• Jason S

    What a great article, its always one of the massive obstacles i find, and there is always that question of, how can you guarantee it wont all change with Google ala 2012/13 penguin, panda + manual penalties ..which I find difficult because once i told someone I cannot guarantee that, they said ok, I may as well go down the betting shop and put my money on a horse!! :) i thought fair point..i guess what i am trying to say is if the organisation are not willing to take any element of risk through the md/ceo/board of directors financial insecurity then you will never really move forward as an SEO, its worth assessing for sure.

  • Robert Cook

    Hmmm.

    If you’re suggesting traffic predictions and position predictions as I think you are, I have to disagree – to me, this is almost always an awful idea.

    Firstly, building a traffic estimator for a campaign as you did in point 4 is the absolute worst finger-in-the-air waving that SEOs are capable of. From the mindset of a data analyst / statistician, in order to do this you have to fudge 3 or 4 second-order variables together (i.e. ones you either estimated got from studies or external sources). Global CTR in the vertical, organic to PPC CTR ratio, the CTR of each position per search engine, your “growth factor” – all of these are straight finger in the air guesses or you’ve taken from a whitepaper you have no way of verifying.

    When you combine four fudged factors into one calculation the margin of error increases massively – all the traffic estimates I’ve seen from other agencies are often literally an order of magnitude off one way or the other after a year.

    Secondly, If you’re working agency-side, building out a chart as you did in point 3 is a pretty great way to set yourself up for massive problems down the line, and leads to them obsessing over certain keywords and traffic from certain keywords – which is the mindset you absolutely want to avoid. You are literally guessing at what keywords are going to be with no back-up whatsoever other than your gut or what you want to happen. Getting marketing managers or techs in the mindset of keyword obsession right at the start of a project is the absolute worst way to start a campaign; I used to do this with big corporates years ago and it was universally a disaster.

    Your KPIs, especially now [not provided] in GA is approaching 100%, should be around revenue, conversions, and retention – not “getting rank x for y keyword in z month”. Avinash Kaushik has a lot to teach us on this front.

    “Are we making more money and leads?” is a far better conversation to be having than “Why doesn’t this particular keyword match what you predicted?” and “Why is the traffic not growing in a linear bell curve fashion like you predicted?” every single week on a phone call with your client.

    Education and expectation setting is far better than trying to second guess the way Google or other engines are going to act over a year.

  • seoclarity

    Hi Robert

    Thanks for your comments.

    When building a business case for a project, I do not recommend waving keywords and rankings as you suggest in your post – but instead using those as the components in helping build the end result picture of what results “could” be

    Forecasts by their very definition are a “prediction” or “estimate” based on assumptions (which are hopefully scientifically arrived at)…

    In your post you recommend looking at “Are we making more money and leads?”. For a tech team or an executive looking at the numbers, do you have an approach of quantifying what “more” money/leads translates to for projects/campaigns you would like to propose investing in?

    I would truly love to hear about the approach.. The SEO community is built around sharing and it would be helpful to more than just myself to discover new ways to arrive at building a forecast

  • seoclarity

    Great point Jason.. some risk is inherent in EVERY marketing program. One of the strategies to get over the risk hurdle is to demonstrate a method and approach to SEO and providing a multi-scenario forecast – from worst case to best case.

  • Darthjr

    I agree with @Robert Cook you’re just asking for trouble. IMHO you can’t separate SEO into it’s own thing for Enterprise. Content, PPC and on page SEO (page speed, mobile etc) is the way that I would pitch it. You use PPC to get the keywords that convert, jot down the date that you started SEO, if the $ stream is up then that’s how you include SEO. Give monthly reports on progress not future predictions.

  • http://seo-contentwriter.com/ Bikash Prusty

    Yes, it’s a great article. You have explained the informative 5 steps but still
    I’ve a little bit of confusion on Step 3: Create Scenarios its only doing
    keyword ranking that checked in every weeks or months. I want to know how you
    improve your CTR in 2013/14 and also I’m curious to know what are the best link
    building strategies to improve the CTR especially after the major updates by
    Google?