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Focus Your SEO More on Revenue

Posted March 29th, 2011 by Andrew Goodman

To this day, many SEO’s are over-focused on keyword rank, to the exclusion of other analytics. Measures of effectiveness of organic site visitors — especially revenue conversions — should take up much more of your mental bandwidth in discussing your site’s SEO, especially if it’s an ecommerce site.

It can be tempting to cater to what search engines and users “really” want in many situations — information, resources, tools, tips, widgets, templates, and general expressions of your giving nature and good citizen-hood. Logically, this makes sense. You can often rank well using these methods. Resources can act as linkbait.

But what happens when you log into your Analytics and sort through the top 500 search referral terms, sorted by clicks? Then do the same, sorting by revenue? Go back 6, 12, or 24 months.

You may find something shocking. Your “resource” area and your “free widget” that are responsible for all that attention and traffic may be generating a big fat goose egg in terms of sales.

You console yourself with the indirect effect. With the brand boost. Because someone’s got your free widget or PDF on their desktop, the sales cycle will churn slowly, they will like you, and eventually come back and buy something.

But what do the numbers say? Sure, it may be hard to attribute perfectly when someone’s buying from you 12-18 months down the road. But you know what? Some analytics packages can attribute those conversions even which such a long time lag. If you put them all together and the result is still zero, then it’s close enough to zero to be telling you something. The “helpful information” doesn’t convert!

Meanwhile, littered throughout your other stats are incredibly high-converting, consistent revenue search referral queries married to product and product category landing pages. It’s harder to get these to rank, but not impossible. The search volumes are lower, so you can’t brag about your traffic. All you do is make money.

This is not an uncommon scenario.

Have you been assuming that your informational and resource-offering outreach efforts have been a great SEO strategy that will convert to revenue “indirectly, somehow,” because “you hear a lot of great things from people about them”?

In the end it may be helpful to remind yourself that as an online business, you are either a resource, or a store. Granted, maybe you’re really a bit of both. And sure, it might make sense to delight customers, gain positive PR (public relations), and pump up your stats by offering some resources. But don’t kid yourself too much: the store parts relate tightly to purchase intent, and so often, the resource parts bear little or no relationship to purchase intent.

For starters, stop sorting your stats in order of clicks. And care about rank reports only if you’re pulling up revenue reports at the same time.

4 Responses to “Focus Your SEO More on Revenue”

  1. Richard says:

    A Timely Article, For Me

    Yesterday, as my website hit a new visitor record, I made enough money to order a nice glass of wine at dinner tonite for my wife.

    Eleven months ago, my website had 50 visitors. This month, over 2000.

    I’ve spent a lot of time monitoring Google Analytics, being encouraged that my 50 articles have been indexed and are bringing in traffic. But my “practice blog” now has enough visitors for me to wonder if it’s monetarily worth the effort.

    “In the end it may be helpful to remind yourself that as an online business, you are either a resource, or a store.”

    It’s time for me to migrate from being simply a resource to becoming a store that provides a valuable service.

    Thanks for your article.

  2. aaron wall says:

    Helpful information (properly formatted & promoted) –> link equity –> whole site ranks better. (Even when the analytics say it was a goose egg!)

  3. Aaron, the explanation is sound at a high level. Reputation leads to things like link equity and site-wide authority. Fair enough. SEO’s have been hanging their hat on this too heavily in my opinion, however. At some point business has to happen. Also, many businesses are ill-equipped to change their spots from vendor to “resource”.

  4. aaron wall says:

    The typical lack of resourcefulness of such businesses is precisely why they make it so profitable to start off as “resource” and then bolt on the business pieces over time. :D

    Every positive has a negative, and the opposite is also true.

    If one model becomes less profitable then it likely increases the opportunity for other models, IMHO.


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