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Rankings vs. Traffic vs. Conversions

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about “ranking” your website. We even got a phone call yesterday from Sensis (the old Yellow Pages) promising they could get us ranked for certain search phrases if we took an ad package with them.

To put it bluntly, “ranking” is the ego side of SEO. Sure it’s great to be up there, but the goal is increased visitor traffic and sales conversion, and you might be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.

Take our business. We don’t rank on the first page for certain phrases – but often we have tried those phrases and while they may bring us traffic, they don’t bring us the kind of clients that are our core business. At present our website ranks number 3 for “eCommerce sunshine coast” but get very little traffic from that term at all – so that tells us not many people are searching for that phrase – or more accurately, we know they aren’t clicking through to our website for it. However, when they do click through, our conversion rate to an inquiry is quite high.

As the web grows and users become more search savvy, “long-tail” searches are becoming increasingly relevant – ie people are using more words in their searches to get precise results. So being on the first page for an obvious two-word phrase might not convert nearly as well as something more specific.

We analyse everything – we even look at things like whether being number 11 (top of second page of Google results) may bring you better results than number 6, for example, as it is the top of the second page, where it is more visible.

And this is where it gets costly if you are using paid advertising like AdWords. Some phrases get no traffic. Some get plenty of traffic but don’t convert to sales. Similarly, how do you know being number 3 in paid search, and therefore paying less per click, won’t bring you double the amount of leads for the same budget as being number 1?

There are a million variables, but at the end of the day you are unlikely to rank well for everything – it would be nice and we are always trying! – but you need to be focused on traffic that converts to sales.

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