How to Double Your Revenue With SEO

In 2012, I was privileged to handle SEO for some of the biggest Norwegian e-commerce sites. This is the story about how I doubled (and even tripled) revenue for them by following a simple, easy, yet unconventional approach that anyone — even you — can implement starting today.

At the heart of this accomplishment lie two things which are related to one another:

  1. A focus on uncovering user intent, and then filling that need
  2. The ability (and budget) to do all that’s necessary

This may sound easy, but when you consult with a business that is stratified and compartmentalized into watertight departments and divisions, this presents many challenges.

Part 1: Managing SEO Activities

The first half of this success story involves the approach I took in terms of strategy and implementation. With competition getting tougher by the year and the rules of the game constantly changing, putting together an SEO strategy that won’t quickly become obsolete is important.

A. Critically Evaluate The Situation

There have been major changes at Google over the past year or so. With local business search, maps have taken over the SERPs. More users are on mobile devices, with GPS and location data impacting results. Searches for people are more often dominated by authoritative social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Yet, despite all these new developments, many of which have made the competition even tougher than before, SEO budgets remain the same.

To be effective, I had to think differently. My client sites already had large volumes of traffic, but tracking visitor counts without studying Web analytics led to an illusion of being in control — when really, they weren’t. I determined that it wasn’t just about getting more traffic. I had to get the right kind of visitors — people who would buy!

I had to adjust my strategy by stepping back to ask critical questions:

  • Where is Google headed?
  • Where will Web search be in the next few months? Or years?
  • What could I expect to blow up or become important?

B. Identify Trends You Can Leverage

By answering the questions above — and by digging deep into all available data, analyzing patterns, and studying clients’ current SEO practices — I came to several important conclusions:

1. Relevant Is No Longer Good Enough

People are on Google looking for answers. If search results don’t provide them, users will go elsewhere. Google wants to become the best “answer engine,” so it’s no longer good enough to provide a page of content that is “relevant” to a given keyword. If you’re not answering the searcher’s question, you won’t last long in the top spot.

2. Identity Is Important

Google wants to determine searchers’ identities and interests. It also wants to know who authors specific content, and how trustworthy and authoritative they are.

3. Sites Must Get Attention By Standing Out Amid The Noise

Rich snippets and authorship are affecting SERPs. It will soon become much harder to compete and win away attention from those who make use of these tools — even if you have the top spot and they don’t.

4. Online Is Global, Not Local

Products and services that are available for purchase online are less likely to show up in local search results. Traditional SEO campaigns are still necessary.

5. Personal Signals Are Critical

Google considers geo-location and GPS data while serving up answers to search queries and tailors results to your location. Additionally, people’s voices count for more, and social search is gaining importance.

C. Chart Out Your Strategy

Based on these insights, I took a step back to work on our strategy. Rather than rigging up advanced SEO tools and running complex audits right away, I had to draft an overall plan that was “evergreen” (or, at least, one that would survive for 12 to 24 months!).

So, what was the common factor among the insights above? What can you really do that will not become obsolete as the Web changes?

Simple. You find the user intent behind web search – and build your strategy around that.

It’s an old marketing cliche that guys who buy drills don’t want an instrument — they really want the hole. Realizing how this relates to SEO work will become your biggest “a-ha” moment.

When Matt Cutts says one should focus on the user, you should listen. Google’s attempts to simulate a human brain’s thought processes mandates that we move away from technical SEO and quick-fixes and move toward understanding user intent.

D. Uncover User Intent

I’ve written previously about SEOnomics, the complex interaction between human psychology, SEO and business economics. Every expert SEO consultant applies this approach to get inside the head of a client’s typical customer, understand their deepest needs and desires, and then weave this information into a winning SEO strategy that delivers great value. You can begin to figure out user intent by asking the following questions:

  • What do your customers want?
  • What are their biggest problems?
  • How are they affected by these problems?
  • What are the solutions they seek?
  • How badly do they need a solution?
  • What are they willing to pay for it?

The answers lie hidden within your analytics data. Web analytics are more than just a traffic counter. They unmask secret needs, intentions and expectations that drive prospective customers to a website. Keywords tell you what problems visitors have and what they are looking for to solve them. Searchers often want answers or more information. They are looking for assistance or reviews.

Web analytics can also reveal what they do after arriving at the website. What actions do they take? What path do they follow? What content is of interest? A talented SEO can even use analytics data to predict what will sell, what visitors want, and what they will do on the site.

All this analysis provides precious insight into consumer intent. It can serve as your guide to giving users a great on-site experience. It will let your business solve their problems and convince them to spend money on your products and services. Knowing what’s going on in your ideal prospect’s mind, you are now ready to take action.

E. Think, Act, Measure & Then Act Again

Build smaller, focused, iterative processes rather than big and time-consuming ones. Whenever a change we made was successful, we did more of that. If it wasn’t as effective as we expected, we did less of it — or even stopped doing it. This may not sound revolutionary or exciting, but was one of the most important ingredients of our SEO success in 2012. These were our insights from using this strategy:

  • Things change rapidly online. You must adapt fast. Yes, strategy matters. But a tactical focus and the freedom to respond quickly to changes will ensure faster deployment in your e-commerce store.
  • Before you act, slow down enough to make sure you are working on the right things. Taking time to step back and evaluate is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
  • Don’t spend money on anything that is not measurable. Any important variable is measurable. Measure everything — but only include actionable data on your list of things to review.
  • Focus on strategic and economic goals. Remove everything that’s merely “nice to have,” because it will only distract or confuse.

Generic search

Result: 113.29% Increase In Generic Search Traffic.

Part 2: Managing the Client

If you’re working with smaller business clients, this process is relatively simple and straightforward. But as the size of your client business grows, so do the problems. You’ll have to interact with more people, sell them on the value what you do, and then get them to buy in to your strategy, allot you an adequate budget, and stay out of your hair until you get things done!

Unless you get this right, you’ll waste most of your time on internal squabbles and power struggles, answering to several bosses, and fighting budget cuts. Not surprisingly, such a situation leads to having less time to focus on implementing your SEO strategy, resulting in a poor performance.

And then, everybody will blame you!

Here’s how I get around such problems, following a set approach that you, too, can adopt profitably.

A. Position Yourself To Win Trust

For a marketing manager in a large organization, SEO is just a tool. The business owner or CEO may not even be aware of your role as an SEO consultant. It’s difficult to get in a position to talk with the right people.

But that’s because you’ve not demonstrated your true value.

Here’s how you can do it: stick to simple, vivid descriptions. Saying “Google is responsible for xx% of your online revenue” will be very effective. “Google” may not mean much to a corporate executive — until he knows it brings 50% of the business’ online revenue.

Once he is aware of this, he’ll see you in a different light! He’ll come to you. He’ll depend on you. And for SEO consultants and internal marketing managers alike, this is a nice position to be in.

B. Keep Things Simple

For board meetings, I simplify my data into easily understood presentations. If someone unfamiliar with SEO makes investment decisions about SEO campaigns, you must provide your intermediary with simplified information that can be conveyed quickly and effectively — and ensures that you get the budget you require.

Extract the most critical financial data (not SEO terms or ranking data) and present this as a one-page document. With the aid of a designer, I made an infographic that the e-commerce manager could display in the office. Everyone understood it. It spoke for itself.

C. Never Justify

Most clients just want your conclusions. Not your rationale. Or arguments.

Build trust – then trust your customer to trust you. If you don’t succeed at this, keep trying… because without trust, you are doomed. You’ll waste time trying to convince your client, or defending your budget – instead of growing your client’s business.

D. Work Together

“If you need to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Don’t be the “SEO geek” — adopt a “business development” mindset. Work hard to get close to your client. Involve your employees in various processes. Your task is to make everyone understand how important SEO is for the company. Show department heads that you are helping them deliver on their own sales results and growth.

Once I started reporting my results in terms of revenue rather than traffic, more people understood what I was talking about — “10 million unique visitors” is not as meaningful as “$2 million in profit.” Everyone understands money. Cash is king!

E. Get Clarity Before You Begin

Ask why. Ask often. Don’t begin anything before you understand why you’re doing it. Then (and only then), figure out how best to do it.

Ensure that web analytics and business goals are aligned. Measure the right data. Verify that it can be acted upon. Make a dashboard in Google Analytics (or other web analytics tool) and share it with everyone. Buy a screen and place it in your office where everyone can see.

  • How much money did we make from Google today?
  • Are we on target?

This screen motivates people and spotlights the impact of SEO on revenue. For one of my clients, Google accounted for 60% of revenue. Demonstrating this visually was very powerful.

Q1 2013 revenue

Takeaways & Lessons

  1. Keyword research and analysis matters, but the user intention behind those search terms is crucial. Optimize your site for people, not search engines.
  2. Your SEO toolbox and the mix of your tools still means a lot. No single tool can tell you everything you need to know. In my own toolbox, I always have the Google Keyword Tool, Market Samurai, Search Metrics, SEOmoz Pro, Mozcast, Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Open Site Explorer and Microsoft Excel. For project management and collaboration, we use Jira.
  3. Keep things simple so that it is easy to explain your process to clients. Getting them to buy in to your strategy and winning their trust early on can be crucial to the success or failure of your SEO work, especially when you work with bigger businesses.
  4. Strive for constant improvement. Listen to real experts to constantly refine your process.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO | Search Marketing | Search Marketing: General | Search Marketing: Shopping Search Marketing | SEO - Search Engine Optimization

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About The Author: is Head Of SEO at MediaCom Norway. He has over 10 years of experience specializing in digital strategy, e-commerce and SEO. Trond is the author of the books "Importance of SEO for Your Online Business" and "Power Social Media Marketing". He can be found on Twitter @TrondLyngbo.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://www.facebook.com/Aussiewebmaster Frank Watson

    great details – impressive article – thanks for the insights

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Good general article. I thought from the title it would have more direct implementation but good basic ideas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/praveen.sharmaa Praveen Sharma

    Awesome work Trond.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaJButler Joshua Butler

    ditto Frank Watson. Great article. This type of article requires significant experience to write, and I’m very happy that Trond is sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/TatizTorres Tatiana Torres

    I agree with John, I’d like to see some more direct implementation ideas. But I really think the article can open some professionals’ mind to the fact we must start getting inside the customer’s head before running lots of SEO strategies that may even not reach the right customers.

  • Pankaj

    Well Said. We generally read these conceptual posts on daily basis even we discuss them as well. But Never tries to implement the same practically. So its all about the awareness and execution..

  • http://www.facebook.com/techpertz Muhd Tahir Ahmad

    Great insights!

  • http://twitter.com/KOwebsites KO-Websites.com

    “Managing the Client” Great advice and only understood if you’ve tried to do this before. A must read for a SEO’er pro trying to grow to bigger clients.

  • http://twitter.com/dinomaiolo David Dino Maiolo

    Nothing earth shattering here, but solid article nonetheless. A basic, straight forward outline for SEOs, but I think more is needed for companies to compete at a high level.

  • kenneth Nel

    Great insights would be nice if a company ceo would read this as well

  • Ridds Tanwer

    Great Seo Strategy man!

  • Hampig Minassian

    Amazing . Just simply amazing . One of the most important posts I have red on SEL

  • http://twitter.com/Usha_Ghosh Usha Ghosh

    nice article indeed!! However, i didn’t get when you mentioned “relevancy is no longer good enough”, as search engines like relevancy. Of course, I will be satisfied when a relevant page of content is fetched for my question.

  • http://twitter.com/Ayoub_Habchi Ayoub Habchi

    Great Article Trond !

    Thanks for your valuable recommendations.

  • http://www.clayton-nichols.com/ Clayton Nichols

    Fantastic insight. I think in terms of being an SEO, I practice much of what is anticipated here. My struggles begin with the actual business side trying to justify the cost. I’m going to have to try some of your tips presented within the article.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Yes, growth comes at a cost. And the cost of growing into bigger SEO clients is the inevitable need to deal with administrative issues and engage in team interactions, some of them outside your comfort zone and in situations where you are perceived as the “unknown outsider” with questionable value to the organization. It then becomes a priority to establish one’s credentials, and do it in a manner that’s easy for the others to appreciate and understand. “Google brings you X% of your profit/revenue” is powerful in that way :-)

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Right you are, Pankaj. Awareness and then execution. Before being able to implement an SEO strategy, it’s important to be aware of the various pieces that interact in a dynamic and even complex manner on a big project with a major client. I didn’t get deeper into the specific elements of execution because I’m not sure how many people want to hear more about them. If you want me to cover any component in greater detail, please let me know and I’ll address it in a future article.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Thanks, Tatiana, I certainly plan to share some more direct implementation ideas soon. Understanding user intent is such a key factor in achieving purposeful SEO results that it merits a deep and thorough study by anyone who offers SEO services to clients. Without it, all that one can reasonably expect to deliver is a #1 ranking on Google. Only tying it together with user intent will deliver bottom-line results. To maximize impact, you must get inside your prospect’s heads.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Thanks, John. I’ll be happy to share some more direct implementation tips with the community. If you could spare a few moments to let me know what specific things you’d most like to hear about, it will help tailor a follow-up article that answers the most important questions and address the most pressing needs. Looking forward to hearing from you, as well as others who read this. :-)

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Oh, yes, Joshua. Behind each of those bullet points in the article are years of work and heart-breaking frustration. By sharing this with fellow SEO pros, I hope it will help at least a few to avoid the pitfalls and hurdles that held me back during the early stages of my work. I’ve been blessed by the opportunity of working with major clients whose e-commerce websites handle millions of page views and process huge volumes of sales. The lessons from that experience has been priceless – and can be applied to any other project, big or small.

    If you’d like me to cover any particular topic or sub-set of what is mentioned above, please ask. It will be my pleasure to try and help :-)

  • Cheyserr

    I’m quite an amateur when it comes to these things. However I learned that in this industry, you need to think inside and outside the box, after doing that, think again. Well I guess the hardest part for me is to get some clarity especially in this industry where a lot is going on. But these tips are great. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Yes, it is important to be unique and distinctive in the way you approac SEO rather than blindly following the herd. The vast majority of SEOs do the same things the same way, which makes them ineffective” In the middle of a mindless set of routines and activities, the needs of the customer/visitor are ignored. Time and again, it has been proven that understanding user intent is the single most important factor that determines how effective your SEO eventually is.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Clayton, I used to struggle with this for many years. Trying to explain things to the business folks while wording them in SEO lingo was my big mistake. They didn’t understand what I was talking about, knew they were spending money on my project, and kept wondering whether or not it was earning them a profit! Once I figured this out, and focused my explanations on the bottom-line impact my SEO activities were making on the BUSINESS side of things, it became very easy to get buy-in and support from everyone on the team :-)

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    You’re right, relevancy is very important to achieving high rankings, and more importantly, in getting visitors who will take the desired action once they arrive at your site. What I was driving at is the fact that simply having a page which delivers an appropriate result that’s related to the search phrase is no longer enough. It matters just as much (even more) that you are addressing the unvoiced needs and desires in the search user’s mind while they type in those terms. That’s why user intent can have transformational impact on the RESULTS you get from your SEO. When targeted visitors reach your site where they find exactly what they hoped for while typing in their search terms, you have explosive synergy!

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Thanks, Hampig. You are very gracious :-)

  • http://www.ferreemoney.com/blog/ Neil Ferree

    Impressive results and not a lot of fluff • strong work Trond!

  • Guest

    One of the best articles I have read! The main Aim of applying SEO is better revenues, and you have provided readers with great tips.

  • Stacey Lee

    Hi Trond, I strongly agree of what you stated in this article “Don’t begin anything before you understand why you’re doing it.” As a SEO specialist, I have been doing keyword and competitor analysis, checking the SEO performances and etc. Indeed, I have most of the SEO tools you have mentioned except for one the ColibriTool. It is what I am using now. It is user friendly and free. If you might be interested, you can visit http://colibritool.com to know more about it.

 

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