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Not seeing the forest for the trees in SEO

So many times, we get caught up in the “expectations of me”. We assume that our own behavior and thinking is the norm. We know that there are exceptions to every rule, but we assume that the way we go about doing things is generally also how the rest of the world does it. It’s called the false consensus effect. Essentially, we tend to overrate the degree to which our own behaviors, thoughts, viewpoints, etc. are shared by other people. For example, a person may know that a Filet Mignon is the best cut of beef and simply assume that everyone agrees. However, there are plenty who would argue otherwise. This type of critical misconception is a major road block when measuring SEO results.

Looking at the one foot level, you conduct a few search queries using search phrases that you know that everybody else uses. Your frustration grows as you continue to search and never see your listings where they should be - the first position. This disappointment is understandable, but focusing on a few select queries is like standing in a forest and only seeing one or two trees. You have to back away to get the big picture. If you put ten random people in a room and instruct them to search for your product or service, you will most likely find that they used ten different search phrases. Yes, you can optimize your website to perform at the highest level on key words that you feel are critical, but you very likely will be missing a huge opportunity and the potential for more visitors. Contrary to traditional media where the rifle approach is preferable, in organic search the shotgun approach is favored. The more search phrases that your website gets results for, the better. Just because the search phrases that you are using don’t produce the results that you expect, does not mean that your next customer is not finding your website using different search phrases. The metric that needs your attention is not a word-by*word or phrase-by-phrase search. You need to determine whether your organic visitor counts are growing? Are these visitors converting at the expected rate? And ultimately, are you converting them to sales? Now, you’re looking at the health of the forest rather than just a few trees.

Bottom line, if your website is built keeping the visitor in mind first by offering valued content, ease of use and true relevance you will get the solid organic search performance you want. Attempting black hat tricks and gimmicks will never work in the long term. Keep in mind, the search engine’s customer is your customer. If you take care of their customer, they will take care of you!

Driving Force Automotive Website Study Findings

Driving Force Automotive recently completed a study of over 1,000,000 website visits to better understand general traffic, conversion, and abandonment patterns. The study was also conducted to determine the effectiveness of one of the innovations DRIVING FORCE AUTOMOTIVE has developed for their website platform. The SuperForm is a simplified data input area that dynamically conforms to the visitor’s needs, and significantly reduces the time it takes to receive the information they desire, by enhancing ease of use, simplicity, and convenience for website visitors.

The concept behind the SuperForm is, when a Driving Force Automotive shopper navigates a dealer's website and locates their vehicle of interest, there are potentially several things that they would like to communicate, such as:

  • Requesting a quote
  • Applying for credit
  • Asking for more information
  • Inquiring about similar vehicle availability
  • Setting an appointment for a test drive
  • Making an offer on the vehicle

Unfortunately, on the vast majority of retail automotive web sites this requires navigation away from the vehicle details page to several other pages within the website, forcing the visitor to find alternative pathways to communicate these various requests. The probability is that (even though the site visitor is interested in sharing this information) they most likely won’t end up completing the process due to the time required for additional navigation, the likelihood of distraction to other items, and the overall inconvenience of the additional steps required in completing the process. Abandonment rates by site visitors due to this environment are simply unacceptable to most auto retailers.

By combining many forms and request processes into one simple, easy to use and access submittal portal, the SuperForm empowers the site visitor to choose the information or questions they would like to communicate, and quickly complete the process without any additional navigation or search requirements. To ensure there are no mistakes by the customer, the SuperForm updates in real time, and constantly examines and analyzes the customer input. If any data is wrong or missing, the SuperForm highlights the incorrect field in red, while all correct data boxes are highlighted in green. This simple visual checklist communicates to the customer that they will receive exactly what they want, and greatly reduces the number of erroneous duplicate leads. In other words, the SuperForm has been designed and engineered to dynamically modify itself for the customer, based on their active preferences, to act as a virtual universal form to meet whatever needs the visitor may have.

The recently completed Driving Force Automotive study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of the SuperForm in the following areas:

  • Improving customer communication
  • Increasing requests for information
  • Increasing collection of valid customer contact information
  • Increasing conversion rates of website visitors to actual leads

After researching and analyzing over one Million (1,000,000) website form submission from Driving Force Automotive websites utilizing the SuperForm process, the following information was concluded:

  • As high as 20% of DRIVING FORCE AUTOMOTIVE Website visitors converted to leads and provided contact information to the dealer
  • 89% of SuperForm submittals requested more information or a quote
  • 64% of SuperForm submittals made an offer
  • 8% of SuperForm submittals applied for credit
  • 5% of SuperForm submittals made a test drive appointment

Driving Force Automotive believes that the results of this study indicate remarkable groundbreaking findings about the increases in Visitor-to-Lead conversion rates, and the potential to significantly increase lead generation by re-engineering convenience factors, and consolidating processes in the information gathering and transmittal process on retail automotive websites.

Driving Force Marketing is a comprehensive design and web services company that is dedicated to providing our retail automobile dealer clients with unique, functional and user-friendly web sites, technolgies and services designed to maximize traffic, increase sales, and distinguish our clients from their competition. All of our sites come with our comprehensive DealerCare services. To find out more, please visit www.drivingforceauto.com


“Dell has simplified my life so that I can focus on developing new products for our customers.”

Josh Stevenson, Partner, Driving Force, United States

Challenge

Driving Force needed to move its Web hosting services to a new server in a colocation center, and it wanted to reduce staff time spent addressing client computer issues by standardizing on high-quality workstations running Microsoft® Windows® 7.

Solution

The company migrated its Web hosting to DellTM PowerEdgeTM servers supported by a Dell PowerVaultTM network attached storage (NAS) device, then rolled out Dell PrecisionTM workstations running Windows 7 to all employees.

Benefit
  • 9-fold acceleration in time to market for new site functionality
  • 4 hours/week reclaimed for IT administrator through simplified workstation administration
  • 1 hour/week reclaimed for IT administrator through simplified hardware purchase and deployment
  • 8 hours/week reclaimed for other employees
  • Unplanned server downtime eliminated
  • Seamless transition of end users to Microsoft Windows 7
  • Simplified online customization of computers during purchase process

URL:
http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/casestudies/en/us/us/fy2011-q2-id1577?c=us&l=en&cs=555

PDF
http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/casestudies/2010-driving-force-10008459.pdf

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