Your AdWords ads have a click through rate of 2%, right? Perhaps some of your ads have a better click through rate, maybe 5%.
The page at the top of the organic results has a 40% click through rate.
It's important to realize that for every 100 times a phrase is searched for, the site with the AdWords ad at the top of the stack will only get clicked on a few times, whereas the page that appears at the top of the organic results will get clicked on about 40 times.
For every 100 searches, do you want 2 visitors, or 40?
If a page from our site appears in the middle of page two of the search results, and later due to some great SEO work it moves up two positions, that is not going to increase the number of visits very much.
Yet if we are on page one of the search results in position three, and due to some great SEO we move up a couple of positions, that will increase the number of visits from people who see that search results page by about a factor of five!
Obviously these numbers vary a bit, but the fact remains: The web page in the first position gets the most clicks, and as we move down the list, the number of visits we get keeps dropping, dramatically.
Thus a web analyst can do the SEO team a big favor by turning out a Top 10 list of search phrases. A really good search phrase to target has these qualities:
1. We are already getting visitors. The web analyst discovers this by looking at a list of perhaps the top 100 search phrases that bring in the most organic visitors.
2. We sort this list by conversion rate, because we want to work on search phrases that bring results.
3. We enter all 100 search phrases into a rank checker that costs about $199, and after about a week, we put our data into a spreadsheet, with columns for: search phrase, number of visits per month we get now, conversion rate, total searches a month (from the free AdWords tool), URL of the page that ranks, and rank in Google.
4. Now we just scan the list. The sweet opportunities are for a search phrases that have lots of searches a month, a great conversion rate, and where we already appear on the first page of the search results. Moving these up the page will achieve the most dramatic results.
5. Someone with SEO knowledge can fill in another column on the spreadsheet: competitiveness. It's going to be easier to achieve SEO results for some search phrases than for others. A web analyst can fill in a value for this column simply by using the Keyword Difficulty tool at SEOmoz. There is a monthly subscription to use this and other tools, but I like this one because you can get results for 100 search phrases pretty quickly.
6. So, just how will you improve rankings for your Top 10 list? First, just link to your page from another page on your site, using the search phrase as the anchor text. Then get another website to link to the page, perhaps by writing an article that includes a link to the page and letting another site publish the article.
SEO folks know about the importance of getting links to your web pages and they have lots of clever ideas about how to get them. The key is web analytics. We want SEO work focused on a handful of search phrases where we will get the best results.
If the CEO wants to rank in position #1 for a pet phrase, we can thank them for the idea and promise to analyze it. We add row 101 to our spreadsheet and see what the data is. If it would be easy to rank but the conversion rate is low, we can let the CEO decide whether we should focus on that search phrase, or work on another with higher potential ROI.
If we pick a Top 10 list of search phrases to optimize for, we can track each using web analytics and report on progress, and success. Our rank checker will show when we move up on the search engine's results pages. Analytics will show increases in website visitors and what the conversion rates are.
What are your thoughts? Your comments are welcome!