Gaining Website Balance

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I get concerned when how-to articles cite a single design, SEO, copy-writing or conversion strategy as the golden key to greater website sales. It’s not that these individual strategies or the advice are faulty – most offer exceptional opportunity to improve sales results. No – the problem is the false perception they create among web businesses seeking to increase their website sales. Strategies, even best practices – are not one-size-fits-all solutions. Achieving greater website sales requires a balancing act of many different strategies.

For example, I have worked with clients that spent substantial resources on optimizing their websites for natural search rankings. They hired a talented SEO copywriter and SEO firm to work their magic and they successfully attained strong natural rankings. For one specific client, the SEO firm drove up their volume to the tune of about 120,000 unique visitors a month. Great news – right?

Well kind of. The website was altered so drastically for SEO purposes that it lost sight of the customer experience (as partially measured by the sales conversion rate). The important fact forgotten in the rush to improve search engine rankings was that human beings (those visitors) require compelling copy, relevant and quality images and intuitive navigation (overall usability) to convert from visitors to buyers. On average, of the 120,000 visitors per month the client realized, only about 0.4% ever converted to buyers. The client overweighted the balance in favor of SEO at the detriment of conversion. After identifying this outcome, the client hired my company to swing the balance closer to equilibrium – a tougher task while concentrating on not hurting the strong natural search rankings the client was proud of.

Most web businesses would probably be happy to deal with a problem like this versus having too few monthly visitors. The primary opportunity is in understanding that operating a successful web business requires a balancing act involving multiple factors across all four layers of the online customer experience: (1) technology, (2) design, (3) usability and (4) influence. Implementing any strategy with an awareness of how other factors may be affected and thinking through how best to balance out the different variables while achieving your objective will improve overall performance.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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2 Comments

  1. Good point, Kevin. You should be careful and monitor closely what your SEO company is doing with your website. A good company will increase traffic without hurting your conversions. The number of visitors means nothing if they are not converting.

  2. Also, it's just not about placing too much emphasis on SEO. Many web businesses place too much priority on branding by using large quantities of high-quality images and/or flash which offsets the balance of gaining natural search rankings and converting visitor-to-buyers. Same challenges exist if a website focuses too much on technology like AJAX. All facets must be working towards balance to achieve higher performance.