It can be difficult to quantify or draw direct correlations between an SEO campaign and the sales it generates. Unlike PPC, where keywords can be tracked from the click all the way to the conversion, SEO tracking isn't quite as specific. In fact, tracking sales from an SEO campaign can often be difficult to differentiate from other web marketing campaigns, except through source tracking which can be vague.
Many SEO skeptics and naysayers fill the net with their horror stories or proof as to why you don't need SEO. Usually, these naysayers are promoting their own non-SEO created wins, much the same as the "junk SEOs" they decry. Yes, anyone can stumble into an SEO win.
But SEO is much bigger than content or links. It's more than blogging, keyword research or fixing website problems. All of those are things that SEO does, but none of that explains why you need SEO. You may need all those services, but here's why you need SEO.
Good question. The truth is, designers and website developers are great at creating sites that look and work well for the user. However, they rarely dive deep into search architecture and algorithm nuances; therefore, they don't always know how their designs will play out in the search landscape.
The SEO, knowing these things, can work with the developers to tweak the site (preferably before it goes live) to make it more search-engine friendly. And making a site search-engine friendly is usually making it visitor friendly at the same time.
Getting a #1 ranking for your site name is not SEO. That's called having a website with a unique site name. You really don't have to do anything to rank for those keywords. Real SEO is designed to help you get people to know you exist, not by already knowing your brand name but by searching for things, interests and needs that you meet.
As the SEO continues to optimize your site for more keywords, the more "doors" they are opening to bringing in targeted traffic to your website. Studies have shown that these "long-tail" keywords can often produce as much- if not more - traffic than the "core" phrases for the site.
SEOs push for optimization of both long- and short-tail keywords in order to extend your reach. Until the keyword pool has dried up, the SEO's job isn't done.
This is why so many sites do both SEO and PPC simultaneously. The branding effect increases with the dual exposure. Now multiply that over dozens or hundreds of searches performed with all different kinds of keywords.
The more you're found in the search results by a searcher, the greater opportunity you have to brand your website with that searcher. Every time you're branded, you increase your opportunity to drive traffic.
In fact, the best SEOs don't always care about whether you're ranked #1 or #5. What they care about is that you're getting more clicks to your site. If you get better clicks at #3 than you do at #2, your SEO is successful.
Who cares, right? Isn't any traffic good traffic? Not if it puts a burden on your resources but yields very little in new business. No one wants to spend more time responding to emails, calls or form submissions from customers you can't help.
SEOs help you reduce untargeted traffic while increasing targeted traffic. Eliminating traffic that you can't help gives you more time to assist those you can.
If searchers do not find the content on your site that resonates with their searches, wants and needs, they will likely quickly leave the website. It's the SEOs job to speak to the searchers intent by optimizing the content of your pages. If you speak your visitor's language, you're more likely to build trust and get a sale.
By optimizing a site, the SEO helps the visitor move from search to site to answers to conversion. This is done through a number of on-page optimization strategies, including the use of solid architecture and implementing calls to action. Any good SEO knows that SEO without sales is useless.
SEO may not be cheap (and cheap SEO is generally poor SEO), it does give you the return on your investment. If SEO can give you a profitable return of +10%, it doesn't matter if it costs $10,000 or $100,000. Not matter how much you spend your profits go up. The only loss is when you cut your SEO investment.
Of course, not all SEO is equally profitable and smaller SEO campaigns will generally take a longer time to generate a positive ROI. But if you go into your SEO campaign with the right mindset, you'll walk away with a rewarding campaign that is increasing your bottom line and helping you grow your business day by day.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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