Friday, February 24, 2012

What Are Others Trying to Measure?

A recent SEMPO and Econsultancy report ( revealed that both SEO and SEM are in conflict with what the engines tell us to do—namely, “provide good content.” Instead, what most are trying to do is “drive traffic,” without regard for the quality of that traffic. The report shows that over 40% of companies cite driving traffic as the main objective for their SEO programs. This a pretty vague goal, and we can assume websites are already getting traffic from search engines, even if they are not optimized. It’s not only volume that counts, though: it’s important that conversion rates remain the same and that the additional traffic is as engaged as the current traffic. Why not set some deeper action than simply driving traffic as your goal for SEO? That is, assuming your site does not generate revenue only through display ads—and if it does, why not set your goal to be driving more repeat traffic? Keep them coming back for more!

The rest of the goals for SEO traffic in the report read as follows: generating leads, selling products, increasing brand awareness, and, lastly, improving customer satisfaction and customer service. Only 2% of companies cited improved customer satisfaction as their main goal. At least they are defining more actionable goals, but what about the lifetime value of the customer? Where is the foresight for long-term value?

Even as a secondary objective, improved customer service still ranks as the lowest goal for SEO, cited by only 5% of companies. Agencies also fell into a similar pattern, although their primary objective was to generate leads, followed by driving traffic.

If the search engines tell us that we must create great content and provide good customer experiences to rank well organically, but our primary goals are instead driving traffic or creating leads, how do we bridge this gap? Is an improved customer experience mutually exclusive of driving traffic or generating leads? I would suggest not, but where should the priorities be placed?

Speaking from my own experience, metrics that bring together both voice-of-thecustomer data (for example, where customers are given a questionnaire and provide written feedback) and clickstream data that tracks conversion and site usage show that improved customer satisfaction measured through the customer surveys has typically led to improved site usage, improved conversions, and, more importantly, longer repeat customer relations. Avinash Kaushik echoed this point in a post on his web analytics blog (see the entry where he cited the advice he had given to a Fortune 100 company looking to improve its website and increase sales.

In contrast to the results for SEO and SEM, the SEMPO and Econsultancy report showed that paid search’s primary goals are generating leads and selling products, with 75% of companies citing these as their main goals. Driving traffic was the third highest ranking goal, with 19% of companies striving for this. Improved customer service was the objective of only 2% of these campaigns. Article Writing Services can help companies help their customers by providing quality content that is also beneficial for SEO purposes.

It is interesting to see that when dealing with paid search, the goal is tied to something more tangible than simply driving traffic. Perhaps because you have to pay for these ads, companies feel they must show a more palpable result. Again I have to ask, why not also look at creating a great customer experience and working at making that dollar last longer by trying to increase repeat business and focusing on retaining your customers?

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