you’ll be sorry for it. So stay aware of the fact that these tests are not perfect.

Over to you

Have you ever run a test without knowing what to do with the results? Did you ever make the wrong choice? Or you simply have something to mention about this post? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as Interpreting your A/B test results on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Google Analytics 5.4.3: Remarketing tag

We just released Google Analytics by Yoast 5.4.3. This is not a big release, but we do want to highlight one of the changes you’ll see in there.

Remarketing tag

Our Google Analytics plugin has had the remarketing tag incorporated for quite some time, but it was kind of hidden, so not many people were able to actually find this feature. So now we’ve made it a lot clearer in the settings of our plugin:

All you have to do to add the remarketing tag is check the box that is highlighted.

Targeting your website’s audience

For those of you who don’t know or are unsure of what the remarketing does, let me briefly explain. Remarketing allows you to target your website’s visitors on other sites than your own. So if a person has visited your site, and you have the remarketing tag incorporated in your site, you’re able to serve him or her your AdSense ads, even when they’re not on your site.

Cookie laws

Note that there are privacy and cookie laws active worldwide. These differ from one area to the next, so be sure you’re in compliance with the cookie laws applicable to your target audience.

This post first appeared as Google Analytics 5.4.3: Remarketing tag on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

About headlines and taglines

About headlines and taglinesAt Yoast we see a lot of websites on a daily basis. One thing we notice when looking at these websites is how poorly the website’s or page’s goal is communicated a lot of the time. A really good and fast way to convey your goal is by using headlines and taglines.

In this post I’ll tell you how to use your headlines and taglines to your advantage by having them communicate a clear message that people will understand. Because you want people to understand what your website or page is about, right?

What are headlines and taglines?

Before jumping into this post, it might be useful to explain what headlines and taglines actually are. Wikipedia explains a headline in the following way:

The headline is the text indicating the nature of the article below it.

So the headline is basically a page’s or post’s title. And as Wikipedia so eloquently states it; that title should indicate what that page or post is about.

And Wikipedia explains the tagline as follows:

In entertainment, a tagline (or tag line) is a small amount of text which serves to clarify a thought for, or designed with a form of, dramatic effect.

I don’t completely agree with a tagline being for dramatic effect, but I do agree with the fact that a tagline serves to clarify a thought. Usually, it serves to clarify or specify the headline. A tagline is also something that’s not as mandatory as the headline. A page has to have a headline, but it doesn’t have to have a tagline. Especially not if the headline is clear enough in itself.

Why use headlines and taglines?

As I mentioned above, headlines and taglines are a good and fast way to tell people what your website is about. And this matters, because people want to understand what your website is about, so they know if you have what they want. People don’t want to spend 30 minutes (or 5, for that matter) searching your website to see if you do. They’ll just go to a website with a clearer message.

Additionally, having to think about a decent headlines and/or tagline for your website and its pages, actually forces you to think about your core business. What is it that you’re trying to convey? If a page’s headline is getting too complicated, it might be a good idea to think about making multiple pages for what you’re trying to do, for instance.

Don’t assume people know you

When you’ve figured out what your core business or purpose for a page is, it can actually be quite hard to write this down in such a way that it’s understandable for everyone. As Michiel said in his post about clarity and focus:

We want clarity. It’s the experience we get when visiting that website for the very first time: do we get the website? Is it clear what the benefits are for us visitors? And where or how can I get these benefits?

Don’t think that people will understand what you’re talking about, just because they’re on your site. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a person visiting your website for the first time. Is it clear what you’re offering by just reading the headline and/or tagline? For this post the headline is “About headlines and taglines”. That’s simple, short and clear. People will know just by reading that headline what the post will be about.

Of course, for a single post it’s much easier to write what it’s about than for your entire website or business. So you should take some time in formulating your core business and goals. If you think you found a decent headline, it might be a good idea to have someone outside of your business to check it out and let them tell you if they understand. And keep doing that until they understand.

Headlines that work

There are quite a few ways you can make sure people will understand your headline and even fulfill the goal of your page. I’ll give you a few tips here:

Action oriented headlines

If possible, try to write your headlines in an action oriented way. You can do this by using verbs and sentences that imply an action for the visitor. For instance, we could have a headline saying: “Keep your site optimized with the WordPress SEO Premium plugin!”. This shows people one of the core values of the plugin, and making it active will motivate a lot more people to actually try it.

Combine your headline with a tagline

Combining your headline with a tagline will give people a very concise and clear explanation of your headline. Not all headlines need one per se, but usually the effect of having a tagline (or sub headline, whatever you want to call it) is a positive one. The tagline is another chance to make sure people will be intrigued and to clarify for your visitors.

Have a clear headline

This is probably the hardest to do, because how do you know what is clear to people? This is something you should definitely test. But in any case, you need to make sure it’s as specific and concrete as possible. Again, it all comes down to clarity.

Be clear!

By now you must get my main point: you have to be clear! If people can’t understand your website or what you’re selling/offering, they won’t stick around to figure it out. Especially when people are looking for something, they won’t do anything else than just scan the page they land on. So be sure that what they’re scanning is as clear and concise as possible.

What do you think? Have you tried some nice headline variations that worked out really well for you? Or have anything else to mention? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as About headlines and taglines on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

What our website reviews can do for you

“Can you make us rank #1 for our keyword?” “How much more traffic can you promise us?” “Can you make us rank higher, and if so, what spot?” These are just a few examples of questions we often get from people interested in our website reviews. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work this way, at all. We can’t guarantee a #1 position, or more traffic, or higher rankings. We can give you the tools to make it a lot more likely that you will rank higher. And oftentimes, this really helps customers with their rankings and their website in general.

Reviews_FI

 

Today we’re going to show you an example of one of our review customers and what our website reviews did for her. The customer we’re referring to is Lisa League, who’s running the website of Qpractice.

Ranking and traffic results

Lisa maintains the aforementioned website called Qpractice, which helps students pass the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam the first time. We delivered Lisa’s Gold review in september of 2014. Since then she’s been working really hard at improving as much as she could of what we mentioned in the review.

Before we get to the results of this, we need to explain that Qpractice’s business is very cyclical. This means that during January through April it has high peaks of traffic (and sales) and then drops down until July through October, after which it drops down again. And so on. So the drop you see right after our review is a natural one.

Here’s what Lisa’s optimization based on our website review did for her traffic:

Qpractice: compare 2014-2015

As you can see, her traffic’s increased quite a lot. In fact, her traffic increased over 60% compared to the year before. And that’s not all that changed:

Qpractice: percentages 2014-2015

So not only has she had more sessions to her site, but also did the amount of pageviews and pageviews per visit increase a lot. Since the first time we published these results (June 17, 2015), the average session duration actually increased to the whopping 16.6% increase in this overview. Next to that, the bounce rate, which had already decreased by 20% in June, kept dropping to the current 30% decrease now. That’s pretty amazing!

At the moment of writing, we can also conclude that rankings for the website are excellent as well. For the main keyword NCIDQ, Lisa ranks #3, right after the official NCIDQ website and Wikipedia. That’s simply great! If you are a regular visitor of our blog, you know we always focus on content a lot. Our review provides tools to set that content up the right way, but after that it’s still up to the customer to follow up on our recommendations. Lisa did an awesome job on that.

This is also illustrated by the data Searchmetrics provides. Qpractice ranks for a number of keywords, including long-tail keywords:

Qpractice: rankings

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The site ranks for a lot more related keywords. Lisa had this to say about her rankings:

Lisa League avatar 400x400“My rankings have been good, I’m regularly in the top 3 for my head keywords, and regularly 1 or 2 for some important ones.”

Lisa League – Owner of Qpractice

Sale results

So that ranking and traffic are looking pretty good, right? However, traffic usually doesn’t pay the bills, especially when that traffic doesn’t convert. So that’s why we were thrilled to get this quote from Lisa this week (January 18, 2016):

“In the past 2 weeks I’ve done more business than the first several months last season, and the results continue to build.”

As you can imagine, Lisa is very happy with the results :) And so are we. It does have to be said: none of these results would’ve happened if Lisa wasn’t so tenacious in implementing any changes we recommended. And that’ll be true for you as well: the reviews won’t do anything if you don’t put in the time to walk through them and implement our recommendations. So start optimizing your site today!

Read more: ‘Live website reviews’ »

Your website needs (better) forms

Your website needs better formsOne of the things we notice are hardly ever optimized on most websites are forms. Forms are an integral part of just about every website. However, for some reason, people don’t (want to) spend much time thinking about these.

There’s a lot of different forms your website can have. However, I think most of them boil down to this: a contact form, a ‘request a quote’ form or a checkout form. These three all have different ways of how to optimize them, as the goal for them is different.

In this post I’ll share my views on how you should optimize each variety and how to optimize forms in general.

You need to have a form

This might sound silly, but the amount of websites we encounter during our Website Reviews that don’t have a contact form or any other kind of form where they should definitely have one, is worrisome. Some websites don’t even have a contact page.

Oh and just so we understand each other; a mailto link on a page is not the same as a contact form.

Focus your form

Just as with everything else on your website, you need to focus your forms. No matter what kind of form it is, make sure you break it down to the bare necessities. If you don’t need personal information, don’t ask for it. The fewer the fields, the shorter the form and the higher the response rate on that form.

These fields do need to be clearly visible. Don’t be tempted to use ‘slick’ form design that will basically make the fields transparent. It must be clear where people should enter the details.

And, of course, make sure your call-to-action (the send button, in this case) is visible and clear. We can’t stress this enough. If people can’t find that button, then all the form optimization in the world won’t help you.

Decent erroring and validation

One of the other things that can be implemented for any kind of form are inline erroring and validation. People don’t want to be told they’ve made a mistake filling out your form after they already hit the send button. Make sure these errors and validations appear right when the user is done filling out the field.

Not only can you be too late with your messages, you can also be too vague, or just completely wrong. For instance: don’t tell people a certain field is not filled out correctly, but rather tell them what’s wrong with how they filled it out, so they don’t unwittingly repeat the mistake (multiple times in a row…). Or, another great one: do not tell people their password for a login is wrong, when in fact they’re entering the wrong email address. I can go all day with this; my annoyances are many.

It’s so simple: make sure people understand how to fill out your form and, in the rare event of a mistake, make the errors so ridiculously clear, they won’t ever be able to reproduce it.

Contact forms

Contact forms are probably the most common kinds of forms you’ll find on the web. However, we see a lot of contact forms that look like no one ever thought about them.

Privacy

I always look at the contact form as the equivalent of someone coming up to a salesperson in a physical shop. In an actual store, you’d expect the salesperson to be open, friendly and helpful. Now consider what you’d think about that salesperson if he/she was telling you “Tell me your name, date of birth and occupation before you ask me any questions!”. That would probably result in you walking out the door, right? So why should your website be any different?

Of course, I’m exaggerating a bit (although I have seen contact forms asking this and more), but the point remains clear. When it’s possible to walk up to someone and ask a question right off the bat in a physical store, this should be possible on websites as well.

Tone of voice

The tone of voice is very important for people to feel safe enough to ask a question. And tone of voice is just as much determined by what’s said as by what’s not said. So not having any text near your contact form will not absolve you from needing a decent tone of voice. You need to invite visitors to ask you a question and explain the process of how you’ll handle their question. The last thing you want to do is confuse or piss off a customer right before they wanted to ask you a question. They’ll either leave your site or they’ll be angry while contacting you.

‘Request a quote’ form

I wanted to make a separate section of this kind of form, because it can definitely be helpful to ask for more information in a ‘request a quote’ form. It all depends on the setup of your business, your website and your form. The same premise still holds though: if you don’t really need certain information, don’t ask for it.

Pricing information

Half the time I see a ‘request a quote’ button or form, I feel kind of cheated. These kinds of forms really make me feel the website owner just doesn’t want to share their usual pricing, because they can see if they can make more money off of you. So you should be clear about the reason you’re not communicating your prices. Preferably even show people a price range they can expect. This will not only filter out people that aren’t interested in that price range, but it’ll also give people like me a better idea of what they can expect. And that alone can help increase your response rate and conversion rate.

Checkout form

I’ve done a post on how we optimized our checkout page in November 2013, and most of that design still holds. There are some things you should definitely implement though:

Progress bar

This actually goes for every form you have on your website. You should implement a progress bar that shows people how far along in your form they are. This gives them a lot of insight in the whole process and will most likely increase your form’s completion rate.

Clarity

Try to make it as clear as possible what all the options and details of the transaction are. What is the price, the product they’re buying, the payment options, etc. All of this should be very clear and quickly visible. The use of logos, product images, etc. can really help in this process.

How are you doing?

Are your website’s forms up to par? Or do they need some more optimization? If you’re not sure or want to have us take a look at them (and the rest of your site), take a look at our Website Reviews!

This post first appeared as Your website needs (better) forms on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!