What I’m about to say is controversial—vulgar, even but here goes… you want money.
You ok, hun? Take a seat if you need to—compose yourself. Yes, you’ve had quite a shock. Here you are, running a business to make friends and build relationships. Sure, Leslie, you can do both of those things but let’s not pretend that making cash isn’t your main objective. Wonga can’t buy you love—very true but love can’t buy you a house in rural Kent.
Web traffic makes you moolah.
Your gear gets bought as a result of visits to your online environs. We call those visits web traffic. You know this, this is SEO 101 but the term ‘traffic’ is broader than Broadway.
In certain circumstances, girth is good but in SEO circles, girth is whack. What am I talking about? Think back to that time I mentioned broad keywords. (Sorry, the many times I’ve mentioned broad keywords—at least 350 times.) Ah, you remember now. Make a mental note of your generic industry terms, those all-encompassing words that describe you (and the 30,000 others like you). You’ll also recall that I said those terms bring loads of organic traffic, so far, so good. Let us suppose you’re lucky enough to rank on the first page of Google with a broad (competitive) keyword. You’ve hit the SEO jackpot! You delight in all that web traffic… yeah?
Well, yeah and nah.
Don’t read me wrong, I’m into organic web traffic like I’m into Alexander Dreymon:
Go check out Last Kingdom on Netflix.
I mean I seriously dig masses of search traffic but only when it’s specific to your offering.
Irrelevant organic hits are as much use to you as a gelatine diaphragm. Lemme explain: one of my broad keywords is ‘freelance SEO writer’. If potentials were to find me on that term (unlikely but ok, I don’t mind some role play) they still wouldn’t hire me. It’s not specific enough, it says absolutely nothing about what I offer and that’s the problem with broad keywords, they describe poorly what you do. Those searching ‘freelance SEO writer’ will have more luck on Fiverr and Upwork where they will find themselves a nice generic Jenny.
If you want to read more about finding the best keywords, read this: Learn to unlock your long-tail keywords.
Unqualified traffic is shit.
It’s just as terrible as no traffic. I’ll go further and suggest it’s worse. Because now you have to deal with the unnecessary admin of batting off enquiries that don’t match with your services or products. And as much as you love admin, you probably have enough of it to do—real productive work that demands your attention.
The leads are cold because a moment before that prospect opened Google, they had no clue who you were. And if they’re unqualified, they’re not only cold, they’re positively frozen.
Web traffic and client qualification are the same.
I will assume you qualify your leads. I will further assume the process is swift and painless. If you struggle with that, read this: 5 bad client traits and how to deal with them.
How do you qualify web traffic?
In essence, it’s easy: you understand who’s searching.
“Wow, no shit.”
Yeah, no shit but are you doing that—are you really researching who’s googling you?
It’s one thing to nod your head in agreement, even roll your eyes at me saying this—yet again, it’s quite another to forego the work. What are their behaviours? What are their intentions? And are you serving those things with your website? Is your content perfectly matched with the search query/keyword? Go and have a good long ponder then, DO THE WORK.
Users visit your site if you’ve done a decent job with the first thing they see.
And the first thing they see is your meta title and description. (The snippets that display on the search results pages.) Your meta info is your virtual front door. That’s the first hurdle, the second is getting them to stay on your website. This is where things can get a bit tricky if you don’t really know your audience.
Your business type informs the behaviour of your prospects.
If you sell services, the chances of getting a paying client from cold web traffic will be slim.
Human behaviour doesn’t care how wonderful your homepage copy is. People finding you from search don’t know you, they have no reason to trust you’ll deliver. Your services are large investments and not just cash ones. Prospects are going to be working with you so they need to make sure their choice is the right one. They’ll be looking for examples, success stories—case studies—content that answers their questions and reassures their reservations. They’ve probably been following you on social media, maybe reading your weekly newsletter—these bitches take their sweet-ass time to act. These stalky bastards make it a regular thing to visit your website. And if they run their own business, they might have to discuss the decision with others.
TOP TIP: Put something on your homepage that will keep them thinking about you. That could be a line of memorable copy but it could also be a useful download. Get them on a bloody mailing list! Turn that cold lead into a warm one.
If you’re selling one-off purchase items, you’ll have a greater chance of converting search traffic.
These folks are the impulse buyers. And they are unlikely to require anyone else’s permission—but only if the cost of the product isn’t too pricey. More money means more consideration. In any case, these potential customers want detailed item descriptions, they’re after a full specification. They expect plenty of good-quality images. They want to read reviews and know you have a secure, easy way to pay. A seamless customer journey is what these buyers are after (and great customer service).
TOP TIP: Don’t forget your customer after they buy. Your aftercare should be excellent, especially when dealing with a complaint. Treat them well and they’ll come back for more.
So search behaviour varies and it depends on what you’re selling. Make sure your website and landing pages reflect that.
Should you focus on organic traffic?
Before you immediately assume you should ask yourself this: does the nature of your work lend itself to search? Are prospects actively googling people in your industry? If potentials are much more likely to find you via referral, going organic might not be right for your business. Knowing where your leads come from is vital because that’s where you spend your marketing budget.
But you might be missing an opportunity.
(I like to throw a spanner in the works.)
Just because your business doesn’t get leads from search engines now, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Let’s imagine your leads currently come from word of mouth. Investing in organic traffic could get you ahead of the game—and the competition. The working landscape changes—the pandemic has shown us that so it might be a risk worth taking. Ok, the trickle of enquiries might be low but the competition for your keywords will likely be low too. Something to wistfully consider, perhaps? (And do nothing about? Probably.)
Organic isn’t the only traffic.
Again, I’m a broken record on this but when we think of web traffic we immediately assume it’s from search.
But the content on your site doesn’t have to be for the purpose of attracting cold leads. It can also be where you direct prospects to, a place to build trust and reassure them that you’re credible. After all, experience, expertise, authority, and trust are hugely important to those buying services, it’s also critical for SEO. A content strategy would still be appropriate because content has so many different purposes.
And if you want to find out what else content can do, read this: Blogging is dead: the lie that won’t die.
You know your clients.
Past clients give you useful information. You know the ones you loved working with and why. And with that knowledge, you’ll understand what attributes you wish to attract in new clients. You’ll also know how previous clients found you. And if you’re not sure, ASK THEM. Or ask the person (or department) that has firsthand experience with prospects.
Is your content in need of serious surgery? If so, head this way to content hospital.
I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).