Its about the Conversions, stupid

July 17, 2009


So I was totally excited recently to see one of my favorite clients site was now ranking like #3 in Google for one of our top keywords… its a 2-word keyword and is a big one in the industry. Its not terribly specific, but has a tremendous search volume associated with it, and sure enough a high ranking has been driving lots of traffic…

So I hopped onto Google Analytics to see “how much traffic” this keyword and our recently-improved ranking was providing. Over the period I selected, we had something like 700 visits to the site. I clicked on the “conversions” tab. Yeah… ZIPPY! Not a single lead from 700 visitors. Silly, really. So being that our goal is lead-generation, this effectively means that this keyword – which is now this client’s top keyword in terms of traffic volume – is trailing like several hundred other keywords in terms of its real value to the firm as a means of generating leads. Lots of crazy-long-tail keywords have brought us 1 and 2 conversions without even giving any thought to targeting those phrases.

This is nothing earth-shattering. I’m not an idiot. I walk around singing the mantra of “how many leads did it produce” instead of “how are we ranked”. But alas, even I can (momentarily) fall in love with a pretty ranking or a sexy traffic volume. Fool’s gold people, fool’s gold.

Now the silver lining here – or the justification rather – is that in a sense traffic is ALWAYS good even if it doesn’t convert. Why?

  1. Well shoot maybe it did convert…
    • Maybe instead of filling out the form they called on the phone (we’re not doing call tracking on this particular site). Okay great.
    • Or maybe they did a search on that big-volume keyword and found our site, and then remembered the company’s name and 2 days later did a search from another computer and became a lead. No way to track that back to the big-money keyword, but it still generated the lead.
  2. Traffic brings people… some of them have blogs or social network accounts or will email their friends.
    • Basically the more traffic you get the more opportunity for word-of-mouth referrals, social media mentions, and some indirect or viral link building to occur which will help your site rank for that keyword and other keywords which may generate traffic and leads later on.
    • So you rank for “generic phrase” and that gets you 1,000 visits… one of those guys has a nice blog and links over to you, raising your site’s reputation score.  Now you site moves up 3 spots for “really specific keyword” and gets a few more visits that it was getting before, that produces 1 or 2 more leads.

Anyhow, just wanted to share some thoughts here.  The point is that traffic, sure, is always a good thing… but when you run lead-generation websites you need to make sure you don’t fall in love with fool’s gold keywords that produce lots of traffic and no conversions, unless of course you can make the case in item #2 above.

One Response to “Its about the Conversions, stupid”

  1. Fools gold is an excellent way of putting it.

    Last few days I was out with my brother in law panning for gold. It was funny watching run up to people asking if it was ‘gold’. It was pyrite aka fool’s gold.

    Just because you strike something doesn’t make you rich. Rich is when you’re converting, and closing those leads!

    great post

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