Gaining good positioning with the search engines is one channel for increasing your online business — but it’s not an end in itself. Your ultimate goal isn’t to increase traffic, but to increase sales, and thereby, profit margins. Will Reynolds of SEO consulting firm Thinkseer.com, sheds some light on common misconceptions regarding search engine optimization:
Myth Number One: I have to submit my site to the engines to get ranked.
Truth: The search engines have advanced to the point that they’ll find you on their own. You’re wasting money by paying a service to submit your name to the engines.
Myth Number Two: I need to optimize for all the engines.
Truth: There are only three search engines that matter: Google, Yahoo! and MSN — in that order. Google is by far the most important in terms of driving traffic. Nearly every other search engine feeds off one of these three, so if you do well in any of them, you’ll show up in the other engines as well.
Myth Number Three: If I use pay-per-click ads, I don’t have to worry about natural rankings.
Truth: Up to 75 percent of users don’t even consider clicking on the paid ads, so if you rely solely on pay-per-click for your business, you’re losing out on a huge section of the market.
Myth Number Four: My goal should be to rank well for all related keywords.
Truth: Certain words and phrases produce better results than others. You need to look at your ROI and your conversion rates, as well as your rankings. Says Reynolds, “I’ve seen sites rank highly for terms that result in no conversions. That ranking might be getting you some exposure, but it’s not getting you sales.” Analyze your keyword campaigns so you can see what your expenditures are doing for your bottom line.
Myth Number Five: My web design doesn’t affect my positioning.
Truth: Your web architecture has a tremendous impact on the search engines’ ability to read your site’s content and, therefore, on your rankings. For instance, Google assigns the most importance to your homepage. If you have a flash intro, the search engines can’t read it — they see a blank page. If there’s no Skip Intro button that allows the search engines to get past that, the rest of your site’s content may not even get indexed. Bringing in a consultant to work with your web developer may help you avoid navigation and structural pitfalls that make your website difficult for the engines to read.
Myth Number Six: Increasing my traffic will automatically increase my conversions.
Truth: Your website must be user friendly as well as search engine friendly. Advises Reynolds, “Don’t butcher your site for the search engines, in terms of the size of the text and the verbiage… it won’t read well or connect with your customers. You’re not going to look credible, and people aren’t going to feel comfortable purchasing on your site or giving you their information online.” You may rise in the rankings, but it will cost you in conversions.
Increasing your website’s visitors through search engine optimization is important for your eBiz — and it’s equally important to make sure your site’s structure, design and navigation are conducive to converting those visitors when they land.