I’m not shy, so I’ll just let it all hang out: my very dirtiest SEO/SEM and conversion secrets.

What makes them dirty?

They're my go-to tactics. I use them on practically every client, and they work so well every time that it's just filthy-unfair.

- They’re simple (i.e. you can probably apply right now)

- They apply broadly (i.e. use them on all your clients)

- They friggin work (i.e. they’ll light up the boards)

Click the links below to jump to a certain section, or just scroll your way through & enjoy.

BONUS! Dirty conversion secrets (the secret sauce)

Discover your ‘Tipping Point’ keywords

What they are: "Tipping point keyword" is a term that we coined (I think) that refers to keyword terms where you (or your client) is ranking, but not in the top five. You’re getting traffic already, but not as much as you could.

Why they’re awesome: Just a little push and small ranking improvements can create big gains in traffic and leads. Go from slot No. 9 to slot No. 5, and your traffic on a given keyword will soar. Go from slot No. 12 to slot No. 5 and it will be an even bigger difference.

You could spend all day hunting these down and running rank checks to see where you’re ranking. We used to do that, but we’ve since discovered this nifty little method that you can read below.

NOTE: You need to have Google Webmaster Tools set up and integrated with your analytics for this to work.

Go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries

From here, create an advanced filter as follows:

INCLUDE + “Impressions” + GREATER THAN + “100” (show me keywords that got more than 100 impressions, i.e. substantial search volume)

AND INCLUDE + “Average Position” + GREATER THAN + “5” (Show me only keywords that I’m not ranked in the top five.)

AND EXCLUDE + “Average Position” + GREATER THAN + “25” (Forget about keywords where I’m ranked worse than 25.)

This is what it should look like:

2-tipping-point-keywords

Voila! Your tipping point keywords, served to you on a silver platter. You’ll probably see some weird stuff in this report, like one- to two- word phrases that seem completely unrelated such as ‘feeling good’ or ‘substantiate’ or something. These are likely from Google images.

PRO TIP: Filter this report using ‘Google Property’ as a secondary dimension. This will show you whether impressions are being triggered from Google Web, Google Images or Google Mobile searches. (Most of the weird stuff will be from Google Images.)

Get More from Existing Content

At this point, we’ve got all types of keyword ideas. This is where we put the rubber to the road. If your site is like most, you already have a ton of content. This content is already ranking and driving keyword traffic.

Instead of reinventing the wheel with new content, just improve your existing stuff. We call them Keyword "Hunts," and Google LOVES this approach because they love awesome content. We use this strategy to create consistent gains with minimal effort. Instead of explaining it, just watch the video for a step-by-step walkthrough.

It’s under 15 minutes and well worth the time.

http://vimeo.com/39481744

PRO TIP: You still need to publish new stuff too. Once you see how well this works, you'll be tempted to do it all day. Resist that temptation. Keep publishing new stuff for best results.

Squeeze the Juice from PPC Campaigns

I used to suck at PPC. I used to avoid it. I would say, “I’m an SEO guy. SEO is better anyway,” etc. For some reason, my PPC campaigns never panned out. I felt like a loser.

Then one day, that all changed when I discovered what I was missing. The all-important squeeze page. After learning about this & implementing it, this is what happened:

BEFORE: 1 percent conversion, $270 cost per conversion

AFTER: 4.5 percent conversion, $72 cost per conversion

This is an absolutely true story. I made very few changes to the campaigns other than this. I have been a PPC hero ever since #Dirty, and I would never even think about running a PPC account without having squeeze pages that work.

Critical Elements of a Good Squeeze Page

This is so important that I'll do a little tangent on it. Here's what a good squeeze page should have...

Big-ole Juicy Headline. The headline is all-important, just like any other page. If the user likes a headline, they read. If not, they bounce. Headlines should echo whatever keywords or ad copy created the visit. This should be the first thing to test if you want to improve performance.

Clear CTA with Directional Cue. Make it stupid simple for users to know what to do next. Arrows or other directional cues can be used to make this happen. Keep it simple, don’t make me think, etc.

Credibility. Include customer testimonials, familiar logos in an “As Seen On…” or “Trusted By…” section. You know the drill.

Features and Benefits. Use the copy to describe features and benefits, but also to answer common questions and combat common concerns. Most people are concerned about price, quality and convenience. Speak to those three and whatever else is specific to your product/service.

Here’s a WebMechanix squeeze page that converts at nearly 12 percent.

If you want a simple solution to building high-converting landing pages, check out Unbounce.com, and tell 'em I sent ya.

Be a Hero with Behavioral Targeting

What it is: Smart advertisements that "remember" users and serve them ads specific to what they've done.

You ever been shopping for something one day and then later you see an ad for the exact thing you were looking for?

You’re like, “Damn, how’d they know I have bunions?” Haha.

THAT’s behavioral targeting. You did something, and now you’re seeing certain ads because of it. One type of behavioral targeting that we use frequently is remarketing (sometimes called re-targeting).

It’s not new, but it still dazzles clients and does wonders for your account-wide CPAs.

Why it works: Clients love it because it makes perfect sense and gives them a little ego-boost — they see their own ads everywhere, and people comment on it thinking they spent a fortune. You love it because it works really well. I mean, think about it — It converts like a banshee and makes your account-wide CPAs look great.

It’s a true win-win.

You can set up and manage remarketing campaigns right through the Google AdWords interface. You can get pretty complex with the way you set it up. If you’re new to remarketing, I’d suggest keeping it simple to start. You can always dazzle it up later.

I could write volumes on this, but I’ll spare you. If you want to learn more, check out this post by Brad Geddes (my PPC idol) on the basics of remarketing segmentation.

Use pop-ups for a quick conversion win

What are they? A big window which pops up, freezes your screen and makes you an offer you can’t refuse. Users either close it, or they convert.

We use pop-up windows all the time to boost conversion rates, and clients hate it! They like the increased lead flow, but they still bitch about it all the time. They call it annoying, they say they hate when they see them, they say they’re tacky, etc.

And you know what we say?

Pop-ups have been around since the dawn of the Internet and are more popular than ever (even though everyone thinks they’re annoying) for one simple reason: Because they work!

Why they work: You show it to 100 percent of your users, which is powerful in and of itself. What other types of conversion mechanisms can you instantly roll out to 100 percent of your audience? Not many. But at the end of the day, some portion of your users are going to find the offer interesting and convert.

We’ve seen instances where large sites have DOUBLED their web leads literally overnight by introducing strategic pop-up windows.

But on average, we can tack an additional 1 percent onto sitewide conversion rates. That is a full 1 percent. So if site-wide conversions are at 3 percent, after a pop-up, we’d expect them to be 4 percent — a cool 33 percent gain.

If your client is still upset after that, you may have to fire them. #JustSayin.

See an example in the B2C space (computer repair).

See an example in the B2B space (unclaimed property reporting).

NOTE: You may have to wait 20-30 seconds on either of the sites above before the pop-up triggers.

On average, about 1 percent of users that see the pop-up will fill it out. While that may not sound like a lot, if your site gets 1,000 visits monthly, a nice pop-up will pull you an extra 10 leads. Nothing to shake a stick at.

PRO TIP: Certain elements will determine the success or failure of your pop-up. Largely:

  • Headline and offer. Freebies and discounts work well for B2C; premium content rules in B2B.
  • Personal info. Generally, ask for less info up front. Ask for more to get higher quality, lower quantity leads.
  • Timing and cookie settings. Experiment to see what works. We'll start with 15 seconds and test it against 30.

Pull High-quality Leads with an Inline Micro Conversion

I discovered the beauty of inline micro conversions a year or two ago, and I’ve been happily using them ever since.

What it is: Fancy talk for an interactive call-to-action that lives smack dab in the middle of a page. Usually the CTA will ask the user to answer a question or choose from a list of options.

Why it works: Eyeballs + intrigue.

First, like pop-ups, they can get a lot of eyeballs. We usually start by putting them on our top 15 to 20 pages. Not quite as many eyeballs as a pop-up, but still substantial.

Second, they create a sense of intrigue by asking users something. It creates a sense of “I wonder what happens if I do that?” which makes users curious and more likely to play with it. Third, users reveal some information about themselves, and that information can be useful to secure the conversion.

Just imagine a dating site that starts the sign-up process with a question like “I am a…” and then you chose between male seeking female, female seeking male, etc. Suppose you choose female seeking male. On the next page, the dating site will show you imagery of all these hunky guys now that it knows you’re a female seeking a male, right?

THAT’s the power of the inline micro conversion.

See an example in the B2C space (kitchen/bath countertop design).

See an example in the B2B space (medical/pharma regulatory consulting).

Roughly 5 percent of users who see them interact with them. Of that 5 percent, 20% percent on average will convert once they get to the next page in the funnel.

Get an Unfair Advantage with Hover and Click Tracking

I saved this for last intentionally because it’s just tooooo dirty. Not only is this extremely useful in practice, it can also be used to dazzle prospects in sales meetings. This technology, like remarketing, is not new. But for some reason, it hasn’t quite hit the main stream yet where everyone’s talking about it.

What is it? A software that creates an overlay of your website and tracks usage patterns like clicks, hovers and scrolls.

Why it works: Imagine having x-ray vision into your site. See exactly how users are interacting with your site, what’s working and what’s not. Get objective insight into your site that is simply impossible to get elsewhere.

4-hover tracking dirty

We use this all the time to design and carry out conversion experiments for clients. They almost always work because they’re backed with such strong science.

There are many providers of this type of heat mapping software, and my favorite is LuckyOrange — they have just as many features as the more expensive ones, but they’re much more reasonably priced.

What Are YOUR Dirtiest SEO/SEM Secrets?

So there you have it, my dirtiest SEO/SEM and conversion laundry hung out to dry. What dirty Internet marketing secrets are you keeping?

Please chime in below and let me know what you think, whether you're using any of these and of course, YOUR dirtiest tricks. I’ll do my best to reply as quickly as possible. Thanks for reading!

Originally published Jan 18, 2013 12:00:24 AM, updated June 15 2018

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Marketing Advice