SEO Battle Part II: Traffic vs. Conversions

Using quality search engine optimization (SEO) most certainly will drive traffic to your site. My question is; once you get that customer to your site, do they convert?

When you create or re-design your website you should always have a goal of what you are trying to drive your visitors to do or where you are trying to “funnel” them. I sure hope that you have a clear idea of the purpose or goal of your site by this point (fingers crossed). For the purposes of this post a conversion is whatever you are trying to get the visitor to your website to do. If you sell widgets then your goal might be to get the customer to click the “purchase” button or the “complete sale” button. If you offer a service then your goal might be for them to fill out a contact form or to call your office. Even if your websites’ purpose is to serve advertisements and the more traffic the more ads, I would still argue your goal should be a click on that ad.

Many people look at SEO as a solution to drive traffic to their website, and they would be right. There is no doubt optimizing your site for the search engines will drive traffic, but is your SEO campaign driving traffic that converts? This is a really important question. As stated earlier the goal of most any site should be to convert. You can have 100 million unique visitors a month but if you are not converting that traffic you end up with a big hosting bill and empty pockets.

Let’s look at two sites selling widgets. The first site has 100 million monthly visitors and 100 conversions; the second has 1000 monthly visitors and 100 conversions. Which website would you choose? To get these numbers the first site targets thousands of keywords some convert to sale and some are really not even relevant to the company’s product. The second site only targets keywords that are highly relevant to their product and that convert.

In this hypothetical I would choose the second site in most cases. Why? Conversion rate and resources. The conversion rate of site two is exponentially better then the first. I would prefer to minimize the amount of resources (time, money, effort) I use and fine tune my optimization to only target keywords that convert. I can then use all those resources elsewhere, like improving my product or my websites usability.

Traffic vs. Conversions Conclusion
Obviously, without traffic you will have no conversions so traffic is important. In this scenario I would argue conversions win the battle. Lots of traffic takes lots of resources (all the things SEO people do). Targeting every keyword in your vertical even ones that are that relevant to your product not only won’t convert but can have negative impact. When customers come to your site and don’t find what they are looking for they likely won’t be back.

Sure, there is a lot of room for debating my conclusion but that is what’s fun about blogging. What do you think?

In the future SEO posts:
How do I drive traffic that converts using SEO?
How do I know what keywords convert?
What else can I do to convert web traffic to sales?