Case Study: Optimizing Design for Conversion Goals

I wanted to share a case study about a new home page design that helped a client in the estimated tax business improve conversions. The results have been great so far – up 83%.

First, let’s get the background info on the client (Easy Estimated Taxes) out of the way. Easy Estimated taxes is a site that allows taxpayers to manage their quarterly estimated tax payments. Taxpayers can pay their estimated tax payments out of their bank account, keep record of their payments, and they get reminders of when their next payment is due.

Probably the most important thing to know about the business is that it’s seasonal. There are four payment periods per year and their traffic peaks during those four periods. That means those four periods are super important to them – it’s how the business sustains itself for the entire year. By now you’re putting 2 and 2 together and realizing that their site needs to perform during its peak period. If not, then they have to wait 3 months for another peak to come around.

The client had the following goal: get more of the existing traffic into their sales funnel. Put another way, get more of the people that visit the site clicking on the right call-to-action.

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How a Sound Content Strategy Can Bear Immediate Results

irs case study
The new layout - optimized for revenue generation

Last month we completed a project for I just finished writing an SEO case study (it may be better classified as a white paper) highlighting the process we went though with our client and ensuing results.

The entire case study is fairly lengthy, so I’m including just the summary in this post.

Just five months of working with Tax Center produced extremely positive results. The website is now better positioned in the search engines than it was before and it is receiving more traffic because of that positioning.

This project was different from most for a couple of reasons. First, it was shorter. Most content strategies are at least 12 months in length. Second, we began working with Tax Center at the beginning of their most important months of the year (as opposed to implementing our plan in the offseason for taxes).

This means that we needed to implement a strategy that did all of the following:
A) Got results without adversely affecting current search engine positioning,
B) Resulted in accelerated returns (meaning immediately), and
C) Laid the groundwork for long term performance beyond the scope of the project (future tax seasons).

We began the project by performing an in-depth audit of the site. The audit pointed to several key areas of improvement – basic SEO fundamentals, a more trusted user experience, and more high-value content. We based our strategy on those key areas.

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5 Takeaways from PubCon

pubcon 2010Back to reality after a great week in Vegas attending PubCon.

Really quickly I wanted to share, in no particular order, my top 5 takeaways from the week.

1. “Likes are the new links” – this was a quote from Bruce Clay during the week’s best session. Bruce was part of a panel that discussed Google Caffeine and May Day. Bruce thinks that when you add up what Google did with Caffeine (increasing the size of the index) with the fact that they have to account for social in search results plus the fact that a greater percentage of links are spam – the currency for validating sites will change from links to personal recommendations.

Whether or not you buy it, it’s definitely thought-provoking. I’m going to be testing this one while following it closely.

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How to Evaluate A Website’s Performance

website evaluation checklistHere’s a list of basic questions I use when performing a website evaluation or audit on a client website. It gets more technical and geeky than this, but my hope is that this fives you a good idea of some of the things I do to help turn websites around.

GENERAL: questions I ask directly of the owner, or team that runs the website
1. What are the goals of the website? I want to hear from the website’s brass what they are trying to accomplish. It’s not always obvious. And it’s not always what they should be trying to accomplish. Often time there aren’t even any goals.
2. What the history of the website? Tell me specific details about sales (or membership) trends?
3. What’s the history of the site’s SEO strategy? What effect has that had on the site’s performance?
4. Have there been any major traumatic events (like de-indexing or site outages)? How have those affected sales and performance?
5. What’s your keyword strategy? If they have a strategy, I’ll ask to see the latest data they’ve accumulated about what keywords they consider to be most valuable.
6. How well has the stated keyword strategy been implemented on the site?
7. What is your content strategy?

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