Are you and Google speaking the same language?
There are few things as complicated as online marketing. You must combine the science of search engine indexing with high impact messaging that converts customer visits to sales. Knowing where to focus your marketing efforts and dollars is important. Aside from getting lucky with a good viral marketing campaign, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the best places to start. You have no hope of listing organically on the first page of Google unless you put some significant thought into your SEO strategy.
Few things are as misunderstood as SEO in the marketing world. Sure, the idea of SEO is easy to understand – get your site listed front and center on Google, Yahoo, or Bing and a veritable torrent of customers will flood your site filling your shopping cart with orders or subscriptions. Yes well, Costner’s “Field of Dreams” was fiction – there’s no “build it and they will come” here. With billions of pages out there, it’s complicated. You’re competing with millions of sites for a small slice of billions of users. It’s truly a daunting task and unfortunately, dreaming won’t help (just do a search on one of your key words to see how many pages Google returns).
Given all that I’ve said there, let’s look at some basic reasons your SEO strategy isn’t panning the gold you hoped for.
1. You want it all, and you want it now!
Patience is a virtue. Of course, this is one thing I lack myself… in impressively stellar ways really… And no wonder – we live in a world where feedback is near instantaneous in everything we do. But, in the world of SEO, you need to wait for web crawlers to pick up your page and index it. As I said – with billions of pages to index, catalog and rate, this could take a while (as in 6 months “a while”). Even then, you will be lucky to see your site show up in the first couple pages of results. Furthermore, depending on how many other sites or businesses you’re competing with for specific key words, it could be a year or more before your site lists near the top.
2. You’re not using the right words.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya
So, you didn’t rigorously study industry trends to find the most relevant words? Big mistake. Big. HUGE.
In SEO, words matter. One of the great ironies of SEO is that the money isn’t always where we think it is. In other “words”, even though we think a certain word or phrase is going to be profitable, your potential customers might be searching for word variations you didn’t key on – or something completely different.
Ultimately, when it comes to words, all we Web Marketeers can do is study trends, calculate metrics, and make an informed decision based on our assumptions. You can’t afford to drop the ball. You need to keep adjusting your campaigns as you go along. Eventually, you’ll find the most profitable words that drive the most traffic.
3. Users are knocking, but you’re not answering…
Hits are pretty much useless if you have a 100% bounce rate. If your users aren’t staying, buying, or clicking your ads, your site is just hemorrhaging krugerrands. You need to maximize your UX, design, and content impact.
Of course, your SEO content is important – it’s what gets people to your door in the first place. But don’t forget the importance of your customer’s experience on the site. You need an easy interface where clients understand how to search or buy your products. You need a compelling message that appeals to your client’s desires, dreams, or emotions to get them to want your products. You need good “Calls to Action” to make it easy for them to see where to click. And, the site needs to be useful enough and look good enough to keep them coming back again and again.
The Exciting Conclusion
So keep all of this in mind – your search engine plan might actually be working. Take the lesson of patience to heart and focus on great content for your customers so when the hits start coming, they have a reason to stay. Keep refining your keywords – this is a never ending process in a world of constant change. And experiment where appropriate – test and tweak different ideas to ensure buying ratios improve over time. Remember, the goal here is not just driving traffic, it’s converting hits to sales.
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