SEO – always traffic never just rankings!

april seo tipsThe challenge is that 60% people use the key word ‘watches’ to search on and this is the main focus for optimisation. Currently listed on page three using this term, the objective for this brief is to move the listing to page 2 – Please quote based on meeting this objective.

This was the request I received last week from a new prospective client, the site offers watches, but specifically aimed at the sports market. It threw up some interesting issues because, quite simply, it is not a brief I am prepared to take on! On the other hand, I find it extremely difficult to say no, especially when this is a prestigious site and one with plenty of SEO potential.

My problem is that SEO should be all about attracting qualified traffic to a site, not about chasing rankings. The two are not entirely unrelated of course, but neither are they synonymous. So this was the approach I took…………

Many thanks for inviting me to provide a quote to meet the above objective. However I would like to suggest a slightly different approach as in my experience better results are obtained by focussing on developing organic search engine visibility across as wide a range of keywords as possible, rather than concentrating all resources on one, or a very few, generic keywords. In other words, focus on generating high quality relevant traffic, rather than focusing on rankings.

The rationale behind this approach is as follows:

  • The keywords (phrases) that people use in search engines are incredibly varied, and the best converting keyword are generally the most specific – the so called long tail search. So a search for ‘watches for deep sea diving’ is much more likely to result in a sale than one for ‘watches’ where the searcher may just be looking to see what is available compared with the first searcher who is likely to be ready to buy once he finds exactly what he is looking for.
  • Google (and all the other engines) use the number of visitors to a site as one of the 200 or so parameters used to determine which sites rank where. So in order to rank on page 1 for sunglasses, it will be necessary to have a very active site – this excludes PPC activity – and the only way of doing this is to have good rankings but good rankings only develop with traffic. The solution to this conundrum is to develop a wide range of rankings for long tail keywords. This will bring in high quality traffic likely to convert and in doing so help to develop rankings for the more competitive, generic terms such as ‘watches’
  • Google can and does change its algorithm without notice and certainly without any explanation. The wider the range of good rankings a site has, the less vulnerable it is to changes in these algorithms. This also means that it is not possible to guarantee results in the organic listings. Payment on results is an option, though it tends not to be as straightforward as it at first may seem.
  • Targeting long tail keywords is the best use of of SEO resources.

I then continued the quote in the normal way with an outline of expected outcomes, and details of initial and ongoing work that I felt the site needed.

I got the job!The moral of this story? A large part of SEO is about educating the client and that can begin well before you even start working for them.

And yes, the client came back very quickly, could see the sense behind my approach and we are currently discussing how we can go forward.

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