Have you looked at your Google Analytics data recently?
Is your holiday traffic up or down?
Do you know how your customers are finding you?
You may not be aware of it, but in the US, Google recently changed the way the SERP page works. Whenever Google or Gmail users are logged into their account, Google activates a secure web browser session.
In other words they are changing the browser from:
As more and more information is tied together between Google's various products, this seems like a safe measure to protect us all, however there's a serious downside. This security is going to change the way you read your Google Analytics because your search keyword data will slowly disappear.
The "https" feature is designed to block all information unless the user specifically sends it. Since those organic search phrases we see in Google Analytics are gathered covertly, they are now blocked by this security. You will still see the number of users visiting your site, but you won't see their search phrases any more. Instead you will see "(not provided)" in your reports.
Your holiday website traffic should be way up right now. Even if you don't see all the keyword phrases, you certainly will see the influx of holiday shoppers visiting your website. Hopefully your phone calls, foot traffic, and sales are also up.
But what if your sales don't match the upswing of the number of visitors to your website?
Some quick things you can do to help convert some of those visitors to buyers.
1. Don't sweat what you can't change easily.
At this point you probably shouldn't worry much about how the website looks. Harried holiday shoppers will start skimming your website for specific phrases, prices, and photos and won't necessarily notice the background color, font color, or any other aesthetics that are normally important. They will however notice if your site appears out of date, or abandoned. There's no longer an expectation that a store with a website is a store still in business.
2. You want to sell something, right?
Change your home page to allow for quick skimming. That means slightly larger than normal headline fonts that call attention and lead people to things like your "Holiday Gift Guide" or "Most Popular Jewelry" or "Gifts for Her." We're seeing many websites appear over the last 7 days with huge font sizes. On a regular computer screen these are a bit obnoxious, but surprisingly they are very easy to read on smartphones. References to 2011 Winter Holiday Season or Christmas 2011 will assure your customers that they are looking at recently added data.
3. Lead with photos.
Here's another quick change for your home page. Temporarily ditch the rest of your content other than what's can be used to funnel a visitor toward your conversion. Pick a few nice photos and put them on your home page. A few suggestive product photos with prices next to them will lead buyers directly into your product catalog. You might be happily surprised how well those photos work for navigation.
As we explained above, your Google Analytics organic keyword data will start to decrease a little over time, but once they arrive on your website all the user interaction and bounce rate data is still tracked. The 3 suggested changes above will appear in your Analytics within 24 hours and you will be able to see the effects in various analytics reports. We're hoping you have a better response from customers too.
If you decide to make these changes you should do them before Friday, December 16, 2011 so it's ready for the expected surge of website traffic on Monday the 19th.
Even though Google Analytics does a great job at tracking your website the true value of your website will never be known unless you have some type of in-store tracking. Don't be afraid to ask your customer how they found out about you, and when they say "Google" you should also ask them if they remember how they searched for you.
Even though the secure SERP will hide some keyword data, Google Analytics is still great at tracking ROI for e-commerce websites. But if your business relies on in-store sales only then you need to continually ask your customers how they found you, or if they've visited your website, or if they've been to your Facebook page. Without this you simply will never know if your internet marketing is worth what you're paying.