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#1 hategate

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 04:36 AM

Hello, I just registered and would have read many of the posts and think they are very informative. I have a websites and wondering if anyone could help me out in increasing sales (by better SEO, obviously). Any advice is greatly appreciated. Any recommendations on getting guaranteed placement companies that WORK and are not spammers is also appreciated.
Thanks,

#2 surrealillusions

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 05:22 AM

Welcome the forum!

getting guaranteed placement companies that WORK

There is no such thing as guarantee's in the SEO world. If a company guarentee's you a #1 slot on google for 500 keywords within a month then walk away. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

SEO is hard work, but hard work that pays off in the long run. Its also alot of information and sometimes complicated, so search around on this forum for 'seo', you'll find plenty of useful information. Hopefully you can apply it your situation. If you have any specific questions regarding seo, then post here. If you want us to look at your site for any improvements, post in our website hospital forum.

:(

Edited by surrealillusions, 15 May 2008 - 05:23 AM.


#3 fisicx

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 05:41 AM

and wondering if anyone could help me out in increasing sales (by better SEO, obviously)

SEO won't (directly) increase sales. What it can do is improve your ranking. This in turn may increase the number of visitors to the site (but is not guaranteed). But if the site has a poor conversion rate then increasing the number of visitors isn't going to make much difference to your sales rate. If you convert 1 in 100 and increase your visitor numbers you are still only going to convert 1 in 100.

Rather than focus on SEO, why not work at improving your conversion rate. Try getting from 1 in 100 sales to 5 in 100. Aim to complete a sale to every visitor to the site (that's not going to happen obviously, but it is something to aspire to).

1. SEO will help improve your ranking.

2. Your page titles and descriptions will entice the visitors to click on the search engine link.

3. The site content and navigation will generate sales.

Concentrate on 2 and 3 before starting your SEO strategy.

PS: Have you read the Quick Kick-start Guide to SEO?

#4 Black_Knight

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 06:44 AM

I have a websites and wondering if anyone could help me out in increasing sales (by better SEO, obviously).

Here's the greatest 'secret' of business: Forget traffic for now.

Focus on improving the sales process to the extent where if you can pitch to just ten good prospects, at least one will buy. You see, it is the conversion rate that is the foundation of simple marketing. Because if you get to the position where one in ten people definitely buy, you can look at your margins and find what you can spend per person to attract ten good prospects, get one sale for sure, and still make a small overall profit.

At that point, PPC will keep you in business and profitable, with a lot more control and stability than SEO will ever offer. Other advertising can also be used wherever the cost to drive ten people is less than your profit margin on one sure sale.

Only after reaching that point should you really be looking to ramp up the volume of referrals with a good SEO campaign. Sure, before that you can do the basics, aim for the nich (most targeted) traffic you know your pitch has the best chance to convert.

SEO is an up-front investment. I always tell clients that if SEM were locating your business on a busy high-street with plenty of walk-by customers, then PPC is like renting the property, while SEO is like building your own premises. Its a bigger investment, but in the long term is cheaper because you own it. But PPC is the one where you can spend a little knowing exactly what margins you have to work with, and be sure to get something back for a small investment.

What is the market sector you're in? (e.g. travel, wholesale furniture, real estate, retail electronics, etc)

SEO isn't new, and isn't a USP. It isn't something that thousands of other companies in any market haven't heard of or invested in. Not anymore. Not for 5 years. Type the name of a product or service you provide and there are already competitors listed, right? They didn't get there by luck. To beat them, you have to equal everything they did and then go a bit further.

SEO is a journey, not a destination. Moving forwards puts you on that journey. Bt you are only in front if you are leading the pack, and putting in at least as much speed as your rivals. You only get to catch up from the back of the pack by either taking the routes they thought unprofitable (niche market) or by travelling faster on that journey (applying more resources to your SEO efforts each week/month than the rivals do).

#5 EGOL

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 07:43 AM

Great post Ammon! Thanks for sharing those ideas. I used to have the "free traffic" mentality but have been starting to change my mind. Your words here moved me a big distance in understanding the different mods of SEO and PPC - especially for testing new waters. (My mind changes slowly so a big sudden move is spectacular.)

Thanks for the philosophy.

#6 Black_Knight

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 10:14 AM

Thanks for the philosophy.

You're more than welcome, EGOL.

The tremendous growth in in-house SEO is a major factor in the modern game. Four years ago, you were competing against a dozen sites that had hired an SEO to give the site an initial optimization only, or had a small company devoting a few hours a month to ongoing optimization. Now, you're up against not only dozens of those, but can reasonably predict that several of the top players have dedicated in-house SEO teams who spend all day every day on optimizing their sites, driving links, and creating buzz.

For an SEO agency, that's really changed things immensely, and none of us can have missed how many SEOs have taken the same route I did in offering consultancy to in-house SEO teams, or else have focused on providing outsourcing specialization for in-house SEO teams. Its a world of difference, and has to be reflected in the expectations of any SEO or affiliate who's going it alone.

Essentially, the base-level of resources companies have dedicated to SEO has increased, and so this has pushed up the entry level investment needed to be competitive in the market. In SEO today, where huge resources aren't available for a client new to the market, you generally have to go far further into the specialist niche (which requires the client to understand and support the niche with some 'specialist content' focus and specially slanted sales for the niche markets).

It's like I mentioned in that interview with Rand on SEOmoz way back - the only limitations on SEO are time and resources. Most players in an existing SERP have put in plenty of both, giving them a huge lead, and forcing the newcomer to play catch-up. But you can't narrow the lead at all if you can't apply the speed. If the competition are organically growing 300 great links per week, and you devote only enough resource to grow 50 per month, then you don't catch up, and they only extend their lead.

Let's put that in terms of hard cash.

You enter a market where the top 30 sites on many terms are all using SEO. The top 20 sites are all spending around 100k per year, either on salaries of their in-house SEOs, on agency services, or commonly a mixture of the two. If you as a newcomer to the market can only afford 20k investment in SEO this year, then your only possible chance to make that work is to put all that resource into a focal point (the 100k budgets are spread across the market, so by picking on flank or one specific point and spending all your effort there you can plan to break through - the niche market).

You can't bank a business on hoping to 'get lucky' and miraculously hire a better SEO for 20k than they hired for 100k. That kind of optimisism is not business, that's roulette. If a market leader has a three year head start, and is also spending twice as much resource and effort as the newcomer can afford, then it is quite reasonable to predict that you will never overtake the market leader.

But PPC gives you finer control. Sure, the market leader may easily outbid you, but you can set your caps, you know your margins, and as long as you stick to your margins, you cannot lose money. You only pay for clicks, so no clicks means no spend. If you get clicks, you know you can convert the ratio needed to make a profit. But the foundation is all about the conversions. You need to be able to bank on them, because you're gong to have to.

But the nice thing is that those PPC customers can carry away the positive experience, brand awareness, and general Customer Relations goodness to start building some organic growth. Links, testimonials, some buzz in Social networks. Positive anecdotes and referrals in forums. These things will combine with your resources when you are ready to put more resource into SEO. When you've proven the business model enough to make the up-front investment into SEO in an increasingly competitive market.

#7 bwelford

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 10:44 AM

That's great advice, Ammon.

Perhaps one encouraging feature is that so many big companies are product driven. They put all their efforts into the work they like to do, which is to produce brilliant technology. They forget that what counts is what the customer receives. That is not only the product itself. But all the associated services that may be needed from time to time. To keep your mind on that total package of product plus services requires a customer centric approach.

Of course, if you're hired by a blue chip company, it's difficult not to be arrogant. You may feel you know better than the customer what they really need. However, customers don't like to be treated like that. Customers have all kinds of different needs. They may also not read the instructions, or may misread the instructions. If your startup company decides to provide a product/service package that delivers a great customer experience, then your customers may well pass on the word and start the buzz. This social media marketing (SMM) can be a useful complement to what ever you are able to do with SEO.

#8 Respree

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 11:29 AM

Ammon, thanks for dropping by. I've sorely missed your fantastic posts and pearls of wisdom.

Welcome to Cre8asite, hategate.

If you hear the word guarantee, run for the hills. Unfortunately, the first realization you must come to is that there are no guarantees. Do a search for your primary keyword or keyphrase. You'll very likely see hundreds of thousands to millions of results. The second realization you'll come to is that the marketplace is very competitive.

Now ask yourself this very serious question. What is the likelihood you've 'accidentally' stumbled upon the one SEO who can do it better than everyone else? Like the prom queen, high rankings is something that 'everyone' is chasing after, and with great determination, experience, knowledge, passion, desire and money, I might add.

Not trying to be discouraging, but that's the reality check.

Good. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here's my advice.

Know your competitors well. See what they do. Take notes of what kinds of things that would bring and keep you returning to their sites. That's what you're up against. Now think hard about strategy. How are you going to do it better than them? You'll find some very smart cookies out there, many with much deeper financial resources than yourself. This allows them to invest and develop technologies designed to make 'them' stand out from the rest of the very big pack.

What you need is to develop and distinguish yourself as being unique in the marketplace. Try to think of things you think would be useful to your audience, carving your own path. Regurgitating something that's been said a thousand times before isn't going to do the trick.

Being successful using this type of approach will naturally attract traffic and links to your site. The better job you do at this, the higher your rankings will become. The higher your rankings, the more likely people will find you and, if they like what they see, they'll likely link to you, boosting you even further in the SERPs.

Now, with that said, the question of the day is how will you convert your visitors into customers. Many people mistakeningly believe that SEO is the end-all-be-all. Its not. High traffic AND good conversions is what really matters. Without a good conversion rate, all you've done is to create a big bandwidth bill for yourself.

There is no magic bullet as to what makes people buy. Some will say its a mixture of credibility, usability, compelling content, fanatical customer service, pricing, product selection, product descriptions, a good return policy, easy checkout, easy navigation, a good search engine, security and a number of related factors. Each of those components are elements that may take years to understand and develop.

Hope this information helps.

Edited by Respree, 15 May 2008 - 11:31 AM.


#9 RisaBB

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 04:37 PM

Ammon, that's a great and timely post for me. I got a call from a potential client today to design her site. After a discussion about the design, I am always compelled discuss the importance of SEO. This client is selling women's clothes - no niche and a brand new domain. I asked her if there is anything special about these shirts and pants - for yoga? for pregnant women? are they beaded? No. She wants to brand herself.

With a small budget, it seems hopeless to me to give this woman any encouragement at all about achieving top rankings in the SE's. First educating a client about social media seems esoteric.

PPC is a viable option, but still, the competition must be fierce and the conversion rate must be tiny.

What's a small business owner and a small web design/SEO firm to do for a client who is in a super-competitive industry. I don't want to be a downer for her, but I want to be realistic.

It's great to see you back again, Ammon.

Risa

#10 Respree

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 05:00 PM

I think PPC is something that is best used after a store is up and running for a while. You first need to determine conversion rates with some historical data. If conversion rates are super low (say .1 percent) for any reason (and there are many of them), the dollars will eat you alive and you'll be quickly left scratching your head think, "What the h*ll happened?"

#11 RisaBB

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 09:34 PM

I disagree. For a brand new domain and a brand new website, PPC is the only way to go to get traffic unless the site owner is a social media butterfly.

The dollars won't eat you alive if you set an affordable budget. How else will a site get traffic to even get historical data?

#12 rmccarley

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 02:09 AM

Risa that is a fantastic new (to me) avatar! I like your hair curly. ;-)

I know that there are perfectly legit WH methods to build traffic quickly with SEO. It requires defining a niche with little direct market competition (I recall Ammon put up a great post about marketing a while back that referenced positioning). Copy what the competitors do well and get some short-term boosts for "freshness", especially if you have a blog attached to the site. As much as I hate this phrase it draws a clear picture: think outside the box. :)

If you are in a crowded category and the best positioning limits your traffic too much then I suggest leveraging PR and article writing to control the conversations in your industry. Do some KW research and dominate a few key phrases before you hype them in external articles and PR.

This won't get you thousands of daily visits though I have seen it get hundreds with high conversion rates. How much would that cost with PPC? My only cost beyond labor is PR distribution... if I'm in too big a hurry or too lazy to do it myself.

Your client wants to brand herself and that will be tough. So there isn't anything spectacular about the clothes but what about her? I'd lean heavy in the PR if I were in that position. And start thinking of secondary ways to build buzz. Maybe a little social site optimization. Getting "the name" attached to carefully selected charities would be good to build the brand. If I were desperate, maybe looking for recognition in less related fields that still would help the brand like a website design award from a prestigious source. Again, hype anything and everything that makes the brand worth looking at.

Edited by rmccarley, 16 May 2008 - 02:10 AM.


#13 SEOigloo

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 02:39 AM

:wave: Ammon - wonderful read. So nice to see you here!


This client is selling women's clothes - no niche and a brand new domain.


Risa -
Uh-oh. I've been there many times. Unless the client is independently wealthy and their business venture is a hobby, this is a bad combination of factors. Sometimes, the only thing - and the best thing - to do with such a potential client is to have a very straight talk with them. Let them know that wanting to compete with the GAP without the GAP's budget is not a business plan that will work, online or off.

The fact is, so many people come to the concept of doing business on the web with the vaguest of notions of selling stuff and hoping to make money. I must get at least an email a week with this as the project outline. No market research, no niche, no plan to do something special or new.

I hate disappointing people and have had prospective clients take tremendous umbrage with the message that they need to go back to the drawing board before investing their money in building a website. But, it's doing them no favor to not let them hear from at least one scrupulous web design company that they are going to waste whatever funding they have by not first developing a viable business model. It's a tough conversation to have, but once in awhile, the prospective client listens and is actually grateful for the honest response.

Good luck with this one!
Miriam

#14 bwelford

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 08:47 AM

Help is defined by the recipient. Don't confuse me with the facts. That duo of statements makes it tough to give unpalatable advice.

The easy ones are those who have no idea what they would like to do but just feel they would like to make money on the Internet, because everyone else is. The more difficult ones are those with passion, who know they have something special, but have no budget.

#15 tambre

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 11:31 AM

ammon - thanks for the great post! it was very thought provoking and enlightening.

risa - i agree with you totally. i've had clients in the same boat and i would tell them that considering their market, while they're waiting for their organic listings, that ppc was the best way to go. now, with all the social media stuff going around it might be easier, especially in fashion, for her to use as well. this site in particular comes to mind: http://kirtsy.com/
it used to be called sk*rt and is for fashion and its user base is mostly women. she could post a PR about her site going live, or some new fashions. twitter, tumblr and some other more niche social media sites would be good as well... provided she's a social butterfly, of course :(

-sam

#16 earlpearl

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 01:22 PM

Those are great comments Ammon. I've been a sales person/independant contractor, and an investor in businesses, and operated businesses.

Ultimately from the business side its always about sales and profit margins.

If I were operating a big enough business to afford your probably pricey assistance, after a couple of pitches, all things considered, if nobody else had similar advice, I'd hire you in a jiffy. Your comments reflect what owners want....not what necessarily works for the agency.

A recent experience on our part bears a couple of other points.

We purchased a small brick and mortar business in an industry in which we have excellent experience. It is in a different market/region. Web visibility dominates activity to the business. It is extremely local/regional.

We put together a fast and sufficient website. We have a lot of operating issues with which to deal.

For a short time we simply focused on PPC and the value of maps showing at the top of organic google and yahoo searches that reflect phrases for the geography (city).

Actually, initial efforts showed incredibly skimpy responses. Not enough traffic to justify the investment and operating costs.

I increased the ppc visibility dramatically....and we started seeing more traffic.

In the midst of some unexpected problems that took up a lot of time, and in light of a surprisingly small number of contacts based on the ppc and maps concerns....are worry was that demand was insufficient to sustain the costs of salaries and operating expenses.

Surrounding these thoughts was something that Ammon reflected above. We absolutely know what our conversion ratio should be relative to contacts. It isn't a hard number but it reflects a range with which we have decades of experience and runs in conformity with what the larger industry reports.

We were absolutely focused on seeing if the bottom line would work.

Our response to this issue has been somewhat different than Ammon described. I focused on rankings for what should work for traffic and those improved rankings have increased traffic significantly beyond disappointing results from the PPC campaign. I have yet to look hard at the PPC campaign to see why its volume is way below expectations.

Regardless, we definitely are focused on the bottom line and definitely focused on how well we can convert to see if the business will sustain itself. (We are confident now as we wrestle with some of the hurdles).

Excellent advice, Ammon. thanks.

#17 TryMeOut

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 03:26 PM

Here are some basic ways on building backlinks. Some would eventually help in SEO and as what other already pointed out, conversion is whole different ball game. This would greatly depend on the content you will offer to your traffic :)


Directory Submissions
Blog and Forum participation
Social Bookmarking
Press Releases
Classified Ads
Article Marketing
Link Exchange
Link Baits


Hope that helps ;)



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