It’s no secret everyone wants to see results these days. Times are tough, revenues down, expectations are up. It’s a fight to maintain market share, never mind grow it. And every day your inbox bubbles up requests for “SEO to drive more traffic, more page views, MORE REVENUE!” You want to help folks, you want to drive the results, but your resources are limited. What do you do?
You keep bringing work forward, and yet no one seems to take action. Your battle is not with individuals, as they all say the right things. They all want to do the work, but like you, their resources are tight. Unfortunately, you may be up against a cultural barrier. If SEO is not ingrained into the work habits of every person in the company, you have a cultural barrier to cross.
You my friend, may be in need of an “SEO Taser” to get things moving.
Imagine, if you will, a small, hand-held tool that when applied to someone’s posterior suddenly enables them to “see the light” and prioritize SEO work properly. Such a device would allow you to ensure your projects moved forward. Link building would happen naturally as part of the editorial process. Tools would exist to help teams understand where to apply their resources for best effect. Reporting would exist to measure the results.
So, how do we transfer this fantasy into reality? We build the SEO Tazer from data. Hard numbers that will enable you to gain the action you need.
Think about it. Most SEO programs are made up of folks who are experts, trying to influence others. By sharing their expertise and offering guidance, the product should end up optimized. In theory, this process works. In reality, they bump into many hurdles around resource allocation, ROI on a given item, technological challenges and more. So even the best laid plans tend to break down for many.
I want to stress this is not because the players don’t want to do the work. It’s because the culture demands so many things from everyone, it’s tough for them to set priorities. Given SEO numbers tend to be squishy (technical term there) in terms of ROI, it’s important to remember that competing efforts in the company can erode people’s focus on SEO. When you are asked “If I add an <H1> to the page, how much revenue will it generate?”, what is your answer? Right: squishy.
The SEO Taser, true to its namesake, must deliver a crisp, perhaps even shocking, jolt. Rather than incapacitating folks, however, our SEO Taser will invigorate and empower them.
If you want to change the culture, you need to find something in common across the board. For us, in this business, that common ground is metrics. And this brings us back to the squishy bits of SEO. Referrals and page view info is readily available these days, so those numbers are firm. Where things get less firm is around revenue from SEO work items. When you ask for work to be done, and folks ask for the ROI on each work point, being able to place a number on the table will make the difference between getting work done now, or being bumped to a lower status. Rarely are our work items viewed as a group item. They are usually picked apart and listed in work plans individually, and rightly so, as each requires specific tasks to be completed.
Tracking suites such as those from Conductor and Enquisite make compiling SEO specific data easier than ever. Truly, though, if you have referral data and revenue data, you can bring some “SEO value” numbers to the table. Don’t treat this as a trivial exercise, either. Make sure you accurately and constantly track all of your SEO work, as tracking changes in revenue and correlating this to the work being done.
Let’s not kid ourselves either. These numbers will remain less than rock solid, but at least there is the ability to establish a trend. Over time you will be able to answer the question about “If we do this for you, what is the ROI?”
The next item to arm our SEO Taser with is comparative facts.
With different factions in a company vying for a portion of decreasing budgets, it’s important to create a realistic understanding of where you fit into the mix. Since budgets are usually set for an annual basis, use the data to showcase how SEO provides a better “cost per” return when compared to paid search and other forms of marketing over the year.
About 4 years ago I ran a side-by-side comparison to determine if the PPC advertising we were running was worth continuing. At that time, we wanted to shift money around, so I figured out the relative costs per click (PPC = $0.36 vs. SEO = $13). This might sound like simple math, but for this exercise, you must factor in all the associated costs for each tactic. When balanced with other factors including the quality of organic traffic, increased user time on the site and larger consumed page view numbers, the decision was simple: we turned off the PPC advertising and reallocated the money to other areas. There is more to consider these days in PPC, though, as I’m sure no one is using PPC strictly for driving traffic and page views (hint, hint).
Still, the point here isn’t the finer points of this experiment I ran, but rather how to build the SEO Taser.
To summarize this useful “tool,” it should include a look at revenues generated by SEO efforts, and a comparison with other areas the company can invest its money.
It’s much harder to be marginalized when you bring numbers to the table like everyone else. By arming yourself with this data, your SEO Tazer will be charged with enough voltage to shock your culture into paying attention.
Next up, we need to build the SEO Cattle Prod, designed to deliver a knock-out punch you can use to keep your agency in line. ;)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.