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thejenn 27th October 2005 09:28 AM

Realistic SEO Expectations
Authored by: Jill Whalen

Full Text:

A Snippet:

"No SEO company in the world will be able to help you unless you are ready to forget about what you think you want, and learn more about what you really need."

yellowwing 27th October 2005 10:55 AM

Good SEO costs more.

Back in the day, just the right domain name could get you top ranking for the largest search market.

Now the competition is fierce. Any SEO effort requires much more work. Whether you do it yourself or hire out the task, the additional work for realistic expectations will be more expensive.

One must clearly define what it is that would turn the most profit. Focus on those goals to justify the expense of effective SEO.

St0n3y 27th October 2005 02:15 PM

Good SEO DOES cost more. And it keeps getting more difficult as more skills are needed to succeed.

Do you think that there will come a day where the cost of SEOing a site will outweigh the benefits received from top placement?

thejenn 28th October 2005 04:28 PM

Until people figure out that it's not all about being #1.

It's not a zero sum game. Yes, it's great to have those number one rankings, but the reality is that the long tail opens up so many sources of traffic. Also, people are always refining the way that they search, so it's not like new terms don't pop up as people become more savvy.

I think it's going to happen (already has) in some PPC areas before it does on the organic side...

St0n3y 29th October 2005 01:01 PM

OK, diverting the topic a bit. I'm all for "the long tail" when it comes to keyword optimization. But what I find ironic is that it's those long tail keywords that 1) don't product a lot of traffic (though relevant traffic), and 2) are the first to be used as evidence that "your SEO is just targeting the easy keywords".

In our campaigns, we do a combination of primary keywords and longtail keywords (we call them supporting keywords). I can just imagine other SEOs looking at that and concluding that we're just going after the easy stuff.

Take that a step further, many SEOs will only optimize one or two keywords per page. If those are "long tail" keywords, I can't see how clients will get the roi out of it.

Unless my perception on the long tail keywords is way off base.

bragadocchio 30th October 2005 02:15 AM


Originally Posted by Jill
For instance, on the contact form on my site, I ask people to tell me a little bit about their "business goals." A good portion who fill it out want something like "top-5 rankings in Google and Yahoo for this keyword." Huh? That's not a business goal! A business goal is more like "Bring more people to my website who are searching online for the types of products we sell."

It sounds like it's time to change around the wording of that question a little. :)

It's somewhat understandable that someone contacting an SEO would address the objectives that they would like to achieve focusing upon rankings within web sites. While that isn't a primary "business goal" for their site, it may be a goal that will help them achieve the real goals for their site.

Maybe a better way of addressing that topic would be by asking first whom they believe the audience that they are trying to reach their site might be, with some simple examples. For example:


Who is the audience, or audiences that you would most like to reach with your site? (example: a sporting goods site that focuses upon baseball finds that the people who are most likely to make a purchase are fathers of pre-teens and teens who want to make sure that their children have sports activities in their lives. But, they want to expand their offerings to include golfing and tennis equipment, aimed at an older crowd.)

Then, instead of asking about "business goals" ask about what they might want that audience to do upon reaching the site, and reading through a few pages.


What do you want that audience to do when they reach your site? (example: The sporting goods store above doesn't offer any goods for sale online, but they would like visitors to find out what they have to offer, and visit the site at one of their three locations in the Greater Cincinnati area. The site would tell them where the locations are, when the stores are open, and what they have to offer.)
I'm sure that some better examples could be thought of, but by providing potential clients an idea of what is being looked for, it's possible that the contact form may be of more use than a simple "What are your business objectives?"

The trick here is to make it as easy as possible for people to be responsive in the way that you want them to be.

thejenn 31st October 2005 12:57 PM

I think Bill makes some excellent points. :)

Stoney, I'm with you on the idea that you can't place all of your focus on the longtail words, but you also shouldn't place all your focus on the "money" words either.

The money words are the most noticable and easiest to track because individually, they pack the most punch. But the reality is that on a well optimzied site, the top 20 or 30 keywords tend to make up less than a quarter of the search engine traffic to a site.

A site that has fantastic content is going to pick up TONS of traffic for the incidental phrases and those often convert at a much higher rate than the "money" words. Now it doesn't make sense to focus on them exclusively, because each one of them may only product a few clicks a year. But combined, their power isn't something that you can ignore.

I think what the concept of the longtail does is shift the focus of organic SEO back toward being about building solid, quality content and less about stuffing a bunch of words on a page. It's not so much a change in HOW you do things as it is a change in the way of explaining things to a client.

What do you think?

yellowwing 31st October 2005 01:04 PM

Perhaps then, we should take the focus a step further. What are your marketing goals?

As the scale of companies goes above sole proprietorship, Marketing is one of the top 3 specialties that get there own department. Even if its a Sales Manager.

Clearly marketing is ingrained in the modern business model. Search Engine Marketing, (the parent of SEO), will continue to be of value in our modern technological society.

St0n3y 31st October 2005 01:29 PM

All good points and things to consider. So, how do you charge for a service based on marketing goals? Hard to do, even if those goals are definable, without doing considerable research into that industy you don't know if those goals are reachable.

thejenn 31st October 2005 03:01 PM

Back when I actually did a decent amount of SEO work (as opposed to just some consulting) I pretty much never took on a client unless we were doing all of their online marketing work.

SEM simply doesn't work if you aren't working with a site that has the whole package. What good does all that traffic do if you can't convert it? Thus, rather than end up having companies get frustrated because they are getting traffic, but not having conversions, I made sure that I had control (or at least input) over the entire online process.

I think that's going to be the biggest move in SEM in the next few years...we're going to see fewer SEM only shops, unless they are ones that have clearly defined relationships with online marketing agencies or web development firms so that they are already workign with vendors that they have a good relationship with.

Again, SEM means nothing unless it's part of an overall package. I think that's the thing that strikes most small businesses as being the most difficult part of SEM. They just don't realize that they have to give their firm or consultant access to suggesting changes that can impact conversion rates.

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