SEO Expectations vs. Reality
Used by Google to Rank Websites
If you do not have extensive knowledge in search engine optimization, then you likely have at least a simple understanding of the basics. It’s plausible that you have acquired a few expectations about what SEO can do for your website and business.
SEO does not solely encompass chasing high rankings on Google. Other important goals of SEO include generating relevant traffic, turning said traffic into conversions, nurturing existing leads, and ultimately increasing revenue. We will outline these SEO goals, highlighting the differences between common SEO expectations, and the harsh but true reality.
Ranking highly in search engines is the predominant goal of effective SEO practices. It is common for individuals with minimal SEO experience to believe achieving a high SERP (search engine results page) ranking is simple; that it is merely tweaking their website, and watching their position rank in a top three spot overnight for relevant keywords.
Unfortunately, high rankings can rarely be obtained in such a small amount of time—especially with minimal effort put into SEO. For example, conducting extensive keyword research is an absolute necessity if you want your website to rank highly for specific words and phrases. Keywords research is not as easy as typing words relevant to your niche in Google’s search bar and identifying what suggestions appear first.
There are various software programs that allow you to conduct pinpoint research based on traffic, difficulty, and more. Investing in one of these platforms is highly recommended, if not essential for ranking highly on search engines. SEMrush and Moz are highly regarded for their keyword research functionalities—the SEO software allows you to conduct keyword research on your competitors, so you can analyze what they are ranking for, their current and past positions, and which specific pages are delivering high rankings.
It is important to note that keyword research alone will not deliver high rankings to your pages. This must be combined with backlinking, internal linking, website health auditing, and page speed optimization in order to achieve the highest potential rankings.
It is a common expectation that once your website starts ranking highly in search engines, a surplus of traffic will start visiting your pages and viewing your content. This is only true however, if your titles and meta descriptions are optimized to attract clicks. A high-quality title should show searchers that your link is relevant to what they searched for.
Imagine you are ranking for the phrase, “puppies for sale California.” You should thereby not have a title such as “cute puppy photos” because it is not relevant to the searcher’s obvious intent. Meta descriptions should briefly outline the value searchers will obtain if they click your link. They should entice searchers to want to learn more, rather than continuing to browse the SERPs.
It is actually unwise to view the relationship between traffic and conversions as always correlated. Consider this example: You own an E-commerce website that sells custom iPhone cases. You practice effective SEO techniques and manage to rank a purchase-oriented landing page in the top 10 on Google for the phrase “what is the best case for iPhone.” This may seem like a great key phrase to rank for, but it is important to consider searcher intent. It is likely that an individual searching for this on Google is merely trying to obtain information on which iPhone case is most durable, visually appealing, etc. so that they can order it on Amazon or at a brick and mortar store. Instances like these can lead to high volumes of traffic, but few conversions.
The importance of tracking conversions is another commonly misunderstood element in the world of SEO. Many website owners do not have any conversion tracking system in place. Not only should you be tracking how many conversions you are acquiring, but you should also be classifying them into individual categories—are they newsletter sign ups, or phone calls? The next step is to measure and track who, when, where, and how users convert on your website.
Most people looking to increase sales agree that lead nurturing is a good practice to implement. However, these same people tend to value spending their time and effort creating additional new leads rather than nurturing existing ones.
While lead generation is an essential part of your digital marketing plan, lead nurturing cannot be ignored if you are aiming to increase conversions. It can be done through email, SMS text messages, phone calls, retargeted ads, and more. It’s easy to picture the lead nurturing process as being extremely time-consuming. On the contrary, it is one of the most simple and quick components of any sales funnel if done correctly. There are countless lead nurturing programs that automate nearly everything.
Whether you send communications manually or through automation, the most important thing to remember is to properly segment your leads. This ensures they are receiving a high value, well-targeted message. For example, you can set up your sales funnel so that when someone adds something to their online shopping cart but then abandons it, they receive a reminder email several hours later. Perhaps someone fills out a phone number inquiry form for a product or service you are trying to sell. Configure an alert system so you can contact them while they are still in the “buying mode.”
All in all, lead nurturing is one of the most frequently ignored sales funnel aspects—get ahead of the competition by utilizing it’s potential.
What is the overarching goal of practicing effective search engine optimization? Increasing profit through enlargement of sales volume. The best way to develop an SEO strategy is to incorporate every step of the full SEO funnel. For example, rankings mean nothing without traffic and conversions mean nothing without revenue.
In an ideal marketing ROI world, for every dollar you put into your marketing budget, you reap more than a dollar in profit. If you hire an SEO agency to optimize your website to rank higher on search engines, generate more traffic, create more leads and conversions, etc. then you are likely expecting to make that money back through the following theoretical uptick in sales. In reality, this takes time. Large upfront marketing expenses such as a full-scale website redesign can take many months, if not years to generate an increase in sales that makes the long-term investment a successful one.
The good news is that after this time has passed, the effective SEO implementation will compound on itself and generate more revenue than if you had ignored the marketing investment; long story short, marketing ROI will increase as time goes on, so it is important to be patient.
It is important to remember that SEO is not an easy practice that can be picked up in a matter of hours, let alone days. Search engine optimization revolves around an environment that is constantly changing with frequent algorithm updates.
SunCity Advising specializes in creating SEO strategies that revolve around growth, relevant traffic, and maximizing conversions. Please feel free to reach out to our team with any questions regarding SEO.
Grayson Turley is an SEO specialist with an emphasis on local ranking and page speed optimization. With a background in both marketing and finance, Grayson has increased marketing ROI for many satisfied clients. SunCity Advising specializes in developing high performing websites, including services in SEO, paid media advertising, social media, email marketing and other digital marketing solutions.
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