I’ve just got back from a brilliant weekend at Think Visibility, the SEO, social and affiliate conference organised by Dom Hodgson and team. It was my first time at the conference but after I had heard so many good things about the previous ones I wanted to attend for myself; it was definitely a good decision to go and I’d highly recommend it to anyone in the industry who wants to hear some inspiring presentations and meet compatriots from far and wide.
During this summary I want to briefly explore the key takeaways from each of the presentations and give those who couldn’t make it an overview of what I learnt during the day.
Paddy Moogan – Let’s Talk About Links Baby!
Paddy Moogan from Distilled was first up on the podium and gave one of the best presentations of the day, in which he looked at how some example sites could improve their link profiles. He made recommendations on how to choose your plan of action, and then some methods to implement and even speed up the processes:
Firstly, understand the website’s link profile and that of it’s competitors
See how much link diversity the site has (both the number of links and where they are coming from)
Work out which methods are going to get the best results for this site
Identify your target websites, i.e., which types of people or businesses are going to give you good link
Link building methods:
Link bait – also described as ego bait, this method encourages others to link to you by featuring them in something, for example, a top ten list of restaurants. When writing link bait ensure that you feature companies who have a web presence as this will increase the chance of a link. It is also good to let them know that they’re on your list. Another example here is to get people to vote for their favourite, this then encourages all potential companies to link to your survey so that they can get votes. Competitions also work very well, and as @ASPG said, an iPad is only $400 and can get a lot of links!
Twitter followers – This method can tie in with the one above, or with other methods, but whatever you decide to use it for I think it has great potential for identifying new link sources. The idea here is that you scrape the bios of your website’s twitter followers, export these to csv along with their following details (to help sift the spam) and then use this list of engaged users with their own websites to find new links.
Identifying your target audience – this involves thinking about which types of people or businesses are going to give you good links. The example given would have benefited from links from mummy bloggers, so Paddy suggested using an advanced search query to find a list, then also checking the similar results button in Google. Once you have found these links import the data in to a spreadsheet and also then find these people on twitter and use the above process to find even more URLs to target.
Customers and authority – think about the people in the company behind your website; who are the suppliers, who uses them, who might have other connections with the company? Have a chat with people and find out if anyone is happy to add a link because of the connection they have with your company. One good example for gaining links is thinking about your authorising body, for example Fair Trade, and getting links on sites that promote these types of body.
Guest blogging – this can work very well, as we all know, so Paddy gave us some tips to ensure it could be done in a way that gets the best results and highest levels of success. To start with, he recommends sourcing the blog and emailing with ideas before you get anything written. This ensures the blog owner gets the input to make sure it’s going to be a good post for their blog and it also saves you have to rewrite or resource if the blog owner doesn’t like what you’ve already written. Paddy suggested outsourcing the writing, however, when you have a great team of copywriters in house (like us) it’s much better to keep it in house.
In addition to these techniques, paddy also explained some shadier techniques that are not recommended but could be done. He’s asked us not to share these, but I don’t think I would have done anyway, they’re much too grey hat for me!
Steven Pavlovich – Mind Games: Using Brainwashing, Psychology and Cults to Boost Your Conversion Rate
Steven Pavlovich from Conversion Factory gave a great presentation about how psychology affects conversions and how you can optimise conversion rates through implementing psychological techniques. He explained how the techniques have been used for years in direct mail and are now being built on to work well with web based techniques.
“It’s not just about the buttons”
Steven pointed out that there is a lot more to conversion optimisation than changing the colour/size/location of buttons; it’s about finding out what would help your customers and making big changes based on this research to significantly improve the conversion process and results. The following methods were explained:
Competition with others – if you’ve seen Take Me Out with Paddy McGuinness (its like Blind Date, only 100 times cheesier) you may have noticed that when it gets down to the last two girls they no longer care about the man, instead the most important objective becomes beating the other remaining girl. Another example of this is eBay bidders getting to the last few minutes of an auction and being up against another bidder, making them suddenly want to beat the other bidder to win the auction, even if it means they end up paying more than they needed to.
To put this in to practice on a website you would try techniques such as stating next to products that there are only ‘3 left in stock’. As well as playing to people’s competitiveness this also encourages them to speed up their journey to the check out to make sure that they get the products before others.
Other techniques include using authority. For example you could scientific or professional information and assurances when selling acai berries or anti wrinkle creams. The power of social influence has also grown significantly recently, through encouraging reviews on site and building trust on sites like Facebook you can help people feel happier about buying from you. In a similar way to trust, the psychology of a cult can also improve conversions, particularly when you want to retain customers. Think about how Apple have built their cult up and now have a large number of loyal customers who swear by their products, to the extent that there are now rival ‘fanboys’ who frequently debate the pros and cons of each brand with friends.
Some helpful tips that came from the questions asked:
Re-targeting – if people need a kick up the backside to buy from you then it can work well, however it can be a little bit stalker like which doesn’t work for some brands. Also, the more it’s used the less it will work, so don’t overdo it.
Cart Abandonment – This is starting to get very popular and can lead to good results. When people add items to the cart but leave the site without buying you can send an email to them later on asking if they’d like to come back to buy the product and also asking for feedback as to why they didn’t buy the product there and then. This gives you feedback and a higher chance of more purchases.
Call to Action – ensure this is obvious on site. One great example given is if you have a site that offers services in different locations or a look up index, you should add a map to the home page so that users immediately understand what they can get out of the site.
E-commerce Vouchers – Adding a box for a discount code to a checkout process can lead to a drop in conversions as people may not want to buy if they realise that they don’t have a discount code to use. It usually works well with existing customers – send them an email after they’ve purchased. Automatically populating a voucher code can work too. Just make sure people don’t get distracted while they’re in the purchasing process by going off to look for a code, make it as quick as possible for them to convert.
Live chat – this can help if customers get nervous buying from your website, allowing them to ask for help if they need it shows that they’re not buying from a faceless website that may not assist them enough to make the purchase go smoothly.
So that’s the first part of my Think Visibility experience. Hopefully you’ve gained as much from this as I have from the great speakers and experts at the conference. I will be adding the second instalment shortly, so make sure you check back.