With the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, you can drive sales around the clock. Think of it as a 24/7/365 salesperson who doesn’t need a holiday, sick pay, or a bonus! Yet many still wonder how can SEO improve sales for their small business.
As marketing channel SEO, especially content marketing, can replace costly tactics that you’ve previously relied on but are no longer effective. Local newspaper ads might have worked well in the past but aren’t what they used to be.
Regardless of what you sell, people are searching on Google, Bing, and other search engines to find what you offer. Google alone receives 3.5 billion searches per day, or around 40,000 searches every second.
With such a large amount of searches taking place daily, you can no longer afford to miss out on the sales and leads the search engines can bring your business, and for a comparatively low cost.
A Seemingly endless amount of research has been done and complied on the effectiveness of SEO, including by HubSpot. It’s worth highlighting a few numbers from their 2021 Marketing Statistics report.
- SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media.
- 51% of shoppers surveyed say they use Google to research a purchase they plan to make online.
- “Where to buy” and “near me” mobile queries have grown by over 200% in the past two years.
If you’re not using SEO to drive sales, you’re leaving money on the table. And it’s likely your competitors are exploiting this strategic weakness by working on their SEO strategy.
Let’s look in more detail at how can SEO improve sales from both a strategic and tactical point of view.
What does successful SEO look like?
Before you can plan what SEO tactics you’ll try, you need to define what success looks like to you. Without a clear idea, you’ll either change tactics before they pay off; or you’ll stop investing in SEO altogether and return to your old but trusted marketing tactics.
As I discussed in my post on website KPIs, most small businesses fail to define how they will measure their website’s performance. Many business owners load Google Analytics and are overcome with the sheer amount of data available. They fail to realize that most of these data points are noise.
Instead, you should pick 2 or 3 data points to measure daily or weekly. You should know in seconds if your SEO strategy is successful or not.
I’d argue that you can measure SEO success:
- Amount of keywords in top 3 positions
- Number of leads/sales driven by SEO
You could measure bounce rate, brand awareness, time on website, etc. But these two are critical to your business’s success. Let’s explore these two KPIs in more detail.
Amount of keywords in top 3 positions
Research by Zero Limit Web reveals that the first five organic results account for 67.60% of clicks in Google. The top result has a click-through rate (CTR) between 27% and 35%. By the third result, the CTR has decreased to around 10%.
On the second page of the search results, web pages receive less than 1% CTR. So it’s vital to be on the first page of the search results and ideally within the top 3 results.
If you’re targeting a keyword that gets 100 searches per month, and you’re ranking first, you should receive around 35 visitors each month. If you’re in the second spot, the number will be around 15 monthly visitors and roughly 10 visitors if your website is ranked third.
The maths doesn’t lie! And so, if you want to drive more targeted visitors to your website, you need to improve your keyword rankings.
Number of leads/sales driven by SEO
Keyword positions alone won’t help you drive more revenue. Your website must get people to take action, and NOW! It doesn’t matter if you’re selling watches, insurance, or property. So, it’s vital to measure what traffic converts.
If you sell a service such as coaching, you probably want to track who fills out your lead form to get more information. Ideally, you should be able to attribute this back to the source, allowing you to track where leads come from.
For example, five people fill out the form to book an introductory call each week. You should know that two people found you using social media. The other three found one of your blog posts via Google search and clicked on your call to action (CTA).
Say you’re selling physical products, you want to know how many purchases came from social, direct, and search traffic.
Can you do it yourself? Or should you hire an SEO agency?
Depending on your goals, business size, and willingness to learn SEO, you might be able to do it in-house.
For example, if you run a coaching business, you might enjoy the challenge of learning SEO and start to produce results in 6 to 12 months. Of course, you will need a few hours each week to work on your website, including writing new blog posts, updating old ones, and asking for links.
If you run a small retail shop with an online store, either hire an employee to look after the online portion of your business or work with an SEO firm. They will drive new customers to you and allow you to do the tasks you’re good at.
You might find it worthwhile to work with an agency to start with, learn what you can from them, then hire a team member.
How to work successfully with an SEO agency
If you feel you need to work with an SEO agency, the worst thing you can do is hire the first term you find. The second biggest mistake is to sign the contract without setting KPIs and agreeing on how you’ll measure them.
Instead, try to understand how they will meet (exceed) your KPIs by asking questions about their process, typical results, and campaign expectations. If they only ever give vague answers, be wary.
Expect them to ask you to commit to at least six months. It will take a few months for you to see the green shoots of their work. If you’re not willing to commit to six months, they’re likely to walk away.
Speak with clients
Ask to speak with current and former clients. Don’t allow them to supply only written testimonials as these could be fake. Instead, do your homework and talk with other businesses that have used them. Try to form an honest and balanced opinion of them.
Backlinks (off-page SEO)
It’s worth understanding how they build backlinks. Do they have someone in-house whose job is to find backlink opportunities? Are they buying links from a shady third party and unwilling to reveal this?
Content (on-page SEO)
Do they have an in-house content writing team or use another agency? Ask to see samples of their work and consider if it’s engaging.
Website (technical SEO)
Do they want access to your website or happy to work with your developer to make changes? Allowing them to make pre-agreed changes to your website will be much quicker than waiting for your developer. Technical SEO is just as important as on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
If you’re already using WordPress, Magento, or Shopify, it should be a red flag if your agency wants to completely redesign your website using a custom platform.
They might encourage you to add certain plug-ins or a particular theme. It’s worth listening to them if these changes will speed up your website’s load time. A fast load time benefits both the end-user and how search engines evaluate your website.
It’s not good enough just to set KPIs with your SEO agency. You need to define how, when, and where you’ll measure them.
If your overall goal is to double the number of leads your website produces a month by working with the agency for six months. You should measure their progress each month, at 3 months and 6 months.
Ask to see what reports they produce for current clients. Consider if these reports track the data you want to and how easy they are to understand. You don’t want a 22-page report, where the 3 pieces of data you actually need are on page 21.
Again, agree on easy to define and measure targets. Preferably your KPIs should result in yes or no outcomes. E.g. Did the website produce 15 leads this month?
So, how can SEO improve sales?
We’ve talked a lot about what SEO results you should aim for and how to work with an agency. But we haven’t explored how can SEO improve sales?
The central goal of SEO is to improve the number of targeted visitors a website receives daily. Three aspects influence how well a website performs.
- Technical SEO – website structure, indexation, and schema markup
- On-page SEO – keywords, content, HTML tags, title/meta descriptions
- Off-page SEO – link building, influencer outreach, earned mentions
A good SEO strategy balances these three elements in harmony. Let’s take a brief look at each and what it means for your website.
I think of technical SEO as just good foundations. If the search engine can easily find new pages, it’s more like to index them. And if a page is indexed, it has a chance of ranking for several keywords that will drive more revenue.
I also think about the user. If they can easily find a page that answers their query, they are more likely to take action (buy a product/email sign-up/fill a form/etc.).
By building internal links, I can help users find answers quicker and alert the search engines to new pages.
A good website structure alone won’t help you rank. You need to create pages around keywords that help your potential customer with every step of the buying process.
Each page should have a keyword. Use this keyword in the title, URL, meta description, the alt tag of the main image, and within the article, including a subtitle.
Again, don’t forget to add a few internal and external links.
Many people hear off-page SEO and assume backlinks, as you do need some to rank. Next, they try to get hundreds of backlinks, most of which are useless and spammy. Instead, focus on getting links and mentions from well-respected websites within your industry.
The more your prospect hears your name and associates it with the product or service you offer, the better. Brands spend millions on these ideas each week. For example, if I said electric car, you probably think of Telsa. If I say ketchup, you might think of Heinz.
Invest in SEO or you’ll be left behind!
As SEO takes time to work, so you’ll need to see the first six months as an investment. If you stick with it, either by doing the work yourself or hiring an agency, you will see your marketing costs reduce as your website starts to deliver clients to you.
Set your KPIs. Next, create a strategy and tactics to reach your KPIs. Finally, execute your plan and track your progress. In time you’ll see how SEO can improve your sales and profits.
Last month Izabela saw her search traffic from Google increase by 400% using 3 SEO tips we taught her.
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