Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on January 26th, 2010

What Type of Conversion-Oriented Website Are You?

One of the most fundamental, yet overlooked, areas of SEO is conversions. Many folks dwell on the virtues of ranking at the top of Google but they ultimately miss the primary goal of a business web site – to get visitors to do what you want them to do. Conversion rates are not just for e-commerce sites; all web sites have conversion goals that can be measured, managed, and increased.

Conversions mean different things to different web sites. There are three main types of web sites, with three different main types of conversion goals. Let’s take a look at all three and then discuss how to you can decide which type your site should be.

Lead Generation

Lead generation sites are focused on getting people to contact them. Examples of include real estate agents, attorneys, insurance companies, and web design agencies. The primary goal of the lead generation site is to provide a lead by filling out your lead form. The secondary and tertiary goals of a lead generation web site are, respectively, getting the visitor to send you an email and then call your company. If you can get people to start contacting you for more, more, more, then your site deserves a raise.


The e-commerce web sites tend to be focused on making the sale now, getting the credit card, and shipping the product. Examples of e-commerce sites include ticket sales (Tickermaster), books (, electronics (Best Buy), and general online shopping ( web site. The primary goal of an e-commerce web site is pretty straightforward – they want you to buy their products immediately. The secondary and tertiary goals of an e-commerce site are, respectively, are to get you to create and add items to a wish list and sign up for their newsletter or online catalog. Creating a wish list will get some people to come back and buy, but converting them immediately on their shopping tendencies is ultimately desired.


Ad-driven web sites are a breed of their own. They want eye-balls – and tons of them. The more people who view their site, the more value it has for an advertiser. Stats like visitors and pageviews are of the utmost importance, but don’t ignore quality traffic. If advertisers aren’t getting sales they may be tempted to pull their ads. The primary goal of an ad-driven web site is to get visitors to click more pages. The secondary and tertiary goals, respectively, are to get visitors to join the site and subscribe to the RSS feed.

Your sit goals may vary, so take your time to decide what you want your visitors to do. Ask yourself the following questions:

• How do people find your site?

• How do you get customers?

• What do you want people to do on your site that makes your company money?

• What information is critical to the success of your sales efforts?

• Who are our most valuable customers?

• Who are our most regular customers?

• Are there particular products or services that we’re trying to sell more of right now or in the near future?

• Are there customers objectives for our web site or only sales objectives?

• What audiences (investors, employees, technical support, news media), besides customers, use our web sites?

These are all considerations when making conversion decisions. Once you know what you want your customers to do, you can clearly define the steps you want them to take in order to convert. Come back tomorrow and I will discuss with you the different paths to conversions and how to understand if the path is right for you.