If you’ve been working hard to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), you may not really be improving your site. Believe it or not, some websites succeed in search engines, showing up on the first page of results, but still aren’t real successes. These websites fail to bring in paying customers, to generate qualified leads, or to make any other kind of conversion. Why is that? And how can it be repaired?
Good search results are a means to the end…not the end itself.
I have seen well-meaning business owners who become obsessed with that elusive #1 spot in search results. Some folks even willingly part with lots of hard-earned money to pay for this. While a good ranking is an admirable goal—and I’m not suggesting to abandon it—remember the ultimate purpose of your website. I imagine that you don’t have a website for the solitary goal of being #1 in search results. Your goal, when boiled down, is probably to bring in more business. And a good search engine ranking can help, but not guarantee, this result.
Specific, concrete measurements to judge the success of marketing efforts can be challenging and even seem impossible. Customers may contact you or come through your doors, but you may not always know if any of your marketing is directly, or even indirectly, responsible. Yet it’s valuable information because you don’t want to spend time and energy on marketing that won’t work for your target market.
Sitting at the top spot on a search engine is not a measure of your marketing success; it’s a measure of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy success. You can be at the top and still have an unsuccessful business.
Well, if your website visitors are clicking on your search listing and visiting your website, the next step is to see what they’re doing on your site. If you find that you don’t have enough traffic, or worse, that your visitors aren’t converting into customers, then your website’s challenges are deeper than your search engine rank.
Converting “just looking” into buying.
Solid measures of a website’s success usually include a conversion rate. Simply put, this is when you determine how many web surfers visit your site, and then see how many of those visitors actually follow through on the action you want them to take (e.g., making a purchase, filling out a contact form, subscribing to a newsletter, etc.). You can turn this into a percentage, like 20 percent if 20 of your 100 visitors makes a purchase.
If your conversion rate is low, then your bigger concern, before SEO, should be meeting your potential customers’ needs and desires. You can bring all the people in the world to your website, but if visitors don’t feel that you have what they want or need, they will click on to the next website.
If your conversion rate is high, meaning lots of visitors are becoming customers, then that’s excellent. However, if it’s still not enough customers, then you need to focus your efforts on attracting more visitors to your website, which could be through broadening your SEO efforts (if you’re at the top), improving your SEO efforts (if you’re buried in the results), or increasing your offerings.
By the way, there are no one-size-fits-all ideals for conversion rates. In some industries, a 40 percent rate could be low, while in others, 5 percent could be through the roof. It all depends on costs, profits, competition, and more. Your industry associations may have recommendations for successful online conversion rates.
The customer is always right.
We could debate about whether we agree with the statement or not. But the simple fact is, when attracting new customers, they will quickly determine in their minds whether you meet their needs or not. They will feel that they are right, regardless of the circumstances. To borrow another cliche, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
You need to tightly focus your message to meet or exceed potential customers’ expectations. This can involve your words, your tone, the way you sell, the colors and layout of the site, and more. Talk to existing customers to find out why they do business with you. Use what you’ve learned to make changes to your website.
You know clearly what you do and what you offer. You want to share your company or nonprofit message, story, and history on your website. But remember that you’re building your website for your customer, not you. What do your customers want to see? Focus on that.
Pull it all together.
While working through your SEO strategies to boost your search engine ranking is time well spent, remember that it’s not everything. Your best bet is to make sure that your website first succeeds in making customer conversions through meeting web surfers’ needs and desires. Then, you know you have an excellent website to promote.