It's been a myth for as long as the Internet has been in existence. Get good rankings and your site will be successful. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that has never been the case. What you get when you achieve good search engine rankings is a lot of traffic. That *can* be a wonderful thing, but it by no means guarantees even one sale.
You see, search engine rankings are not responsible for making sales. They are responsible for getting visitors to click to your site. If you (or your search engine optimizer) have done your job, you'll have descriptions in your search returns (or PPC ads) that bring in qualified visitors. But still… even with qualified visitors, the engines are not in a position to make sales at your site. That's the job your copy and usability elements handle.
Top Security, Inc. faced this problem. They had good search engine rankings. They were listed on the first page of most of the major engines. They had the traffic. Sales, however, were not where they wanted them to be. What was the cause? One look told me the copy was the culprit. (Take a look at the original copy here: http://www.copywritingcourse.com/topsecurity-original.pdf.)
Top Security had a tough sale by anybody's standards. They sold home security systems and maintenance services. (Something hardly anybody likes to talk about until after something happens, and it's virtually too late.) In order to get someone to move on products/services like home security, insurance, and the like, you really must develop a sense of trust and urgency.
When I first viewed the Top Security, Inc. home page, it was obvious that they knew what they needed to do. They had made a few attempts on the page in the form of graphics and MP3 files to accomplish those two goals. For example, they posted a current Threat Advisory graphic from the Department of Homeland Security (establishing urgency). There was also an MP3 that played kindergarten children singing "God Bless America" (plays toward patriotism and trust). Lastly, the headline was designed to try to build a sense of longevity. However, none of these was reflected in the copy. The most important part of the page was overlooked.
In order to turn the home page around, the salesman of the site (a.k.a. the words) needed to speak to the visitors in their own language. It needed to show them what can happen to those who have no security system and then offer a way to prevent those tragedies. The copy had to give assurances and build trust while at the same time helping visitors to stop procrastinating and make a move now.
While current rankings were good, there was still room for improvement. For search engine purposes, the copy needed to offer better support for the chosen keyphrases. There were virtually no keyphrases in the original body copy and that had to be changed.
The biggest part of the solution for Top Security was to develop copy for the home page… period. The copy on the original site was minimal, was company-focused instead of customer-focused, and needed to do a better job of addressing the needs of the site visitors and search engines.
The new copy had to set a tone of trust and community since Top Security dealt only with local Florida residents. In fact, I pulled out all the benefits small, local companies can offer their customers in order to play up Top Security in the new copy.
At the same time, I wanted to weave the client's keyphrases into the text without making them stand out. The goal was to have a home page that read as naturally as possible to humans while giving the spiders and bots what they needed in order to boost Top Security's rankings.
In Part 2 of this article, I'll show you how I implemented the changes in order to improve conversions and what the results were.
Karon Thackston is a veteran copywriting pro who specializes in SEO copy. If your copy isn't getting results, let Karon teach you how to write SEO copy that impresses the engines and your visitors at http://www.copywritingcourse.com. Be sure to check out Karon’s latest ebook “How To Increase Keyword Saturation (Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy)” at http://www.copywritingcourse.com/keyword.