Search engine optimization has been around for a while now. But there are still some marketers who don’t fully understand it or how to use it. They think it’s all about getting to the top of the Google search results and driving traffic to their site.
Okay, I’ll buy that…to an extent. I’d take a top position with Google over a position on page one. But have you noticed that the sites which were once ranking at the top of the search results for the term “SEO Services” have changed dramatically over the past few years?
Even some of the SEO firms haven’t figured out how to keep up with the changes in the Google algorithms. SEO is still a mystery, and an expensive one if you don’t get it solved quickly.
Having seen dozens of our customer’s sites rise to page one, I’d like to shed some light on how to get better rankings and traffic AND make sure your traffic converts. But I’d also like to show you how to create the financial stability necessary for growing a great company…
Tip #1: SEO is Primarily a Lead Generation Strategy
SEO is a great strategy for generating leads, but not so great for getting direct sales. For converting SEO traffic, you need an email marketing campaign. According to an article on MarketingSherpa.com, 43% of marketers say that SEO is their primary source of traffic.
However, less than 30% of those 42% claimed that SEO brought them their highest conversions. They claimed that most of their conversions had come on the email follow up.
This is a perfect example of how the internet has changed people’s buying behaviors and how SEO traffic comes from people who are in the earlier stages of the buying cycle. Some marketers seem to think that consumers wake up in the morning with a sudden thought like this:
“Hey, I think I’d like to buy ___ today.”
If they do wake up thinking this, it’s only because they’ve been thinking about it for a while. If they’ve been thinking about it, you can bet they’ve researched it. And if they’ve researched it, they’ve probably found a few websites which gave them valuable information on their search. Some of those sites might have even collected the customer’s email and will be following up.
Who do you think that customer is likely to choose when it comes time for them to buy the product or the service?
Right, they’ll go to the company who has established trust by sending the customer useful information. Meanwhile, the websites that went for a sale right away will be a distant memory, at best. So even if you get to the top of the search engines by building a cutthroat “one call close” website, most of your visitors won’t hang around.
They’ll go where they can get the information they want. This is why so many “sniper sites” and direct sales sites got knocked down in the search results during the last few Google updates. As Google has given more attention to bounce rates, time on site and user engagement signals, sites which provide users with good content have devoured the top search positions.
So remember that your SEO traffic is primarily interested in good information. You need to give them what they want, gather leads and work on earning the sale on the follow up. If you do this, you’ll get high rankings and plenty of follow up conversions. If you don’t, you probably won’t get much of either.
What if My Business is Different?
I hear this ^ all the time.
Some marketers assume that email follow up and content marketing doesn’t make sense for them because their visitors “either buy right away or don’t come back.” That’s simply not true. The reason customers are either “buying right away or leaving,” is because you haven’t created a follow up process using email and content marketing.
If you keep trying to get your visitors to buy right away, while they’re still in search mode, you’ll only convert a few. Most of them, you’ll never see again. But those visitors who “don’t come back,” would still be reachable if you had a way to reach them.
That’s why you need to collect emails and follow up with your visitors using an automated email marketing campaign. If possible, you need to use phone follow up too. And in case you think your business doesn’t lend itself to content marketing and email marketing, check out Miller Welds (www.millerwelds.com).
They have a powerful, personality-driven content marketing strategy that you’d never expect from a welding company. According to “Get Content, Get Customers,” a book by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett, Miller Welds drove double digit revenue growth using this content marketing strategy.
So no matter what business you’re in, you now have no excuse. Customers are buying from companies who position themselves as a trusted source of information instead of just a provider of products and services. That’s how you build a great business in the information age.
A good follow up strategy can also work wonders for your social media traffic…
Tip #2: The “Dark Matter” of SEO & Social Media Traffic
Social Media traffic is definitely impacting SEO. But here’s something that will bend your inner thinking all out of whack…
Most of the social media traffic online isn’t coming from sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or LinkedIn. It comes from what Mike Montano calls “digital word of mouth marketing.” For example, did you know that up to 70% of the social media traffic is coming from what The Atlantic calls “dark social” links?
The social networks you know and love (Facebook, Twitter and Reddit) only account for 30% of the traffic being delivered to the average website. The other 70% is coming from links shared via email or instant messaging. Those visits get lumped into the “direct” traffic category in analytics programs BTW, which is why most of us don’t pay attention to them.
But according to Studies by Earnest Agency, a mind-boggling 80% of B2B buyers are more likely to share content via email and instant messaging than via social media sites. Only 53% of B2B buyers prefer LinkedIn, 39% Twitter and 18% Facebook. That’s right, email is number one for B2B.
All those direct hits you see to your website, those are either coming from people typing in your URL or clicking on a link which was sent to them via email or instant message. This is why you need an “email this” button at the bottom of your blogs, not just a tweet button, a like button and a Facebook share button. You also need content that’s worthy of being shared….do you have that?
If not, it’s time to get busy because the future is barreling towards us quickly…and it’s all about word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth marketing has always been the most powerful, trusted kind of marketing. But the internet has made it even more powerful and more trustworthy. In the years to come, word of mouth marketing will take over the world of SEO and social media.
After all, most people go to the internet to do two things:
- Search for valuable information
- Connect with people
Considering this, can you see why digital word of mouth marketing is so important? Repeat visits have a dramatic impact on your search results. They show the search engines that your website is a trusted source of information. The more you encourage your readers to share your content via email or instant message, the more repeat visits you’ll get and the more trustworthy you’ll appear.
So don’t invest everything into Facebook and Twitter. Email and instant message sharing and “word of mouse”, can be much more important, especially if you’re in the B2B niche.
What About Building a Reputation on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn?
The statistics do show that building a strong presence on a social media site like Facebook is still a good SEO strategy. According to MarketingProfs, companies which have over 1,000 likes on Facebook will get 185% more traffic than those who only have a handful of likes. Businesses which have 51 to 100 Twitter followers are also shown to attract 106% more traffic than those who have only 25 followers or less.
So build your social media reputation using the big name sites, but never forget that the internet marketplace is socially driven. Remember also that you need content that’s worthy of being shared; content that positions you as a trusted source of information and a thought leader.
Here’s a good way to approach your online marketing…
Imagine what would come of your company if EVERY search engine disappeared tomorrow and the online marketplace became driven strictly by word of mouth marketing. Even if this never happens, approaching your online marketing with this mindset will get you thinking less about rankings and traffic and thinking more about building a reputation...
…a reputation that attract a steady stream of traffic through word of mouth marketing, regardless of where you are in the search results. If you build this kind of reputation, the repeat visits and traffic from “dark social links” will help you create something that can absolutely explode your business…social equity….
Tip #3: Stop Worrying About SEO Traffic & Start Building Equity
If you want to build a financial stable business, and if you hope to grow it someday, you need to treat SEO is a strategy for building equity, not just getting traffic and making sales. If you’ve been in business more than a year, you already know that search engine traffic can dry up in a flash.
Many marketers learned this the hard way during the Google updates of 2011 and 2012. Their sites were dumped them to the bottom of the search results, their traffic slowed down to a trickle and their sales evaporated almost overnight.
Scary thought, but that’s why smart marketers focus not just on traffic and sales, they focus on creating equity. I know, equity sounds like a nerd term only your accountant knows anything about. What does it have to do with driving traffic and marking sales today?
Nothing really, but that’s assuming you’re thinking short term. If you start building equity today, you’ll eventually be rewarded with traffic which don’t dry up and with higher conversion rates. Just picture where your business right now, then multiply your traffic and sales by two…that’s where you’d be right now if you’d started building equity last year.
How is this possible?
How Social Equity Drives Higher Profits & Growth
Your company website becomes a source of trusted information for your customers. You build up a solid base of verifiable customer reviews, a buzzing social community (such as a forum) or a blog or newsletter that’s jam packed with useful information which people read on a consistent basis. You might even build a few web-based applications which your visitors use on a consistent basis.
All these are examples of using the internet to build equity because ALL of these things can be leveraged to earn future leads and business without relying on SEO traffic. Think of it like buying a brick and mortar business, let’s say, a lawn care business. You pay $30k dollars and all you get is a business name and a truck full of used tools….but is that really all you get?
No. Not if the business already has a loyal base of customers. If they do, you’re also buying the trust which that company has established with that base of customers. Trust is a form of “social equity,” which has real economic power. It’s the same thing on the internet.
If people trust your website as a source of valuable information, a social hub or a place where they can use practical web-based applications, you’ve got more than just a stream of traffic.
You’ve got social equity.
Social equity is more resilient than search engine rankings. Your rankings can drop literally overnight. But it takes longer to lose the social equity which has been earned through a great reputation. Equity is a powerful principle for creating the financial stability your business needs. It’s the foundation upon which you can realistically start growing your company and the repeat visits will help your search engine rankings.
The question is…are you willing to stop thinking only about today and start planning for the future by building social equity? If you are, I’ll guarantee that you’ll have a more financial stable business by this time next year…and imagine where you’ll be in 5 years…or 10.
But if you sacrifice that long term success and focus only on what’s urgent, you’ll probably kick yourself this time next year when you’re stuck in the same place you are now…or worse.
Are you starting to see how building a reputation is the secret master to key to creating long term financial stability and growth? If so, call MSI right now at the number on this site. We won’t promise instant results because you and I both know that’s not how things work in the modern marketplace.
But if you want a company that’s built to thrive in any economy, and in spite of what Google does with their updates or in spite of whether Facebook is taken over by the next big thing in social media, we need to talk.
Remember, if you start building equity right now, you’ll thank yourself by this time next year. Or, you can stay stuck trying to scratch a living off of the traffic that you’re getting today. Which do you think will help you build the kind of business you set out to build in the first place?
Call MSI now, and let’s talk change the future of your business.