In the history of digital marketing, there has probably been no other three-letter acronym with the power to invoke so many four-letter words. SEO – short for Search Engine Optimization, has become the frustrating yet valuable go-to channel to help a company succeed. As search algorithms change, digital marketers scramble to catch up with the latest update. Any SEO practitioner will tell you: it’s one heck of a Google-go-round.
But staying on the ride isn’t the only objective. The best digital marketers recognize that ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) are only part of the plan. In fact, the ultimate prize is revenue.
Effective SEO means optimizing for sales, not just SERPs. Here are three of the most critical SEO mistakes that might be costing you revenue.
Mistake #1: You measure the wrong metrics
In an age of big data, it’s easy to get distracted by all the analytics tools and information at your disposal. This makes tracking ROI from organic search particularly difficult. The modern marketer must keep tabs on numerous data points, but they don’t tell you the full story.
For example, organic keyword theme ranking may help build brand awareness, but doesn’t correlate to sales by itself. The same can be said for organic traffic volume. Other surface-level SEO metrics include:
- Organic traffic to preferred landing pages
- Percentage of keywords ranking for preferred landing pages
- Conversion volume and CVR
While these metrics are essential to evaluating SEO campaign performance, they are not a justification of organic search investment. By primarily focusing on the data points above, you will only get a partial picture of your effectiveness. That’s not the kind of picture senior leadership likes to see. To truly justify marketing dollars, you need to report on revenue. Measure the sales pipeline opportunity and closed-won revenue generated from SEO.
To do this, establish a closed-loop reporting system within your CRM system. Closed-loop reporting will allow you to focus on your best sources for leads, often those that demonstrate the best conversion rate to customer. It will also allow you to track revenue from organic search.
Avoid the mistake of getting lost in a sea of data. Step foot on solid ground where revenue is the only metric that matters.
Mistake #2: You don’t create enough supporting content
In the early days of SEO it was enough for a business to repeat a few keywords on a page or company blog post. Those days are ancient history. Content has exploded on the web, making what you publish an important part of building relevance and authority for your brand.
In February 2011, Google introduced its Panda update to weed out web sites with thin or “shallow” content. The results were higher quality information for people who needed their questions answered and problems solved.
If you want to be valued by both search engines and your prospects, create supporting content – and create a lot of it. Make sure your content is well-written and created with the end user in mind.
Quality content tends to run longer, so focus on creating posts that are between 700 and 1000 words or more. Particularly long posts can also be broken up into a special series format. Link the connected posts to one another to encourage your reader to click through to other pages. Search engines value this kind of deep engagement with a web site, as it confirms relevance of the search result.
Don’t make the mistake of writing solely for a search engine. Silicon chips and robot logic are important, but it’s the carbon creature that contributes to your bottom line. It’s critical to have a very human understanding of reading habits on the web. In this time-crunched world of information overload, most visitors scan first and read later. Quality content means making sure your articles are formatted for impatient eyes. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and eye-catching subheadlines to help the information flow.
Lastly, invest your efforts in creating a solid content marketing plan. This will help you produce the kind of consistent and high-quality content that search engines love to rank.
Mistake #3: You fail to integrate SEO best practices into your Content Management System
High-quality content will really shine if it’s properly optimized. That can only happen if your CMS has certain key capabilities. Below is a discussion of those capabilities, as well as some common SEO practices to use within your CMS.
First, make sure your CMS has features that let you control your URL. Poorly structured URLs can hinder your content from being found. One problem includes the use of dynamic URLs. Dynamic URLs contain characters such as “?”, “&”, “%”, “+”, “=”, “$”, “cgi-bin”, and “.cgi” instead of keywords.
To fix this, make sure your CMS has the ability to edit URLs and update dynamic URLs to static. This will allow you to assign search-friendly keywords to your URL structure.
Another important element you’ll want to control is how your titles and descriptions appear in SERPs. SERPs are the entry point to your web site,but sometimes ranking on the first page isn’t enough. You also need to optimize the search snippet with well-written language to beat out competition on the page. If you do not assign a description, Google will select the description it thinks best, giving you less control over your brand’s message.
To avoid this, make sure your content management system allows you to customize your search engine snippet. CMS features should include the ability to add or page titles and meta descriptions.
We all know analytics are crucial, so make sure your CMS features include the ability to add Google webmaster and analytics code on each page. As analytics indicate the most popular content on your website, it’s an essential part of building an effective content marketing strategy.
Other CMS capabilities should include the ability to edit alt tags for image optimization, the ability to edit canonical tags to help prevent duplicate content, and finally the ability to add or edit the XML sitemap to help search engines crawl your website.
SEO mistakes can be fixed. With the right systems in place, your marketing department can start ranking high for the only metric that matters – revenue.
For a full list of SEO mistakes costing you revenue, watch the recording of our “5 SEO Mistakes Costing You Revenue” webinar.