1 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRAINING PROGRAMME E BOOK #8 SEO
2 WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION? When you type a word into a search engine like Google, it can show you a great many websites that contain the word you are searching for. How does Google choose which sites to show you? A search engine creates a special piece of code that is trained to find just the site you need. Owners of websites have to optimize them to ensure that they are on top of the pile of sites that Google will offer you. Google chooses very carefully. It tries to avoid sites that are trying to trick you by using your search words when really they have no information to offer you. Perhaps they just want to sell you something. SEO is the process by which you as a website owner, build a site that can be found by the people you want to attract. STEP 1 CATEGORISATION
3 The first step in the prioritization process is to think about all of the different ways someone might search for your products and services. For instance, a car is known as an auto, automobile, vehicle and (of course) a car. And then, there are different types of cars - luxury sedans, station-wagons, minivans, etc. There are also different brands of cars - Honda, Ford, Lexus, etc. As such, it is important that you take the time to get a clear handle on all the different terms and categories that are relevant to your business. A good place to start building your keyword list is your existing website. Take the time to notice how your site is organized and build a list of relevant categories based on that organizational structure. Then, make a list of as many relevant keywords as possible for each category. Once you have compiled this list of categories and their related words, you need to determine where each of these words ranks in the major search engines. This can be done by using ranking position software, such as SEOmoz Rank Tracker. Once you have done this, you will be able to see in which categories you should concentrate. Below is a table of two sample categories, each of which contain a number of search terms. As you can see, the terms in category one, in general, rank considerably lower than the terms in category two. Other Factors Of course, room for improvement is only one of many factors to consider. You wouldn't buy a beat up property simply because it has more room for improvement. Obviously, you have to take into account other factors, like the asking price, its location and the amount
4 of resources needed to make the necessary improvements. In short, you would take into consideration its potential for future financial gain. The same principle applies to selecting keywords. There are other factors to take into consideration when deciding which keywords to concentrate on. In other words, when it comes to keywords, all things usually aren't equal. Some keywords bring in more traffic, others convert better. Some are easier to rank for and others still are more relevant to your products and services. As such, it is crucial to take the time to thoroughly analyze your keywords in light of these other factors before deciding which search terms you want to try to rank better for. For instance, take a look at the table below. Notice the vast difference in the number of visitors a category produces each month. Obviously, traffic is a factor that you need to take into consideration. Even if a category shows tremendous potential for improvement in terms of ranking, of what financial benefit are those improved rankings if the traffic potential is limited? Getting Real World, Accurate Keyword Statistics The above example raises an important issue How do you determine the amount of traffic for a given keyword? This is not a trivial question. It would be a shame to miss a good opportunity because your keyword tool underestimates the potential traffic for a given group of search terms. Likewise, it would be a waste of your resources to focus on a group of keywords that your keyword tool over-reported the search volume of. What is needed is a sort-of Goldilocks keyword tool - one that gives you data that is just right. What is interesting is that such a tool actually exists, although many marketers don't realize it (even though they use it on a regular basis); that tool is called Google AdWords. To see what we mean, take a look at the screenshot below:
5 Note the column labelled "Impr." (which stands for Impressions). That column shows you how many times an ad appeared in Google AdWords. When configured properly (see below) this column can tell you how many times a given term was searched for in a given period of time on Google.com. Or, simply put, the search volume for a given term (exactly what we are looking for). Configuring AdWords to double as a keyword research tool is fairly simple - you just have to do the following two steps: 1. 1) Set all of the keywords to exact match. So if your keyword is running shoes and someone searches for Adidas running shoes your ad will not appear. Only if someone searches for the specific phrase "running shoes" will your ad appear. 2. 2) Since Google syndicates paid ads to other search engines, you need to turn off the search network so the ad only appears on the Google search engine. Doing this will provide you with an accurate reflection of how many times people search for that word. The advantage of using a program like AdWords for keyword traffic stats is that the number of impressions for your paid search program is equal to the number of organic listing impressions. This means that, if 100 people did a search of your word, the ad will show up 100 times. This assumes, of course, that your ads have 100% coverage (i.e., they appear each and every time someone searches for the term in question). To understand what we mean by 100% coverage, take a look at the Lost IS (budget) and Lost IS (rank) columns below: The Lost Impression Shares (Budget) column shows how many times your ad was not seen because you did not spend enough money. So a 10% Lost Impression Share means that in 10 out of 100 searches your ad wasn t seen because you need to spend more money. The Lost Impression Shares (Rank) column shows how many times your ad was not seen because you need to increase your bid. So, if both of these columns are at 0%, you know that the ad impression always shows up; it is a very accurate reflection of the amount of traffic that will be generated for that category of words. Category Coverage Another effective tool to help analyze categories of words is AdGooroo s Trust & Authority Chart. By placing all of the keywords in your category into AdGooroo, the program will
6 run these keywords multiple times through various search engines and then, for a particular term, will show where you rank and how often you come up on the first page. In this chart, the average position of Your Site for the category of keywords that was run is 50 (bottom of graph) and it hardly ever appears on the first page of the search engine results (left side of graph). As you can see, there is huge room for improvement in this particular category. Content Analysis Another key factor in deciding where to spend your time and resources is the amount of content that you own. This is not just content on your website; rather, it is also any content that you have within your organization, like newsletters, contracts, internal memos, sales presentations, etc. Take a look at the graphic below and imagine the following scenario. You are not ranking well for Category 1 or Category 2, and both of these categories generate a serious amount of traffic. How do you know which category in which to invest your efforts? Consider the fact that you will need content in order to increase your ranking and turn your visitors into customers. Looking at the chart below, you see that, in Category 1, you have a lot of content within your organization as a whole. On the other hand, in Category 2 you are lacking content. Since you already have a wealth of content in Category 1 and are content poor in Category 2, it makes more sense to put your effort into Category 1.
7 Probability of Success Next, take a look around at your competition to determine your probability of success. In other words, once you have found a category that you have content on, needs improvement, and provides traffic, you need to determine the chances of ultimately ranking in the top 10 (i.e., first page) for that category. In order to make this determination, you need to know how the search engines decide whether or not you should rank high in the search results. There are two main factors that drive your ranking: 1. 1) Are your pages properly optimized for the keywords in question? 2. 2) How many links to your website appear on other websites? At first look, it seems that criteria two is merely a popularity contest the one with the most links wins. However, it is not that simple (or shallow). A search engine doesn t just look at the quantity of the links; it also looks at the quality. For example, if ten thousand people say that you are a great basketball player, that certainly says volumes about your basketball playing ability. However, if Michael Jordan declares you to be a great basketball player, his one statement is more significant than the statements of the ten thousand people. Let s take a look at an example. Both charts below are for the same category (Category 1). However, in the first chart, the probability of success is low, while, in the second chart, it is quite high. What s the difference? Well, in the first chart, the competitors all have more and superior link quality compared to Category 1. Conversely, in the second chart, the competitors all have less links and inferior quality links as compared to Category 1.
8 Relevance As opposed to the other criteria mentioned above, relevance is a subjective, qualitative measure. This will be easier to understand with a real life situation. Imagine that you own a health club and your goal is to get people to your health club in order to sign them up as members. After analyzing your site, you notice that you have two categories that have room for improvement (i.e., they rank low, can generate a healthy level of traffic and you have ready-made content relating to each category). The two categories are Nutrition and Personal Training.
9 Although both of these categories are related to people who are interested in taking care of their physical fitness, they are not equally relevant to a health club. Just because a person is interested in nutrition does not necessarily mean that they are looking to join a health club. On the other hand, someone who is searching for personal training is very likely interested in the personal training that you offer as a health club. Therefore, your resources are better spent on the personal training category as opposed to nutrition. Estimated Return on Investment (ROI) After analyzing all of the above factors to determine where to best put forth your efforts, there is one last factor that you need to examine Estimated Return on Investment. In order to ascertain your ROI, you should look at four criteria: 1. 1) Click Through Rate 2. 2) Conversion rate 3. 3) Average Order Value 4) Margin Click-Thru Rate (CTR) So what exactly is the Click-Thru Rate? Suppose a particular keyword is searched for 100,000 times each month. If 25,000 of those searches result in a searcher clicking on your link in the search results and visiting your site, then you have a 25% click-throughrate (CTR). If only 10,000 searches result in a visit, then you have a 10% CTR. Obviously, you want your click- through-rate to be as high as possible, since that means more traffic In order to calculate CTR, you simply divide clicks by impressions (clicks/impressions). So, if there were 1,500 impressions and 120 people clicked through to your site, this would be an 8% Click-Thru Rate. Conversion Rate (CR) The Conversion Rate is a measure of how many visitors to your site were actually turned into customers. This is calculated by dividing the number of customers by the number of visitors who came to your website. Obviously, the higher the conversion rate is for a particular category, the more financially valuable that category is. Average Order Value (AOV) The Average Order Value is really just that the average dollar amount of each order. To figure out AOV, divide the Sum of Revenue Generated by Number of Orders Taken. For instance, if Category A had 10 orders which generated a total of $1, in revenue, then the average order value is $ In general, the higher the AOV is for a certain category, the more profitable it is to bolster that category s ranking. Margin This refers to profit margin. Profit margin is calculated as Net Income divided by Revenues or Net Profits divided by Sales. Margin measures how much out of every dollar of sales a company actually keeps in earnings. Just like with CTR, CR and AOV, the
10 higher the Margin for a category, the more likely it is worth spending your time and efforts working on increasing the ranking of that category. Getting the Data Now that we know which criteria to use in determining your ROI, how do we actually get the data to make these calculations? Here is the process we use: Step #1 - Determine Your Ranking Find the words in each category for which you are ranking well. You can find this out by running your keywords through ranking software (such as SEOmoz Rank Tracker). Step #2 - Discover Your Traffic Keywords Your next step is to determine which words are currently generating traffic and customers. You can do this with a good web analytics tool (such as Google Analytics and Omniture). Keep in mind that you do not need to do this for all keywords; just take a sampling of keywords from each category. Step #3 - Calculate Your Click-Through Rate Using your sampling of keywords, run a paid search campaign and note the impression data for each keyword. At the same time, run a keyword report with your web analytics program and see how much traffic (or clicks) each keyword generates. Now that you have the number of impressions and clicks for each keyword, you can calculate the CTR for each keyword. Step #4 - Calculate Your Conversion Rate Next, use your web analytics program to find out how many conversions each keyword generates. Once you have this information, calculate the conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions by the amount of clicks. Step #5 - Calculate Your Average Order Value Similarly, your web analytics program can help you figure out your AOV. First, determine the total income generated for each individual keyword. Next, note the total number of orders for each keyword. Your margin for each word can be calculated using your internal accounting systems. Step #6 - Chart Your Results Once you have made all of these calculations, you can chart the results for each category of words, like this:
11 You can then create a weighted average for each category that reflects the opportunity relative to the cost. In other words, will you yield a positive ROI for the time that it will take to own that particular category? SEO Road Map Now that you have analyzed all of the six criteria to determine how to prioritize your time and resources, you can create an SEO Road Map. This road map will allow you to see how to most effectively spend your time, effort and budget. For instance, a good category to prioritize is one that has a lot of room for improvement in ranking, is rich in content and traffic, and has a high probability of success, relevance and Estimated ROI. A category to safely ignore is one that has little room for improvement and little potential in terms of traffic, relevance and ROI. Categories which fall somewhere inbetween will have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Content Development Most SEO professionals focus on website optimization and link-building. For instance, if a website has 50 pages with 2 keywords per page, the SEO professional will spend his or her time going after these one-hundred keywords. By viewing SEO with such a narrow focus, a tremendous opportunity is being completely ignored. With all of the PowerPoint presentations, sales sheets, marketing pieces, etc. that are regularly created in the normal course of doing business, content is living and breathing throughout most business organizations. This content is just waiting to be gathered and tailored for use with SEO. This is good news and bad news. The bad news is that repurposing your content for SEO is hard to do. You have to set up a system to work with all departments in your organization to have them send content, determine what s proprietary and then go through a legal review to make sure whatever you are putting up on the website is not harmful to you. The good news is that since it is so hard to do, not many companies do it. So if you are able to accomplish this and create a culture of content development throughout your organization, you will likely have a competitive edge over your competition. There are other valuable sources of content, such as your customers and vendors, and even the industry at large. If you can develop a system to utilize content from these
12 sources, you will be able to produce large quantities of relevant, targeted, and valuable content that you can use in your marketing and SEO campaigns. The second area to consider in gaining a competitive edge over your competition is content development. The reason is simple almost no one focuses on content development. Of course, there will be categories with SEO potential for which you will have little to no content available. In these cases, you will simply have to roll up your sleeves and develop new content. In order to this efficiently and effectively, a system will need to be created to develop quality new content. Remember, since so few companies concentrate on content development, it is well worth your time and effort to do so, as it will give you a competitive advantage. Web Analytics In the financial investment world, financial institutions often employ similar reporting structures. Since they are all, for the most part, looking at the same metrics and numbers, it is quite difficult to totally miss the boat in terms of employing the wrong metrics and reports. In the world of Interactive Investment Management (IIM), there are no standard reports used by all companies. Each company uses different metrics and reporting. This lack of standardization often leads to companies looking at the wrong information when making decisions about how to invest their internet marketing budget. To add insult to injury, many companies do not even regularly use web analytics. Although this news seems troubling, it is essentially good news. If you regularly use and become proficient in web analytics, you can once again gain a competitive edge. There are a plethora of things that can be done with web analytics, but let s start with one thing that you can start using today. Slingshot SEO conducted a comprehensive survey about Position and Click-Through Rate. They found out that the top 5 positions get 43% of the clicks. In addition, as you can see from the graph below, there is a drop off from the number one to number two position from 18% to 10%.
13 Armed with this knowledge, you now possess a key to gaining an advantage over your competitors. All you have to do is identify valuable keywords that are not in (or at least near) the top five positions and focus your time and resources on getting these keywords into the top five. To do this, run a keyword report with your analytics tool to learn which keywords are generating a good amount of traffic (and sales). Next, use positioning software to determine your rank for each keyword. With this information at your disposal, you can now compile a list of relevant keywords that are driving good business, but rank somewhere between page two to five. Lastly, you should determine which keywords in this list have a high probability of success. These are your opportunity keywords. Focus your attention on getting these search terms to rank in the top five and watch your search traffic (and sales) significantly improve. Wrap Up This article is designed to provide you with a new way of thinking about SEO. Implementing the three items that we discussed will give you a competitive edge to gain more market share and generate more revenue. So remember: Prioritization
14 With the many possibilities of keywords to rank for, one can easily lose focus and waste time and resources concentrating on less than optimum keywords. In order to maintain clarity of purpose, it is crucial to employ a prioritization system. We presented a six step process to determine how to focus your time and resources: 1. Category Analysis 2. Category Coverage 3. Content Analysis 4. Probability of Success 5. Relevance 6. Estimated ROI Content Development With all of the PowerPoint presentations, sales sheets, marketing pieces, etc. that are regularly created in the normal course of doing business, content is living and breathing throughout your organization. This content is just waiting to be gathered and tailored for your SEO efforts. Analytics Web analytics should be your best friend in SEO so you can regularly determine if you are spending your time effectively. Become accustomed to regularly using and becoming proficient in web analytics and seize a major opportunity to gain a competitive edge.