We’ve mentioned it before: clients and potential clients frequently come to Magneti asking for help with SEO, but what they really mean is that they want more business from their website.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing a website so that it ranks well in search engines, and ultimately more people (future customers!) can find your website. But sometimes, driving visitors to your site isn’t the best way to start. Yes, it contributes to increasing business from a website, but this specific tactic may not be the best or most efficient starting point. There are two metrics that make up the drivers of performance: driving more traffic and improving conversion rates.

In a perfect world, we would drive more traffic to a conversion-optimized website. However, given limited resources, we sometimes have to decide between the two. For many companies, we find it more important to focus on improving the performance of the current website — converting the traffic the website already has — than to build out a strategy, like SEO, to drive users to a website. Let’s break down the two drivers in more detail.

Traffic Acquisition

Driving more traffic to a website is a strategy for increasing business. Essentially, if more people visit your website, more people will become customers. Elements of traffic acquisition include organic and paid tactics.

Organic tactics (which tend to be larger labor investments) include:

  • PR / earned media
  • SEO (keyword strategies, keyword mapping, website performance, etc.)
  • Content creation and promotion (blogging, infographics, webinars, podcasts, video)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media

Paid tactics (which tend to be larger capital investments) include:

  • Pay-per-click advertising (Google AdWords and social network ads)
  • Content recommendation
  • Remarketing

All of these elements are important and necessary for the success of your online business, as they help guarantee a steady flow of website visitors. However, if you’re driving lots of traffic but none of the traffic converts (no website visitors become customers), then these investments are useless. Therefore, we often start with the second element of online business success: traffic conversion.

Traffic Conversion

Increasing conversion rates of current website visitors is the second driver for increasing business from a website. This means that of the people who visit your website, a greater proportion convert and become customers. Focusing on conversion rate optimization lowers the number of missed opportunities from non-converting visitors.

A conversion-ready website has the following elements, all of which are primarily labor investments:

  • Online buyers’ journey
  • Optimized calls to action
  • Dynamic forms
  • Landing pages in appropriate places
  • Relevant resources and downloads

All of these elements focus on a company’s buyer personas and designing the website with these visitors’ needs in mind.

So, which driver should you focus on first?

Even if a company has the resources to both drive traffic and optimize conversions, it is not always best to begin both drivers at once — you’ll risk sending qualified traffic to a dead-end website, known as a leaky bucket. Instead, fully optimize the website before implementing paid strategies and increase your ROI.

We often recommend a sequence like this:

This strategy will allow your company to send all of your qualified traffic to a conversion-ready website, and ultimately save resources. Check out our ROI calculator to calculate your bottom line and determine how your business could benefit from increased conversion and website traffic rates!