The Problem With Looking at Web Traffic for SEO
Let’s talk about something that everyone gets wrong about SEO still. And that is the idea that the most important metric about SEO is all about website traffic.
Now, I want to be clear - traffic is absolutely a PART of SEO, an important part. But it’s not the most important metric you want to focus on when you are building your SEO strategy. So what is?
The answer seems obvious - how much money you are making.
Now, this is where things get complicated - because when we are talking about how to generate revenue from your website, you bring in a host of factors that go into whether or not a potential customer ends up converting and becoming an actual customer.
Some of those things include: is it a good product? Is it the right fit for the person on the site? Does the site look nice? Does it perform well? Do you have a trustworthy brand? Is the site optimized to push the customer towards a conversion?
Now, when you list out all of the teams that need to be included in that process: designers, developers, marketing, sales, the product or service team… it’s easy to see why SEO’s may just say “look, we will get you traffic, but we can’t make the customer convert - that’s on you.”
But the reality is - that is not the case anymore because SEO IS all of that. SEO means “Search Engine Optimization” So how do you optimize your site for what search engines are looking for?
Well, let’s look at what they tell us.
Google’s mission is three parts: deliver the most relevant and reliable information, maximize access to information, and present information in the most useful way.
To me, that means have an awesome, up-to-date website: so doing all of the things necessary to create an awesome website IS SEO.
Now you may say - ok - well if you get a lot of traffic, that means you did all of that stuff: it’s a great site, people are going to it, Google trusts it: everybody wins. Not so fast.
The true measure of SEO success is if the right people are going to the site. This is a problem that companies run into all the time. Everyone wants to become a thought leader in their industry, but it’s a mistake.
So myself included, we all end up creating content about what we know - whatever your specialty is. But this becomes a problem when you lean too heavily into that content and you forget to create content for your specific target.
For example, if I create a bunch of guides about how to do SEO and they are awesome… who is going to be looking at those? Other SEO’s - which is fine, because the more I position myself as a thought leader, the more people will seek our services down the road, but you also need to create content that is targeted to make people convert, now. That could be something like, “How to Build an SEO Strategy for Your SaaS Business” - now if someone is reading that, or maybe I will ask them to download it - then I know I have a much better chance of that person becoming a client.
A good SEO needs to understand that when they are building a content strategy for their business or their clients.
What's the big takeaway?
Stop measuring how good your SEO is by how much traffic you are driving to your site. Make sure that traffic is converting.