Web users are fickle. Time is short and there are too many good websites out there to persevere with something that doesn’t meet our needs. This is great news for web users, as on that golden first page of results it’s almost certain that you will find something to meet your needs, but this creates a challenge for online marketers. If your site is not up to scratch you will lose out.

If you work hard for months optimising for a really high traffic keyword, get to that glorious number 1 position and send your client thousands of visits, is that job done? An online marketer’s role is about more than simply sending traffic, and to be brutally honest no client gives a damn how many visits you send them, what keywords you’re ranking for, or how many number one positions you’ve gained them, and they still won’t care if you get them a links from every single PR10 domain. Clients want sales. If an online marketing strategy is not making sales then it’s not justifying its cost and their money is better spent elsewhere. SEO is not worth doing if the traffic isn’t backed up by good landing pages.

plane landing on google Focus On The Landing!

Consider that you’re a company who sells apples, and take a look at the following keywords:

  • Apples
  • Types of apple
  • Buy granny smiths apples

Which should be targeted? A quick check of the Adwords Keyword Tool shows that apples has 6,120,000 monthly searches. Is this reason enough to target the keyword? Think about what the keyword says, it shows pretty much no specific intent and most likely represents an initial unrefined search from someone who could be looking for all sorts of things related to the fruit. Even if you could get ranked highly for this term, resources could be better spent elsewhere.

The second search, types of apple shows a clearer intent, but it is informational in nature. This may be an opportunity to build a content page talking about the different types of apples, maybe even include a link from this page to your product pages, but don’t make the mistake that so many sites make of optimising a sales focused landing page for an information focused search query. If you wanted to find out about different types of apple and ended up on a page shouting “BUY NOW!”, you’re going to leave.

However, if you ended up on a page run by an apple selling company (who you note to be a reputable source of information for this kind of material) and find the exact information you require, you’re going to be a happy searcher. Sure, you probably won’t buy an apple immediately, but you might send the page to a friend, share it on social media, link to it from your blog, or simply return when you actually do want to buy. These are still considered conversions, just because someone didn’t place an immediate order, if your site encouraged them to take a positive action then that’s a good thing because it sets you up to benefit from future sales.

The final keyword buy granny smiths apples is a buying keyword. People entering this into the search box are looking to spend money right now, so make your landing pages sales targeted. Aim at reducing the steps they need to take from landing to purchase and present them with exactly what they need. Some sites still fail to make use of this targeted traffic – people searching for a keyword this specific with the word ‘buy’ in it don’t want to see alternatives, they don’t want information about products and they certainly don’t want to land on your homepage. They want to deeplink straight into a relevant product or category landing page (only if the entire category is dedicated to this product) and make a purchase.

targeted google search

Take a look at this image showing Google’s top two results for the buy granny smiths apples keyword. Which link would you click on?

Giving people what they want is the key to making your online traffic work. It’s easy to get hung up on just the raw traffic numbers, and when the focus does turn to conversion optimisation we usually get carried away with irrelevant design issues such as the placement of a particular piece of text or the colour of your active links. This stuff is important, but nowhere near as vital as just giving searchers what they want. In a high street store you can’t have a section for everyone’s needs as there just isn’t the space, but online space is virtually free and you could quite feasibly have a landing page for every relevant search term.

SEO needs to be thought of as a two stage process and remember that the ultimate goal is getting conversions. The first stage is of course getting visitors, but think about exactly what they want, don’t lose sight of how your landing pages are dealing with them, and keep your visitors away from their back button.

By Oliver Springate

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