Why does search engine optimization not produce results?
SEO promotion of websites is engaged in many companies, but often business owners are dissatisfied with the results. It would seem that all the services are rendered in full, and a lot of work was done on the search engine optimization web resource, but the effort and financial investment, not justify itself, and the effect of SEO promotion turns out to be minimal. Why does this happen?
The main reason for the low impact of search engine optimization is the lack of a common goal of the business and the contractor, which leads to a wrong goal setting and / or unrealistic KPI, and thus – to a lack of understanding between the client and the SEO. It is good if the company has a staff member who more or less knows what steps need to be taken to successfully promote the site. But sometimes there is no such specialist, and the terms of reference are absolutely incompetent people. For this reason, already at the start of the project there is a violation of communication between the client and the contractor.
Logical question arises: what to do? The answer may seem obvious: let the business to voice their goals, and SEO-specialists will offer their own. However, in most cases, this option does not work either. The fact that even professionals in the field of search promotion may not understand the specifics and goals of the business, so in this case, discommunication is also inevitable. About how important it is to build an effective relationship with customers and how we do it, told here.
But there is still a way out. Let’s look at a specific example of how to combine business goals and SEO to get the maximum effect from search engine optimization.
An example of the promotion of the web-site of a travel company in the top search engine results
The raw data: a travel company that organizes unusual excursions from the locals, during the pandemic turned to a contractor to promote to the top of search results for the queries: “Excursions in Moscow, St. Petersburg” and other Russian cities. Previously the client had specialized in foreign excursions, but due to the closure of the borders it was necessary to respond quickly to the changed situation.
Thus, the main goal of the business can be formulated as increasing the share of orders from the Russian market and maintaining turnover by the time restrictions are lifted. The goal of SEO is to bring the client to the top of search results for the specified queries
The situation on the market at the time of treatment:
- advertising channels in Russia give about 2 000 orders per month;
- The cost per click is increasing because of the high demand for paid advertising;
- it is impossible to calculate and predict the return of demand.
To combine the objectives of business and SEO will help a simple step-by-step algorithm:
- Conduct a demand and search engine analysis;
- determine the real potential;
- Based on the information obtained, bring all indicators into a single funnel and formulate a goal.
The purpose of the first step is to identify and evaluate the main competitors with a similar range of services at the top of search results. To estimate the demand, it is sufficient to sample two to five queries.
The example shows the analysis of demand for the queries “Excursions to Sochi”, “Excursions to Sochi from locals”, “Excursions in Adler”. There are 8 local companies and 2 direct competitors at the top of the search results. The average position and visibility metrics of competing sites are higher, but we have every chance to improve our client’s performance. Demand analysis for other cities (market segments) is similar.
Opinion of the expert
Alexey Guberman, head of search engine optimization department of “Ashmanov and Partners”:
“Analysis by 2-5 queries in some cases is insufficient. If you have a business with a large assortment, then demand must be analyzed for all “marker requests.
Determination of the real potential
We summarize the data obtained for each city into segments and take the highest direct competitor metric as the potential for one segment. Demand analysis on the example of the city of Sochi has shown that we can increase the metrics by at least 2-3 times. After each city has been analyzed, the data obtained is entered into the summary table on the basis of which the real potential – the average value of the metrics of the main competitors – is determined.
We summarize all the indicators and formulate a single goal
Demand analysis has allowed us to clarify and combine the objectives of SEO and business. The task of SEO will now sound like this: to take a place in the search engine on the target requests, which can bring up to 2,000 orders. With the demand and potential analyzed, we know that an average position of 19 at 12% visibility yields 1,000 orders. The business goal is to increase the number of bookings by 1000, which at an average check of 2000 rubles will generate an additional 2 million rubles in turnover.
Having completed the first two steps, we prepare a summary table of data. And only on its basis can we formulate a single correct goal. It sounds like this: to increase the number of orders from 1000 to 2000 due to the growth of search traffic by 2 times and increase the visibility of the requests by 3 times.
Konstantin Solodyannikov, Growth Director at IT-Agency:
“The goal set may seem long and complicated, but it will be the right one, because it contains all the elements of the funnel, links the business and SEO metrics and allows the client and the team of optimizers to focus on a common task. The client understands why he needs SEO specialists, and they, in turn, are clearly aware of what results their work will bring.
The best proof of the effectiveness of this approach is the result. The work carried out on the above algorithm, allowed the travel company to rise to the top of search results, and all goals were achieved.
To go deeper into the topic of SEO-promotion and learn how to properly use the results of research will help you with the concrete cases of the Laboratory of search analytics.
How to properly set goals and assess the prospects for any project?
Each business has its own specifics, so before you start SEO-promotion, you need to assess the return on investment. Sometimes the cost of the project or existing limitations do not allow you to achieve the goals.
Opinion of the expert
Olga Sokolskaya, Head of Client Services at Ashmanov & Partners:
“How do you know if your business suits SEO as a promotion channel or not? When a client comes to us for website promotion, we can immediately answer this question – whether the business needs SEO or not. For example, SEO will not suit a monobrand online store with little demand. We understand that by the thematic query it will not be able to move forward. But in terms of profitability to promote the brand requests it will simply not be profitable, paid for the service money will not pay off.
In that case, we suggest to pay attention to other channels. For example, to increase the popularity of the brand through media advertising, and then return when the demand will be great.
The following algorithm will help you understand your prospects and make a decision:
- Look at the SEO metrics of your competitors: first of all, their positions and visibility.
- Evaluate the traffic channels: which ones bring more traffic, conversions, orders. If there is no data on e-commerce, it is enough to look only at traffic.
- Evaluate competitor traffic via SimilarWeb (allows you to evaluate up to 5 competitors).
- Record orders, turnover, profit.
The data should be entered into a summary table, which will reflect the main SEO metrics of your Internet resource and competitors’ sites. You can choose the average performance of your competitors as a target, and use this data to calculate your potential.
Use the new promotion strategy Search Space Optimization to enhance the effect of SEO promotion and get into the top search results faster.
Konstantin Solodyannikov, growth director and ex-head of the SEO team at IT-Agency: “The proposed algorithm is of little use for information portals, because they have a more complex funnel. But the methodology can be used to measure the number of targeted actions. Segments with narrow demand, such as air cargo, are also inappropriate for SEO promotion due to the specifics of the business.
How to measure and monitor the results of SEO-promotion?
Sometimes, even correctly set goals are not achieved in the prescribed period. As a rule, in such a situation, the client begins to blame the contractor and the contractor – the client. However, mutual accusations will not help to solve the problem. Metrics control can help identify the cause and correct the work. There are two types of metrics to estimate the project efficiency: performance and process metrics.
Reporting on the result metrics is updated on a weekly basis. The most important parameters are tracked, among which are:
- date (period) – what date the data is from, what they are;
- percentage of execution of the plan for the day (in dynamics) – allows you to track the rate of goal achievement;
- percentage of achievement of the plan for the month in absolute value – similarly to the previous point allows you to assess the achievability of the goal within the time period
- business metrics (it’s important that you always have it in front of you) – for example, orders, bookings, etc.
- last year’s metrics – will allow you to adequately assess the current situation.
Viewing the listed metrics will allow you to identify the problem in a timely manner and offer an up-to-date solution. In the example above, we can see that “something is clearly going wrong”. We can see that the growth rate has decreased and we are not reaching the level of last year, the business indicator has fallen too. What to do in this situation? Make a few points.
Result metrics should be reviewed weekly by everyone involved in the project.
- They should be broadcast regularly in several ways
- Show them at a face-to-face meeting between the client and the contractor;
- Send them out after the meeting by mail;
- sent in chats, personal messages, recorded in dashboards.
And most importantly, always ask questions: “Why is the performance lower than expected? What influenced them? How to fix the situation?”.
The conclusions about the situation were as follows: there was a fall in demand in the subject, SEO-promotion had no effect on this situation.
As opposed to outcome metrics that show the correlation between SEO and business metrics, process metrics allow you to assess the status of tasks that are critical for the achievement of the desired outcome metrics. Process metrics include:
- growth points for the year;
- high-level plans for the quarter;
- detailed plans for the month;
- Specific tasks for the week.
Essentially, this is a list of tasks in a convenient format – GANT or excel, for example. The list captures the statuses, e.g. overdue, postponed, sent for revision, and others.
For ease of perception and control, the weekly tasks can be highlighted in different colors. For example, the completed – in green, postponed – in yellow, overdue for two weeks – in red.
You can broadcast the process metrics in the same way as the result metrics: in person, by mail, in chats, private messages or dashboards. The indicators should also be accompanied by questions: “Which tasks are being performed, and which are not? What are the reasons for non-fulfillment? What steps will be taken next week?”
Why are outcome and process metrics needed?
Results and process metrics allow you to control any project without deep diving into it by every specialist. In other words, they are convenient, understandable and easy to use. Performance metrics are used to monitor the project’s dynamics as compared to the previous year’s forecasts and indicators. Process metrics allow you to evaluate the ratio of completed/non-completed tasks. And it’s important to understand that these metrics are valuable both for SEO and for business: it’s important to monitor them, share them, discuss and ask clarifying questions. Thus, the answer to the question “how to get the most out of SEO” boils down to three points:
Set properly defined realistic goals that are the same for SEO and business;
- Monitor the performance of outcome and process metrics, broadcast them to each other;
- Ask questions: why have reached these figures / set such goals and what to expect from the next promotion.
In order to set the right goal for the SEO project, you need to:
- formulate a business goal;
- check the feasibility of its implementation with the help of SEO metrics: positions, visibility, traffic;
- combine business and SEO goals, making a sales funnel with all the indicators.
To monitor the implementation of the goal, you need to:
- Every week/month/quarter to evaluate the results and process metrics:
- Broadcast the findings to all participants in the project on the client and contractor side;
- Ask questions about current metrics and further action plan.