It’s not all about the rankings, stupid

Posted on April 12, 2017

 

Most online marketing companies should get more traffic to your website. That really is the very least you should expect from them.

When I say ‘most’, that is obviously not counting those SEO fraudsters who don’t actually do anything for the money. They won’t get you more traffic, they’ll just take your money. No, I’m referring to the people who do, at least, understand the concept of ‘SEO’ in that it’s about increasing rankings in search engines for specific keywords. There’s plenty of them about, and you should expect to see a surge in traffic when you use one of them.

However, getting more traffic shouldn’t be your end goal. Neither should ranking on page one of Google for a particular keyword. Instead, you should look at ‘why’ you want more traffic, and ‘why’ you want to rank for particular keywords. The reason shouldn’t be ‘because I like to see my website on the first page’ or ‘because I want my hosting costs to increase with all the additional traffic chewing through my bandwidth’.

If it’s just additional website traffic you want, there are lots of cheaper ways to achieve this than by using SEO.

I’m betting, however, the real reason you want these things is because you want more business from your website. This is where most online marketing companies falter, because they’re only interested in keywords and rankings – the stuff that, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really that important.

I know of many online marketing companies who consider it ‘job done’ when the client is on the first page of Google for a selection of keywords. Sometimes, they’ve even let the client pick the keywords, without any analysis into search volumes, related keywords or conversions stats. This is absolutely the wrong way to do it, and one of the leading reasons why our industry has such a poor reputation. The client spends their money, gets the ‘results’ they were promised, but doesn’t get the results they expected but were too shy to ask for. Where’s the uplift in business? Where’s the increase in sales? Where’s the surge of new enquiries?

What’s happened here is that a job has been half done, and badly at that.

Instead of looking at a handful of keywords, chosen by the client, and optimising the website for them to get it ranking in Google, an online marketing company should be looking at what the client really wants from their website and working backwards from there.

Start with ‘what you want the website visitor to do’ and ensure the website is perfectly set up to do that. Create funnels for visitors to pass through, with clear paths you want them to take. Identify drop-off points, remove distractions, add secondary and tertiary completion goals, incentivise people to complete your goals and, above all, make sure EVERYTHING is tracked.

Think about your audience. Who are they? What devices do they use? What method of contact do they prefer? What level of detail do they like? Do they respond to reams of textual information, are they responsive to images or do they prefer video?

Then look at your keywords. What are they searching for to find you? What ‘should’ they be searching for? What are your competitors doing?

Remember, the keywords you think are relevant to your business are not necessarily the keywords people are searching for to find you.

All of this should be done by your online marketing company, with a view to increasing your business. If they’re just telling you how well your rankings are doing, they’re not doing their job.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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