The Battle Between Search Engine Optimization and Conversion: Who Wins?
Many companies have worked with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms or have hired in-house resources to perform Search Engine Optimization. They have improved their organic traffic and may even find themselves within the top results of the search engines for their primary keywords. They are concerned that if they make changes to their websites with intentions of improving their conversion rate, increasing sales or leads, that they will negatively affect their organic traffic and search engine rankings.This is a concern for many companies who have entered into internet marketing and realize the need to continue to improve their online performance.
Of course, it is very important to get great search engine rankings and high organic traffic. Most of the companies who enjoy high organic search engine rankings, unfortunately have very low conversion rates; usually less than 2%. The real problem lies in the fact that most companies will consider optimization of their website a failure if their traffic decreases or their search engine rankings drop. (You can tell a lot about a company by the metrics they prize.) However, if ranking is more important than sales, we are dealing with an Ego issue. I mean, would you rather have a #1 ranking, with 100,000 visitors and zero sales or would you rather have one visitor and one sale?
The online marketing industry has been in a Search Engine Optimization mind-frame for the past decade. Many companies are so proud of their high search engine rankings, yet they know very little about their analytics and the value that they can get from finding out how their visitors are interacting with their sites. Very few companies even see a problem with their online performance because they’ve worked so hard to get ranked highly on search engines. But traffic cost inflation is catching up with them quickly. Do you think it would be a failure if we implemented conversion and persuasion optimization on a client’s website–to increase their overall conversion rate–and their traffic decreased as a result of this, BUT their sales went up? If conversion and persuasion recommendations are implemented according to the stumbling blocks we’ve come across during an analysis of a web site, the conversion rate will go up (read: sales and/or leads will increase). Or is it better to have a conversion funnel that is just a leaky bucket? On the flip side, although unlikely, it’s possible that during this optimization process that traffic may decrease because the site is only receiving relevant and highly targeted traffic.
Do you think it’s a failure to remove those visitors who were coming to a web site by accident? Do you think it’s a failure to speak more effectively to only visitors who are coming to a site and have a direct interest in what the website offers? That being said, it isn’t generally the case that traffic will decrease or organic search engine rankings will fall once you’ve focused on optimizing for conversion & persuasion, and not just search. A company optimizing their site may be removing a bulk of non relevant visitors, but they will also more effectively increase targeted visitors.
Search engine food is really no different than human food. Search Engines provide relevant information to the searcher. By planning your content using the Persuasion Architecture™ framework, you are creating a sales process with content that is completely and solely relevant to the visitor. SEO focuses on knowing what keywords people are searching and creating content that uses these keywords effectively by interlinking relevant content to gain the interest of search engine spiders. Conversion & persuasion optimization tells us not only what people are searching for in the search engines but it also examines previously known and unknown variations of these keywords according to the questions people are asking at different stages of their buying process–and how they shop differently according to their personality types. So, with conversion & persuasion optimization, relevant keywords are not only used within the content, but with the site’s entire linking strategy. The site and its click-paths are thus planned out according to how the visitor is searching for and interacting with information while shopping or browsing online.
When the visitor lands on a page after clicking on a highly ranked search engine result, they will not get stuck at this page that’s been optimized with Persuasion Architecture™. This is why conversion & persuasion optimization with Persuasion Architecture™ is more than just a tool for increasing revenue and/or leads; it should be viewed as the most effective Search Engine Optimization tool around! The formula to get better organic traffic is to simply answer the specific questions your visitors have throughout the content on your site. Don’t worry about the algorithms! The search engines are constantly improving, especially in light of some of the personalization techniques taking hold, the ways in which they’re feeding searchers with highly relevant/targeted information.
Do you want to keep chasing algorithms or focus on delighting your customers with the best content and buying experience the deserve?
This article was written by Melissa Burdon and published by grokdotcom.com on March 13, 2007.