Tune your website for PPC success

As a PPCer, I should be telling you that paid search works perfectly every time, and it’ll magically deliver you lots of leads and sales, right?

Well actually no. The truth is, Paid Search is a great tool for delivering highly-qualified traffic to your site – no more, no less. At that point, PPC hands over the baton to your website. So what are the common points-of-failure, post-baton exchange? Here are five common ones:

1. Is your proposition actually competitive?

It sounds obvious, but this is an easy mistake to make. If you are advertising a product or service that is overpriced or otherwise out-classed by your competitors, a PPC campaign will coldly reveal it, in the form of low or non-existent ROI. The plain truth is your visitors are not loyal to you, and love to compare companies’ offerings – they probably have 6 tabs open in their browser, with 5 of your competitors occupying the other tabs.

2. Can someone who is new to your website complete their tasks easily?

It’s a strange paradox that as the owner of your website you are highly familiar with it, yet you simply can’t experience it as a first-time visitor would. You have the curse of knowledge. For example, the important ‘Buy it Now’ link that seems highly-visible to you may be nearly invisible to a first-time visitor.

Put in the context of PPC, this can get very expensive. It’s a shame if a ‘free’ organic visitor doesn’t convert to a sale because of a usability issue, but even worse if you’ve paid hard cash to get them on-site. This sounds like a tough issue to identify, but can often be resolved by user testing your site. That sounds expensive, but it doesn’t need to be.

3. Are you upfront with your price info?

Vague or hidden price info is sure to rile your visitors. Most sites selling tangible items (i.e. ecommerce sites) take heed of this these days, but B2B websites and sites selling bespoke products or services are often completely devoid of price info, usually due to the belief that the ‘bespokeness’ makes it impossible to do so.

Unfortunately, numerous studies have shown that if you don’t mention a price at all, people are likely to assume you are too expensive. In other words, the online version of the old saying: “If you have to ask, then you can’t afford it”.

Give people as much price information as possible, as quickly as possible. Make sure any price info mentioned in a PPC ad is mirrored on the landing page, and that the prices are always identical.  If you absolutely can’t give concrete pricepoints, provide real-life case studies complete with guide prices – that will give your visitors a rough idea of where you’re setting your stall.

4. If you have a contact number, is it prominently-displayed at all times?

Each visitor is different. Some hate using the phone and will prefer to use contact forms, while others will gravitate towards the phone. So whenever possible, let people choose how they conduct business with you. If you have a contact number, include it in all relevant sections of body text on all relevant pages – not just your Contact page. Also consider including it in your header and footer.

5. Have you made good use of body text links?

Users tend to focus on a page’s main content (i.e. the body text and imagery) rather than pure navigation elements such as your navigation bar. It makes sense then, to add links to crucial pages into your body text.

And yet… many sites hardly use body text links at all. I suspect this is because website body text is developed all-too-often as an afterthought – something that’s either hastily written after the site’s technical build is completed, or a copy and paste job from existing Word docs, such as print brochures.

So spend some quality time with your body text – rewriting it if necessary – to get those links in place. Your users will thank you for it.

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