Solutions: Best SEO Practices for ROI
Figuring out how to spark the Return on Investment for your online business can be a daunting task, considering the vast amounts of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ‘solutions’ there are available on the market. The bottom line is: you want your site placed as high as possible in search engine results for the greatest traffic gains. But it can be confusing and frustrating for web property owners to figure out the best approach needed to increase web presence and visibility, without throwing countless dollars at a marketing plan that doesn’t guarantee results.
The most effective ROI strategies for your online property begin by following a strong Search Engine Optimization plan and a few simple guidelines that include: organic optimization, adding relevant links, measuring web traffic, and outsourcing SEO.
Start with Organic over Pay-for-Placement
Pay-for-placement strategies such as PPC (pay per click advertising) can be useful. For example, if you're looking for instant recognition in the engines or a boost to supplement your Search Engine Optimization strategy, pay-for-placement can come in handy. However, relying on pay-for-placement has more drawbacks than benefits if you plan on using it as the only source for driving traffic to your website:
- According to leading SEM organization SEMPO, a “PPC-only strategy is a short-sighted solution that has known pitfalls.… As competition increases, PPC ad prices also increase, which erodes profit margins and forces the e-commerce business owner to increase their PPC budgets just to keep up.”1
- Pay for solutions do not necessarily guarantee stickiness of your site. They may drive initial traffic to your web pages, but this traffic increase will be short term if your pages are poorly laid out and contain weak or irrelevant content.
- Fees add up, and you have no way of judging whether or not the traffic coming to your site is relevant (true customers). Furthermore, you have to pay the engines and directories separately for these services.
- Through PPC click fraud, malicious web users can force you out of large sums of money, and even drive you out of business, by spiking up your fees through false clicks.
True SEO is an organic solution. This means your site is listed naturally, by its content, in the search engines. Optimizing your site through SEO offers the best potential ROI because:
- Internet users prefer organic results. iProspect conducted a user attitudes survey in April, 2004, and found that the majority of Internet users prefer natural search results, stating they were more relevant to their search queries. In fact, the study reported that 60-70 percent of clicks on a search engine results page (SERP) are executed on natural results. 2 In March, 2005, Jupiter Research presented key findings coinciding with iProspect’s study, at the Search Engine Strategies New York Conference. They concluded that six out of seven clicks stemmed from organic listings over pay-per-click listings. 3
- With a good SEO service, your site is tuned for relevant content, listed organically, and maintained on a regular basis for maximum exposure over the long term.
- SEO is proactive. The traffic driven to your site is made up of ‘true customers’ seeking your products and services.
- Search engine spiders love relevant content; it’s how they read websites to figure out how to index them. In light of this, search engines give higher rankings to websites that maintain traffic rich, relevant content.
- Sixty percent of top search engine listings are devoted to organic listings.
- Once your site is optimized, submitted and maintained by SEO, ongoing traffic from the major engines is free. More traffic from the search engines means a greater potential for client conversions, increasing your ROI.
In 2005, Jupiter Research and iProspect partnered and published an important whitepaper titled iProspect Outsourced SEO Metrics and ROI Study. Jupiter surveyed 636 reputable search marketers and 224 reputable search agencies. The key finding was that: “Search marketers who outsource their natural search engine optimization to an SEM firm, and who participate in paid search advertising, recognize higher ROI from natural SEO than from paid search advertising…Over three times as many search marketers generate a higher Return on Investment from SEO than from paid advertising.” 4
Adding Relevant Links
Utilizing reciprocal links not related to the content or theme of your web site is frowned upon by the major engines. Search engines bestow a lot of weight to relevant outbound and backlinks. In other words, if you operate a camera site, you should provide outbound links to sites that deal with camera related themes; inbound links should also stem from similar sites. By doing so, you will increase your ranking potential within the engines, and a better ranking means increased traffic and ROI.
Measuring Web Traffic
Successful marketers always keep an eye on the performance levels of their marketing campaigns. Otherwise they have nothing to measure their success levels by, and this is a huge gamble. Monitoring your web traffic is no different.
- Online success is derived by knowing how customers find your web site and where they are coming from. Learning what key words and phrases people use to locate your site, and what search engines they access to get there, is the key to success.
- With this vital information, you can make the necessary changes required to manage and improve your website’s traffic performance. This gives you control over your ROI and your business.
Keep an eye on your traffic levels by analyzing analytics reports. By doing so, you can see and judge where your site is doing well and where it needs improvement.