When I sit down for an initial meeting with a client to talk about their their business, I ask them what their digital marketing goals are. The common response is, "To rank #1 in Google at X keyword." Which I usually follow up with "Why?" The look I get is usually a bit dumbfounded, as if I obviously don't know the answer to the easiest question on earth. Think about it, why would you want your business to rank #1 on Google? The response I like the most is, "Because if we are ranking #1, that means we are doing good." Doing good at what? It's clear that many people equate a #1 ranking as an indicator of success, but sometimes I have to push my clients to think deeper. Success isn't measured in ranking for one keyword-- rankings don't equal money. Leads, sales or conversions equal money. In all honesty the need to rank #1 for that top keyword is closer to a middle school popularity contest than a measure of success. Step outside of the competitive mindset that Google has created and really think about your business. How is the success of your website really measured? What does your website need to do to help your company?
From Google's perspective rankings are an answer to a question. That question is structured like this, "What websites are most relevent to X keyword?" You may tend to see this as X=$ and the people at the top have the most, but that is not always the case. Yes, some of the companies at the top of the list spend more money or have more resources to execute a successful digital marketing strategy but I'll bet you that their website is a big tool in helping them get the money they spend to keep them there. Otherwise, their return on investment wouldn't be worth it. Relevency from Google is determined in a mathematical equation made up of things like keyword use, inbound links, fresh content and quality content. To achieve a #1 ranking is a culmination of a lot of variables and a lot of effort. You don't just build a website, toss it out there, show up at the top of the search engines and then start counting your money. A better strategy to help you understand digital marketing goals is to start with your business goals and identify how the website can be used as a tool to achieve those goals.
Your Website Should Be Your Top Salesman
What employee do you have that works 24/7, doesn't sleep, doesn't eat, and doesn't receive vacation time? Your website! In most cases your website can't close a deal, but it can get people through the door? The biggest thing a website should do is engage people.What does that mean? Your website should include:
- Interesting content
- Blog posts
- Answers to questions
- A showcase to sell products
- A path for users to get more information or get in touch with you.
We call these capture points. A capture point can be the purchase of a product, a contact form or an email newsletter sign up. it is the point in your site where the user identifies themselves to you and provides you with their information in exchange for something of value. In most cases this is the point that the users says, "I'm interested in what you have to offer." This exchange is when you should measure the success of your website and digital marketing strategy-- not in your ranking.
But What About Keywords?
If your biggest digital marketing asset is driving organic (free) traffic from search engines, then yes, keywords are important. But that is based on multiple keywords not just one. Don't get enamored with a keyword that is ultra competitive thinking that everything you do on your website needs to revolve around that keyword.
If I told you I could double your traffic and bring you more leads without gaining a single spot in Google for the top keyword you would take it in a heartbeat, right? You may think the path to success lies in that single keyword, but in actuality, success lies in your ability to increase traffic and capture leads. Improving your ranking on a large variety of keywords is far more valueble than increasing your ranking on a single keyword. We have a client we built a website for and have helped with SEO over the past year. During this time organic traffic has increased 130%, however when I initially sat down to discuss goals, their only goal was to rank #1 for a certain keyword and overtake their competitors. They even offered to toss in a bonus if we were to achieve this goal. I was very upfront and told them the bonus was great but I doubted we would acheive it. After a year of content creation, link building and page optimization we only sit slightly better than where we started. Optimizing for more competitive keywords is a long term strategy which may take years. This should be a big part of your content strategy but you should also be targeting a variety of keywords as well. Don't lose sight that your main goal is to attract as many people to the sight as possible. Once they get there you will need a way to provide enough value to convert them into a lead.
Converting Vistors To Leads
Once visitors reach your site, the true goal is to convert them into a lead or get them into your sales funnel. Rank #1 all you want, but if this ranking isn't producing leads or helping you make more money, what's the point in being ranked #1. Capturing leads can be an artform itself. Think about capturing a lead as an exchange for value. You provide the user something that will help them, or provides them something that is important, and they provide you their contact information. The "something of value" could be a whitepaper, a guide, a video, a graphic, a consultation, access to a certain section of your website, or maybe it is a coupon or discount. If you aren't providing something to the user, there isn't much insentive for them to provide their information. It's an information transactions and both sides should recieve a form of compensation. Once you have caputured a lead, you should have a workflow in place to progress that individual through the sales funnel. The more you understand what is important to that user the easier it will be to capture a lead and convert them into a customer.
So, if you are one of the many who can't see the forest through the trees, take a step back and think about what you are really trying to accomplish with your website. Hopefully you can see past that #1 ranking for a certain keyword, and realize that you can still have a tremendous amount of success with a variety of keywords, which ultimately accomplish your real goals.