SEO has a Dirty Little Secret

How much of your website traffic actually converts to sales? First page Google ranking is the ultimate quest of Internet marketing, but converting visitors into buyers is the Holy Grail.

Heavy site traffic and top search engine rankings don’t guarantee equally impressive sales. Too often, SEO firms suck businesses into the mindless pursuit of being number one on Google. Claiming bragging rights to those coveted spots are seductive, but being at the top doesn’t pay the bills.

There’s a dirty little secret in the SEO industry right now and knowing what it is and how to avoid it means the difference between having customers who look and ones who buy. Before you hire an SEO firm or perform any optimization yourself, discover SEO’s dirty little secret first.

A case study on the damage SEO can do to your sales

Here’s a cautionary tale of winning top search engine rankings and losing sales. An attorney hires an SEO firm to generate leads from his web site. The contract term is for 3 months at $1400 per month. Services include pay-per-click ads and Google AdWords. First page search engine results are guaranteed. No SEO site work or copywriting is performed or even suggested.

The attorney expects leads to come pouring in within the first three days. The first month netted ONE client out of 2,356 hits. Billing 5 hours at $200/hour resulted in a loss of $400 to get that one client. Click-through rates from the ads were respectable, but bounce rates were too. Statistics showed visitors spent less than 2 seconds on the landing page and rarely clicked further into the site. This trend continued throughout the 3 months.

$4200 goes down the drain. This case study is not unique in any way. There is no shortage of businesses spending thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on SEO firms and either don’t measure the ROI or are grossly disappointed in the results.

If a firm doesn’t divulge SEO’s dirty little secret, run- don’t walk, the other way

The SEO firm should have reviewed the web site copywriting and design before creating an SEO strategy, much less going full throttle with the campaign. Sure, the firm delivered in traffic, but failed miserably in the sales department. Sales are the bottom line for any business, not traffic. And here in lies the dirty little secret: SEO results only in traffic. But conversion optimization results in sales.

Business cannot live on traffic alone

Conversion optimization (CO) is the process by which your web site copy and site functionality removes barriers restricting visitors from completing your site’s goal- whether it’s purchasing, subscribing, filling out a contact form or downloading material. SEO brings visitors to your site, but CO compels them to act.

The attorney’s web site content was weak and bleak- a mere bullet point list of services. All that traffic hit the Internet highway in search of another attorney who proved he cared about their case, had the skills to win it and the experience to do so. This attorney quite possibly has these qualities and more, but visitors never gave him a chance.

Investing in a conversion optimization strategy first would have changed this case study drastically. After signing a $4200 SEO contract, the attorney opted to forego the extra expense. But in the end, a CO investment would have saved him thousands of dollars and who knows how many clients.

A bonus: conversion optimized web site copy would have improved his organic search results long after the PPC and AdWords campaigns ended.

By Brenda Galloway


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