You were promised the #1 spot in the local Google search. Incredibly, your SEO team came through! As you typed in the search results, there at the top of the search, you see your company's name in bright Holywood lights. Now it’s on to happily ever after for your business, right?
Well, unfortunately, a few months go by and you see no increase in conversions and a mild increase in traffic.
What happened? Did you do something to displease the Google overlord? Did you shell out all of that hard-earned money just to win a meaningless victory?
Let us take a look at three potential reasons why ranking #1 on Google didn’t result in you getting more customers.
Understanding Search Rankings
Google was founded in 1998 and began its search feature with a pretty simple algorithm. The more backlinks a website has, the more relevant it is in a search. In other words, if more people had a link to a page on a certain topic, then that means that page is the best answer to the user's search.
Now Google has over 200 ranking factors according to Backlinkto. The reason there are so many ranking factors is at the core of why a business may reach the #1 spot and yet fail to get more customers.
Why does Google go to such great lengths to bring user results? It comes down to an all-important factor: search intent. Search intent is the reason for the search. It is why the person is even searching on Google in the first place and there are A LOT of reasons why people search a topic.
So what does this mean for you?
Well, let’s say you own a cleaning business and you decide you want to rank for “window cleaner”. You create an entire service page for “window cleaner” on your website, optimize it, get backlinks to the page, and voila! You are ranking #1 for “window cleaner”.
Now here is where the problem lies. Why did the user search “window cleaner”? Were they searching for someone to clean their windows? Or were they searching for window cleaning products?
As we already have seen, Google has vastly improved in its ability to distinguish “why” the user is searching. Yet, even with its leaps in advancement, there are still times where the search is ambiguous enough that Google will rank something at the top, which may not be as relevant for the user as its algorithm thinks it would be.
This means that, your website, and the time and energy you made to make sure it ranked #1, could be overlooked since it isn’t what the user is looking for.
How can you figure out what the user is looking for so that you can make the best use of your time and efforts?
How to Determine Search Intent
This is really where your expertise comes in. Make sure your SEO has a deep understanding of your industry. The more he knows, the better he will be able to find the type of searches that will bring in more business. Going back to the cleaning company example, he can think of alternate names for “window cleaners” like commercial window cleaning, professional window cleaners, and so on.
Looking at things like phrasing is another way to find out why the user is searching. “Dog lovers hotel” can carry a different purpose than, “hotels dogs love”. To help with this research, it is best to use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to look and compare keywords to find out which one hits your target goal the best.
SEMrush also has a new tool that helps you see user intent in different keyword searches.
One helpful way to find out user intent is to type in the keyword and see the results that Google gives. This will help you see how Google interprets the thinking behind that search.
Not all keyword campaigns have the sole goal of getting conversions, some work along different stages of the buyer journey to lead them to your product. So if a #1 ranking doesn’t result in an immediate increase in traffic, check with your SEO to understand the strategy behind the decision to target that keyword.
Search intent is only one potential reason your business could be missing out on more business, let us look at how what you have on your page affects clicks.
A Bad Landing Page
Ok, let’s give our poor SEO’s a break for a second. Let’s say they did their research, came up with the perfect plan and now your site is ranking #1 for the right user intended keyword. In this case, you will most likely see an uptick in visitors. Yet, you may still miss out on the full benefits of SEO. Why?
Imagine you are driving up to a restaurant. You have ordered there before and love the food, but have never actually seen this place in person. As you walk up to order, you look down and see something horrifying…..a dead rat. Would you still eat at that restaurant?
Most likely your answer is no. You’ll run to the restaurant that looks the cleanest, or maybe just eat at home because you can’t take the disgust. This happened to my wife and me by the way...never will we order from a place before checking it again.
Back to the point. If your website isn’t properly optimized, it can turn away visitors like a dirty entrance at a restaurant. The outside tells you all you need to know about how much the person cares about their business. It is the same with your website. It tells users how much you care about your business. Too many colors, inappropriate typography, and the wrong copy can lead to large amounts of people leaving your site, squandering your SEO efforts.
How to Optimize Your Landing Page
What does it mean to have an optimized landing page? It means that the page your users land on in their search results is built for them. The writing tells their story, their pain points, and offers a good clear solution. The colors evoke the emotions you want your visitors to feel when they visit your site. It means the font perfectly reflects what you want your brand to represent.
To optimize your landing page, you need to do some research. Don’t be afraid to hire a copywriter. Find someone who understands Voice of Customer research, or uses the StoryBrand method.
Also, make sure the rest of the graphics are built to explain why your solution is the best for their problem. Give them a reason to stay on the page and click that shiny button.
Here are some practical types to apply:
- Make sure your user can figure out what you do within 5 seconds of visiting your site
- Add a picture at the start that relates to your product or service (no stock photos)
- Add a clear button that tells the visitor what you want them to do
- Add social proof (testimonials, screenshots, reviews)
- Talk more about the visitor and their pain points and less about your history
- Limit your color palette to three colors (if you are not a designer)
- Use bullet points throughout
These are not the total sum of how to optimize your landing page, but following these guidelines is a great start on your way to getting more customers.
The Wrong Audience
We have already seen the bad effects of misinterpreting user intent and not optimizing your landing page. Yet there is another potential problem that could doom your campaign from the start. That is targeting the wrong audience.
This is closely related to user intent. Yet it can prove to be its own separate problem. For example, millions of people search web design, yet some may be searching the term “web design” for a school project, research article, or fantastically enticing blog. Of that large group, only a small percentage are actually looking for someone to design their website.
This is important if we are clear on who our customer is, then our campaign will have a lot more success. If we are focusing on students, we will build our landing page differently with the focus of being informational. If we are looking to introduce people to our brand, maybe we write a blog on a related topic and link it to our site.
Knowing who our audience is, what stage they are at in the funnel, will help us to create a better experience for our audience and result in much higher click rates.
How to Target the Right Audience
To target the right audience you can follow these three steps:
- Interview past customers
- Build a customer profile
- Write a customer journey map
Knowing who our audience is, where they are at in the buying process, will help you to create a better experience for your audience and result in a lot more business. I will dive deeper into these topics in a future blog post.
You want to make the most out of your SEO efforts so that your business can grow and thrive. Just remember these three points to make sure that your marketing strategy is in the right direction:
- The right Keyword
- The right content
- The right audience
If you focus on these three aspects of your campaign, you’ll be sitting pretty when you reach that #1 spot.