Thursday, April 9, 2009

Performance Insider: SEO Is The Center Of Performance

SEO Is The Center Of Performance

Since search engine optimization is my chosen career path, naturally it is impossible for me to understand why anyone would choose not to include SEO processes in every aspect of their Web site's/business's development. That's right. SEO enhances both the site AND the company's strategic goals and business decisions. It's the foundation of everything. Yet, despite my absolute faith, SEO continually takes a back seat to other marketing efforts, both on- and offline. Allow me to make the argument why SEO should be integral to your online strategy in tough times.


SEO brings the consumer to the forefront of all site design and business decisions. There are literally millions of web sites out there and, likely, you directly compete with thousands of them. For millions of search engine users, each one of those thousands of sites is just a click away and no matter what channel you are using to bring customers into your site, SEO fundamentals will improve the visitor experience. Want to rise to the top of the crop? Then take whatever steps necessary to ensure that your site provides some value no other site can. To get there, begin by answering a few questions:

-- Why would someone choose to visit my site over another?
-- What unique value do visitors get at my site that they can't get anywhere else?
-- Why would a visitor want to come back to my site after their first visit?
-- What would make visitors want to recommend my site to others?

All four of those questions have to do with enhancing the site's customer experience; and, yes, these questions are at the heart and soul of any good organic optimization strategy. Two of the greatest factors search engines use to rank sites are content and links. Answering the above questions will help address both.

Providing value to the customer typically means creating great, informative and unique content that helps the visitor do whatever they came to your site to do. That enhanced content also helps search engines understand what your site is about and increases your site's relevancy to a range of product or service-related search queries. With everyone's budgets tightening, shoppers want to ensure that the money they spend is spent wisely. To make that decision, they turn to search engines to help them become informed.

Do you sell dishwashers? Well, so do thousands of others, so you need to be different. Think like a shopper. What information would a person shopping for a dishwasher want? The product's features? Its repair history? Other owners' opinions? Professional reviews? Plenty of pictures? Most likely, the answer is all of the above. Does your site provide all that? If it doesn't, the visitor will have to find it elsewhere and, once they leave your site, there's a good chance they may not come back.

If shoppers can answer all their questions on your site, they are not only more likely to come back, but they will tell their friends by word-of-mouth and, hopefully, with links: thus enhancing the second most important SEO factor to increase your site's organic visibility. As more people share their positive opinions online about your site, two things happen: 1) Your visibility in the search results increases, and thus, so does your traffic 2) Your brand awareness increases. Not to mention, you will surely sell a lot more dishwashers.

Amazon didn't become "Amazon" because they sell a bunch of books. They became a household name because they built their site around providing their customers a one-of-a-kind shopper experience focused around informative content. Because visitors found the site so useful, they recommended it to others. Today, if you search for nearly any common product in a search engine, more often than not you see on the first page of results. They sell the same stuff everyone else sells, but their organic dominance is a direct result of their commitment to the customer experience and focuses on informative, unique content to help the customer make decisions.

In today's hyper-competitive Web-o-sphere, it has become increasingly challenging to dominate a target market in any niche. Integrating fundamental search engine optimization strategies will touch every part of your site's key performance indicators: organic, referral and direct load traffic, page views, time spent on the site, conversion rates and -- naturally -- sales.

How can anyone afford not to do SEO? It not only optimizes your rankings in the search results, but also every other channel that drives traffic to your site.


Jason Dragonette is the director of search engine optimization at SendTec, Inc, an integrated multichannel direct marketing agency.

Performance Insider for Thursday, April 9, 2009:

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