Search Engine Optimization is not always the answer
It is a common misconception by small businesses that the key to a successful website is traffic. This is why most business owners are attracted to the buzz word of search engine optimization. Ranking in the search engines, especially Google, has become the holy grail of business and marketing. Google can bring 1000's of visitors to your site if you could only climb to the top of their results. And so in a desperate attempt at achieving success, most small business owners focus all of there efforts on ranking high in the search engines.
I'm not going to dispute the importance of ranking high in the search engines. If you are able to achieve high rankings, then your business will definitely grow. But while rankings are important, there is an even more important yet often ignored topic. That topic is conversions.
How well your website converts traffic to customers is far more important then where it ranks in the search engines. I know that you still don't believe me so I will prove it with hard numbers.
John Doe's website is able to drive 1000 visitors and converts 1% of them into business. This means that each month John gets 10 customers from the internet. As a good business owner he is looking to increase that number and is analyzing how. After some research he realizes that there are two ways to increase sales. The first is to drive more traffic to his website, and the second is to increase the conversions. John wants to double his sales to twenty a month and so to do this he can do one of two things. He can increase the number of visitors to his site from 1000 up to 2000, or he can increase conversions from 1% to 2%.
It is much easier to fix up an existing site and improve the conversions then to increase the traffic. And here's the best part. Once you've increased the conversions you can afford to spend the money on the traffic. Once John has a 2% conversion rate, when he drives 2000 people to his website, he now has 40 customers instead of 20. John is probably much more willing to pay money to rank in the search engines to get 40 customers then he would to get 20 and you should be to. If you're competing with John and he is getting 40 customers compared to your 20, who do you think will be able to afford to remain at the top of the search engines? Of course the answer is John, because even with a big budget the money you are wasting compared with the money he is making will allow him to stay ahead. So yes search engine optimization is important, but first you must focus on converting your current traffic into paying customers.