Not only should every business today have a website, but every business should have a website that serves a purpose. A business website functions as a sales and promotional tool that provides visitors with all of the information that they need to know about the company and should include some sort of conversion element. For an e-commerce site the visitor is prompted to make a direct purchase. For a lead generation business, the visitor is prompted to fill out a lead form that will send their information to the sales team to follow up or the website functions as a way to get subscribers to a newsletter. For some businesses, the conversion happens offline as the website prompts the visitor to call the business to make an appointment. Of course in order to generate conversions on the site, the site needs to generate visitors which is where SEO comes into play.
The purpose of an SEO campaign is to deliver targeted traffic to a website from the search engines. The process involves keyword research, on site optimization, and ongoing link building, social media activity, and content marketing. Unlike paid search advertising there is no direct cost with the search engines, but SEO certainly isn’t free either. It requires an investment to be paid either to an in house SEO team or an outsourced team that is responsible for ongoing SEO work. If a company is spending money for SEO, they want to make sure that they are getting something out of it.
An accurate way to measure SEO success is whether there is an increase in visitors from the search engines over time. If the trend is upwards, however gradual it might be, that means that the SEO campaign is working. However, sometimes this isn’t good enough for the business/website owner and it doesn’t justify the cost of SEO work. To the business owner, visitors are worthless unless they are converting on the site, and eventually becoming profitable.
This is where a struggle often exists between an SEO team and upper management of the company website. As long as visitors have improved for relevant keywords, the SEO team is doing its job. An SEO team isn’t responsible for the conversion rate of the site, that is determined by outside factors that aren’t SEO related. An SEO professional can control the SEO portion of the online marketing campaign but likely didn’t have a say in how the website navigation was set up and can’t control the level of interest in the product or service that is provided.
When there is a conversion problem with a website it’s often the way that the website is structured or even the business model of the company that could be the issue. On an e-commerce site it should be easy to figure out what the return/exchange policy is. If it’s not listed or if you don’t allow returns, that could be enough reason not to buy. On a lead generation site, do you offer a free consultation? If not, the visitor might opt for a competitor. The best SEO efforts won’t result in conversions on a site that isn’t user friendly or doesn’t have a clear call to action or the pricing appears to be too expensive or too cheap.
SEO is essential in driving visitors to the site, but it’s ultimately the quality of the website and what’s offered that will generate conversions.