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Behind the numbers

 

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A spreadsheet is just a bunch of numbers unless you know where they come from. The numbers in our SEO ROI spreadsheet are not arbitrary and are intended to be very conservative. We're not trying to get you to do something that has no reasonable expectation of working. You should as a business owner or project owner understand the risks and rewards.

That said, let's look as some of the number in the spreadsheet that may appear to be a little more than guess work.

Estimating Search Volume - TOTAL SEARCHES

Search volumes are not easy to predict for LOCAL searches. But it is getting easier. Google's keyword search tool is very helpful here. Starting with the major yellow page categories, your can get the GLOBAL search volume associated with your keywords. Look at the list generated by Google and add up all the searches you think a client might type if he needs your products and services. You should calculate total searches using at least 10 keywords associated with your business. You can also try different seed categories to expand your research. 

Calculating the LOCAL search volume. Dayton metro has a population of about 900,000. The US population is 300 million. So for general terms (terms that don't include a geographic description) you can multiple the total searches by a factor of .003 to come up with an estimate of local searches. Terms that include a geographic description can be used directly. For example, you can assume that "plumber dayton ohio" is a search originating from the region. If Google gives you a volume for this, use it directly. For the term "plumber", multiply the total search volume by .003.

Example

 

WEBSITE CONVERSIONS

Predicting conversions is tough. It varies by industry and it can be highly dependent on the quality of the website. Many business owners have a "gut feel" for closing rate based on the direct interaction with a prospect. They generally are less intuitive about the conversions off the web. This doesn't have to be the case. Site analytics are usually installed on the site. If not Google analytics, at least some sort of analytics at the server level. In any case, business owners can generally answer how many calls and emails are coming in from the web. Once they find out how many unique visitors are going to their site on a daily basis, there is enough information to approximate web conversions (calls & emails) / unique visitors.

A broad definition of a website conversion is any visitor that does what you want him to do. For many small, local businesses, a conversion is defined as a phone call or an email request. However, that definition of conversion does not mean that the visitor has become a client. For the purposes of evaluting ROI of SEO we consider the true definition of a conversion to be someone who has literally converted from site visitor to client. For most businesses, 0.5 - 1 percent conversion (by this definition) is not a bad estimate.

IMPRESSIONS VS. CLICKS
 

Google delivers a reasonable estimate of total searches (via the Google Keyword Tool)  for any given keyword. Assuming your site is listed in the first page of search results, the totals searches represents the number of impressions your can expect over the given time period. So if your site shows up for a keyword phrase that is searched 3000 times a month, you have 3000 chances of getting clicked. But the chances are weighted. Note: Some people will go to the second page but you can write them off. It's a rare bird that does that in our opinion.

 

Predicting Website Performance

You'll notice in our SEO ROI spreadsheet that the lower you rank, the lower the return. There is some research behind this. This chart has proliferated among SEO companies to explain who clicks what in the search results, the most important point being: Number 1 gets more 50% of the clicks. For the sake of being conservative, we've cut these numbers in half when trying to predict SEO ROI.

One final point: If you take stock in the legitimacy of this data, then you need to be shooting for the top three positions. From an SEO standpoint, first page is great news. To us, it at least indicates the search engine's willingness to index your site among the top ten. Just to inject a dose of reality here, don't take position seven at face value. The low click rate is due to the fact that this is an inner page of the same website that ranks just above it. Few people seem to point that out.

BACK to ROI OF SEO - Is it worth it? 


 

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