You need to manage the words that bring people to your website and the words that will bring them through it.

The IBM Cognos website has achieved three-times the industry average for lead generation. One way they did this was by focusing on getting found in search. They learned some interesting things along the way. "Our team spent a lot of effort, with a wonderful search partner, to win terms such as "business intelligence"," states John Blackmore, Senior Manager, Web Demand Generation for IBM. "Lots of competition, really tough term. Well, after about ten months, we won it. Number one on Google! We expected the traffic flood gates to open up, after all, there were 1000s and 1000s of searches on this term. What we saw was perhaps an increase of maybe 100 per day-nothing game-changing."

"My take-and no quantitative data on this-more so psychology. People searching on a generic term are looking for 3rd party sites and shy away from vendors. If you're searching on "family sedan" you're more likely to go to Consumer Reports or the like, than Toyota or Ford. If you search on "Camry" you're ready to go to Toyota."

Over time what the Cognos team began to shift their focus to converting more of the people who were arriving at their website into leads. This meant getting the words right. They might have a column heading called "Resources" or "Whitepapers." "We found that simply calling it "Scorecarding resources" if it was the scorecard page greatly improved our conversion rate," John states. "Not a big surprise. But it does mean that pages require attention-that you get more results when the page is crafted to the topic rather than a generic template in the hopes one size fits all."

The web is a laboratory of content. There is a science to creating and laying it out. John's team found that you should "never put more than four things together (say four bullets, or four offers) in a single place. More than that and the visitor's eyes glaze over. Too many choices."

The bottom of a webpage is a potential goldmine. Year after year, organization after organization, I've found that properly managing the bottom of the page can deliver huge value. "Bottom of the page is the real sweet spot for content, probably the most valuable real estate for generating response," John states. "It took us two years to recognize that. Offers at the bottom of the page now account for about 50% of lead responses; 30% from the right hand side, and 20% elsewhere (banners, in-page, etc.) This was not a case of swapping the same responses-putting offers at the bottom of the page was one of the key leaps bringing us up to an average 12% and higher conversion rate on our website."

"The psychology of this makes sense if you think about it. If someone reads to the bottom of your page, he or she is committed to the topic. Give the person something to do. He or she is looking for a place to click. Satisfy it."

How did IBM Cognos discover all these things? Through a process of continuous improvement. "Ask, test, measure, adapt, repeat, or more plainly, constantly test your website," as John sums it up.

Additional Reading: