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Why ranking No.1 in Google is not what you actually want.

Phil Roberts - Thursday, November 10, 2011

These days it seems every business wants to be number 1 in Google. If you are one of them, here’s why you’re missing half the point.

When I ask business owners about their online goals, the most common answer is “to appear first in the Search Engine Rankings”. They go on to say how important ranking number 1 in Google is to their business and how this must be their first priority. When I ask about the second priority, typically I’m met with silence. This may be evidence of an increasingly skewed perception.

If you type "How to rank number 1 in Google" into Google, there are 452 Million page results. Clearly it is important to many of us, if not all of us. However, I'm concerned that the perception of a premier search ranking is increasingly regarded as a silver bullet – a panacea to cure all business sales woes. While I can only agree with developing a strategic plan around Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I feel that this common aspiration only deals with half the equation.

Why a top Google ranking is not the whole solution

Imagine you are a café owner at a railway station. A half-full train pulls in and it’s passengers disembark. They walk off the platform and a few notice your café and step inside. At the counter they find the food does not look very appetizing, the menu prices are confusing and you seem more interested in listening to your iPod than serving them. Most of them leave, but a few make a purchase.

Later another train rolls-in, this time it is packed full. It empties and hundreds shuffle past your café, this time twice as many enter. They have the same poor customer experience and again most leave in frustration. A few persistent ones do actually buy something.

What I'm getting at is that although the full train brought double the visitors, you did not make double the sales. In my experience this is what most businesses are doing right now: focusing on driving traffic while forgetting to look at the more vital areas of persuasion and conversion.

Why focus on more traffic when you need more sales?

Recently, I was presented with statistics from the website of a local business: in one month this site had 3,252 unique visitors – impressive indeed.

However, other numbers told a different story. Out of 3,252 visitors only 20 made an enquiry and of those 20, only 3 turned into actual sales. That’s an appalling ratio by any measure.

Given the company were paying $11.60 per click for Google Adwords, this campaign was sucking money out of the business without any significant returns.

I explained that 100% focus on Search Engine Rankings brings only traffic not sales. My advice was to stop running this Adwords campaign immediately and to use the money to:

  • Refine the website structure for a clearer conversion pathway
  • Provide better signposting to get prospects to complete the business goals
  • Get a professional copywriter to rewrite the entire site content

How to increase your enquiries and profits in just 7 hours

Having lots of visitors but few enquiries is a clear indication that the words on your website are not working hard enough to bring you the sale. Writing effective web copy can make a substantial difference to this: you need selling words that spark interest and compel visitors to act.

If you’ve got a 10 page website, a professional copywriter should be able to rewrite it in about a day. Plus you'll get the value of their expertise. This will ensure your key selling messages are conveyed with optimum effect. You'll be surprised at the increase in online enquiries.

From here the number of sales is really down to you and how many of these prospects you can convert into customers. More enquiries means more potential sales and therefore more profit. So pay the copywriter and let them do their job!

5 reasons why you should never write your own website copy

If you’re still thinking you don't need a copywriter because you are great at writing, I say think again. You are not the best person to write the content because:

  • You are too close to your business for an objective view of what's important to your prospects.
  • You’ll use industry jargon, acronyms or other terminology that most customers don’t understand.
  • You’ll talk about your company and how great you are.
  • You are time-poor so you'll copy and paste paragraphs rather than write.
  • Writing information is not the same as writing compelling sales copy.

A better balance of both persuasion and traffic

While I don't disagree with the benefits of a high search ranking, ideally these efforts should be coupled with a focus on improving existing content. Web content can be changed quickly and more affordably than attempts to summit the Google Rankings. (about $800 one-off cost compared to up to $1200 per month). This focus on creating compelling content should be your first priority and bringing in hundreds more visitors should be your second.

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