Rankings Are Not Enough – Usability is Also a Factor

The Story

I had a very demanding client about a year or so ago that would call me every day to check on their rankings, the problem wasn’t that they did this; it was that they never listened to a word I said. I have no problem with somebody calling me to chat about SEO if they are paying for my services, but at minimum I also expect that they should listen to what I have to say on the matter, rather than expect that I will always be there to answer the very same questions.

Unlike a lot of other clients I had dealt with this was a completely new website on a completely new domain name. The website had been developed by a web design company and was behind a relatively search friendly CMS, the site was visually appealing and had okay usability. After doing various amends on the site and starting to optimise the site I received several phone calls, all about the current rankings of the website. I explained time after time that rankings take time to materialise and to wait it out for the duration of the campaign.

SEO Results Achieved

So they finally decided to wait… Within a month or two they were nearly dominating their niche – with top 5 rankings for very relevant phrases, they were also getting considerable traffic. This would make the client happy, right? Wrong. They were still not making any sales. After several more phone calls about sales my role of being a SEO consultant switched to a online sales and marketing expert; this isn’t what they had paid for, they had only paid for SEO, nonetheless I kept on offering more and more information to the client on promoting their business through both traditional offline initiatives and other online forms of promotion. This was the key to making sales.

Where They Went Wrong

SEO is not enough for a website, and rankings are not enough to sell. People more often than not overlook branding, consumer confidence and traditional marketing processes in creating websites; the online world is not that much different from the offline, you can create the online store, you can get top rankings, but this doesn’t mean you will sell anything. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

Their problem was that they didn’t listen to me and were still focused on their rankings – a number #3 position was not enough for them and they wanted to get to #1 – they thought this would be the be all and end all of online sales.


Another client of mine in the same niche with lesser rankings was selling extremely well throughout Australia and internationally, whilst this new client sold nothing for at least 6 months. The simple difference – one had established an online business, one was simply a website.

So remember, if you want to create a business not just a website, there are so many more factors than just SEO that need to come in to play. People do not have confidence in websites that they haven’t heard of before, and the likelihood that they will buy something from a site they reach through searching for relevant words and phrases is minimal. Online promotion is so similar to offline promotion, and the several layers of overlap mean that processes such as SEO cannot be undertaken alone, they should always be part of broader online strategies.