so you landed #1 on page 1, so what?

by PBMax
18 replies
  • SEO
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I've ranked clients (a few algorithms ago) on page #1 at #1 for competitive keywords, BUT a landslide of sales didn't happen.

I contend - then and now - that it doesn't matter if you're ranking #1 if no one knows your name, but the #9 guy is a household name. #9 guy will win 9 times out of 10 because people equate household names with trust.

If you focus on brand awareness, backlinks will naturally come because then you're the popular quarterback and people want to link to you to appear associated with you. And when traffic comes, Google SERPS will follow (but will be secondary because people have bookmarked your site on their browser bar.)

Of course, when people naturally come to your website directly (bypassing Google) then the site needs to be informative and coded like a champ. Optimize it for your city business niche because people will want to read about "desired service + city they are in" because convenience makes people feel comfortable.

SEOs (yes, I'm a fringe SEO also) don't like news out about backlinks taking a back seat to brand awareness for local marketing. However, I've seen it, embraced it and done something about it.

For clarity: Backlinks = blog comments, blog mentions, forum comments, social bookmarks, PDF shares, article directories, etc, etc.

Most of that will come when people learn about you through brand awareness.

Now, I'm not gonna give up the Colonel's secret herbs & spices on what I believe "brand awareness" to be, but essentially make people aware of your brand and you're on the right track.
#landed #page
  • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
    That only works for businesses with a biggish brand, if you own a generic site or blog and don't have the budget/ability to create an interest in your product/service/brand what is the point in building brand awareness if it doesn't generate traffic/sales? No Google SERPs = no traffic from Google.

    The advice is bad SEO advice for probably everyone reading this, I doubt any biggish brands read this forum for SEO advice.

    Most here will be aware of Moz, according to the Google Keyword Planner Tool SERPs related to Moz account for around 22,000 searches a month.

    Even moz.com wont get the entire 22K visitors a month, so despite being a well known brand in SEO circles with tools using Moz in the name (Moz Rank for example) there's not that much brand traffic: 22K a month is nice for a Mom and Pop website, but for a big brand it's nothing (I don't consider Moz a big brand).

    Still disagree, we all know who Amazon are. Name 10 other book websites that are biggish brands without using Google to find them? I might be able to get to 5 if I include publishers, but I've never searched for a book website by brand name other than Amazon and as an adult I've bought thousands of books (home educated three kids, needed a lot of resources).

    What about search engines. Name 10 search engine brands, we have the obvious Google, Bing, Yahoo name 7 more: have you ever searched for them?

    As a small business owner do you have a brand that's going to even be well known in your niche let alone in your country or world?

    What you should have argued is if you can get a number 1 SERP in Google AND build brand awareness in your niche (like Moz has) when searches see your site for that SERP they might trust you more than a non branded site. For example a search for SEO Tutorial has Moz in the top 10 (around 7th), since many who have researched a little about SEO will trust Moz as a good source of SEO information, they might be more inclined to click the Moz link than the domains they don't recognise.

    BTW I've ranked my own sites for small brand SERPs (SEO tests) and the traffic is dismal.

    David
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      If you said that #2 or #3 could outperform the top ranked site by having a more recognized name, I could agree with that.

      Saying that the #9 ranked site will outperform the #1 ranked site 9 out of 10 times by being a more recognized brand is just absolutely not true.

      There have been several studies done that show that anywhere from over 70-80% of people who use search engines believe that the top ranked sites are authorities in the market, no matter who they are.

      99% of people out there have no idea how search engines work. They just assume that Google ranks the "best" sites first.

      Of course as an SEO, if you are not helping your client to build their online brand, you really are only doing part of your job.
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      • Profile picture of the author PBMax
        I find it's easy to have local brand awareness because every new biz owner fresh off the local chamber boat is hearing SEO, backlinks, SEO and they forget that the best, easiest, most tried-and-true method is getting in front of people, NOT in line for Google.

        Backlinks come...wait for it...NATURALLY when you do good business and you're not too lazy to get out there (from behind your computer) and actually engage the people.

        All you need:

        Brandable, memorable name.
        Good tag line.
        Personable appeal.
        Excellent service.

        Why this isn't the first, second, and fifth step to marketing ANY company, let alone small biz, is beyond me.

        Anecdotal case study:


        I have a client in the medical realm where the #1 doctor in the city (his comp) is not #1 on the SERPs. He's typically #3 or around there, but his name is the most recognizable one in the industry. His backlink profile? Dismal. It's not the backlinks that are ranking him, it's the DIRECT traffic his brand is drawing in. And the website that is spot on.
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      • Profile picture of the author nettiapina
        Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

        99% of people out there have no idea how search engines work. They just assume that Google ranks the "best" sites first.
        People also may not make any difference between the real results and the ads on the top if they seem relevant. I was pretty shocked when I saw this in action. The guys and gals I was watching were all fairly tech savvy. This was just an "informal UI test" type of situation, but I think there's a study about this phenomenon somewhere.

        I agree that it's hard for #9 to beat #1 if the user is only looking for the best link. If the user is trying to find the best product or price and going through every promising first place link then the placement isn't that important. Brand recognition is probably not that important either. Some users respond to price, some to specs or marketing claims, some to a slick site or brand.
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      • Profile picture of the author st0nec0ld
        Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

        There have been several studies done that show that anywhere from over 70-80% of people who use search engines believe that the top ranked sites are authorities in the market, no matter who they are.

        99% of people out there have no idea how search engines work. They just assume that Google ranks the "best" sites first.
        I agree, even I who knows a bit about SEO believed that whatever shows up first would probably the best for me, what more for people who really have no idea about it. On the other hand, it is still on the user's preference though.

        But really though, we can't deny the fact that even if we ranked our site on top of SERP, it will not guarantee us sales/conversion. We still have to make extra effort on our target audience. Besides, search engine should not be the only resource. There are social media, blogs, and other platforms.
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  • Profile picture of the author PBScott
    If you're #1 consistently, you will build brand awareness just off of that. Hopefully your website conveys a brand people might want to make a purchase from.

    We have a high conversion rate, not because of brand awareness, but due to the website looking reputable.

    If you end up #1 for all the keywords you ever dreamed of, and are not making money, something else is obviously wrong with your business plan.
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    • Profile picture of the author PBMax
      Originally Posted by nettiapina View Post

      Brand recognition is probably not that important either. Some users respond to price, some to specs or marketing claims, some to a slick site or brand.
      Tell that to McDonald's, Best Buy, etc etc ALL of which neither have the best food or best price. If people recognize the name brand among a sea of names they don't know, they will almost always go with the one they know. It's a comfort issue. Basic psychology.

      Think of it this way: You return to school for the new semester and see that you don't know anyone in your morning class. But, you catch a glimpse of this dude in the corner who used to be in your Speech 101 class last year, so you sit next to him, maybe not because he's particularly smart or interesting, but because he's familiar and you're a fish out of water. You can relax a little bit more in class because you can latch on to something you've seen before outside of this new class.

      Originally Posted by PBScott View Post

      If you're #1 consistently, you will build brand awareness just off of that. Hopefully your website conveys a brand people might want to make a purchase from.
      I guess that way will work, too, but it's not sustainable, at least not near as much as being a recognizable face. With SERPs, you can become yesterday's news before the sun sets on today. Too volatile. Ever heard of building your house on quicksand? You can't put roots there. And add in that SERPs are increasingly becoming personalized, you're gonna need everyone and their dog liking your client's Google Plus page just to have a chance at being seen.
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      • Profile picture of the author nettiapina
        Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

        Tell that to McDonald's, Best Buy, etc etc ALL of which neither have the best food or best price. If people recognize the name brand among a sea of names they don't know, they will almost always go with the one they know. It's a comfort issue. Basic psychology.
        Yes, people may go with the big name, or then again they might not. Maybe that dude from Speech 101 told you about a really bad case of customer service. Maybe they're known for lackluster service and quality issues. Or perhaps you're the kind of person who tries to find an underdog, or maybe you're just looking for a better deal.

        I'd probably click the link open, but that doesn't really matter. Conversion (or store visit) is the important bit.


        Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

        With SERPs, you can become yesterday's news before the sun sets on today. Too volatile. Ever heard of building your house on quicksand? You can't put roots there. And add in that SERPs are increasingly becoming personalized, you're gonna need everyone and their dog liking your client's Google Plus page just to have a chance at being seen.
        Was there really someone here who advocated a SEO only approach? I don't get why you talk about "roots" and SEO. It's obvious that the foundation for web visibility is not the process of optimization, but the website.

        Search engines allow you to get your stuff out there if it's relevant to someone. It's probably not the meat and potatoes of most marketing campaigns, but a catalyst. However, it allows the small guys to compete with big names, and it's pretty hard to see a fault in that.

        Google usually puts about one Google+ link to the search, and only if that's relevant to the search. You're seeing monsters where there are none (at least at the moment). They tailor the search to other wishes, but it's pretty likely that user who's not seeing a particular link would not see it in any case.
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        • Profile picture of the author PBMax
          Originally Posted by nettiapina View Post


          Google usually puts about one Google+ link to the search, and only if that's relevant to the search. You're seeing monsters where there are none (at least at the moment). They tailor the search to other wishes, but it's pretty likely that user who's not seeing a particular link would not see it in any case.
          I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but come on, people manipulate by nature, look at what you do for a living. Google was made by people (and still is if it hasn't become self-aware yet) so they will naturally show you what they think is best for you, not necessarily what you search for. Direct traffic is the only combatant to this. People seriously need to be freed from Google.

          Have you honestly never typed in a search and gotten results that didn't make sense. Of course you have. That's Google running things, my friend.
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          • Profile picture of the author nettiapina
            Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

            I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but come on, people manipulate by nature, look at what you do for a living. Google was made by people (and still is if it hasn't become self-aware yet) so they will naturally show you what they think is best for you, not necessarily what you search for.
            Well, that's a conspiracy theory of sorts. Google's whole product is based on the perceived relevance of their results, and if they were to step too far from that ideal people would just stop using their search. Personalization might make us go in circles on our old tracks a bit more, but it just doesn't work the way you describe.

            Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

            Direct traffic is the only combatant to this. People seriously need to be freed from Google.
            This just doesn't follow from what you said. Or, a non sequitur as the cool kids call them.

            There's no conceivable way that direct traffic could replace Google search.

            Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

            Have you honestly never typed in a search and gotten results that didn't make sense. Of course you have. That's Google running things, my friend.
            I have no idea what you mean by this. A poor search result is "Google running things"?

            Unless you're cleverly trying to wrap the message by going back to the start - "not conspiracy butt".
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            • Profile picture of the author PBMax
              Originally Posted by nettiapina View Post

              Well, that's a conspiracy theory of sorts. Google's whole product is based on the perceived relevance of their results, and if they were to step too far from that ideal people would just stop using their search. Personalization might make us go in circles on our old tracks a bit more, but it just doesn't work the way you describe.

              This just doesn't follow from what you said. Or, a non sequitur as the cool kids call them.

              There's no conceivable way that direct traffic could replace Google search.

              I have no idea what you mean by this. A poor search result is "Google running things"?
              Google works exactly how I described. They do personalize results, read our mail and see where we surf. The only way to get them out of the sales equation (or lack thereof) is to get them out of the connection equation. Direct traffic is the exact opposite of Google search, so it can easily replace a search if the search is not necessary.

              Do you still type in "McDonalds" or "hamburger joint" in search when you know BurgerKing.com or McDonalds.com? Of course you don't. Even better, when you've been bombarded with promos from Bob's Burgers do you need to go to Google, or to his site that you have etched in your brain?

              And yes, when Google offers up results they think you need instead of the ones you want, that's running things.
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              • Profile picture of the author nettiapina
                Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

                Google works exactly how I described. They do personalize results, read our mail and see where we surf.
                Not the way that you're describing that stuff. It's a big data operation that tries to squeeze something useful out of it, and sell advertisements on the side.

                Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

                Direct traffic is the exact opposite of Google search, so it can easily replace a search if the search is not necessary.
                Well, now we're getting to the question in this thread too. How would you replace search with direct traffic? I can tell you that it's not going to be easy.

                Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

                Even better, when you've been bombarded with promos from Bob's Burgers do you need to go to Google, or to his site that you have etched in your brain?
                Via Google, of course. Why on earth would I try to remember anything that's not relevant to my daily life? And in this case it's Google search that's assisting the brand ("Bob's Burgers"). It's easy to remember brands, and easy to miss web addresses. Another strike against direct traffic, you know...
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                • Profile picture of the author PBMax
                  Originally Posted by nettiapina View Post

                  Via Google, of course. Why on earth would I try to remember anything that's not relevant to my daily life? And in this case it's Google search that's assisting the brand ("Bob's Burgers"). It's easy to remember brands, and easy to miss web addresses. Another strike against direct traffic, you know...
                  Not if the brand and domain name are one in the same, which is recommended anyway. Short, sweet, to the point.
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                  • Profile picture of the author nettiapina
                    Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

                    Not if the brand and domain name are one in the same, which is recommended anyway. Short, sweet, to the point.
                    It's getting quite hard to get the dot com you want for any short and sweet brand name. For example, a bunch of guys I know run a premium tailor shop and have a a well-known phrase as their brand name. The short version was available, but only as .fi and some other obscure extensions. However, they've got international aspirations. So their site can be found at [brandname]clothing.com.

                    Of course the .fi also works as a redirect, but even that's pretty hard for a potential client who just hears the name somewhere. Is it .com? Is it .fi? What should he type? They've been promoting offline and getting quite a lot of press for a small startup, which would make their problem even worse.

                    That is, if search engines weren't there to aid their potential visitors.

                    The more I think of this the sillier the idea of direct traffic seems, but branding is important.
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  • Profile picture of the author KylieSweet
    Originally Posted by PBMax View Post

    I've ranked clients (a few algorithms ago) on page #1 at #1 for competitive keywords, BUT a landslide of sales didn't happen.
    It doesn't mean that if you ranked number one on Google search you can get sales because of the top position but not as what you think in the first place. Users tend to be more wiser when it comes to information and it is not enough to on top and be selected as their trusted website. Searchers needs to be satisfied through interesting and new information that will benefit them in many ways but not directly or forcing them to buy your product and services.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hemanth Malli
    Although if your Website has higher page rank, it will not help in sales. It might be a factor but, it all depends on quality of the product and services that you provide. Once your brand gets reputation then your sales will automatically increases instantaneously.
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  • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
    The thing I like about SEO vs branding is it's almost impossible to build brand awareness without a reasonable amount of money, in comparison you can build decent organic search traffic on a shoe string budget.

    When I started my first online business (selling sex toys and lingerie: didn't have a brand, was a generic shopping site selling products loads of other sites sold) I had no advertising budget, within a year using SEO techniques was generating over 8,000 unique visitors a day and sold over £80,000 worth of product. My starting point was around £500 most of which went on an ecommerce shopping cart software (think it cost over £300 and was rubbish SEO wise). This was over 10 years ago, today could achieve better for almost free (cost of domain and hosting: under £100 a year).

    What could you do regarding brand awareness with £500 in a year?

    David
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by SEO-Dave View Post

      The thing I like about SEO vs branding is it's almost impossible to build brand awareness without a reasonable amount of money, in comparison you can build decent organic search traffic on a shoe string budget.
      And that is the real crux of this argument. The cost of the kind of branding that PBMax is talking about, to really become a household recognizable name even in a small market, is thousands upon thousands of dollars a month. It would probably take a solid 8-12 months in most niches to build a brand like that if not longer.

      You are talking about mailers, newspaper ads, radio spots, television ads, getting involved in local events where your business can be seen, billboards, etc.

      Then imagine if you are in a big market. You can multiply those costs 10-fold.

      I ran a business in the D.C. market. Just to run an ad that was about 1 inch x 2 inches on Sundays in the Washington Post cost around $1200 a week.

      Branding is great, and there are a lot of different ways you can help with branding online, but it is silly to tell a business they either have to focus on SEO or branding/direct traffic.

      There is absolutely no reason it has to be one or the other. In fact, it is why I tell all of my clients that they should be running an AdWords campaign along with their SEO. I'm not worried so much about clicks on the ads, but I want searchers to see multiple listings on the SERP. I want them to see an ad for the business, the main website, a Facebook page, and a Youtube video all on the same page. You can build a recognizable brand that way.

      Although I mostly disagree with PBMax's premise and think it leans too much towards an idealistic view of marketing (like the build it and pray folks) versus reality, at least it is a much more interesting discussion than 95% of the recent threads in this sub-forum right now.
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