When (and Why) Writing Content for High Traffic Numbers Backfires

by Laurie Heller

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Wow! You've finally done it! Your business is in the number #1 position on Google's results page. It's time to open the champagne bottle and break into a chorus of "We Are the Champions," right?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not. 

It's true that a high SERP ranking is a big deal; after all, the top 3 organic search results in Google earn well over 50% of all clicks, according to a recent study. At the same time, it's important to remember that the goal of SEO is to not only drive traffic to your site — but to ultimately convert that traffic into leads and paying customers.

So here's the key question: Is your high traffic volume translating into more leads and customers? If it's not, then you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

In line with that thought, consider this article a friendly "reality check." Let's dive into the when, how, and why of inflated traffic numbers — and how to right the ship, and get your business back on course.

Google should be your secondary audience

Secondary audience? What on earth are we talking about?

Okay, here's the deal with SEO-driven content: You are always, always writing for two separate audiences. The first one is your target consumer; the second one is the search engine, with all of its little bots and crawlers. The question is, which audience should come first?

Some people might say: "The search engine!" After all, if your business gets stuck on Google's 29th page for the rest of eternity, no one is ever going to visit your website. And it's absolutely true that keyword research, backlinks, schema markup, and all of those other SEO tactics play an important role in the success of your marketing plan. 

However, there's a problem with that kind of reasoning. Let's say that you do get to the top of the list on Google's SERP rankings. Let's say that thousands of people visit your site every day. That's great! But do you know what those people will do if your content doesn't offer anything of value to them?

You guessed it: Bye-bye.

The fact is, the quality of website traffic is way more important than the quantity. Wouldn't you rather have 10 people visit your website and eventually buy from you, compared to 10,000 people visiting without a single purchase made?

High traffic with a high bounce rate = no bueno

Bounce rate basically measures the percentage of visitors that enter a site, but then leave (or "bounce") without sticking around, or navigating to other pages within the site.

Granted, a high bounce rate isn't always a bad thing, depending on the nature of the page in question. For example, let's say your company has a FAQ page. Is it a bad sign if a large percentage of visitors land on that page, and then leave without visiting another part of your site? Not necessarily. It could indicate that those visitors had a specific question on their mind, and were able to quickly locate the answer on the page. In fact, a low bounce rate could spell trouble, since it may mean that there's a common question out there that you haven't addressed.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate can also be a really, really bad thing. If you are getting a ton of traffic to your home page, for example, but are also seeing a high bounce rate, that could mean that you're using the wrong keywords in your SEO strategy. (Basically, you're attracting the wrong crowd to your site.) Then again, a high bounce rate could indicate that your content just isn't delivering value to your consumers. (You're inviting the right people to the party, but you're not giving them anything once they get there.)

Your content should be geared towards your "ideal customer"

Here's the main point we're making: SEO is a great tool for making your business more visible — but it's absolute garbage for meeting the specific needs of your customers. Only human intelligence can handle that part of the equation.

So how can you ensure that your content doesn't only capture a lot of traffic, but is actually helpful (and relevant) for those visitors that do enter your site? Here's one way: develop a buyer persona. In other words: gather the facts, analyze the data, and figure out exactly who is your "ideal customer." Who should you be selling to?

Creating that semi-fictional ideal customer profile (ICP) doesn't just happen overnight. It takes planning. It takes patience. It takes effort. But truly understanding your buyer should be the foundation of all your marketing activities. And going through the development process really works. In fact, incorporating a buyer persona into your marketing strategy can make your website 2-5x more effective, and easier to use for your target audience. It can also generate more leads for your business, and ultimately drive more sales.

Long story short: You down with ICP? Yeah you must be.

How can you tell if your content is working?

Once you put in the work, and start developing content specifically adapted for your ideal customer, how can you tell if your efforts are bearing fruit?

First of all, patience is essential. SEO is not a magic pill that you can take at night and wake up in the morning with all of your problems gone. Neither is content creation.

That being said, you should start to notice some positive effects within a relatively short time of making those changes to your site. These good results may include:

  • A lower bounce rate
  • More time spent on the page by the average user
  • More pages on your site visited by the average user
  • More leads, and ultimately more sales

The bottom line? Don't just write content for Google. Figure out who you should be selling to, and thennnnn develop content for them, specifically. If you do, your business will benefit immensely. You'll be able to break out the champagne, and sing in the streets.

Or in grown-up terms, you'll be able to grow your business.

If you need some extra support, reach out to us.


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