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SEO: It’s more than just rankings

So many so called “SEO Experts” focus far too much on the rankings for certain keywords. Obtaining a position one ranking is like a trophy to them, and they parade it around like a golden egg. But search rankings alone will do little to increase the profits of their clients unless the rest of the puzzle is in place too.

Don’t get me wrong, getting good search rankings is important, but if no one clicks on your listing on the search engine results page, you’re no closer to securing your next customer.

Click Through Rate (CTR) is an important factor to consider when optimising a website. Basically, CTR measures how many times your listing gets displayed in the search results and how many times people actually choose to click on your result. It’s normally displayed as a percentage, the higher, the better.

The most obvious factors that affect a site’s CTR are the page title and the meta description. These two factors make up the text displayed on the search engine’s results pages. The page title should be relevant and appeal to the user. The description should back-up the title and make a case for why the user would be best served by choosing your entry on the results page. Needless to say, if you fail to make your case at this stage, you’re website isn’t going to get many new customers with traffic from search.

Assuming we’ve managed to convince the searcher to click on our site’s listing, what now?

Getting the user to the website is only part of the battle. Now we need them to perform an action that is going to benefit the business. That’s why they got a website in the first place. The action or conversion goal could be completing anything such as a purchase, submitting a contact form or signing up for a newsletter. Whatever the goal is, it needs to be easy for the user to do or they probably won’t do it.

So where do we start?

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Literally. Making sure that your user clicks on a search result that is relevant to their original search query AND they are then sent through to a relevant page is of absolute importance. Luring a potential customer to your site with promises of goods you don’t sell will just result in them leaving. They’ll be disappointed, and you’ll be in no better position. In fact, you’ll be in a worse position as your bounce rate will now be higher. But bounce rate deserves a post of its own, and I don’t want to distract too much from this article.

Ok, let’s assume the user is on a relevant page having clicked on a search result that was relevant to their original query. Now what? Now we need to make sure they have all the information that they will need to make a decision at their fingertips.

As an example, imagine you wanted to buy a particular pair of trainers. You go to Google and search for “Men’s Nike AirMax Trainers Size 9 White.” a split second later Google presents you with pages of retailers offering those trainers for sale. You pick a search result near the top as it fits the bill exactly and entices you in with a nicely written page title and description that promise free deliveries and no quibble returns. So far so good.

nike search results good example

Once you get to the chosen site, your presented with a page all about the trainers you want to buy. Your size is pre-selected, and it’s in stock. You can see the price including free delivery and the no-quibble returns policy is also highlighted. You’re now ready to buy. You’d like to pay using your favourite credit card; luckily you see the card provider’s logo presented next to the buy now button. You click the buy now button, and you’re taken straight to a nice simple check-out page. You put in your delivery address and card details and click pay.

That sounds like a great transaction, and as the customer, we were able to make that journey because the page in the search result lined up exactly with our expectations. Imagine, though, that some of the information on the trainer shop site was missing. Perhaps it wasn’t clear how much they charged for delivery, or if the trainers were actually in stock, or worse, they didn’t even sell the trainers we wanted. As the user, we would now either have to leave the page to find the required information or go through the checkout process before finding out the total charge for delivery. We may just leave and go somewhere else.

Notes to take away:

In summary, getting great search engine rankings is only part of winning the online business battle for more customers. To succeed with SEO, you need to make sure that your site offers a great user experience.

Don’t try and con the search engines into giving you rankings for terms that aren’t related to what you do. While tracking your search rankings is important, tracking your CTR, bounce rate, traffic and conversions are all equally as important.

Do you need some help with your website’s SEO? Why not request a free consultation with one of our SEO experts?

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