SEO Pitfalls and Shortcomings
SEO marketers, experts, gurus and search engine optimizers usually tend to get carried away when speaking of search engine optimization in terms of ranking high up the SERP or get as close to the first result on the first page of Google for your keyword(s).
So here’s what happens: someone searches for a keyword that you’ve made an effort to rank for, and finds your website almost instantly, click on the link, goes through your website and instantly finds what he or she was looking for. Your CTA is effective and works as intended, and as a result your website visitor does what you had intended him or her to do – purchase your product, subscribe to your mailing list or whatever your intended CTA is.
This example demonstrates precisely why people working in the search engine marketing industry usually place a great deal of emphasis on concentrating efforts and focusing into a site being ranked on top of the search engine results.
This might not be such a bad thing for you, your website and your business, it is equally important to realize that ranking on top of the SERP alone is not enough. And while the example above demonstrates what is known as an ideal-situation scenario, it is important to look at the flip side of things: even if you do rank on top of the SERPs and your website has ‘conquered Google’ per se, your traffic could still be as bad as it was before, a high bounce rate, a low CTR and according to analytics, the average time spent on your website is low.
In other words, even after ranking on top of Google results for your keywords, your website still isn’t really doing all that well at all.
Not all is lost at this point, however. But if you haven’t already realized this, you should know that simply aiming to rank atop Google rankings alone isn’t enough. You need to have a comprehensive SEO strategy in place to be really able to engage your viewers, and have a high CTR, and above all (for me) to have your CFA work as intended.
How to Counter SEO Pitfalls and Shortcomings
1. Know your Customers
In business school, one of the first things they teach you, is how important it is to ‘know your customer’.
This is probably the most simple, yet the best advice anyone doing SEO can probably give you: SEO is about people – always was, still is and always will be. SEO is not about code or designing your content for Google.
You might have websites with excellent search engine rankings, and some might even be getting a reasonable number of visitors each month. However it is absolutely vital to understand the people who visit your website in order to sell products, services and make money (that is what the ultimate aim is, right?).
2. Know your Market
Knowing your potential customers and clientele and having a general idea about your market is usually the first step towards devising any marketing strategy – including one that involves search engine marketing. It is at this stage that you would want to define the niche your website operates in.
Devise your message according to your market, and your niche. Your message should be clear, concise, consistent and should ideally convey everything a potential buyer would want to know about business and website. In other words, being the crux of your business. Confused visitors would not buy, simple as that.
3. Asking Questions
Ask yourself questions like what your potential customers want, what problems does your customer face, what the possible solutions are, how you can be part of the solution and how much would your customer be willing to pay for that solution?
SEO cannot be the last step of your marketing strategy; it has to be a part of your marketing efforts from the very beginning.
4. Optimize your Landing Page for Conversions
Why would someone come to your landing page and stick around? How can you offer them value to make sure that not only they spend time on your website, they end up buying something, subscribing to it, or do whatever your CFA intends on having them do.
Vital, once again, to have your landing page optimized in such a way that not only a visitors sticks around, he or she is compelled to purchase your eBook, theme, spa membership, cellular contract, VoIP credit, or whatever it is that you might be selling. Instead of filling up your website with keywords, try being more appealing to your visitor, his likes and his emotions.
A shift in focus from being SEO-oriented to being people-oriented could have you attain a higher CTR and hence your revenues. Because when you appeal to people, not only are they forced to buy, you can also sell to them at an asking price of your choice.
5. Keyword Analysis
As any SEM would tell you, analyzing and looking at which keywords are vital in bringing traffic to your website. Those are the ones that you would ideally want to be ranked high for. Extremely essential from a marketers point-of-view. Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a good place to start. Create separate landing pages for different keywords in your niche.
6. Analytics are Important!
Analytics packages such as Google Analytics usually reveal a lot of information about your website and the people visiting your website. Do not simply limit yourself to checking how many visitors are visiting your website in a day or a month, that’s not only what those stats were meant for. Look at the traffic and check which keywords brought them to your website. Look at demographics, such as gender, geographical locations, which parts of the world you’re getting your visitors from; in other words: how your visitors get to your website, and what actions do they take once they get there.
Tailor your marketing and SEO efforts, taking this information into account. For instance what they dislike about your website, why they leave, do they find the information they were looking for in the first place, and does your website fulfill their wants or not.
7. Planning, Setting Objectives and Devising a Strategy
When setting up a SEO strategy, make sure to ask yourself the following 5 questions, aka SMART:
S – Are your SEO objectives specific?
M – Are your SEO objectives measurable?
A – Do you have an action-plan for your SEO strategy?
R – Are your SEO objectives realistic?
T – Have you set up a time-frame to achieve your SEO objectives?
Furthermore, choose which tools you will use. You have the option of on-site and off-site SEO. In my opinion, choose the best of both worlds to come up with a comprehensive SEO strategy. Both on-site as well as off-site strategies have already been discussed at length here.
In addition, budgeting is important. Make sure you make a budget and stick to it. Budget wisely, focusing on efforts that would maximize your ROI.
At the end, look at how your strategy is doing, and try synergizing all your efforts.
Plan short term as well as long term goals, and what actionable steps would you take to achieve both sets of goals. Setting and sticking to cutoff dates is the key here.
8. Review and Evaluation
A good marketer will also review and assess and analyze his SEO strategy, to really measure and gauge its effectiveness. For instance as mentioned in the beginning, you might be getting traffic but at the end of the day, does all that traffic translate into anything tangible such as a stream of revenue? How good is your CTR and conversion rate? Are you targeting the correct keywords for your niche? Are you targeting high-value keywords? How do you rank for those keywords and what can you do to improve that ranking? Have you adapted with market shifts and changes?
Are you able to really appeal to your visitors and customers? Have you provided them value or delight in any way whatsoever?
And perhaps most importantly, is your SEO strategy flexible enough to be able to adapt to changes in the industry?
Go beyond simply ranking on top of your keywords. I fully understand and realize the importance of ranking high on the SERP, however for me, the ultimate aim of any SEO strategy should be profits and revenue maximization, sales, high CTR, healthy bounce rate and a high conversion rate.
Understanding and applying marketing psychology forms the core of all that has been said here. If you understand your market and your potential customer, you can tailor your SEO according to his needs and wants and end up making the most of your time, energy, investment and marketing efforts.
Remember, the key word here is ‘conversions’!