20, 15, and 10 years ago, when the world was just getting used to the disappearance of advertising banners on the streets and their appearance on the Internet, approximately the same tools were used in search engine optimization for a long time. Longreads mercilessly dazzled with inserts “cheap air conditioners to buy Moscow” and offered “cheap plastic window installation Chertanovo” in bold. There was no talk of any usability or friendly design, and the sites differed in the degree of acidity of the text color and stolen pictures of horrific quality. Well, the one who had more money for links became the king of the mountain. Oh, those link wars, this silent struggle for a place at the top, and millions spent on link washes. But the golden days for link exchanges have sunk into oblivion.
Let’s break away from a short excursion into history and look into reality. Unfortunately, the understanding of SEO for many has remained at the level of 15 years ago. And we’re back to the budget race again, and link wars become contextual.
The first, albeit obvious, thing I want to talk about is that SEO has evolved along with the Internet, adjusting to the requirements and algorithms of search engines:
- The concepts of “commercial” and “behavioural factors” have appeared, which have become at the head of the table.
- The focus has shifted from longreads and a ton of keywords to readable, relevant texts.
- There are fewer links, but everyone is talking about their quality.
- Usability and design go hand in hand.
- Development that has become the sister of SEO comes into play. Basic settings are not enough now.
- To be liked by the search engine, the user must also like the site.
But we will not consider optimization work in this article; there are enough of them written. Today, we will talk about customer expectations about work results and KPIs and measuring results.
There are three main criteria for evaluating SEO performance:
- an increase in the number of visitors (traffic growth);
- growth of positions;
Oddly enough, it is impossible to single out the most profitable and productive one. Each method has its characteristics, and you need to focus primarily on the site.
Traffic, Leads or Positions – So What to Choose and What to Pay for? Let’s find out! And let’s start with the most logical way of working – traffic.
PAY PER TRAFFIC SEO
The first question that we at the agency ask at a meeting with a client is: “Why do you need traffic? What do you want to get from it?” And here, the substitution of concepts is usually revealed. For some reason, everyone is sure that traffic will bring a sale. That is, it will all be targeted. No, no, and one more time, no!
Imagine your site is a store. People enter it, some leave immediately (they did not like the design, did not get hooked on the threshold), some walk around the hall and look at the goods, and some just came in to warm up (these are “robots”, participants in “fraud systems”). The contractor has brought people and traffic to you by the hand, where his work is over. Further – completely your concern. But you need the contractor to “bring” the visitors to the purchase, help them figure it out, that is, take on the duties of a consultant, a cashier in a store, etc. Only now these are leads, a completely different method of evaluation.
In the case of traffic KPIs, the contractor has a very specific task. By the end of the reporting period, increase the number of visitors by 15%. And this goal will be achieved in all possible ways.
The client will be lucky if a couple of thousand bots do not creep in among the visitors, so popular now and proudly calling themselves fraud systems, vowing not to drive the site under the sanctions of search engines and even increase behavioural factors, after which money will pour into your pocket. In the worst case, the site will disappear from the search results for a long time. And then you will have to spend many months not on growth, but at least on the restoration of the existing indicators.
But not all performers are so evil. Of course, there are completely legal and working ways to bring a user to the site – a real, humanoid.
For example, a blog is a site section with reviews, comparative characteristics, and useful information. If the blog content is really useful and is approached by the developed promotion strategy, it can bring in a lot of visitors.
Perhaps someone will even read the article “The 20 Best Smartwatches of 2019” that they will buy them right on your website. But with a greater degree of probability, using useful and interesting material, he will find this watch and buy it where the cost is lower, delivery is more convenient, and the manager in the chat immediately answers questions.
Total: we have a visitor, we have high rates of behavioural factors, but no purchases.
The traffic is certainly good for sites that make money from advertising. Here the bots will come off for the time being. Until a certain point, this will suit large online stores, where the volume of product pages allows you to expand and “over-optimize” enough to receive an influx of visits – a large assortment, which is equal to a large number of pages, allows you to create a variety of content for a variety of queries that are applicable for traffic promotion. Once again, we note that this only applies to large online stores.
A traffic acquisition strategy may work if you’ve just created a website or have never purposefully promoted it. Then you have room to grow. Basic settings, filling the main sections, preparing content, useful and unique information will bring you, long-awaited visitors. However, you will begin to notice stagnation at some point, that is, a lack of dynamics and sometimes a drop in traffic.
And no matter what you do, it’s all to no avail. You will blame an unscrupulous contractor who may indeed be so. But the reason may be different – you have reached the demand ceiling.
In a regional city, this can happen in 2-3 years of work. The search results are arranged so that the place in it is distributed between aggregators, collecting offers from all possible sources and then generating them for the user within themselves (for example, Avito and Cyan are aggregators) independent sites. You will be sharing space not with ten results on the first page (but to attract a user, it is desirable to be on the first page of the SERP in one way or another), but with 3-5 sites of similar topics. And now, having worked out all the shortcomings, having taken a worthy place in the search results, you share the demand (i.e., all traffic in the region) with these companies.
You can take away some traffic from a less successful competitor, but this will not give a tangible result. Growth will stop. You will be stuck at about one digit. This fact is due to the economy (when the market falls, the number of buyers falls, especially in the premium segment) and demography (the same number of people will not search/buy many times more in normal conditions, but quickly raise a new generation and force them to buy, alas, not in our forces).
SEO FOR LEADS
What’s wrong with leads? Yes, everything is so with them, just fine. This is an ideal option for commercial-sites. Only now … if the site allows you to track and evaluate these leads.
With online stores with a full cycle of purchase: a card, a “Buy” button, a basket, and placing an order directly from it – everything is clear. Among them, there are quite correctly configured analytics systems. But if the site involves selling by phone or by correspondence, end-to-end analytics, analysis of results, and wiretapping of calls are required.
Without all this, the quality of the lead cannot be evaluated. How can you find out if the deal was completed without listening to the call, except the operator’s words? In addition to the fact that fully tuned end-to-end analytics with tracking the quality of leads is not a cheap pleasure, you need to know the price of one lead to estimate the cost of promotion work. In different areas, cities, even on different sites, it will differ for several factors – demand, competition, usability.
Ideally, you need to have ready-made statistics for at least three months. Otherwise, the contractor, insuring himself against unforeseen risks, will lay down expenses much more than real ones.
Or, evaluating in the process that the initial calculation turned out to be less than necessary, the contractor will do less so as not to go to a loss at all. In addition, work on leads implies the possibility of major changes on the site. The user should want to take any action, and it should be simple and convenient. And you must provide him with this by changing the design, adding new blocks, even expanding the range to fully compete. And don’t forget about the price: no matter how great the site is, no matter how well the work is done on it if your price is higher than the market price with the same product offer – even with high positions and traffic, you will not have leads.
Lead KPIs is a great way to measure performance. At the same time, the site must meet several criteria, and its owner must be ready for major changes and the resulting costs.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION BY POSITION
- At the initial stage, you see requests that the contractor undertakes to bring to the top.
- You can assess how they correspond to your business, how commercial they are and involved in making a purchase. For example, pay attention to the frequency of the request – it can be general and accurate. General includes all word forms, declensions and combinations that can only occur to millions of users. Exact means exactly the formulation that is indicated in your semantic core. You need it exactly. Regionality is also a significant factor. The frequency can be collected all over Russia, and it will be huge, but you need a figure for the region you will be promoting. It reflects the number of visitors who have requested this wording in the past month or another period. We recommend that you look at the value exactly for a month. This will allow you to objectively-assess the effectiveness of the request.
- You can choose the priority directions of promotion for you—for example, the most marginal or demanded in the market. For an average website with a limited range of 20-30 products, 300-400 requests are enough. The main thing is to cover all topics of interest.
The advantage of working with positions is their absolute transparency. You see your competitors, track the real dynamics of the site. An important point: for a site to be at the top, it must be of high quality, meet the requirements of both users and search engines. Which means the SEO contractor has to make it one. Of course, here, too, the question rests on the cost of work, but the standard list (of course, differs somewhat for each resource) fits into a perfectly acceptable amount. If the site is not under the filter and in a tolerable condition, it does not require a serious redesign. Then this standard list will be enough for you.
Job by position is suitable for all sites. Are there pitfalls here? Of course, as elsewhere. Do not forget that when assessing the effectiveness of positions, you should be provided with a semantic core, according to which the work will be carried out. Taking into account the exact frequency and regionality, draw the contractor’s attention to inappropriate requests, in your opinion.
Each site is unique and requires a different evaluation method. How to choose? An experienced contractor should evaluate the resource himself and offer you an option. And you can use our article to understand where the pitfalls in sweet promises to bring a ton of traffic or leads can be hidden.