What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 3
May 19 2008

Photo by Sandy Blanchard
We are about 5 months and thousands of dollars into our search engine optimization (SEO) campaign managed by SpryDev and before you read the rest, I suggest you check out my Part 1 and Part 2 posts.

Let’s just say I’m not yet ecstatic with the results.  On the plus side, Website Grader now shows our grade as 79 which is up from 67 when I ran it for my Part 2 post on March 3, 2008.  We are also just now starting to show up in the first and second page of Google for our current keywords of ‘breastfeeding support’ and ‘baby sleep.’  We are showing up in the top 30 for other important terms.  Interestingly enough, we are showing #1 for ‘baby care software,’  but I have no idea what the search volume is for that term!

On the not-so-great side, although our overall traffic is increasing at a pretty good percentage rate, we still aren’t seeing a huge jump in total number of visitors or more importantly a significant jump in trial sign-ups which have shown in the past a 7 to 10% conversion rate to purchase!  For instance, according to Google Analytics, in December 2007 we had 873 total visitors of which 626 were unique visitors.  In April 2008, we had 1,585 (82% increase) total visitors of which 1,162 (86% increase) were unique.  Page Views during that same time have gone from 2,364 to 4,898 (107% increase).  In the world of the Internet, the percentage increases are good, but the total numbers seem low to me especially when you see numbers like 1 million visitors per month thrown around often on Mashable and TechCrunch.

In February and March we saw an increase in percentage totals of people finding us using organic search engine terms but saw a drop in organic search and trial sign-ups in April.  The more trial sign-ups we have, the higher the conversion rate of customers purchasing our apps.  Direct and Referring site traffic is still greater than 70% of our traffic sources which means that’s a heck of a lot of my time emailing, blogging, twittering, as well as links from my friends and other interested parties.  My family does not blog or twitter so unfortunately I don’t get back links that way. 😀

I know that the SEO link team is submitting articles, press releases, and creating directory submissions on a monthly basis which seem to be getting accepted and picked up at a reasonable rate.  SpryDev gives me good weekly and monthly reports, and I check out our Google Analytics to see how things are going. So I know that they are sharing all the information they can with me.

We did have an account manager change back in early March when Rose, who I mentioned in a previous post, left for personal reasons and now our account manager is Erik.  We also had a keyword shift around that time from ‘pregnancy week by week’ to ‘baby sleep.’  I’m still not sure why we selected that keyword since we don’t have an offering for that keyword, but I think it was because it had a high search volume…needless to say it had a high bounce rate.  In other words, people who found our site using ‘pregnancy week by week’ didn’t stay long on the site. 

We have also made several website conversion changes based on recommendations by SpryDev via Brian Massey of Customer Chaos, who I also mentioned in one of my previous search engine optimization posts.  Some examples include:

a) Changing trial period from 30 to 15 days
b) Changing our trial follow up emails from same text emails X and 2X days from sign-up to different text emails on sign up, X days out, and Y days out.
c) Adding the Try It Free button on the Babble Soft home page and throughout the site.
d) Creating a new Contact form.

I can’t really opine on the conversion changes until we see a huge jump in trial sign ups. So honestly, I’m a little stumped and frustrated.  Maybe my expectations at the beginning were not correct?!  I had hoped we would see better results by now especially since I was tying some of our fundraising success to SEO.  I don’t know if I’m alone in this or if everyone just has stellar SEO experiences and all of a sudden trial sign-ups and sales go through the roof!  Anyone?

As I mentioned in my SEO, Here I Come post, I signed up with SpryDev because of their guarantee:

“By the end of your contract you will have at least as much additional business from your Web site as you spend on our services…  or we’ll work for FREE until you do.”

Since the contract is for 12 months, we have 7 more months to go and they are assuring me that around the 6 month mark is when their customers start to see the big results…although so far May hasn’t been proving to be a big trial sign-up month yet.  I’ve heard from others that they’ve seen big results in as little as 3 to 4 months from their SEO endeavors. 

So now I’m wondering what could we have done better and what could we do better?  Are we optimizing for the right keywords?  Do people know to even look for applications like ours?  Are people even interested in using applications like ours?  Do we need to do more marketing around the benefits of using these kinds of applications more than the parent stories I pull together when the opportunity arises?  Should I put the money that I would be putting into SEO into paid ads on parenting related sites, Google AdWords, etc. instead?

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I will need to continue to bootstrap Babble Soft since fundraising has been challenging given this economic environment and because we have yet to demonstrate a compelling increase in the number of our users.  I would feel much better going out to raise funds with thousands or tens of thousands of customers.

I am beginning to think that I might just have to get a job to support my entrepreneurial addiction! 😯

If you are interested in reading more about my SEO trials, tribulations, and hopefully victories think about subscribing to this blog.  If you know more about SEO than I do (which is likely), then leave a comment and share your advice with the rest of us!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, breastfeeding, entrepreneurship, fundraising, sleep | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

10 Comments on “What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 3”

  1. 1 ericabiz said at 3:56 PM on May 19th, 2008:

    Hi Aruni,

    Take a look at this video:


    I don’t have anything to do with this company, nor did I sign up for their mailing list — but it’s an excellent overview of how AdWords can work for you. The reason I say you should watch it is due to the link they give out about keywords being more or less likely to attract paying customers vs. just information searchers. This is a critical point to figure out which search terms you want to optimize for. Since you’re selling a product, you don’t want to optimize for “information” terms.


    ericabiz’s last blog post..How to Be a (Successful, Inspirational) Woman

  2. 2 Eric Doggett said at 9:12 PM on May 19th, 2008:

    Very interesting! I was waiting to see how this would turn out! That promise they made is the real kicker. I’d hold them to it!

    I’ve checked out stompernet before. I considered signing up with them, but got bored of the standard ‘only for a limited # of users, not for everyone’ type talk they were doing on their videos. I’ve since signed up with seobook.com, and at $100 a month, at least I can pull what I need from their community and get out if I want to.

    I just started getting articles on sparkplugging, and I have some other things I am going to pursue. However, something I’ve come across is that it’s not the amount of traffic increase you are getting, but those that are predisposed to purchasing that you want. And I don’t know how you segment that particular type of traffic!


    Eric Doggett’s last blog post..Get The E-Book For Free!

  3. 3 Aruni said at 8:59 AM on May 20th, 2008:

    @ericabiz – thanks for the link to the video. It was very informative. I asked SpryDev about our sitemap file to make sure it has been udpated for any changes we’ve made recently because of seeing them mention it in the video.

    @Eric – I’d love to hear about your seobook.com experience. I wish I had more time to do more of it myself. That’s why I hired it out hoping that I could spend my time on other things. I think getting the traffic that’s predisposed to purchase is really the trick!

  4. 4 SlightlyShadySEO said at 12:41 PM on May 20th, 2008:

    Ok, so I thought I’d kind of shed some light here.
    The reason you’re not seeing fantastic conversion I think is that people really aren’t searching for “baby software” or anything really related. (just confirmed that with my keyword tool).
    So as a result, you’re playing an entirely different game. Whereas it’s easy to get conversions from traffic if you’re ranking for “action” terms related to your product (“buy baby software”) you’re instead ranking for terms that people search for when they’re looking for information. This is not a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily an SEO problem. SEO (in my opinion) is about getting the rankings and the traffic. On the other hand, there’s an entirely different set of optimization you have to do to push the product as well. This can mean layout changes, obligatory plugs within the content, and a variety of other things to convince them they actually need your product.
    SEO is great for bringing traffic, but it’s not the only element in a successful internet business. You have to optimize for sales as well.

    Oh yeah, and since not that many people are searching for “baby software” I doubt you’d have much better luck with search PPC ads. Content network possibly, but even then you still need a page heavily optimized for sales.

    SlightlyShadySEO’s last blog post..Social Media Power: Success Without the Frontpage

  5. 5 Aruni said at 9:38 AM on May 21st, 2008:

    @SlightlyShadySEO – Thanks! What you are saying makes sense. We are not optimizing for baby software but we are passively showing up for terms like that. I’ve gotten other feedback too that we need to focus more on conversion changes. It’s also tough to figure out what the ‘action’ terms are for our products since they are pretty unique. I was hoping that the SEO firm we hired would give us advice on this as they include conversion support in thier packages.

    Thanks for the great comment!

  6. 6 Nicole said at 12:16 PM on May 22nd, 2008:

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out! Another tool I’ve seen is http://www.wordtracker.com/gtrends/ but I’m not sure how accurate it is. Given the numbers for my keywords (also “baby sleep”) as you know, I hope it’s low. 🙂

    Just so you know, if you start to sign up for AdWords or Yahoo’s equivalent, but don’t activate it yet, they do give you an estimate of how many searches per day. It might be worth $3 / day or $90 just to see how it might work for you. I plan to try that very soon, but not quite ready. 🙂

    Nicole’s last blog post..Sleep Training (From No Cry to Cry) Series – Part 3

  7. 7 Aruni said at 9:01 PM on May 22nd, 2008:

    @Nicole – thanks for stopping by! My SEO firm also lets me know how many searches per day/month a term gets so hopefully I won’t have to pay any more for that!

  8. 8 Opportunity Knocked. I Opened The Door. | entrepreMusings said at 8:33 PM on June 15th, 2008:

    […] is just a fraction of what I envision as a site for new parents.  It also did not help that we continue to struggle to find a good SEO rhythm due to a variety of reasons including the fact we are, as I mentioned, for all intents and […]

  9. 9 What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 4 | entrepreMusings said at 6:44 PM on October 22nd, 2008:

    […] To get more background on my SEO experiences, check out my posts: What They Don’t Tell You About SEO Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  […]

  10. 10 Brad said at 6:57 PM on January 1st, 2009:

    Usually, from what I see, search engine optimization usually takes time to show results.

    I noticed you were saying that you were deciding on the keywords that are most important to your project.

    I recently used the company http://www.webtrafficconsultants.com who take a completely different approach going after all key terms.

    Pretty much after the first phase they show you a map of what people are typing into search engines and outline what they are going to go after first. They also have professional domainers which is a sign of a good seo company. Domains are a large factor in driving good seo results.

    Web Traffic Consultants focus on getting a monopoly of all traffic and the results are quantifiable since they tell you what they are going to target first.

    Most companies in this area don’t have a clue what they are truely doing. With the company I used however they only take one client for each field which is a sign that they know what they are doing. After all having two clients in the same field would be sharing traffic applicable traffic.

    Just my two cents.