Engaging in a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign DOES NOT guarantee more leads and sales. This may seem counterproductive to what many think of what SEO is. SEO is not a magical formula to automatically add to your businesses bottom line. Just as adding an employee doesn't guarantee a lead or sale. A successful SEO strategy helps a business gain more website traffic. Increased traffic does not equate to leads or sales. To make your website bring in more, and qualified, leads you need to make certain your website has the information the people are looking for. It is not uncommon to establish a relationship with a customer that it takes weeks, months or even years before the first sale is made. Your website is unique in that it can portray a very professional opinion of your business 24x7. An SEO campaign will help make certain the portrayal is as good as possible in conveying your message.
In SEO strategy helps bring brand awareness to your organization which can help you sell your product or service. This should be your primary goal of an SEO campaign. Your SEO strategy should work on modifying your website content so that it is not written for search engines as they are not the one's purchasing from you.
The restaurant analogy
As an example, you open a brand new restaurant on the busiest street in your town. You have a lot of competition with all of the competing restaurants in the town and nearby area. You want all the business (don't we all?) so that your business is a huge success and generates a lot of traffic. In our scenario here every restaurant posts their menu on the outside of their building to lure passersby's inside for a meal or a leisurely snack from your menu.
As we think of SEO in this manner we have a near perfect analogy. All of the similar businesses on the street are also looking to maximize their share of a finite amount of traffic. The menus outside are analogous to website content, the outside of the buildings is the look and feel of your website, and someone walking in the door is analogous to a conversion or lead. It still takes work at that point to successfully complete a sale as if you have a huge waiting period to be seated you may lose a sale which is analogous to the overall speed of your website. People will look at the appearance of your restaurant, the appearance of the menu (prices, fonts used [readability], type of food, etc.), attire that is required, and the clientele that you are looking for.
You will notice that you receive fewer conversions
- If my prices are way out of line with the other restaurants in your neighborhood.
- If my menu uses words and jargon that potential customers are not familiar with.
- If the typefaces on my menu are difficult to read.
- If the design of my menu is overwhelming, complicated or difficult to follow.
- If the style of my food is unappealing to the people who walk by every day.
- If there are comments that the customer hears that are not appealing to an experience others have gotten.
- If I never update my menu for the current wants of my customers.
If my restaurant is suffering from one or more of these near-fatal marketing errors, all the traffic in the world is not likely to change my bottom line. And when I am fortunate enough to get a potential customer through the door, if I don't greet my guest with friendly staff and an atmosphere that's both welcoming and clean, I run a great risk of losing the sale.
Online marketing works the same way
An SEO's job is to work with you to create opportunities for more conversions/leads by increasing traffic, your website's job is convert traffic into leads and it's your sales team's job to convert leads into paying customers. An SEO's job is not to run your business and bring you more customers. The expertise an SEO expert brings is a working relationship where, together, you build your online reputation. If you ignore any of those critical ingredients and the entire effort was for nothing.
Never forget that SEO is part of a greater inbound marketing strategy — which should also include a strong website, email marketing, lead nurturing and other efforts — and that it takes more than traffic to increase sales.