Local business owners that are interested in search engine optimization will often start the conversation by saying, “I want my business to rank #1 on Google, how quickly can that happen?” Ranking #1 is the primary focus of ever business owner when it comes time to discuss a SEO strategy. It is the wrong approach for several reasons, as top rankings alone will not always result in record breaking profits and a crazy high return. There are several other search engine marketing metrics that should be considered along with the rankings that work together to create a profitable search marketing campaign.
1. Keyword Rankings
As mentioned above, this is what the majority of businesses focus on when they discuss a search marketing objective. Everyone wants top rankings, but just getting a website to the top spot for specific keywords doesn’t automatically result in revenue pouring in. Ranking #1 for keywords that don’t result in conversions and sales is completely useless. It sounds good on paper, but ranking on top for a keyword that isn’t generating revenue provides zero benefit for the business.
This is why a very well thought out search engine optimization strategy is key. Blindly attempting to rank for keywords is a very expensive mistake. It needs to be developed and executed with predetermined conversion and revenue goals that make it profitable and worth the effort.
2. Building Links
Another common request is business owners reaching out and saying, “My website needs more links, can you get us more links?” Again, misinformed and misguided, business owners think that it is all about the quantity of links. This is why so many websites end up penalized and severely damaged. These website owners get impatient and fall for these offers of thousands of links for a few hundred dollars. They always end up to be very low quality, spammy links that are blasted throughout the internet using automated software.
An unsuspecting business owner can fall for these false claims of high rankings and do more damage than good to his or her website. Backlinks are not the end all to high rankings, and these companies send out millions of spam emails and use auto-dialers to attempt to get in touch with business owners and sell their low quality link services. Unfortunately there are businesses that keep falling for this, because if it weren’t working they wouldn’t be marketing that way.
These businesses fall for false claims and purchase “packages” that provide a certain quantity of links across different platforms each month. They are purchasing the very same service that hundreds of other websites are buying. Does it result in high rankings? Very rarely will this approach work, and in most situations it will eventually lead to a penalty and a complete mess that someone else will have to clean up.
One link from a high quality website via proper content marketing has much more value than thousands of low quality spammy links. Proper search engine optimization and link building is all about quality and should never revolve around quantity. Doing it right the first time can prevent unnecessary costs, as a complete link cleanup can cost several thousands of dollars in the event that a website is penalized for low quality links.
3. Website Traffic
This is a metric that like keyword rankings, doesn’t necessarily translate to higher being better. What if there were two websites that sold the same exact products for the exact same prices. Website #1 receives 68,250 visitors and converts those into 18 sales. Website #2 receives 950 visitors, but converts them into 32 sales. Sheer traffic numbers are irrelevant without breaking them down and analyzing every point of data possible. Google Analytics provides in-depth details about every visitor that lands on the website. It tells you where they came from, how they got there, and what they did when they arrived all the way until they leave the site. This is a great tool that can also help identify additional keywords and search phrases to target.
A conversion is an action that occurs on the website, which is a predetermined goal set by the business. This varies greatly depending on the type of business and what the goal of the website is. An online retailer wants to convert website visitors into purchases directly on the site. A local landscaping company might want to convert visitors into phone calls to their office, and a local law firm might want to convert visitors into leads by having them submit their information through a form located on the site. Each conversion can easily be tracked and compared with the campaign in order to determine the cost of each conversion. From here it can be optimized and changed in order to achieve a lower conversion cost.
SEO campaigns can deliver high rankings and an insane amount of website traffic, but if the conversion numbers are low then it will not be a successful marketing campaign. A lot of this has to do with the website content, layout, and call-to-action location. It requires a lot of split testing and diving into the numbers in order to fine tune a campaign to deliver the highest conversion rate. Even after achieving a high conversion rate the campaign must constantly be evaluated, and changes made if needed.
Sure, conversions are great, but sadly website form submits, phone calls and location visits don’t always turn into revenue for the business. This is the ultimate metric of a search engine optimization campaign. It needs to make sense, dollar-wise and if it isn’t returning a profit then changes need to be made, and quickly.
There is no “cookie cutter” formula to follow when planning a search engine optimization campaign and measuring the success. Every business is going to have different conversion goals, different profit margins, and require a different online marketing campaign. Some businesses might have a $5,000 profit margin on a single conversion, while some websites might be selling products that have $18 profit margins. No two businesses are identical, and no two search engine marketing strategies should be the same either.
It is important to take all of these search marketing metrics into consideration while planning a campaign and measuring the overall success. They all work together to provide the data needed to make it successful and most importantly profitable.