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Old 17th May 2006, 07:29 PM   #1
thejenn
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Default Say Bye-bye to Rankings and Hello to SEO Success!

Authored by: Jill Whalen

Full Text: http://www.searchengineguide.com/wha.../0517_jw1.html

A Snippet:

There are a zillion other things that you can learn when measuring your true SEO success through web analytics. If you're not already using a good program (and learning from it), I can't stress enough how important it is to start doing it.

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Old 17th May 2006, 09:39 PM   #2
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Jill's article relates really well to a MIMA event I went to this evening.

It featured a great web analytics presentation from Eric T. Peterson (from WebSideStory and formerly of Jupiter Research). It really lit up some eyes (including mine) on how companies are and are not using analytics effectively. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on analytics, but I know I'll be spending more time digging deeper into it.

Paul

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Old 18th May 2006, 12:09 PM   #3
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Great article Jill. Conversions really are more important than the traffic itself. While it would certainly be nice to show up #1 for my favorite keyword it's completely meaningless if none of the people who see my link click on it or if those that do fail to convert on my site once they get there.

I recently got my invite to Analytics and still learning all the ways I can set it up and figuring out how I should set it up.

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Old 18th May 2006, 11:28 PM   #4
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I don't think it's realistic to say "goodbye to search rankings," at least in my experience it's not. No matter how much you try to educate the business owner to focus on traffic acquisition, customer acquisition, etc., there'll always be an interest in having that prime spot in the SERPs.

It's an ego thing for many business owners, and beyond that, they can't help thinking ... "Won't I improve my traffic and customer acquisition if I have that great spot in the SERPs?"

I think the best-case scenario with most small businesses is to make sure that rankings are just one aspect of the overall marketing goals. If you find a client that's willing to accept the idea of not worrying about rankings, that's a client worth holding onto at all costs. :-)

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Old 19th May 2006, 11:22 AM   #5
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True Matt. I'm not going to say that I don't care where my pages rank. I'd certainly rather be on page 1 than page 2, but I do think working to get that page to convert is much more important than where it ranks.

I'd much rather get two visitors that convert from page 5 than 1000 visitors none of whom convert on page 1.

You're right though about the ego thing and I know we'll be hard pressed to convince many clients that it's ok for their pages not to be #1. A lot of people only seem to understand seo in terms of a specific rank and not the real overall business goal.

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Old 20th May 2006, 08:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
It's an ego thing for many business owners, and beyond that, they can't help thinking ... "Won't I improve my traffic and customer acquisition if I have that great spot in the SERPs?"
That's the same old cop-out we've been hearing for years.

You need to educate your clients and potential clients about why rankings are a worthless measurement. Is it hard to do that? Yeah. And you will lose some potential clients because they are stuck on rankings. But they are wrong, and they will learn that after they hire the company that gives in and measures rankings for them.

As long as SEOs continue to cop out and talk about meaningless rankings, potential clients will want to measure them.

I didn't bother to list all the reasons that rankings are worthless in the article, because it was more to talk about why other web analytics were important. However, if you don't already realize it, rankings are no longer static in the engines.

You can check rankings for 100 phrases right now, and then do it again in an hour, and they will have changed.

You can check right now from one computer, and then check from another at the same time, and yep -- rankings will be different.

You can be on the phone with a potential client and check their rankings on a particular phrase, and they can check for the same phrase, and yep -- they may see a different placement.

With all that said, how in the world can rankings be an effective measurement? And why do people let their egos rule over cold, hard facts?

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Old 20th May 2006, 10:10 AM   #7
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Because people's egos are usually more important to them than cold hard facts

Good article, and I think it is great that you shared your example of your 'seo' ranking. So many put so much energy into those golden phrases, but the reality to me is that those are also more about ego than cold hard facts. Its well known the longer and more specific the phrase that it will convert better.

To me this topic is a lot about people realizing the long tail and its impact. If you are focused on the long tail, then checking rankings is not even very feasible/relevant. Monitoring stats is a no brainer. If you are one who checks rankings as described, I'm speculating some time spent with a focus on the long tail would be well worth your seo time.

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Old 20th May 2006, 02:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
And you will lose some potential clients because they are stuck on rankings.
Jill, first of all, my post above was not meant to be antagonistic in any way. I hope your reply wasn't, either.

So that said ... I would imagine a person and company in your position (how many mailing list subscribers and forum members do you have?) can be somewhat choosy in who you work with. And that's a wonderful position to be in - you've worked hard to get there and helped a lot of people along the way. There are, however, a great many webdev shops and SEM/SEO firms that don't have the same luxury. Has the company I work for ever turned away potential clients? Of course, but not simply because they want a web site that's visible (ranks well) in search engines. As long as we also do our best to educate them not to focus on a top ranking as the be-all, end-all, I'm satisfied with saying "Yeah, let's see how well we can get your site to rank on some appropriate keywords and make sure the site is ready to convert traffic into customers."

Quote:
However, if you don't already realize it, rankings are no longer static in the engines. You can check rankings for 100 phrases right now, and then do it again in an hour, and they will have changed.
A well-known fact, yet something that my experience says is not as common as us marketers would like our clients to believe. Probably true in the more competitive industries, yet on those rare occasions when I see how my wife's real estate web site is doing, everything is consistent 4 out of 5 times. Changes from day-to-day? Sure. Hour-to-hour? I rarely see it, but maybe I should check more.

Quote:
With all that said, how in the world can rankings be an effective measurement?
Well, if the keywords were chosen wisely, it's a measurement that you've done at least one part of your job well. ("You" being the SEM/SEO person, not the web site owner.) Part of the overall process of marketing a site is increasing SE visibility, whether it be through PPC or organic listings or whatever approach you're taking. I'm not suggesting it's a measurement of ROI or any "big picture" thing - just that it's a measurement of that one aspect, of increasing visibility in SEs.

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And why do people let their egos rule over cold, hard facts?
Wish I knew.... I think it's in the corporate DNA.

Quote:
If you are one who checks rankings as described, I'm speculating some time spent with a focus on the long tail would be well worth your seo time.
The long tail is about the only place most of the small business clients I work with even have a chance....

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Old 22nd May 2006, 08:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
As long as we also do our best to educate them not to focus on a top ranking as the be-all, end-all, I'm satisfied with saying "Yeah, let's see how well we can get your site to rank on some appropriate keywords and make sure the site is ready to convert traffic into customers."
If you are satisfied saying that, then yay! (and I don't mean that sarcastically.)

The thing is, just like with any other business, everyone has to decide what clients they are willing to take on and how they want to work with those clients.

Sure, there are plenty of SEOs out there that can cherry-pick clients. Folks that are just starting out don't usually have that luxury if they want to make their mortgage payment each month.

That said, Jill still makes an excellent point. YOU (the SEO) set the tone for the business relationship and you have to decide what you're willing to deal with. If you're ok dealing with folks that are continually chasing rankings and simply can't see past their nose to understand the concept of profits, then that's great. You have income and you are working with people that you can deal with.

But consider this...happy customers tend to send a lot of referrals to the person that has made them happy.

Customers with more realistic expectations are FAR easier to turn into happy customers.

In my entire career, I've taken on only one client that set warning bells off in my head. I took them because it was early in my career and as you pointed out, I needed to be able to pay my bills.

Totally NOT worth it. I ended up spending way more time dealing with the client than I did doing work, the rate I charged didn't match with my time expenditure and he eventually left in a huff because I wouldn't/couldn't/didn't deliver what he WANTED as opposed to what he needed. You can bet that I didn't get any new business from having taken on that client.

On the other hand, a single client that "gets" it can send half a dozen more your way. Plus, these types of clients tend to "pre-educate" their referrals enough that they're sending along more of the type of client that you want to be working with.

In other words...even though it can be tougher on the bank account, sometimes you get where you are going more quickly if you don't compromise in the beginning.

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Old 22nd May 2006, 10:40 AM   #10
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Good points Jenn. I can understand where Matt is coming from. Most of the people who contact me about seo are still in the phase of thinking that for $100 or so I'll give them the magic formula that will make their site #1 for every keyword they want and turn them into instant millionaires.

I do what I can to educate them and generally don't take them on as clients since I know they're expectations are far too unrealistic and even if some of what I say does get across I don't think they'd want to pay fairly for my time.

I tend to just give them back some basic advice on some things they can do. It has gotten me thinking though that I should offer some kind of analysis report on their sites and charge for that. I'm not thinking of the all inclusive report that will cost more than they can pay, but something a little more general that I can more reasonably price.

It can be a hard situation though for newer seo firms who at first will have a hard time attracting the kind of clients they really want. I do think there are clients who will get it with a little explanation, though I'm with you about not taking them on as clients unless they do.

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