Every month, small business owners open email attachments from their SEO consultants to find that their businesses are ranking very high for several keywords or phrases. Most of the time, they’re happy with this, and they send off their next payment with a smile. But the question these business owners aren’t asking is whether those keywords even matter.
There are many marketers who believe that SEO means “keyword rankings.” While rankings are important, other factors matter more so. Keyword selection, conversions and ROI are all metrics that mean more than a keyword ranking.
Although keyword selection is a significant factor in whether an SEO campaign will be successful, ranking high for a keyword that doesn’t connect to your website content is worthless. It doesn’t matter if you rank high for “Beyonce weave” if users are searching for Beyonce’s hairstyle, and you’re serving up content about baskets handwoven by an artisan named BeYo Nce. There’s a disconnect between that keyword and your content that means that those sought-after rankings won’t matter at all.
Keyword selection should occur at the beginning of optimization. It’s a detailed process that starts with understanding what keywords are already leading to your site. Then you should see which keywords are popular for your industry and your content. Finally, you should gauge the difficulty of relevant keywords to determine which ones you should go after. It’s an important step that if skipped, may mean your campaign is doomed from the start.
Conversion rates — the rate at which keywords leading to your site result in sales, signups, or whatever your call to action points to — are another important factor in whether your keyword rankings are worth it. Even if your site ranks well for popular or desirable keywords, they aren’t worth much if you can’t get those visitors to do what you want them to do.
Long tail keywords have higher conversion rates for than one-word keywords. A user searching for “shoes” is not as motivated to buy as someone who searching for “black and white saddle shoes size 10.” Specificity leads to higher conversions and should be taken into account when evaluating keyword rankings.
Return on Investment
ROI is a determining factor in any small business’s budgetary concerns. The smaller the business, the smaller the margins. Anything you sink money or time into must bring back dividends that make the cost worth it.
So how do you calculate the ROI of an SEO campaign? It’s not as simple as traffic or sales or new signups. A number of factors can affect those metrics and figuring out how SEO contributes to it is not an easy task. The most popular equation is Total SEO Revenue + Total SEO Goal Value – SEO Campaign Cost divided by Cost of Running the SEO Campaign. There are others, though. Some SEO companies have developed their own proprietary analytics that take in many more factors.
However you determine overall ROI, it’s a weighty metric. If you are putting money into your SEO campaign and not seeing a return on that money, you’re essentially throwing money in the trash. High keyword rankings won’t matter if your efforts cost more in output than they bring in revenue.
But the truth is that all of these things — keyword selection, conversion rates and ROI, as well as keyword rankings — are a piece of the search engine optimization puzzle. And any smart marketer should be keeping an eye on all of them.