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Mar 22, 2012

Driving Traffic is Not the End Goal of SEO

Did that subject get your attention? Great! Contrary to what you may have heard or believe it is indeed true. I promise.

Just like a physician can’t make a diagnosis and determine the plan of attack before collecting data on patient symptoms and signs, any good SEO practitioner can’t develop a strategy, let alone touch pen to paper, until knowing what the business objective is. While it may sound like common sense, you’ll unfortunately be surprised just at what qualifies these days as ‘SEO’. Another topic for another day. Getting back to the business objective, it depends on the nature of the business but can range from more sales and conversion, filling out a form, driving eyeballs and high page views for advertising purposes, etc. 

The Implications for an E-Commerce Site

For e-commerce sites, getting traffic for traffic’s sake may produce a nice chart showing an increase in traffic but it’ll do little to help the businesses’ bottom line and conversion rate. In fact, it’ll most likely hinder growth, continue to drive the wrong type of traffic, and create a very short tenure for the SEO pro. And who wants that?

Rather, only after understanding the business objective can our SEO friend can come up with a plan utilizing a number of on and offsite SEO tactics. You may know them as content development, proper category and SKU architecture, link building, social media, etc. However, they all share the same goal of…driving high level, strategic traffic with a high likelihood of converting. Sure, traffic is a means to an end but, in this scenario, certainly not the end goal in itself.

Solely practicing what we preach, not only does our site traffic continue to increase but, much more importantly, our conversion rate and number of orders placed follows the same trend. In lay terms? Our SEO strategy is driving our tactics which, in turn, are driving business growth. Coincidence? We surely don’t think so.

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