Some SEO clients we may get come to us with one goal in mind, they need to increase their organic website rankings. These people understand the basics of SEO understand that making changes to your website, both on the back-end and front-end will help increase your Google rankings. These are the same people who look at SEO traffic and rankings and say, ‘we’ve got to get to page one, but rarely ask themselves why. We have a few SEO clients that think getting to that top spot will be the solution to all of their business problems.
So why are marketing professionals so focused on getting to position one in Google and why are they lacking a clear understanding of what good SEO really is?
9 times out of 10 when I ask why specifically they feel they need to get into position #1 their answer is, well our competitors are there, and so we need to be there to dominate the market. While I totally get what they’re saying and where they’re coming from, in the back of my mind I just keep thinking, it’s not so much about getting traffic and rankings as how SEO results affect your bottom line.
In theory, the higher your rankings, the higher your traffic, and the higher your leads/sales are. I’m not sure what crazy seo person would say, “Well we increased your traffic and rankings; it’s not our fault your sales didn’t increase too. “ And if you ever hear that from your SEO agency run, and run fast.
Now I’m not saying that traffic, rankings aren’t important. But those stats mean almost nothing if you don’t see an increase in sales.
A good SEO agency or in-house person can get you an increase in traffic, rankings and other site metrics within just a few months. But you may not see your bottom line increase until 6 months to even a year after full SEO implementation has begun.
A good case study with a current client goes as follows: We started working on his website in April of 2008 in which he made a little over $800 for the month via his website. The following April of 2009 we generated a total of $6700 in revenue for the month. For this month, March of 2010 we’re projected to bring in over $10,000 in revenue. All the while, if you look at his overall web stats, we’ve dropped a lot of keywords he was originally ranking for, while adding others. So if you look at the actual ranking repot, it doesn’t’ look like we’re doing that great of a job.
However, when we did our initial keyword research, we found that the keywords he was trying to rank for weren’t the best, more profitable keywords that would affect his bottom line the most. Therefore, we shifted the focus of his SEO strategy and while some keywords decreased in rankings, some increased and were added and those keywords ended up being more profitable.
The best part of working with this client is that he has a few high-ticket items (in which we focused on in rankings) – and there were two months where customers had found his site though our Google organic listing and purchased those larger ticket items. Those months our client brought in $25,000 one month and $33,000 the next. Unfortunately those kind of sales aren’t consistent month over month, but we’re working on it. Plus, the extra revenue enabled our client to add several new products to his site and pay for a new website redesign.
One thing to remember is SEO can help generate additional revenue from PPC and traffic. It acts as a branding effect that if you have two ads showing for the same keyword, you’ve just doubled your chances of getting that click.
Of course our rankings and traffic increased along with revenue, but even better than generating the extra revenue, we increased our ROI by 40% since we began working with this client.
With all of my SEO clients I try to point out how we’ve impacted their bottom line first, even though their first comments during monthly report time is ‘how have our traffic and rankings increased?’ Once I tell them about the bottom line improvements they tend focus more on the revenue side then the site statistics side.
So if you’re a client working with an SEO agency or you’re an SEO agency, if you’re not hitting your bottom line goals then what is the purpose of SEO? Unless of course you’re working for Target or Walmart and just want to show up for every search result possible simply for branding purposes. But even then I would have to hope that the director of online marketing at those companies are keeping track of that bottom line in any case.
If you’re managing an e-commerce website, think about those high-ticket items and promote those via SEO. Looking at website metrics is more important to help you make decisions about what to focus on for SEO, not necessarily to judge how well your SEO is performing.