Tuesday, 19 October 2010

About SEO And Conversions

A few years back when people spoke to a SEO company or a SEO professional about SEO packages the main focus was on rankings and the costing, budgeting and pricing also revolved around the rankings. But, now when people discuss about SEO they also want to know about the conversion ratios and also about the return they will be getting when an amount ‘x’ is set aside as a SEO budget for the year.

Firstly, being focused on SEO services I surely welcome this change in the attitude and the extension of the SEO project deliverables required by the clients. As this surely proves that SEO is evolving and becoming more and more integrated with the online marketing campaigns.  As I truly and firmly believe that SEO cannot die as long as there are search engines and as long as people use the search engines to find what they are looking for on the World Wide Web.

SEO services no doubt are focused on rankings and hence the logical explanation says that once you achieve the rankings the SEO job is done.

But it is very important to note that when people ask for the earnings, the return from SEO and the conversions, all is not only dependant on the SEO service. If viewed holistically, the SEO, the web design, navigation, content, architecture of the site, the social media interaction and the offline handling of the leads generated as a result of all this are all responsible for conversions. If there is a loophole in any of these aspects the lead which may be generated or which may have been generated will just disappear in thin air.

Website Conversion Rate

Hence the analysis of where things are going wrong or because of which aspect the conversion ratio is low is a very important task, which will throw light on the conversions.

1)     The SEO works on the on-page factors, which include content and presentation to the search engine spiders to get ranked for the most important keywords in order to get leads and conversions.

2)     Once the website is ranked for the specific lead and traffic generation keywords the visitor which reaches your site as a result of the SEO effort   the web design and ease of navigation affects the buying decision of the visitor which in turn affects the lead generation and conversions.

3)     Supposing the site is an ecommerce site and if the navigation and the payment process is simple with the security for payments then it may lead to a conversion else the visitor may say bye and go to click on your competitor’s site.

4)     If the site is not an ecommerce site and the visitor decides to contact you that is if your contact form is short and simple and the contact details available then you have a lead generated. But, now how that enquiry is responded to and what time frame the reply is sent will determine the success or failure of the whole exercise of lead generation online. Because if the visitor has reached this stage it means that the SEO, web design,  navigation, content have passed the test and the  offline  staff have to prove themselves by converting the enquiry to sales.

Now, if we look at the flip side of all the above four points then you will get a better idea about how the analysis will help in finding the loop hole in the whole process from the Enquiry to Sales  (E to S)

If the SEO has not done the keyword research properly and the keywords targeted are only not generating any traffic then of course the site cannot reach the E (Enquiry) stage only so the S (Sales) stage or conversion is out of question. If the SEO stage is perfect and your website is ranking for the niche targeted, traffic generation keywords but the web design of the site is awful the visitor is not going to get the right first impression and may bounce back to Google to search for more or to your competitor’s site which in turn again is going to put your conversion ratio diving low.

Hence find out at which stage the conversions are getting directly affected and then go on a rectifying spree plugging the loopholes. It is not only SEO but also each and everything connected to your site on-page or off-page that can influence the buyer to take a decision. Why I have included the social media sites also because the buzz on these sites give a lot of information to the visitor which he may not get from your website. If this info is positive it helps in conversions if it is negative then many times even if your website passes all the tests the visitor finally may not decide to become a buyer as we all know that the WOM is the most influential deciding factor many times.

A good marketing campaign takes care of all these aspects and keeps on analyzing the reports related to these metrics on an ongoing basis. As again they may vary periodically.

Eventually it can be concluded that only the SEO cannot be held responsible for conversions, yes the SEO is an important link in the whole chain but it is important to take an overall view and then drill down to each stage in a focused manner. But all this is possible if the website owners, managers, CEOs and all those decision makers who decide about the marketing campaigns of the company take interest and try to understand the nitty gritty of the whole process or else trust the team handling the campaign otherwise the whole campaign can be wasted and become futile with a blame game played all the time by everyone involved.

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