Advertising online is a more bullish, proactive approach to getting traffic online than relying on activities designed to boost your position in the search engines. And I like that. That isn’t to say that doing search engine optimisation (SEO) activities, or as James Tuckerman from Anthill described it in a recent presentation as making your site more ‘findable’, isn’t worth pursuing. It’s a good medium to long term strategy for every business.
But the key problems with it is that it can take time to see results and you need to pick which keywords you want your site to rank well for before you know if those are your ‘money’ keywords.
Suppose your business is a flooring company and you pick ‘carpet flooring’ as one of the keywords you want to optimise your site for. It has reasonable search volume and doesn’t have a lot of competition so you feel you can rank well for it. Decision made, you structure your internal site setup around that particular term and you write and distribute articles with that term hyperlinked back to your site.
Then after a few weeks or months as your rankings for that keyword rise in the search engines, you find that you are starting to see traffic flow in but your sales haven’t increased in line with the increase in site visitors. Not only are you not selling more but the number of enquiries about your product hasn’t improved either.
Perhaps it’s the website, it doesn’t flow well and the sales copy isn’t compelling. You decide to overhaul your entire site and after a few months of tweaking and testing, the new site is ready to go. You upload it and wait for the enquiries to pour in.
But it doesn’t happen. Sure, you’ve had a few queries but it’s really just a slow trickle, nothing that comes close to justifying the time and money you’ve invested into the website. You’re ready to give up but you have this feeling that it can work if you could just figure it out.
A friend suggests you try online advertising. You’re reluctant because it means spending more money and you don’t know how it works. But you decide to give it a try anyway.
You set up a campaign in Google Adwords. Turns out that ‘carpet flooring’ gets a lot of traffic but doesn’t result in many conversions. However, you find through testing and traffic that ‘get new carpet’ is a winner. It’s not a keyword that has a lot of search traffic but visitors that enter that keyword into the search engines are in a different stage of the buying cycle to those just browsing ‘carpet flooring’.
You’ve also found through split-testing different ad copy that visitors are interested in service rather than price alone. They want to know that you’re going to do a good job, are accurate and timely and offer value for money.
Although you’ve spent money to advertise online which has added to your overall costs, you’ve bought valuable data on what key phrases convert for your business and what marketing message resonates with your target market. You can now use that information to make your business more findable, expand your advertising campaign to find other related keywords and discover new ones, and overhaul your site and offline marketing materials to incorporate the learnings you’ve made online.
The end result is a business that is more in tune with what customers want and a dramatically improved ROI not just online but across the entire business.
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