Does a number-one search engine ranking equal more revenue?
Several variables must be considered, but the base answer to that question is a resounding "maybe!" Rankings are great, but if your Web site isn't set up to help those visitors convert, you're just standing there next to the horse waiting for it to actually drink some water.
We look at online marketing somewhat like building a pyramid, starting with a large foundation, with increasingly smaller pieces as you get closer to the top.
If we think about our pyramid as being somewhat cyclical, you can see how after things are built, you test your way back down the sides -- making sure you're doing what your audience tells you is right in each segment.
Know Your Audience
The foundation for getting people to book online is to give them what they want, where they want it, and show them how to get it. It sounds simple, but many variables could stand in your way. You need to know what your audience is looking to buy, and how they like to buy.
Figuring out your customers' demographics isn't hard, but it's time consuming. In the long run, you'll appreciate what you know about them, and they'll appreciate you, so take the time to get to know them.
Know Your Product
Consider the things people need to also buy to make the product work or function. What level of product is it? Is there a nicer one or a cheaper one? What does this product work best for? Know this info and share it with your shoppers.
Scoping out your competition is probably one of the most effective ways to sell the same product -- only better and more successfully. Navigate their Web site. See what they're doing right and wrong.
Free Market Research
I like to have my mom navigate client and competitor Web sites for me while I observe her. Mom is pretty computer savvy, but is a representative demographic of an older generation that doesn't quite get all of the nuances of how to shop, buy, and research online.
I tell her the goal, whether it's to book a vacation or buy a CD, and send her to the Web site to figure out how to do it. I silently observe her actions, her frustrations, and her enjoyment level of the shopping experience. When she's done, I ask her to tell me how she would grade the Web site and I go from there.
I then have my 12-year-old search for or buy the same item. As you can imagine, the differences are astounding. The 12-year-old has zero patience, and doesn't read a thing – whereas mom will research and search for the best price and value before buying. This is invaluable information for making sure the search, and traffic, ends in a sale.
Can You Lead a Horse to Water?
So if your site is set up to convert, and if people can find what they're looking for and can easily buy it, then a number-one ranking will make you more money.
Visitors are only as valuable as the website that converts them. If the website doesn't convert, then the visitors are worth nothing.
Can you lead the horse to an empty trough and expect them to drink? That doesn't really work, so fill up the trough first!
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!