One of the most fascinating things to watch, when you're running an online business--or likely any business, for that matter--is the increase in traffic coming through your virtual (or physical) doors. Watching that traffic count tick up due to a successful optimization, PPC or social media campaign can be thrilling.

Yesterday I talked about how to turn your top search engine rankings into traffic. In reality, rankings are just one way to generate traffic. There are literally countless ways in which you can drive traffic to your website, via both on- and off-line marketing efforts. Unless you sell advertising by the impression, traffic isn't the end-all, be-all of website performance. For many sites there has to be a conversion.

What that conversion is varies from site to site. For one it can be finalizing the sale of a product, for another it can be a lead, and for others it can be a download or signing up for a newsletter subscription. Whatever a conversion means to you, you know that getting it is the most important thing. Rankings only lead to traffic. Traffic puts eyeballs on the site, but beyond that, we need to know how to get that traffic to convert.

Choose Converting Keywords

Keyword research isn't just about finding keywords that are relevant to what you offer. There is no denying that optimizing for relevant keywords is smart, but you can go one step beyond that and look for the keywords that are more likely to drive ready-to-convert traffic.

For example, a search for "motorcycle batteries" may be highly relevant for a site which sells all kinds of power sport batteries. However, someone searching for a "Suzuki motorcycle battery" is much more likely to be a purchaser than just a researcher. To go one better, a search for "YTX16BS motorcycle battery" is almost guaranteed to drive a ready-to-buy shoppers to your site. You then just have to convince them to buy from you!

We often find businesses want to optimize for the highest traffic-producing keywords while ignoring the keywords that will drive the most conversions. Traffic is cool and all... But really, isn't getting the conversion far more important?

Keep an eye out for keywords that look relevant but in practice are not. For example, the word "battery" would not be good for a site that doesn't sell cell phone batteries, AAA batteries or calculator batteries. Don't go so broad that the traffic produced isn't convertable.

Create Accurate Titles and Descriptions

In yesterday's post we talked about creating compelling titles and descriptions as a way to get the searcher to click into your site. While using compelling words and sentences is important to get the traffic, you also need your titles and descriptions to be accurate. Nothing is worse than clicking a link in a search result only to find that you were misled about what is actually on the site.

If you don't sell batteries of all shapes, uses and sizes, don't say that you do. If you only sell motorcycle batteries for a select few makes and models, then make sure your title doesn't say "all makes and models." Deceptively compelling may get the click to your site, but it's not very likely to get the conversion. You're wasting your visitor's time, your bandwidth and perhaps your own time if that visitor feels compelled to contact you to request somethign you don't carry because your page title suggested you do.

Analyze Similar Websites

There is a lot you can learn by looking at other websites, and not just those competing directly with you. In fact, just about any website can provide you with ideas on how you might be able to improve your conversion rates. It's a good idea to scour other websites on a regular basis, especially those in your broader industry, to see what they do different in terms of content, navigation, visual appeal, tips and tutorials, product page layout, etc.

Thinks you may want to change are positions of calls to action, colors of buttons, increase or reduce content on pages, create an easier checkout process, etc. But whenever you do make changes, only make a single change at a time and be sure to check before and after results. If your change reduces conversions, go back and try something else. On the other hand, if it increases conversions consistently, you know you have a winner.

Focus on Building Trust

Trust is a significant factor in helping people choose where they will ultimately make their purchase. When looking at two otherwise equal sites, the site that is able to provide more mental trust points will win.

Trust can come in many forms. Things such as well structured About Us pages, to adding comprehensive privacy and security policies can help visitors feel more comfortable buying from you than from the next site. If a visitor is unsure, or has trouble getting a response from their efforts at contacting you, or perhaps feels that you're only a part-timer with a "real" job on the side, these can deduct trust points. Most people want to deal with companies they feel are legit and which they won't have to worry about losing their money from a bad transaction.

Yesterday I talked talked about branding as a way to increase traffic. Branding also lends toward trust. Any well branded name is likely to have a better conversion rate than a non-branded name. The psychology of this is that people tend to mentally assign additional trust points to names they have heard before. And if they've seen your site pop up over and over in the search results, and they also see your site mentioned on other sites, and they happen to read a good testimonial, well, all of these earn additional trust points that work in your favor.

Look for ways in which you can assure your visitors that their transactions and information is safe. Provide a human face and engage with them, and above all things, fulfill your word and go beyond simple expectations.

Focus on Search Engines That Deliver

Some search engines produce more traffic. Other engines produce more converting traffic. While you don't want to neglect the traffic producing engines, you can lean more heavily towards those that produce better conversion rates. This is especially true with PPC campaigns. Quite often the smaller engines can produce better conversions (though far less traffic) at a distinctly lower cost.

Traffic matters a lot when it comes to running a successful business. You have to be able to drive traffic to your site in order to have a possibility of getting a conversion. But the wrong traffic won't give you the results you need. Generating the right kind of traffic, and looking intently at how to turn each visitor into a customer should be an essential focus of your online marketing efforts.

December 10, 2008

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.


Great post Stoney. I couldn't agree more with your comment that "traffic isn't the end-all, be-all of website performance."

It's all too common for a website owner (or marketer) to be more interested in driving traffic to the site than knowing what visitors are actually doing on the site. If 95% of your website traffic leaves from the home page, well that's a problem. If you don't know what "action" you want a visitor to take on your website, well that's a problem too.

I always tell my clients that getting traffic to your site is only half the battle. Having a clear call-to-action to convert that traffic into a sale is what is most important.


Patti Fousek

I think it's important to reiterate a couple of points about website conversion that you mention:

- Always regard the source of traffic
- Make it clear what you want your visitor to do

Regarding the source of traffic, if you can build a landing page specifically geared towards the specific key word the visitor came in on, you make the experience that much more relevant.

That is why it is important to analyze PPC traffic to determine the ACTUAL key words used that resulted in your ad being displayed, and not simply the key words in your PPC ad that were clicked on i.e. someone searching for "electric drills made in Japan" would be more likely to convert if your page was about electric drills made in Japan, as opposed to a page that was about drills in general and the PPC ad primary keyword was "drills".

When it comes to the second point, don't have too many links or buttons to click on - make it very obvious what it is you want people to do when they hit your landing page e.g. a big fat "DOWNLOAD NOW" button in the middle of the page that cannot be missed.

Great post!


Thank you for this post. It succinctly sets out that the true metric for success is conversion and not just traffic. Traffic is a good indicator but that itself does not achieve the goal.

I would like to add that it is essentially when trying to improve conversions that that there is a process of testing and measurement. It is useless to try to optimize in a vacuum. the most sucessful sites are those that have a put in place a process for continual optimization. Good old fashion trial and error. These iterations will help to hone your message, value proposition, your copy and creatives.

Nice Post! I agree your post.but i do the same process then my site is not indexed in the first 100th page on Google.traffic to my site is to be to low .I have very low link popularity to on my site.I don't know why.Did you know the answer for these please replay to my comment.Thank for your post.I need more post from you like that previous post.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Traffic Is Cool and All, But How Do You Turn That Into Conversions?