We are very fortunate to work with over 1,000 clients these days, from multi-billion dollar international companies to local mom-and-pop shops. This wide range of clientele allows us to gain a vast array of experience. Something I experienced this past week was working with one of our larger clients and setting goals for 2012.
Before working with us, their 2011 goals were centered around getting to the top of the search engines. Their goal wasn't to just be on the front page, they wanted to be no lower than number 3 in Google. And it worked! As great of a goal as that sounds, I was able to quickly point out several cases where they dominated the search engines for the key phrases they were targeting. But in the end, the traffic driven to the site was minimal at best.
My point to them: Getting to the top of the search engines doesn't necessarily add anything to the bottom line of the company.
So while discussing new goals, the focus was put on traffic. If getting to the top of the search engines did not equal traffic, we must measure traffic and set our goals based on that, right? Well, no.
A recent real world example of this was a Web marketing firm who guaranteed a significant increase in traffic to a company's website. The website had products that could only be shipped within close proximity to their office in the United States. As promised, this Web marketing company drove huge amounts of traffic to their site. The problem? The traffic was all international and would never be able to buy from the client. Ouch. Money wasted.
My second point to them: Driving traffic is easy. Driving the RIGHT traffic is a bit more difficult. I would rather have 500 visitors of which 400 of them do what I want them to versus having 10,000,000 visitors who do nothing on my site.
So, search engine ranking isn't important and neither is traffic, right? That's not true. It's all a very important part of the equation, but isn't not a one-to-one relationship to success. So:
Search Engine Ranking ≠ Success
Traffic ≠ Success
Even...Search Engine Ranking + Traffic ≠ Success
The missing part of the equation to being successful online? That key metric that everyone should be focusing goals around? Conversion rate. The conversion rate is measured by the number of visitors your site receives versus the number of times those visitors do what you want them to do. In Google Analytics, this is measured as a "goal." A goal is what you imagine; buying a product, filling out a form, maybe simply visiting a page. Your goals should have a direct relation to your bottom line. If the visitor does X, it means $ for you.
When setting your goals for 2012, do not forget about conversion rate.
Search Engine Ranking + RIGHT Traffic + Conversion Rate = Success
Hope this helps,