How to Increase Sales and Profits | A Simple SEO Lesson for CEOs

  

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Increase Sales Search EngineI want to share with you an understanding of how search engines and keywords really work today. It's important that we as business owners understand this - even if you already have staff handling search engine marketing for you. You need to know this so you can stop misdirecting your marketing funds and start increasing your sales and profits.

I speak with dozens of business owners every week and almost all of them have a complete misconception of how search engines drive traffic to our websites. The real problem is this misconception is causing them to lose business and spend resources on the wrong solution. It all stems from an understanding of how search worked about eight years ago. For some reason everyone seems to still hang on to that. Well... it's changed quite a bit.

Here's a story to illustrate this: One of my clients increased his web traffic from 3,000 to 12,000 visits a month, which in turn increased his sales- but only after he adopted a new understanding of how search has changed.

Increase Search Traffic

It took me six months of cajoling my client to get him to change his ways. Imagine the business he lost while waiting six months to adapt to the new reality of search engine optimization (SEO).

So what is this new reality? What's changed?

I remember when I could hire a person to do SEO work on my website and it would be effective in getting us listed for the search terms we wanted. Do you remember those times? That was about eight years ago - another lifetime in internet years.

 

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I still hear from many business owners that they'd like to be on the first page of a Google search for their main product or service - a one word or two word phrase. For example, if you sold men’s shoes you would want to be found for the search term “shoes” or “men's shoes”. Right? Wrong. Not a great strategy these days.

What’s needed to get traffic from search engines has changed quite a bit in the last two years, and has changed drastically over the last eight years. There are still some SEO companies out there, but they really can’t help you that much - unless they do content marketing aka inbound marketing. Well...there are exceptions. If your website is extremely messed up, as in “hasn’t been updated in twelve years messed up” then they probably can make an initial difference for you. But many are still practicing techniques that just don’t work anymore.

Google Search Keyword

Let’s look at what my client did with his business and how you can adopt his strategy in yours. In the interest of keeping his information confidential I'm going to pretend he was selling shoes. But it doesn’t matter if you're selling B2B or B2C, or if you're selling products or services, the principle is the same.

My client wanted to be found for the search term “men's shoes” because that's what he sells. So he pursued a content marketing strategy that involved writing two blog articles a week around “men’s shoes” with titles like “how to buy men’s shoes”, “the best men’s shoes”, “men’s shoes in NYC”, ad nauseum.

At least he was doing content marketing instead of trying to keyword stuff his website, but he was missing the bigger picture. He was battling fierce competition for a very popular keyword and spent six months before he made some headway and got some traffic from that keyword.

How Search Engines Work Today

Here is what he missed and what I want you to understand. Even though he placed #1 organically on a Google search for “men’s shoes” (remember his business wasn’t “shoes”, we are just using that to protect the guilty) this one search term would ultimately account for only a small fraction of his visits and sales.

Let me share the numbers with you. Today, he still ranks #1 for that search term but it only accounts for 2% of his traffic and about 8% of his leads. Having a term that accounts for 8% of your leads is not too shabby. But you should be asking where are the remaining 98% of his traffic and the remaining 92% of his leads coming from.

Well... I am glad you asked. Let’s look at the data.

At last count his business is found for 367 different keyword variations containing the phrase “men’s shoes” which, as I told you accounts for 8% of his leads. Now here's the big shocker he is now also found for 20,208 different keyword phrases that don’t contain “men’s shoes”. You read that correctly these phrases do not include the words “men’s shoes” AND these phrases account for 98% of his traffic and 92% of his leads. These are phrases like “brown dress shoes for wedding” “how to take care of shoes” “when to wear black shoes” etc. The list actually goes on for twenty thousand different phrases.

long tail keyword graph

Let me translate this to some B2B service examples. If you owned a computer services firm and held the #1 position for the term “network services” it would only account for about 3% of your total potential traffic. Many other terms like “finding a computer support provider” would account for at least 90% of your traffic and leads. If you sold “bookkeeping services” the bulk of your traffic and lead opportunities will come from many different search terms, like “I need a bookkeeper for a small business” not the term “bookkeeping services”

long tail keyword

In marketing geek speak we call these long-tail keywords and we call a keyword like “network services” or “men’s shoes” head keywords. I'm not going to tell you why we call them that because it will bore you to hell.

When I finally convinced my client to stop writing about the head keyword “men’s shoes” and start writing using long-tail keywords like “how to take care of your brown dress shoes” his traffic exploded. Well...it didn’t happen right away. It took some time. Actually it took the same amount of time and the same amount of blog articles that it took for him to get to the number one spot for “men’s shoes”. This is worth saying again. It took him six months to get placed for “men’s shoes” and only another six months to quadruple his traffic and explode his leads once he embraced long-tail keywords. If he had blogged with long-tail keywords first and ignored the popular head keyword, his traffic and leads would have been huge just after six months. Instead it took him a year to get there. And if he wasn’t brave enough to try what I shared with him he would have never gotten there. Kudos to him!

So... why do these long-tail keywords account for the bulk of your traffic?

The short answer is that we as search engine users have gotten more sophisticated in our searches. We no longer enter two word search terms. We enter questions, or at the very least, three word searches. We do this because we know search engines have gotten more sophisticated and the more we refine our searches the better results we get.

 

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Your Takeaway:

The first thing I want you to take away from this is this: Stop spending your resources on trying to get listed for those one or two very popular search terms in your industry. They will only bring you a very small percentage of your total potential traffic.

Your second take away is...Start viewing your company from your buyer persona’s point of view. Oh...sorry, I just dropped some marketing jargon on you (buyer persona). Look at your product or service from your ideal prospect’s point of view. How would they search for it? What problem does it solve for them? What are the features? These are the different ways that people search. Then begin creating your keyword strategy around these phrases. And be sure to create keyword phrases that have at least three or more words in them.

So... was this useful to you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Here is another great article on this topic from Neil Patel at Quick Sprout

 

Image Credits NapaneeGal  aldenchadwick