So much focus is given these days to optimizing websites in order for them to rank highly with search engines. Everyone wants their website to appear on the first or second page of a search engine results page (SERP) for a particular keyword. But this focus oftentimes clouds another critical facet of website design and optimization and that is in the area of conversion. Conversion could be defined as a specific web visitor action that fulfills a particular goal (as devised by the website owner). One common conversion could be a sale of a product. Another example could be a user subscription to your newsletter.

Without an acceptable conversion rate from a website selling a product, search engine optimization (SEO) is really futile because it does not contribute to the profitability of a business. So what is the art of conversion? After a site is optimized for search engines, how does a site owner increase the likelihood of visits converting to sales? This text goes over some of the most basic (conversions) considerations when the goal is to make sales.

The key is to build trust from the moment a visitor comes to your site. And one of the most important ways to build trust is to have a website with a high-quality appearance. Adhering to current standards of Web 2.0 is one of the best ways to build it. It is also good for SEO. For example, animated GIFs were eye-catching in the early days of the World Wide Web but today they give a website a cheap (and shady) look and can work against building trust from your visitors. Images and other graphics should be of exceptional quality and at the same time they should render quickly in any browser.

Part of building trust is not asking for too much personal information. People, for the most part, are suspicious of anyone on the Internet. So if a visitor comes to your website to purchase your product, you shouldn’t make it a requirement to register on it prior to a sale. Before you ask for information from your visitors, ask yourself if there is a real need for it. For example, the only reason you would need someone’s home address is if you have to ship an item. And, the only reason for collecting someone’s telephone number is if you have to call them in order to confirm some information. It is a good idea to always disclose to the user the purpose of any information you do collect.

Building trust is enhanced by making sure your customers can contact you. What many businesses do is make sure that their toll-free number is prominently displayed at the top of every web page on their site. If your business has a physical location, you should also display it on each page. Many display it at as a footing but the important thing is can it be easily seen by the person browsing your website.

It is always a pleasure for potential customers to be able to shop easily. They do their shopping in the web object known as a shopping cart. The shopping cart items should have clear pictures of each product along with well-written, keyword-focused descriptions. Plan your categories so that a shopper does not have to go down too deep in the shopping cart tree in order to find what he or she is looking for.

Make the checkout process easy for your users. If customers have to experience a complicated process for checking out (making payment) there is a possibility that they will change their mind because of the inconvenience. If possible, try to stick to one page for the checking out. Along the same line, offer as many payment options as you can (e.g., Paypal, debit and credit cards). The payment page should be for payments only. In other words, don’t add links to other areas as this can distract the customer. The only distraction that is justified on the checkout page is having a link to reference your privacy and return policy and this should be in a breakout type of window that is easily done using JavaScript.

Make sure your website is electronically secure. This gives customers a safer feeling when they have to use their electronic payment option. You should implement the shopping/checkout area of your website in a secure shell with at least 128-bit encryption. Utilizing the assistance of third-party internet security providers also goes a long way in building trust. And, if you use one of these security providers, prominently display their logo on your site.

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