I work with businesses of all sizes. Some are very “web savvy” others not so much. I find a common thread through many of these businesses: they are under the illusion that if they are #1 on Google they’ll get all the traffic and therefore all the sales they can handle. WRONG! There are so many more factors.
I’ve talked before about keyword selection, but for our purposes here I summarize with an example. Let’s say you sell widgets and your companies name is “ABC Manufacturing”. You might rank #1 in the search engines (SEs) for “ABC Manufacturing” but are no where to be found for “widgets”. Even if you were ranked well on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for “widgets”, it is such a broad term it is unlikely to convert very often. I say this to point out that you may have a #1 ranking but that ranking my not give you great traffic or sales if no one is searching it.
Before we continue, I will give you this: if you are #1 on the SEs for a great keyword that is relevant to your product, you should get great traffic.
So, you have researched your market and have decided that “widgets” is the number one target. As I touched on above, a high ranking in the SERPs for “wigets” may indeed garner great traffic numbers but that can be deceiving. If you focus exclusively on “widgets”, in most case (and all that I have dealt with) you will not necessarily get sales. In a previous post I discussed Traffic vs Conversion, where I discussed how while short keywords can get traffic numbers long keyword strings get conversions. This is not rocket science. If someone is beginning there search for a widget they may not know much about those products. They might start with a basic search engine search by typing “widgets”, right? As they become more familiar with the type of widgets that are available they might search some thing more specific like “home widgets”. As they become even more familiar they might type “stainless steel kitchen widgets”, follow me? The more specific the keyword term used, the closer that consumer is to making a purchase (it is true, trust me). In an ideal scenario, when that customer does their first search for “widgets”, your website comes up. Then when they do the following searches, your website comes up as well. With that said, if I had to choose between a customer searching for “widgets” and a customer searching for “stainless steel kitchen widgets” (assuming that is the type of widgets I sell), I choose the long keyword term every day and twice on Sunday. So just because you get great traffic that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get conversions to sales.
OK, now your getting great traffic to your website because you’ve targeted your long keyword terms and you are ranked highly in the SERPs. You’ve got all this traffic and when the customers get to you website, IT SUCKS! You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (through search engine optimization (SEO) or pay per click (PPC)) getting traffic to your website, but if it is poorly designed they still might not purchase. “Poorly designed”? What do I mean? Everything from the users interface (UI), how they navigate the site, how the product is displayed, the aestetics of the site, all of that plays a roll. I don’t even want to talk about the stability of a website. If the site crashes constantly or gives the users errors, see ya, they are leaving. When selling anything online you have to have the consumers trust. The aren’t going to give their credit card number to some shady looking site that doesn’t function properly. You can build that trust by having a well designed and functional site. I’ll briefly mention it here, but does your website properly “funnel” the customer to where you want them to go? I plan to delve into that in a future post, but funneling in website terms, in this case anyway, is the process of leading the customer to the purchase button.
So, now you are doing awesome. You picked your keywords well, you optimized you website and have good rankings, your getting good relevant traffic for you product and you website is doing its job and getting the customer to click purchase. Well, there is still a lot to worry about. How is your purchase process? Does it require too much information? Does it have too many steps? Are you bogging them down with up sells (can you say godaddy.com)? An ecommerce experience should be as seamless as if they called a great customer services representative. I look at a lot of analytics for a lot of websites and I know when there is a problem. You can see it clear as day. Customers get so far along in the purchase process and then they just leave the site. Sometimes it is more obvious why then others. Either way, 99 times out of 100, there is someone else out there selling a product just like yours and if people get frustrated, they’ll bounce.
All of things build on one another. Don’t just focus on traffic or rankings, in the end the bottom line is sales. Great keyword selection and web site optimization can lead to great traffic. Great traffic and website design can lead to great conversions (purchase buttons clicked). A great ecommerce solutions (great customer services) will lead to happy customer who will give you sales.
Now if your product sucks, you are on your own.