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Projecting Results from SEO – Benchmarking SEO Keywords

Michael Coppola November 9, 2009 Category Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Projecting results from SEO can be challenging for both marketers & agencies, so how do we properly understand the payoff benefits from embarking on a search engine optimization plan?

Well to start, just like any other marketing project you will need to know where you have been to know where you are going.   It is funny how marketers familiar with traditional media can make assessments easily on performance but when Search Engine Optimization projects lands on their laps a theoretical black hole of evaluation exits.

Projecting results from SEO does not have to be that difficult, but it is a process that does require a few benchmarking sessions to make sure that your project is on track and that you are focusing on the right metrics

Organic Search Engine Growth

Organic Search Engine Growth

Benchmarking Sessions Provide Focus

Before any project launches, we always have a series of internal SEO benchmarking meetings to make sure when we will be projecting results from SEO it will be in  line with client expectations.  Too often, SEO Agencies or consultants make broad claims about SEO and how it will impact the business.  There is this applied notion that “being #1 on Google” for a certain term makes all a marketers business problems go away.  Unfortunately, we have to deal with this concept and we use benchmarking sessions to manage our clients expectations and keep our team accountable based on real measurable results.

Here at Path Interactive, we have at least three separate benchmarking sessions which I will share in future posts.  The first initial session happens very early on in the SEO process and marketers should pay attention to this important step as they can avoid costly mistakes in developing content for on page optimization.

Keyword Selection Benchmark Meeting for Projecting Results From SEO

Google Keyword Tool

Google Keyword Tool

The first benchmarking session we have is during the Keyword Research selection process.  After deep keyword research and been completed and keywords have been through an initial client review, we have a short list of keywords to target to existing and new website pages.

At this point, it is critical that we make a quick traffic projection to make sure you staying in line with expectations.  Too often during the keyword selection process you can lose focus.  Various stakeholders may get involved in the process that don’t fully understand and weigh in on irrelevant or low traffic key phrases.  Or locally targeted business demand what they THINK are good terms but there is no relevant traffic.  The key phrases have to make sense, have to be realistic to achieve placement and provide the ROI needed to justify the spend.

Agencies have numerous tools and proprietary applications to assist in this process, but in house marketers can do a solid projection using the Google Keyword Tool.

Making an SEO Projection Using Google Keyword Tool

To make a projection, drop your focused keyword list into the estimator for a projected search volume of traffic on Google.  It is important to use the “exact match” function to come of with a conservative projection of volume.   Then, a projected click thru rate can be used on the keyword level to give you a quick assessment of the traffic available for ranking high on these key phrases from Google.  Look at the existing SERP pages again so you can get a best and worst case scenario for placement to project a proper click thru (CTR) rate.  CTR’s can be anywhere from 4-15% for top 10 placement on average.

Compare your projected traffic number against the same set of keywords coming from Google Organic in your Analytics account.  The difference will be a conservative performance benchmark for how these key phrases can impact website traffic coming from Google.  From here you can project the total search engine traffic by grossing up your projection by the percent Google relates to your total search engine referral traffic.   Finally, you can project results from SEO focused key phrases against your key performance metrics.

Keyword Projects Don’t Tell The Whole Story, But Keep You On Track

Keyword projections are only used to keep focus on the Keyword selection process but they don’t tell the complete story for projecting results from SEO.  To properly project the results in terms of return it is important to identify to go through a series of additional steps which we will share in future posts.

If you want to get a step by step instruction on how to perform a baseline keyword projection for SEO, just contact us and we would be happy to share.

Michael Coppola is CEO and founder of Path Interactive

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