Guest Post by Tom Shivers
|The focus of SEO should be audience engagement.|
With more complex algorithms that factor in local, personal and universal search features, search rankings are not always consistent. Today’s results often depend on a user’s location, their search history and their behavior with the search results – sometimes you can see different search results for the same search terms, even on two different computers in the same location.
One question many businesses have when hunting for a search engine optimization (SEO) company is, “Will this company know us and our audience well enough to turn our web business into something profitable, worthy of our investment?” Unfortunately, it’s not easy to discern the answer before you are three months into an agreement.
Web Traffic vs. Engagement
Is the goal of SEO to get as much traffic as possible to a website? Many SEO companies will lead you to believe that more traffic is all there is to it. Granted, getting more traffic is a part of it, but more eyeballs on a web page do not necessarily mean achieving your business goals.
Look at your web analytics – specifically the keywords that brought in the majority of traffic – then evaluate the quality of this traffic over the past month or quarter. A high bounce rate and low average time on site for visits from a particular keyword can indicate one or all of these:
Searcher cannot find anything relevant to her keyword and bounces.
Searcher may find something relevant, but the page does not communicate directly with her intent… so she bounces.
The keyword is not relevant for the site.
Let me suggest that the focus of SEO should be audience engagement, rather than traffic. According to Eric T. Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified, “Engagement is an estimate of the depth of visitor interaction against a clearly defined set of goals.” That’s pretty clear: Without specific goals, driving more traffic to your website sounds like a good option.