Traffic is Not Enough – You Need Conversions

Post written by Betsy Koliba, SEO Consultant at Demandwell 

Betsy Koliba

Betsy has worked in SEO and digital marketing for over ten years. 

In her free time, she enjoys homemade craft cocktails.

You likely have a marketing dashboard or scorecard that includes total ranking keywords, traffic and conversions. Marketers hope, more often than not, that “rankings become traffic, then traffic becomes leads”. But the reality is that it takes work to ensure that your SEO strategy is aligning your target audience’s pains and problems with your solution.  

It is a process to understand those pains and problems that your target audience is experiencing…
then to start ranking for those terms…
and then to start driving traffic for those terms…
AND THEN to start converting traffic on your site – PHEW 🥵 

SEO isn’t Field of Dreams because even if you build it…they don’t always come (and they usually don’t convert). 

I have seen it happen time and time again. I meet with someone and they say “We have plenty of traffic, but people aren’t converting and we just need help with the conversion side of things. Our SEO isn’t the problem. We just need help with CRO.” 

At this point, I dig into their content and see what types of keywords they are ranking for. I do a quick search to see if they are driving traffic for high converting terms. 

Nine times out of ten, I find that while they are ranking for LOTS of keywords and driving LOTS of traffic, it isn’t for the search terms that matter to drive leads and new business.  

Marketers spend so much time creating tons and tons of content that often doesn’t result in the bottom of the funnel traffic that is ready to convert and become a lead.

Ranking for keywords and driving traffic to your website isn’t enough. SEO is another tool in your digital marketing tool belt and as digital marketers, we are responsible for generating leads…so let’s get to it. 

Optimize for Keywords That Solve a Need

Increasing conversions from organic search starts with creating content and optimizing for keywords that help solve a need. These are the keywords that matter to drive demand for your business.

At Demandwell, we put together a list of high converting keywords that we refer to as your Keyword Universe. These are the terms that we want your brand to rank for, and we know the user searching for these queries has a pain or a problem that your brand can help solve.  

But even that isn’t enough, you need to do more than just rank for high intent keywords. SEO really isn’t magic – it is a process and it takes work. 

You have to work your keywords into a top position in the search engine results pages…
then work to get people to click on your page…
AND THEN work to get them to convert on your site – PHEW.

Cue Rihanna: Work Work Work Work Work

Keyword Lifecycle Stage 

In all seriousness, the work really isn’t that hard when you have a clear picture of where your keywords stand and know the right steps to take to move the needle. 

Demandwell’s process categorizes each keyword in your Keyword Universe into Lifecycle Stages so that you know where they stand and what to do next. 

  • Keyword Lifecycle Stage 1: You currently don’t rank at all for that term. 
  • Keyword Lifecycle Stage 2: You currently don’t rank on page 1 of the search engine results pages. 
  • Keyword Lifecycle Stage 3: You are currently ranking in positions 4-9 of the search engine results pages. 
  • Keyword Lifecycle Stage 4: You are currently ranking in positions 1-3 of the search engine results pages, but your CTR is less than 8%.
  • Keyword Lifecycle Stage 5: You are currently ranking in positions 1-3 of the search engine results pages and your CTR is higher than 8%. 

Each Lifecycle Stage comes with a different set of recommendations to move the user from having a need to becoming a lead. 

With keywords in the first three Lifecycle Stages you are working really hard to win over the search engines – you can do this with content creation, supporting blog posts, linking strategies (internal and external). Essentially, you are pulling levers and turning dials to send the right signals to the search engines to get you in the top three positions.

Once a keyword moves to Lifecycle Stage 4, your focus moves from trying to influence the search engines to trying to influence the person using a search engine – you can do this by ensuring that your title tag and meta description include action-oriented, click-enticing copy to increase your CTR.  

Once you have worked a keyword to Lifecycle Stage 5 (woo hoo!), your effort moves from SEO to CRO. This is the time to start running conversion based tests on your pages and work to increase your on-page conversion rate.  

In conclusion…

So rankings CAN become traffic and traffic CAN become leads.  But only IF you put together an SEO strategy that is built around a Keyword Universe that drives conversion for your brand, with a clear picture of where your keywords stand in the Keyword Lifecycle Stage, and with the work to move your target audience from having a need to becoming a lead.  

Turning organic search into a top converting channel isn’t magic, or this elusive thing – it is a process.