Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you run an e-commerce website. You’re moderately successful. You make enough to perhaps employ a couple people for help, but you can’t quite figure out what needs to happen to push it to the next level.
Or, maybe you are doing well, revenue-wise. You’ve got a good location, employees, etc., but you feel like you are spending as much to get sales as you’re making…never really gaining enough ground to be able to expand your business or truly be profitable.
Most folks are quick to say “you need PPC!”, or “SEO will solve your problems!”. While there are elements of truth to both of those statements, neither can exist for you profitably without the other. And there’s the rub.
Placing the customer’s surfing and (hopefully) buying experience first is my first priority. What can we change to make it easier for the user to decide among product options? Are they stopping at the cart page because they aren’t sure about what to do next? Maybe the descriptions don’t have enough (or, in some cases, too much) information, and the user is abandoning the site before deciding to purchase.
Keeping these important things in mind, my next concern is expanding the reach of our customer experience outward, employing PPC and SEO techniques that are geared towards what people like. The major search engines are becoming more and more like people; rewarding sites with valuable content and real popularity and discrediting ones that try to use sneaky tactics to gain ranking. This idea also trickles over into PPC strategy. Creating landing pages for people always convert better and cost less per-click than pages that are optimized for page crawlers.
In addition to these, I employ other tools such as click-heat maps, eye tracking software, and session recording to get actual real-world, real-life user data from people who are actually using your site. No one can know your users as well as your users. Why not try to learn from them?
Will my methods get you overnight success? Absolutely not. They will, however, help you gain a steady uptrend of profitable traffic, and build a solid base from which to launch larger advertising campaigns (email marketing, direct mail, etc.). Steady, profitable traffic trumps overnight spurts any day of the week. Many SEO companies will promise (and deliver) big traffic, but unfortunately, the majority of it is highly unprofitable, untargeted visits.