A first-page search-engine ranking is universally touted by self-professed brand gurus as the holy grail of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. It’s tempting to buy into that tunnel-vision SEO game and become competitively obsessed with checking, checking, and rechecking your ranking, but it’s like taking a gratuitous selfie every hour. Obviously, a high search rank is desirable, but you really should be focusing on conversions — how your Web traffic can be converted into useful action.
Let’s break this down and look at the distinctions between SEO, SEM, Web-search traffic and, what’s actually more important, Web conversions.
What Happens When You Type a Word or Phrase Into A Search Engine?
Search engines display two different types of results when you enter a keyword or phrase – organic search results (what shows up in the main body area) and the paid search results (the ads that show up on the right hand side of Google). To have a positive effect on the organic results and rank your site on a search engine like Google, your website has to be considered one the most relevant sites returned for a search term queried. It is very important to understand "relevancy." Search engines look at a number of factors and put weight on each one of them to determine the sites to put on that first page. Some factors are:
How relevant is the content to what people are asking for?
How old is the domain?
How many more years until it expires?
How many sites link to yours?
Do you have a properly formatted site map?
and many more factors...
Google updates search criteria all the time to keep the snake-oil gurus from “gaming the system.”
If we think about how a prospective customer might begin a search and what phrases they might use, we can determine a keyword list. By working out a proper keyword set, we can compare that keyword set with a competitor's set of keywords. Then we "run the numbers," we check how relevant the keywords are within users search queries. Basically, we see how often people are searching for the keywords. We pick the keywords that drive the most traffic and optimize each page for those. Then, we incorporate them into your page titles, body content, and in your marketing and PPC. With the right planning, we can improve ranking and move more traffic to your site. Generally, if we do an organic SEO campaign, we can see results within 3 to 4 weeks. That does not always mean that a site shows up on the first page of Google for all of the search terms a client might want, but in time we can significantly improve it.
SEM (search engine marketing)
SEM and paid listings PPC (Pay Per Click) are unique animals. Like traditional advertising, the highest bidder with the biggest budget gets the prime spots and is seen the most on the first page of a search query. Simply put, if you are willing to pay a higher amount per click than your competitors, you will get the top placement above the other ads and even on the top of the organic results under "Sponsored Links." Setting the right price and putting together the right budget helps you get your ad shown for the duration of a day into prime shopping search times. You have to remember that your PPC budget is based on a 30-day duration. If you run a Google AdWords campaign for $100.00, then your daily budget breaks down to only $3.33 a day. If you pay $0.40 per click, then you will receive up to 8 people a day. You are basically playing a percentage game.
Next you will now need to watch "Bounce Rate" in your analytics. This is the rate that your web traffic or users click on your ad or on the description of your site in the search results and "bounce out." If they come to the page that your ad directed them to and do not find what they are looking for, or if it is not attractive, or if it does not catch their attention in the first few seconds, they leave. The industry average bounce rate is 40%. Our goal is to get you under 30%.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is different from search engine marketing (SEM). So which search tactics will give better results? Actually, both tactics can work together and, with a clear strategy, achieve measurable results.
How traffic is converted into action.
One of the key things in web marketing is planning your “calls to action.” If you were able to suddenly direct (or redirect) traffic to your door, what do you want to do with that traffic? Or better to ask, what do you want them to do? Converting a web search into actual human behavior is not an automated, robotic process. Decide what you want a visitor to do. Provide a clear benefit and an easy path to action. Plan a strategy for web generated sales leads so they don’t go to waste (you wouldn’t believe how common that is).
Calls to action
Calls to action can be incremental in nature and of course based on your company mission, like “Support Our Cause.”
A CTA must be actionable and relevant to the user’s search. Consider using words that focus on a customer benefit like “Get Free …” or “Learn More” or “Learn How Easy” instead of words that imply the visitor is being forced into an action like “Submit” or “Buy Now.”
Finally, there are some powerful tools to gather useful analytics about who is coming to your site, what they navigate to, and how long they stay or return. Armed with this information, you can use the website to generate leads and convert a customer the old fashioned way – human to human contact.
Build a plan with your agency partner to make it all work together. We are here to help.