By Evan Carmichael on June 10th, 2010
SES Toronto officially kicked off this morning and it’s always a blast to meet some of the top people in the SEO industry, learn from their experiences, and stay on top of the new trends. I’m covering the event with Ringo So who will also be guest blogging from the 2 day event.
Here are my personal highlights and learnings so far from Day 1.
21 Secrets of Top-Converting Websites
Official Description: The average conversion rate for a website is around 3%, but many websites convert at 10% or higher. What do they do that you may not be doing? Bryan Eisenberg, who has been helping companies improve their conversion rates since 1998 will reveal 21 of his most valuable tips that will help you increase your conversion rate. In this fast paced session you’ll find relevant examples from retail sites, B2B sites, publishers and everything in between. You’ll learn the key principle of GTC – Get the Cash! You’ll never be able to look at a website the same way again.
My take: Bryan did a great job of providing amazing value to the audience as well as entertaining us. He started off the presentation saying that the information was confidential to the people in the room but I had to share at least a few of his 21 tips to improve website conversions.
Tip #5: Make a Strong First Impression
You only have one chance to make a first impression and people make up their minds within seconds of hitting your website. Catch their attention immediately and give them a reason to stay on your site. Bryan recommended checking out LifeLock as one of his favorites. The site deals with identity theft and as soon as you land on their homepage it does make quite an impression telling the story of one of their customers.
Tip #10: Use Social Commerce in Your Promotions
By social commerce Bryan meant reviews and feedback from your customers. Encourage them to give you genuine feedback on what you’re selling and then use their comments in your promotions. For example, offer people the option to search for your highest rated products, show which ones received five stars from satisfied buyers, and use it to add credibility to your website. He also suggested not removing negative comments as this provides transparency to your visitors. Make sure you do respond to any negative feedback, however.
Tip #22: Use Your Thank You Page to Sell
The presentation was only supposed to have 21 tips but Bryan included a bonus one in for us. Once people take the action you want them to take (buy your product, fill out your contact form, sign up for your newsletter, etc) they are usually sent to a thank you or confirmation page. Use this page as another opportunity to sell your customer on another offering or take another desired action. They have already expressed an interest in your company by getting to that Thank You page so use it as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship.
Information Architecture, Site Performance Tuning, & SEO
Official Description: The technical and navigational foundations of your website can significantly impact search referral traffic, either directly or indirectly. Experts explain why all of this matters, and offer tips on how to organize, label, and prioritize your content; how to speed up your site; and how to assess and fix bloated code that may impact the user experience and search rankings.
My Take: This session featured Dan Klyn who I interviewed for this blog earlier this month. It also featured Ezra Silverton, founder of 9th sphere. In Ezra’s bio I noticed he wrote “He frequently contributes to publications such as The Mark, Visibility Magazine, SES Magazine and Evan Carmichael.” With over 5,000 contributors to my site I don’t know many of them personally so I had to go introduce myself! You can read what Ezra has written for EvanCarmichael.com here.
Google recently announced that page load time is a factor they look at as a part of their ranking algorithm. In other words, the faster your website loads, the higher up you’ll be ranked in Google.
Ezra shared some great tips on how to optimize your website including using a global CSS file to replace some of your images, using CSS sprites so that only one image loads, having a maximum image file size of 50k and using a content delivery network. Unless you’re a programmer all of this is probably over your head but it’s something you should start looking into. If you’re not using some of these methods then your more technically savvy competitors will pass you by in the rankings. Having a site that loads faster also helps improve the experience for your visitors.
Link Building Basics
Official Description: Discover how search engines rely on link analysis as an important component for ranking web pages. You will also learn how to increase traffic to your site by building quality links in an appropriate manner.
My Take: I was interested in this session because I interviewed the presenter Jeff Quipp earlier on my blog as well. I got there just before showtime and there was a lineup that was out the door! On my call with Jeff he mentioned that the presentation would be focused on the basics and not get into any advanced tips so I thought I would use the time to start writing this post – sorry Jeff!
I’m planning on finishing the day with the Performance-Based Marketing Best Practices session and then get ready to start it up all over again tomorrow morning for the presentation by Maile Ohye who is the Senior Developer Programs Engineer with Google.
Stay tuned for more SES Toronto coverage by Ringo and an update after tomorrow’s sessions!
What are your most pressing SEO concerns? I would love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
Tags: audience, blogging, conversion rate, conversion rates, eisenberg, experiences, ezra, identity theft, job, learnings, lifelock, new trends, principle, publishers, relevant examples, sessions, silverton, strong first impression, Toronto, website conversions