If placing your website within the top search engine results, entering certain keywords in Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, or Alta Vista, has become your daily obsession, stop for a moment and reflect. Is achieving top search results with selected keywords the real objective, or, is it perhaps developing a means for connecting with your potential customers, thus attracting more qualified traffic to your web site, what you are truly after? Besides, what are the chances that your prospective clients will key in, exactly, those keywords that you chose in, precisely, those same search engines that you have targeted to locate your website within the first page of results?
Now that the majority of website administrators have finally accepted that online marketing applying search engine technology is the most efficient strategy in the long term for capturing qualified Internet traffic, companies that offer web optimization and search engine submission services have started launching aggressive campaigns guaranteeing top positions for their clients by using a limited number of keywords (typically five, ten, or fifteen), regardless of their websites’ business domain. This approach should immediately raise doubts as it is obviously much easier to position a website dedicated, for example, to the dissection of butterflies, that probably enjoys very little competition, than positioning a website dedicated to real estate operating in an extremely crowded market. Therefore, one must always carefully weigh in the promises made by these web-positioning firms since two different scenarios could occur:
- In order to achieve the promised top search results, a web-positioning company may be forced to choose keywords that are so exclusive and specific that even if your website surfaces among the first few spots, the chances of a prospective client typing those exact keywords is extremely remote.
- On the other hand, a client may demand from the web-positioning company the utilization of keywords that are so generic and belong to such a highly competitive business domain that the web-positioning company is unable to realize their promises even after applying all the proper techniques correctly.
This raises the question of whether the mechanisms currently employed for determining the success or failure of a web positioning strategy are adequate, or, perhaps, better alternatives exist. In most cases, web-positioning companies justify their success by providing periodic web positioning reports to their clients. These automatically generated reports show the positions achieved by each of the selected keywords with every search engine targeted. Software programs repeatedly launch queries once a week, or once a month, with each of the search concepts using all the search engines selected, capturing the results and presenting them in weekly or monthly reports. The customers review these reports and apply their information as the only basis for determining the level of success, which brings us back to the original question: Is achieving a good positioning the real objective, or is it using web positioning as just another means for obtaining more qualified traffic the intended goal?
From my perspective, attracting qualified Internet traffic should be the ultimate goal of any online marketing strategy, from web positioning to online advertising, including email strategies, permission marketing, or pay-per-click campaigns. That is why marketing professionals should be using web traffic reports as the true indicators of their online marketing success, as opposed to relying solely on the information provided by web positioning reports. Even though these latter reports can offer a good indication of where a website would appear if certain keywords were used in a search engine, the cornerstone for determining how well a website is actually performing comes from analyzing the real-time statistics provided by web traffic reports. Let’s analyze next some of the reasons that make these reports such an invaluable asset.
- A potential customer can locate a website entering such a large variety of keywords, phrases, synonyms, misspelled words, expressions, etc. that limiting the positioning of a website to the utilization of five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty keywords would not begin to cover the spectrum of possibilities available to any Internet user.
- The origins of prospective clients are typically so diverse that adopting an online marketing strategy that simply positions a website for a limited number of search engines would greatly reduce the chances of capturing additional audiences frequenting areas such as forums, user groups, e-mails, newsletters, referrals, chat rooms, blogs, online articles, etc. Even though, in most cases, Google, for example, generates over 75% of the traffic referrals for a website, it is important to note that external referrals to a website from areas such as forums or newsletters are also taken into consideration by Google and other search engines while positioning a website. A complete web positioning strategy should therefore take into consideration external website referrals due to the effect that they have on the overall positioning and also because these referrals are excellent sources for directing more qualified traffic to a website.
- A web positioning report illustrates the ranking that a website would obtain if the keywords chosen by us were submitted to the list of search engines also selected by us. A web traffic report, on the other hand, shows exactly how a prospective customer found our website (i.e. shows both the keywords typed in by the customer and the search engine used by the customer.)
- A web positioning report shows the spot that could be achieved, but provides little insight on how to improve the results obtained. One of the many features of a web traffic report is the ability to capture what specific keywords and corresponding search engines generated the majority of the visits to a website, or those that actually converted visits into real customers. This continuous feedback provided by the web traffic reports is an excellent mechanism to fine-tune search concepts and improve their effectiveness.
- Web traffic reports can also be utilized to analyze how the popularity of a particular search concept evolves over time and how new trends or concepts are born. This information enables the incorporation of new niche keywords that will improve the positioning of a website not only by reducing the scope of a search, but also by increasing the chances that a potential customer will select those keywords.
- Finally, a web traffic report also lists all the external referring entities (e.g., forums, chat rooms, blogs, etc.); information that will prove invaluable for expanding a web positioning strategy and enhancing its vision for a more global reach.
Attracting qualified Internet traffic to a website (i.e. customers that are interested in the products or services being offered) ought to be the ultimate goal of any online marketing strategy. This effort cannot be simply limited to the selection of a series of search keywords and engines, all chosen beforehand. Instead, a more global approach must be adopted that encompasses web optimization, search engine submissions, inclusion of references in external areas such as forums, user groups or value-added portals, the publication of articles, and the contribution of content to other websites. This expanded strategy will enhance our overall Internet presence and will enable the most popular search engines to locate a website applying a greater variety of search concepts. Lastly, by applying the feedback obtained from the web traffic reports, our global Internet presence can be continually improved and sustained to ensure consistent and effective results.