Are SEOs Responsible For Rankings Or Money?

SEO Responsible For Rankings Or Money

On the SEO Myths, Mistakes & The Madness of Crowds panel. During the panel, the panel threw out a number of SEO myths to debunk.

The group covered all the basics like PageRank sculpting, Flash, duplicate content and everything else you'd expect.

The last myth offered up for debunking was, "SEO is about rankings". The consensus was no, SEO isn't about ranking. SEO is about money!

But how accepted is that truth really? Even by the practitioners of SEO themselves?

In the comments of that post, one reader questioned the panel's response. His comment hit at a lot of great points and he's not alone in this thoughts. Here is the comment:

At the end of the post you say "No. The goal of SEO is to make money.' and whilst I agree that almost every sensible action a business makes is somehow connected to making money, we all seem to have lost sight of what SEO is. The goal of SEO is not to make money. SEO is just one link in the chain of your money making process. The goal of SEO is to bring relevant traffic to relevant site pages from the search engines. SEO's are not all conversion rate experts, this is a completely different skill-set and the next link (after SEO) in your money making chain. Surely SEO KPI's must be based on search engine traffic (quality and quantity) and not conversions. Why would you be held accountable to something you are not qualified to improve?

He touched on an interesting and important discussion.

SEO has changed. It's evolved and, as a result, so must we. It wasn't too long ago that the bulk of SEO related to creating structurally sound sites, ensuring they were crawl-able and tugged at the right keywords. But that's what SEO is anymore. At least, that's not all that it is.

Today, SEO is just as much art as it is science. SEO has become marketing and the result of that is today's SEOs are at least partially responsible for conversion rates. To design and market a site without taking conversion rates into account would be like designing a house but forgetting to install windows or doors. If you want people to come in and do something, you have to give them a way in. You also have to watch to see how they're entering and maybe shave the door down if you find they're bumping their head or having trouble fitting. And that takes understanding and looking at more than just the technical aspects of a Web site. Although, not every conversion rate expert is an SEO, SEOs do have to become conversion rate experts.

At least they do if they're selling conversions to clients. If, as an SEO, all you're promi0sing is a usable and structurally sound site, then it's on the client to worry about conversions. Its is best, for the clients', to work on the whole puzzle than give them two or three pieces.

As SEO and the search engines continue to evolve, we'll see an even bigger shift to monitoring conversions. We have to. With personalized search, real-time search, and social search all entering the fray, traffic becomes an unreliable metric to determine the success of a site or a campaign. So does traffic. Who cares if you're getting 10,000 visitors a day if they all bounce in .8 seconds?

You must work with clients to perfect calls to action that encourage people to buy and design landers (landing pages) that set customers into a specially crafted conversion funnel. We tackle things like social media, content optimization, A/B testing, page design and usability, etc. It's not just about the structure of the site anymore -it's about the meat. The meant that is designed to do way more than just rank, it's designed to convert.

Obviously, your responsibility as an SEO is whatever you and the client have agreed upon. It's important to set client expectations early so there aren't any surprises down the road. You better bet it includes taking conversions into account. Because even though as SEO consultants, we're merely the coach, we want to do more than just take you the playoffs. We want to make sure you make the shot when you have the ball.

Originally published here.

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