Imagine investing time, money, and resources in search engine optimization (SEO). Online competitive intelligence. Technical SEO. Mobile usability. Keyword research. Site architecture. Internal linking. Content development. Content amplification. PR, sharing, and external links. You get the picture.
This is all great for your brand, right?
But what happens if people land on your site and don’t like it? What happens if your site frustrates them? Or if they just don’t see the value? What happens if you lose them as a prospect because it’s such a poor experience?
In that case, driving traffic may be one of the worst things for you to do for the success of your brand. The more traffic you drive, the more damage you do to the brand. In this type of situation, you need to fix the experience before you focus on SEO.
A mediocre experience leads to mediocre results. Bad experience leads to bad results. Too often, traffic growth is looked at in a silo. It’s someone’s job or it’s the agency’s job, without taking into account a more holistic view of the business and a more integrated strategy. To generate maximum leads or revenue from your SEO initiatives, you must ensure a superior experience on your website. This is critical to unleashing business growth and driving your company’s success.
The Optimization of Pasta
Years ago, I took a phone call from a pasta brand. The marketing team was interested in SEO and requested a proposal. I asked for access to the brand’s website analytics so that we could have a deeper understanding of the site’s strengths and weaknesses, helping to inform our proposal.
Although I liked the people I spoke with at the brand, what I found in the web analytics was something no sane marketer could like. In digging deeper and deeper into the numbers, I realized that almost every visitor to its website would leave immediately upon landing on the site – the visitors were not going beyond a single page.
I also noticed that the brand had made a large investment in videos. Although it included them throughout the site, visitors were not sitting through them. The videos were boring. Really boring. The website experience was bad. The site’s engagement metrics were in the toilet. Ugh!
If we came back with a traditional SEO plan, it would have driven many more people to this negative experience – in other words, the brand would have been investing its money in a plan to turn people off. Not just this time, but for years to come.
Is that really how the brand should be investing its marketing dollars?
Instead of submitting a standard SEO proposal, we instructed the brand to transform the marketing message and fix the brand experience. At the time, fragmentation of the family was a hot topic in the media. As an Italian company, the brand had a great deal of authenticity as a pasta manufacturer. We proposed that the brand focus on bringing the family back to the dinner table.
By upgrading the website and launching a campaign fully committed to making meals meaningful and bringing the family together again, the brand could engage more deeply with its audience.
And SEO? We would build SEO into the DNA of a redesigned website as well as a new dedicated microsite and optimize everything throughout the campaign for greater visibility.
The brand loved the idea and together with its other agencies, we launched the new campaign. The results? Traffic increased significantly. More importantly, revenue increased and the brand now had a platform on which to build a powerful relationship with its audience for years to come.
Not only that, but the brand was now stronger and meant something to consumers, benefitting all forms of marketing in which the company engaged. Had we instead simply optimized the existing site and drove more traffic to it, the brand would have suffered.
Lost in a Sea of Sameness
Even if your website is not as bad of an experience as the pasta brand’s site had been, your differentiation can play just as significant a role in the success of your SEO efforts. The other day, for example, I was searching for plane tickets to Chicago. I was struck by the lack of differentiation of what I found online. The websites all felt the same. The lack of thought and creativity in the sites was numbingly obvious. In the end, I really didn’t care from which site I purchased my tickets.
Too many times buyers are faced with a sea of sameness.
SEO without an effective brand strategy is like playing marketing roulette. Without clear positioning and differentiation, and without a message that cuts through the noise and evokes an emotional reaction, your visitors will travel down the purchase path only so far. In this scenario, the returns on your SEO are going to be limited. Make sure your uniqueness is unequivocally clear to site visitors before you start driving traffic growth.
Advertising for the Competition
Do you have any competitors with a cool website? A site that draws visitors in and engages them on a deeper level? A website that makes them want to tell their friends or associates about it?
Competing against a website like that when your own site is frustrating or boring is asking for trouble, no matter how much SEO traffic you’re driving. Your site may accurately describe your offering, but does it get your audience fired up and excited about your brand? Does your site get them thinking about how they’ll feel after making the purchase?
It’s rare now for a buyer to not check out at least a handful of options before making a purchase. If your competitors are out-marketing you with their websites, in essence your website will act as an advertisement for the competition. Ouch!
Superior UX, Superior SEO
Driving organic traffic through SEO is a fantastic part of the marketing mix. However, remember, it doesn’t matter how good your SEO rankings are if your UX is subpar. Before investing in SEO to drive traffic, ensure that your user experience is superior. That way, you’ll be able to reap the business rewards from all of that time, effort, and investment.
To unleash revenue growth, focus on BOTH – be the best at SEO and the best at UX.