To focus on SEO in isolation, or as a single marketing strategy is almost certain to fail. The reason for this is that SEO is a single channel, in the same way that putting a sign out the front of your store is a single channel. What many people don’t realise is that to achieve success, you have to take a holistic look at your online business.
How do you know what search phrases are going to convert into sales?
Traditional methodology works on search volume, but this tells you nothing of intent or likelihood of purchase. Congruent with this, many SEO agencies try to sell you on a limited number of keywords (15 keywords etc), which makes success even less likely.
How are you going to write useful content?
To rank for different search terms you need to create content that answers the search query. As a business you need to make it obvious that you are the experts in that field. If someone is seeking cheaper electricity, you need to show that you are the knowledge leaders in this area and provide detailed, expert advice that is better than everyone else’s. The result will be to attract links and shares and your page rank will rise.
Is your website good at converting customers into sales?
The biggest problem I see with customers relying on SEO is that they just expect the website to convert into sales. The problem here is that consumers need pushing. They need assurances, and a website without these is likely to have a very, very low conversion rate. If you rush straight into SEO, then you are likely doing work to promote a store that doesn’t convert. If you need to completely overhaul that store, then you need to overhaul much of your SEO. From first-hand experience, customers usually insist that SEO doesn’t work because their website was not built with enough sales strategy in mind.
What to do first
Firstly, JMarketing always recommend spending money to gather data. This means setting up your tracking effectively, then investing in research of who your customer groups are. A small investment in data can greatly improve the return on investment in future marketing activities.
Set up e-commerce analytics and funnels
It’s staggering how many people don’t have an understanding of how their website is being used. If you owned a retail store and every customer was carrying items to the counter, but then leaving without purchase, you would quickly make some changes. For some reason in the internet age, people pretend like this isn’t necessary information to know. In my experience, this is the most likely reason your business is not working. By simply setting up Google Analytics, Sales Funnels, e-Commerce tracking and perhaps a few other tools, you can gain clarity into what people are doing on your website and hence drive a lot more sales.
Google Adwords is a must
There are infinite search queries a person can type into Google. You need to ascertain what people type in when they are serious about making a purchase. Most clients swear black and blue that they already know what people will be searching for. In the last decade I have never once had a customer that was right about this. Even when they have done the keyword research and know what the search volumes are, they haven’t researched which keywords leads to sales. We recommend running a short Adwords campaign to cover thousands of different search terms, then track their behaviour on the website. This research shows us which are the key search phrases to target, and most importantly, what changes we need to make on the website to convert more traffic into sales. This is quick, effective and a step any smart business person should make.
The final area I want to talk about is narrative. This is one of the most overlooked areas of digital marketing. Business owners just expect that customers will want what is on their website. They don’t invest much time and effort in telling the story of their business, or they bury it on the ‘About Us’ page. Narrative tells the consumer why they should buy from your store. It’s not a huge page of text, but a subtle drip feeding of information through content, images, proof points and social sharing icons. A website that tells the story of why they are the best and how they can be trusted, is a website that will work. I can’t tell you how many business owners I have met who have failed to do this, and then insisted that internet advertising doesn’t work. The truth is, that a little work now can make a lot of money in the future by greatly improving the return on any investment in SEO or other marketing activities.
At JMarketing we are committed to only taking on clients that aspire to be the best company at what they do. The reason for this is simple. On the internet, if you don’t apply yourself and strive to be the best in your vertical, then there will be thousands of other direct and indirect competitors that will service your customer base better. Particularly for startup companies, you can’t just ‘SEO’ your way into success. That was a poor strategy in the 90’s and it has become more difficult since then.
A successful internet business is run exactly the same as a traditional business. You invest in your research, tell the story of the company (branding) and invest heavily in making sure your company is solving all the needs of your customer base.