'I Want My $2!' — The Power of SEO with Conversion

I Want My $2In his recent post “A Turning Point in the Field of SEO”, Adam Audette talked about creating the best user experience, and applying SEO to that experience.

In my mind, part of giving the user the best experience is to help them to find what they are looking for. Many sites show up great in the search results, but once the visitor clicks on their site, the visitor has no idea what they are supposed to do. And so the site gets a visitor, but the visitor takes no action. By combining website conversion principles with SEO, we can create a better user experience and help improve a site’s bottom line.

Standard SEO KPIs Don’t Go Far Enough

Traditionally, most of the KPIs (key performance indicators) for SEO focus on increasing rankings and just getting more traffic to a site. Some of the more common KPIs for SEO that are frequently discussed in the industry include the following:

  • Number of first page rankings
  • Number of keywords driving traffic to the site
  • Number of pages getting traffic
  • Increase in number of visitors/pageviews over time
  • Decrease in bounce rate
  • Increase in search engine crawl rate
  • Etc.

All of these are important metrics to see if your SEO campaign is successful in gaining more visibility in the search engines. You have to measure these metrics to know if your efforts in site optimization and link building are working to get more traffic to the site.

The problem is that too many SEOs stop there; they are just concerned with increasing rankings and getting traffic. Eventually you have to move on to the metric that your client really cares about the most: how is your SEO campaign affecting your client’s bottom line?

The Most Important KPI

In the end, the only thing that a client cares about is how your SEO efforts are affecting their bottom line. ROI is the most important KPI. The client just wants their $2.

You can make all the excuses you want, but in the end if the client doesn’t get their $2 from your efforts, you won’t have them as a client for long.

This is why it is so important to understand that conversion has to be a factor in our SEO efforts. All the traffic in the world doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t convert. When you look at things this way, it changes the way you approach keyword research, recommendations on how you change a site or page, and more.

Applying Conversion to SEO

When you mix SEO and conversion, you are really adding conversion principles to the entire site, rather than just a landing page like you would with PPC. The whole site then becomes optimized in a way that not only gets traffic, but leads the visitor on to the next step in the conversion process. Below are some steps you can take to optimize a site not only for SEO, but also for conversion.

  1. Define Each Page’s Conversion Goal

    Each page on a site should lead to some kind of a conversion or micro-conversion. The kind of conversion you choose will depend on the type of keywords that drive traffic to any given page.

    For example, if most of the keywords that drive traffic to a page are informational in nature, you can focus your conversion goal on things like a Newsletter Signup or White Paper Download, since these actions help the visitor to reach their goal: to get more information.

  2. Create Appropriate Calls to Action

    This is where you really start using conversion principles. Once you’ve identified the kind of goal that is appropriate for the page, you need to make sure that the page has a way to convert.

    For example: If you’ve decided that the best goal is a white paper download, make sure that you have the calls to action positioned in a way that will likely lead to a conversion.

  3. Set Up Goal Tracking

    In order for you to know what’s working, you have to have proper tracking in place. In Google Analytics, and any other quality Web statistics software, you can set goals to track what is working and what isn’t. Set up a goal for every possible action that someone can take on the site, and test this frequently to make sure it is working. If you have an eCommerce site, make sure you have eCommerce tracking in place so you can see the kind of revenue different keywords are generating for your site.

  4. Take Action on the Data

    As time goes on and you gather data, you’ll be able to see which keywords and groups of keywords are actually generating good results. You should then adjust your SEO strategy to focus on those groups that are not just bringing the most traffic, but are generating the most conversions.

    It is important to note here that you should also look beyond just tracking individual keywords. Instead, take the time to consider keywords in groups. This will help you to take the long tail into account so you can decide if you need to expand your keyword reach in an area that is working particularly well.

    You should also take what you learn from your PPC efforts and use that knowledge on the rest of your site as well. By using PPC you can get a quick feel for what kinds of keyword groups are working, what conversion tactics are working, and more.

By combining these conversion ideas with your SEO efforts you’ll find that you are able to do more than just deliver traffic to your clients -– you’ll be able to help them get results that actually help their business grow. In other words, they’ll get their $2.

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5 Comments

  1. Gareth Rees says

    You’re exactly right that the only REAL factor that makes a SEO campaign successful is an improved bottom line. Traffic is useless unless it’s making sales.

  2. Sacha says

    Traffic is the key… the SEO ROI can’t be calculated on a single campaign (or you’ll have to wait far much longer than you’re used to wait with some SEM campaign). Having and keeping the traffic, may be the first step for improving your conversion process. On the opposite, you can have the best conversion process, without traffic, it is useless.

    –> SEO can’t be estimated through ROI, but your SEO ROI is a KPI for estimating the strengh of your conversion tunnel (that could work very well with your SEM campaign, maybe 2 tunnels are needed).

  3. Michael says

    Very strong point. A lot of people talk about how the idea of conversion needs buy in from so many people, but I think a lot of people forget the SEO team and their need for conversion.

  4. Glenn Friesen says

    Absolutely. I believe ROI should be the primary deliverable for clients. ROE (return-on-effort) in achieving high ROI should be the primary driver for SEOs.

    But then there’s the reality of the “cool factors”. You know – the branding elements (like being the first result for high-competition, non-converting keywords because “we should be there”). Or the occasional beauty of a site built in flash (note: I don’t build Flash sites because they suck for SEO, but they still look really, well, flashy [and sometimes in a good way]). In these cases, immediate ROI really isn’t the deliverable — those “cool factors” are — and sometimes, just sometimes, the “cool branding” will lead to better long-term ROI (take brand like LRG for example — or Creative Recreation — or Apple — or Jack in the Box).

  5. Nevil Darukhanawala says

    I really liked the idea that – “each page needs to convert” and there should be a measurable goal set for each page to calculate the ROI.

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