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If You Think About SEO Like This, You’re In BIG Trouble

By Erin  |  January 31, 2013  |   Online Marketing | Websites: The Basics

how NOT to think about SEO

Tom Thompson is a small business owner. (Though there are probably some real Tom Thompsons out there, this one is fictional.)

Imagine Tom has just received a huge box in the mail.

Tom opens it up and is ecstatic to see the 1,000 copies of the company brochure he just had printed. 

And wow does this brochure looks beautiful!!  It has gorgeous photography and a shiny silver foil on the front cover.

Tom worked hard on this brochure. It was expensive to hire the graphic designer, took him weeks to get the text just right, and the printer charged him an arm and a leg to print them out on the special paper he chose.

Time to put this brochure to work! 

Over the next month, Tom gets every single one of those 1,000 brochures into the hands of 1,000 potential customers.  

The bad news?

Unfortunately, after all the hard work, time, and money Tom invested into the brochures, they end up generating a total of 4 small sales.

So. What does Tom do now?

Does he call up his printer and say, "Alright, Ron. Let's print 100,000 more copies of this beauty. I want to generate tons of sales, so I'm going to make sure many, MANY more potential customers see it!!!"

No. (At least I hope he doesn't do that.)

Smart business owners don't take something that hasn't been effective at driving sales and think magic will happen if they get it into the hands of even more people.

But that's exactly how people think when it comes to their websites

Many phone calls and emails we receive begin with statements along the lines of, "We want you to make our company's website rank higher in Google."

We usually reply with something along the lines of, "Great! Before we begin though, can you tell us how your site is working for you now?  Is it converting your existing traffic into leads or sales?"

Without fail the answer we receive each and every time is either "No, it doesn't generate leads or sales very well" or "We don't know if our website generates leads or sales."

These people want more eyeballs on their sites, even though their sites may not be working at all—which is not unlike being completely focused on getting 100,000 pairs of eyeballs looking at a copy of a brochure that doesn't translate into sales.

Why are people so focused on Google rankings, even when they have websites that don't turn traffic into leads or sales?

Because high Google rankings are SEXY. They seem like the perfect marketing solution. "If we just move to the top of Google, we'll be successful!"

High Google rankings are so exciting, we find they often cause severe cases of tunnel vision in website owners.  In fact, many website owners envision online marketing success to look something like this:

What many business owners envision online marketing success to be.

Done! Just get more people to your website and you'll suddenly start experiencing fantastic success!

Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

When you think of SEO and online marketing success, do you envision something similar to the graphic above?

If so, you're in trouble. Read on.

Is traffic what you want? What you really, really want?

Is more traffic what everyone truly cares about?

No. Step back and think about the bigger picture for a moment.

More traffic isn't what everyone is really looking for.  You're looking for more leads, more sales, more income—and the common assumption is that an increase in traffic will automatically lead to an equal increase in leads and sales.

If someone said they could increase your sales by converting a larger amount of your existing website traffic into customers without increasing the amount of traffic to your site, would you say no?  Probably not.  Again, it's not the traffic itself that's important.  The traffic is just a stepping stone to get to more leads, sales, and customers/clients.

What businesses really want looks more like this:

what most business owners really want (it's not more traffic)

The reality

For most business owners, reality typically looks like this:

how many business websites actually workWhat do we see in this graphic?

We see some traffic coming into the site... an occasional sale or client being generated from that traffic...and lots of traffic leaving the website, going elsewhere, not purchasing anything, never returning.

Why? Because most business websites aren't effective and because most website content doesn't connect with the potential customers who do make it to the site. The content simply doesn't get visitors to convert into leads or sales.  

Most websites are like Tom's fancy brochure.

What happens when people think SEO is all that's needed for online success?

When website owners get tunnel vision and focus solely on SEO/increasing traffic to their sites, they forget to look at whether or not those very websites will turn traffic into leads and sales.

What good is it for a business to invest in SEO if the increased traffic is simply sent to an ineffective website? Or....  What good does it do to give 100,000 potential customers a copy of an ineffective brochure they don't care about?

Take a look at this graphic, which illustrates what we're talking about. While you look at it, consider that the SEO required to drive high quality traffic to websites is not inexpensive.

What too often happens when only SEO is used.

What do we see here?

A slight increase in sales compared to the previous graphic, yes.

But at what price? After all, search engine optimization is an ongoing, long term, monthly investment. Would a small increase in sales offset the ongoing cost of SEO?

If SEO isn't the answer, what is?

We're not saying SEO isn't important. It is. That's why we provide the service to many of our clients (check the "Higher Google Rankings" column on our Actual Results page for a small sample of what we've done).  But SEO doesn't automatically translate into more leads and sales for everyone.

So. How do we get more website traffic to convert to leads and sales?

How do we get what we really want, which is what's shown in the graphic below? 

SEO - what everyone really wants

We achieve this when we finally begin to focus on (and invest in) what's IN our websites. The meat of our websites, content, is what people show up for.  

It's content that's based on a cohesive, overall content strategy that completes the online marketing success puzzle when combined with high quality incoming traffic.

Today's lesson

Paying for high rankings +
tons of traffic +
crappy website = 

---------------------------------
waste of money.

Pay attention to what's in your website. If it won't turn visitors into leads and sales, why would you spend money hoping to send more people to it?

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