You just received your most recent search engine ranking report and the investment has paid off. Your top trophy keywords are now ranked #1 on Google. I guess this means you can shift your search engine optimization budget to something else, right?
Not So Fast - We Need To Look Beyond The Rankings
There are many factors that comprise a successful search engine marketing campaign. Top search rankings for your prized keywords are only the start of the battle. We can equate this to setting up shop at the busiest mall in town, Google Mall. Having top rankings or having a store at Google Mall only gets us the eyes of our audience, but what we really want is their wallets. We need them to enter the store. We need to entice them to click on our listing and not the next guy's, and after that hopefully they will purchase what they are looking for either through a phone call, RFQ form, or a shopping cart.
Analyze The Performance of Your Website
Here is where the analogy fails, but fails in our favor. Websites have the ability to track just about everything each user does while on the site, but a retail store in Google Mall can only track so much. Think of how much the retail world would change if it had the ability to track the same things we can track on a website:
- Number of visitors
- How much time are they spending in the store (per section, per item, during the checkout process)
- Where are they leaving from
- What products they looked at
- What source brought them here (tv ad, referral, loyal customer, etc)
- And much more
To this end, we need to leverage all of the data we can to ensure we are converting as many people as we can that come to our website. On top of this we can effectively evaluate the business value each of our prized trophy keywords has to the bottom line (i.e. what is the conversion rate for each keyword?). We may come to the realization that the keywords we invested a lot of time, money, and forethought into may not be the real winners we thought they would be.
But Maybe We Have Not Lived Up To Their Potential
We need to take a look at the data to see why those keywords, which have tons of traffic, are just not converting and turning into leads or sales. There are hundreds of potential reasons, ranging from content issues to an improperly targeted keyword (too general, etc.). However, using the analytical data that is afforded to us, we can narrow down the possible causes; and more importantly, identify areas that could be improved.
We Can Make The Website Better, Stronger, Faster
Once we have identified specific areas of improvement, we need to make changes. This is another arena within which a store at Google Mall can not compete. With the use of tools like Google Website Optimizer, we can create multiple versions of pages and see if they perform better than the original. This would be equivalent to having different retail store layouts at the same time, in the same store, dividing up the visitors in random fashion, and analyzing which group converted (spent) the most.
Should You Shift Your Budget?
The next time you consider shifting your marketing budget in circumstances such as these, remember to look beyond just the rankings. The performance of your website has as big of an impact on your bottom line as top rankings. I know of no other place, from a marketing perspective, that can bring in a greater ROI than properly optimizing your website for both the search engines and the visitors. In my next post, I'll taker a closer look at the impact that increasing the percentage of leads/sales can have on the bottom line.