February 12, 2013, 9:45 AM

Prospects, not traffic, matter most for SEO

Two web experts give natural search tips at IRWD 2013.

Lead Photo

Jon Beals speaking this week at IRWD 2013.

Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. improved its search engine optimization by focusing on what keywords and tactics bring in qualified prospects rather than where it ranks in search results, Jon Beals,  the company’s associate web manager, told attendees at a session devoted to ways to prioritize SEO efforts during Internet Retailer’s Web Design & Usability Conference 2013 in Orlando, FL this week.  “We weren’t always just interested in the most traffic–we wanted qualified traffic,” Beals said.

Ranking the highest in search results pages doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue, added co-presenter Brad Beiter, vice president of SEO strategy and growth at search marketing firm Performics Inc.  “And business value is what gets resources committed to SEO,” he said.

The presenters suggested marketers take simple steps to produce results. That included manually modifying some key landing pages that may produce a measureable effect quickly. Once those simple efforts produce gains, those results can then build a case for expanded SEO efforts, the presenters said.

“Start small and work from there,.” Beiter said. “But at the same time, you should be pushing the envelope toward something bigger”

Data can help retailers prioritize where to start, Beiter said. “If a keyword is branded you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time optimizing for it,” he said. “The action is with the non-branded terms.  If only 1% of your traffic is coming through non-branded terms, you may have an SEO problem.”

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