I recently spoke with a small business that had turned off its SEO efforts in the summer. They were impressed with the traffic growth – daily search engine traffic had doubled in about 30 days – but lead volume from their website had stayed flat. I checked the terms that were driving traffic and they were good “qualified” search queries signaling purchase intent.
While their conclusion was that the SEO was not effective, although that may have been the case (perish the thought!), my take was slightly different.
1. Had they tested their site’s ability to convert?
Maybe their marketing messages had changed or were not well crafted to begin with. Maybe the offer was not enticing enough. Maybe the site was not designed to make it easy to generate leads.
2. Were they sure that site lead gen was flat?
Maybe they were getting more calls from the website, but because they were not using unique tracking phone numbers on the site, and they were not asking each caller how they got the number, they had no way of knowing if the site was generating more phone leads. Too often companies are wed to their phone number and think that offering a different number will confuse people. Ask yourself how many phone numbers of the businesses you frequent would you even recognize let alone memorize.
3. Is it possible the market had shrunk?
If fewer people are buying products in their niche, as is the case with a lot of industries these days, perhaps flat growth means they actually grew their business as the market shrunk. If not for SEO, their leads may have been down by 50% instead of flat.
One thing is for sure, this economy ain’t old time hockey and Eddie Shore is long gone. Flat may indeed be the new hockey stick.
BTW if you can believe it, according to Google Adwords someone has trademarked the term “hockey stick growth”