SEO Rankings Mean Nothing if You Can’t Convert
ABC – “Always Be Converting”
At Blue Corona, most of our (current) clients are B2C home services companies—flooring companies, HVAC repair and replacement, plumbing companies, realtors, remodeling businesses, and roofers. Businesses like these typically think of a conversion as an inquiry or lead. However, a conversion can mean different things in different contexts.
For example, some B2B websites might consider a conversion to have occurred every time someone downloads a whitepaper or signs up for an email newsletter. Neither a whitepaper download or an email newsletter sign-up constitute an inquiry or a lead, but with tracking in place, a company might come to find that people subscribing to the email newsletter are far more likely to become a customer than an average visitor that sees the site, clicks a few pages, and leaves without doing anything.
When Google ranks sites organically, you have to imagine that their ultimate goal is to deliver the most relevant and useful Web pages given the user’s search query. If people can find the information they are looking for quickly using Google, there’s a good chance that they’ll return to Google everytime they need something. So it makes sense that for Google, in the context of the organic search results, a click on a top listing might constitute a type of conversion.
If you use Google Webmaster Tools to optimize your website, you’ve probably seen this section of the Dashboard:
It shows you the number of times your website displayed organically for various search queries (impressions) and approximately how many times your website was clicked by the searcher (clicks).
As you can see, getting your website ranked high organically is only one part of the equation! You also need clicks. A high ranking site that receives few clicks is of little (if any) value—to you and to Google.
We’ve never seen public mention of this, but one might speculate that Google will eventually replace high ranking sites that receive few clicks and instead test other sites which might be seen by searchers as more relevant (with clicks being the ultimate votes for relevancy).
Lasting SEO Requires Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
At this point, pretty much every business owner knows that improved search engine visibility is the first step toward generating more leads. If you can’t get your website listed on the first page of Google, Yahoo, and Bing for keywords relevant to your business, you’re going to have a difficult time getting more leads. It’s hard to even optimize your website’s visit-to-inquiry conversion rates when you receive only a handful of visits per day.
However, getting your website listed on the first page of Google for a relevant keyword is not the finish line, but where the real work starts. The minute your website starts to rank well organically, you need to jump over to your marketing analytics reports and start the conversion rate optimization (CRO) process! If you don’t, you’re unlikely to keep your organic rankings for long. Eventually, Google will reward your more savvy competitors—those companies that optimize not just for traffic, but also for conversions.
The Ultimate Goal of SEO is Conversions
Fly-by-night SEO companies are quick to sell first page listings. Some obfuscate the SEO process by placing too much emphasis on link building and its role in increasing your website’s PageRank. Remember that the ultimate goal of SEO is to get more leads and sales. Links that temporarily and/or artificially boost your PageRank are not going help you achieve your long-term goals.
Using tricky keyword rich meta descriptions and headings to get your website on the first page of Google, Yahoo, or Bing is worthless if you can’t get searchers to click your listing and/or take the desired next steps once they enter your website. Finally, keep in mind that Google is tracking the activity that occurs on their results pages. They make some of this data available to you via Google Webmaster Tools. You cannot maximize your SEO results without leveraging tools like this and a marketing analytics service.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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