Every so often a potential client with a poorly converting website asks for search engine optimization (SEO) services. We want to give people what they ask for, but we know that finding a way to bring more visitors to a poorly converting website isn’t going to help. Sometimes the problem isn’t that people aren’t finding your website on the search engines – it’s that the website doesn’t work.
Let’s say that you have a website that sells (or at least tries to sell) diesel truck parts. Let’s also say that your website isn’t generating a lot of sales. You decide to contact some SEO companies to see if they can help you get more visitors, the assumption being that more visitors will equal more sales. But more visitors don’t always equal more sales!
If a website is a poor performer, adding an extra 10,000 visitors a month isn’t going to have a big impact on sales. Improving a website’s performance, however, could make a big difference right away. Here’s how you can figure out if you need SEO or if you should focus on improving your website first:
1. Is your website working? Can you conclusively say that your site is generating sales? Google Analytics and call tracking go a long ways toward establishing:
- If your website works at converting visitors to leads/customers.
- How well your website works at getting visitors to fill out a contact form or put a product in their cart.
Without analytics and/or call tracking that shows your site is effective, it’s very hard to justify any investment in SEO.
2. Is your site working better or worse than average? The average conversion rate for a website visitor is 1-2% (for every 100 visitors, 1 or 2 will buy your product and/or contact you about your services). This average is low – some website owners have conversion rates as high as 25% (phenomenal), while others have profitable websites that only convert 0.1% of their visitors.
In our experience, conversion rates of 2% or more are a pretty good baseline. If your site is doing better, you’re probably doing things right. If your site is doing worse, chances are good that you have some questions to ask.
NOTE: If you operate a profitable website and your conversion rates are really low, you might want to re-define your idea of a conversion.
3. Have you tested your website? A great way to determine if your website “works” is to engage in some simple testing:
- Pay-per-click advertising: PPC will help you determine if your website is working (just make sure you have tracking in place). If you’ve paid for 1,000 visitors and you’ve only generated 2 orders, you know that your site is converting poorly. On the other hand, 100 orders from 1,000 visits is proof you’ve got a winning formula.
- User testing: Try paying professional website evaluators to look at and critique your website. While this may not be hard-core data, it’s often insightful – check out https://userbob.com/ or https://www.usertesting.com/plans (choose individual plan) for more info.
4. Which offers a better return – improving your website or generating more visitors? While the answer to this question will be different for every website owner, it’s important to ask the question. If your site is already getting a healthy number of visitors, it might be more profitable to focus on improving the performance of your website before you worry about SEO.
Pro Tip – You Can Do Both SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
In this article, we’ve presented SEO as an alternative to working on improving your website. But there’s no reason that you can’t work on both. At Spork, we offer both SEO and CRO as part of our standard package of services.
However, if there’s a budget constraint and you have to choose between a) spending money on improving your website or b) spending money on getting more visitors to your site, we hope this guide will be useful.