Search marketers are like waiters. I have to admit that I didn’t come up with the brilliant and spot-on simile myself; Dave Ragals over at Search Engine Watch did in this article I read a few weeks ago. I even left a comment saying I was going to have to steal his simile for my own use, so here it goes! In his article, Dave makes this great point about search marketers;
We can answer questions about the menu, help our customers order the right meal based on their taste, make sure it’s delivered properly and even “dynamically” generate offerings for those with particular tastes or needs. But we don’t actually cook the meal. When the dish comes out from the kitchen and the steak is overdone, the portion way too small or the plate full of grease, we’re the ones who get shafted with a crummy tip.
This sentiment echoes many conversations I’ve had with clients, usually after they are few months into their SEO campaign. From an SEO perspective everything looks good—traffic is slowing creeping up, the newly targeted keywords are driving a few new visitors each month, the blog is seeing an increase in social shares and so forth—but the conversion rate just isn’t there. Now the purpose of SEO is to drive more targeted traffic to your site, what happens after that point is completely up to your website. I wish I could say that SEO experts didn’t have to worry about conversion rates and the bottom line, but the truth is our clients are expecting to see monetary value from their SEO investment and that means an SEO campaign needs to drive new business.
But the issue, like Dave put so elegantly in his article, is that while SEO can do everything right it can’t control the final product—your website. A great SEO campaign that envelopes content marketing and social media marketing can entice, intrigue and engage with your target audience. It can help your website get seen by the right people at the right time with the right message; it can build your online brand presence and search engine trust factor—but the best SEO campaign ever created can’t save a bad website from itself.
When someone clicks on a link they have a pre-conceived notion of where that link is going to take them based on the context they found the link in. For example, since I was talking about and quoted Dave Ragal’s article, you expect to click on that link and get sent directly to it. But what would happen if that link took a turn somewhere and instead of the article I directed you to Dave’s Twitter profile or another article he’s written? It’s still useful information but it wasn’t what you were expecting and that link doesn’t live up the promise I had made. How might that impact your opinion of me and this blog?
The same thought applies to your SEO campaign. Your content marketing, social media marketing and link building activities set up certain expectations for your audience and in order to ultimately convert them your website needs to live up to that promise. I’ve seen plenty of poorly designed, cluttered or just plain bad websites that do great SEO, but one without the other doesn’t help your bottom line. There’s an old saying in marketing that nothing kills a bad product faster than good marketing and the same holds true for SEO! If your website isn’t living up to the promise of its SEO campaign that don’t be surprised if you aren’t seeing the conversion rates you’d been hoping for. Don’t blame your SEO campaign when your website is at fault!