If the number of people visiting your website is important to you or if you measure the success of your site by it’s visits, there is an easy way to increase Traffic: Search engine optimisation and Google ads. But that’S the fast track to ruin.
There is this thing called Search Engine Marketing, mainly Google AdWords and display ads. In combination with on site search engine optimisation it is a powerful tool to increase the awareness of your website. And thus its traffic. But it comes at a cost. Virtually if you pay for Google AdWords or as hidden costs of paying a professional to analyse and code your site to be search engine optimised.
Okay, let’s assume you are fine with spending your money on ads and key word analysis. But what do you do with the visitor you just attracted?
- Are you welcoming them with a landing page that barely meets the key words of the ad—or do you even send them to your home page (wich is worse)?
- Are you confusing them with a wild bunch of products and a navigation no one understands at first glance?
- Are you putting them off with too many required fields in your contact form or with forcing them to sign in when they just want to buy?
- Are you leaving them alone with questions they may have and don’t encourage them to turn to you via phone, e-mail, chat, twitter, facebook and so on?
If you answered all these questions with “no” you can stop reading here. You seem to be well prepared to welcome new visitors with a thoroughly optimised website and it is a brilliant idea to increase traffic with money.
But if you don’t put the user experience first, if you try to increase traffic now and care for UX later, I think you have a problem. So before you ask for SEO you may be well advised to care for UXO—user experience optimisation.
Oh come on, you are totally making this up. There is no such thing as UXO!
Yes, sure I invented UXO. But think about it: The web is about users not numbers. And conversion is about users as well. And even Google tries to deliver good content to people. It may seem like Google is this divine eye on overwatch of the digital world. But they make a living on delivering results for real people. They know that user acceptance is their most valuable benefit.
And just so, you sell your products to real people, not to search engines. It’s not all about being found but being nice. Google doesn’t buy your stuff, people do.
But I want more people to find me. More visits equals more sales.
Yes, there is a truth to more visits = more sales. But quantity is not the problem in the web. And yes, if you have a very niche product and a very small target group you may be forced to put a lot of money into advertising and marketing. But only if you aim for a local audience not a global. Only if you have only a limited number of customers in your area, you need to make yourself known—and that will cost you money.
But in the web, you have an unlimited number of potential customers.
In the web, there are two scenarios:
- You have a niche product with little competition.
- You try to sell your product within a highly competitive market.
In both cases people will find you and your product. Either because you are the only one selling that stuff, or because so many people are searching. And once they found you, all you have to do is convince them that you are the perfect fit. You could do this by offering the lowest price, but who wants that? What you’d rather do, is give them an assuring brand. You don’t get a USP by buing a massive number of visitors but by building an extraordinary user experience.
To be frank, there is a third scenario, that AdWords are very suitable for: You have a new product with little competition, that nobody knows about. If you can’t expect anyone to search for a keyword you address, you probably give them a nudge towards the thing you sell. But then again, should you not rather put your emphasis on content marketing and reaching influencers and early adopters?
Invest in your brand, not in Google.
So let my try to conclude. I think that buying visits is a short sighted approach. Thinking about your users first, is cheaper and more efficient. You spend less money on a longer lasting revenue. And you invest in your brand, not in Google.
And there is a side effect to UXO you should not underestimate. UXO makes good SEO but not the other way around. You can make a website perfectly Google optimised but the users hate it. If you write good copy, for people to easily grasp, if you have a low barrier site structure, search engines will love your site—and not only those you did bribe.