During the last few years we’ve seen the “death” of just about everything in web marketing. Such claims are certainly good for a headline – and for selling various products or services to replace the thing that has just “died”.
There’s been more than enough written already about the supposed death of SEO and anyone who is following web marketing doesn’t need the same old arguments rehashed. The really smart marketers are those who think outside the narrow confines of tactics such as SEO and look at the big picture. What is it we really want to achieve?
The answer, in most cases is to sell more of our products or services via our websites. So, let’s work backwards from that objective.
Sales = traffic x conversion
To make sales, you need traffic. And once those visitors land on your website they need to take some form of desired action i.e. make an enquiry or buy something.
The objective of SEO (or what was formerly known as SEO) is to help fulfil the traffic part of the equation. There’s no question, if you can get your website to the top of Google’s search results for the right keywords, you will get a lot of valuable traffic.
Which is why the SEO industry has applied all its combined wits over many years to get one step ahead of Google’s algorithms and game the system. It’s a cat and mouse game but ultimately we’re never going to beat Google.
So the emphasis now is on producing lots of valuable content based around the relevant keywords. And there’s no doubt this strategy works to generate a steady stream of traffic.
Page 1 on Google doesn’t always mean more sales
But let’s take a step back further. Remember, what we really want is not just traffic. We want sales. And many businesses have discovered to their cost, even when they get to page one of Google for the keywords they agreed on with the SEO agency, they still don’t see a huge amount of improvement in sales.
There are various reasons for this. Their website might not be working well enough to convert the visitors into customers. Or, just as likely, the SEO company has optimised the site for the wrong keywords. Wrong in the sense that those keywords are not the ones that will bring in sales.
So what’s the answer? I believe the smart option is to always run a Google AdWords campaign BEFORE you do any SEO.
Don’t guess. Test first.
By using AdWords, you can test a wide range of keywords and phrases… and find the ones that actually convert into sales. Then you can focus your SEO efforts on those high-converting keywords. Otherwise, you’re just guessing which keywords are going to convert best. And if you guess wrong, well you’ve just sunk a lot of money for nothing.
The other thing you can test more quickly with AdWords is whether your website is optimised to convert visitors into customers. You can test different landing pages, headlines etc.
Once you get proven results with AdWords over a period of at least 3 months, then, and only then, should you start a serious SEO campaign.
SEO is not dead. It’s just much tougher than it ever used to be. And the smart way to get the get the maximum value for every dollar invested in SEO is to run AdWords first. Then you can launch your SEO campaign with a set of tested and proven keywords.