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3 Unique Ways To Prove The Value Of SEO

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3 Unique Ways To Prove The Value Of SEO

The Truth About The Real ROI Of SEO

SEO often involves a significant initial investment with a longer ROI than other channels. And once you let SEO slide, the recovery budget can be even more taxing.

However, the ROI from an investment in SEO is generally higher than in other channels.

You know this, but do your stakeholders?

By displaying the right strategic investment in SEO, your brand will come through a period of economic uncertainty in a much stronger position – poised for growth.

I want to help you prove that to stakeholders.

How To Show Accurately Projected Results That Shareholders & Clients Can Plan Around

It’s your responsibility as the expert to ensure that SEO is a priority.

This can be done through strategic planning that your clients and stakeholders can trust.

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Let’s look at two ways you can do that:

  1. Use SEO forecasting to better predict, select, and validate your marketing objectives, SEO goals, and business goals; with this, you can provide valuable insights to marketing directors, commercial managers, or finance directors.
  2. Identify hidden or less obvious opportunities for growth through organic search and validate them with SEO forecasting. You’ll show the value of the opportunity and what it means as an investment.

1. Use SEO Forecasting During SEO Strategy Creation To Validate Attainable Goals

Your first step to building your SEO strategy is to choose your goals and objectives.

These goals should be the north star that every part of your strategy works towards.

You’ve probably had to answer questions related to business objectives such as:

  • What is the percentage increase in non-brand organic traffic we can expect with an investment?
  • If we invest, how much additional revenue or leads will we receive from an increase in our organic search traffic?
  • What will our ROI look like in 12 months’ time if we invest in improving our non-brand organic search traffic?

Using SEOmonitor’s Forecast, you’ll be able to answer these questions and secure your value as a thought leader.

Also, you’ll be able to explain these metrics, set expectations, and provide insight into where best to invest your marketing budget.

With the answers to those questions in your pocket, you’ll be able to start building the foundation of a highly-understandable SEO strategy that stakeholders will love.

As I’m personally a fan of the “SMART objectives” framework, I recommend you use it to build out your strategy, as it forces you to consider if your objectives are truly measurable and achievable.

One example to guide you can be: “Increase non-brand organic search traffic by X% within 12 months and Y% within 24 months while improving the website conversion rate for our agreed conversion goals by Z%.”

How To Validate Your SEO Objectives

Let’s look at an example to understand how forecasting helps create and explain these measurable and specific objectives.

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In this example, I’m working on a real estate and property website, which I’ll call “Property Search”.

Property Search gets around 5 million organic search sessions a year.

My potential goals are to:

  • Maintain and grow the non-brand organic search traffic the site is already receiving.
  • Grow the organic, non-branded search traffic for new areas of opportunity.

What I need to answer next:

  • What is the percentage increase?
  • How would this affect conversions?
  • What would an ROI look like in 12 months?

Now that you have your questions in mind, you can use SEO forecasting to help you make sure those metrics and goals are truly attainable.

Define Your Keyword Data On A Granular Level

The more granular you structure your keyword data, the better.

Define your information architecture and group strategic clusters of search phrases together.

SEOmonitor provides a folder and group structure, which helps you set up the level of granularity you need.

  1. Create Folders: When I set up my keyword research data for “Property Search”, I’ll opt to create individual folders to represent a top-level category in the information architecture (e.g. Offices or Retail).
  2. Create Groups: Then, inside of each folder, I’ll create groups that represent a sub-category (e.g. For Sale or For Rent).
  3. Add Keyword Phrase Clusters: To each group, add clusters of keyword phrases that relate to the category or sub-category in question.
  4. Add To SEOmonitor: These search phrases are either fed into SEOmonitor via Google Search Console and Google Analytics upon account setup or manually via your own keyword research methods.
Image by SEOmonitor, September 2022

This level of granularity lets you create different forecast scenarios based on your selection of specific folders or groups. That’s how you can validate relevant metrics against different objectives.

In order to forecast metrics for my first objective – “to maintain and grow non-brand organic search traffic the site is already receiving” – I start the forecasting process in SEOmonitor with the folders and groups I have structured that relate to “Property Search’s” current organic search footprint.

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SEO Forecasting: 3 Unique Ways To Prove The Value Of SEO To Clients & StakeholdersImage by SEOmonitor, September 2022

Create & Test A Reliable SEO Strategy Scenario

The SEOmonitor forecasting solution provides you with all the key variables you need to create a reliable scenario:

  • Timeframe: You’re able to forecast over a 3, 6, and 12-month period.
  • Progress Speed: Gain the flexibility to adjust the speed at which you reach your goal: exponential, linear, or custom.
  • Volume & YoY Trend: Easily consider average monthly volumes and year-over-year search trends.
  • Rank Goal: Set rank position goals at the folder or group level.
  • Goal Chance: See how realistic the goal you are setting is, based on your current organic search footprint and the personalized keyword difficulty metric for your targeted website.

A key part of the forecasting process is the ability to adjust the conversion rate in the SEOmonitor forecasting algorithm.

Sometimes, when you’re familiar with a brand, your expertise can help you tailor the forecast toward a more accurate prediction.

For instance, an issue I have come across in the past is conversion data in Google Analytics not matching up to the data in internal systems, in some cases by 20 – 30%. In this instance, adjusting the conversion rate that you are forecasting gives far more accurate metrics in the final forecast.

SEO Forecasting: 3 Unique Ways To Prove The Value Of SEO To Clients & StakeholdersImage by SEOmonitor, September 2022

The resulting forecast scenario provides me with all the data needed to answer the questions mentioned above, validate my first objective, and provide valuable insight to my client.

2. Uncover New Business Opportunities With SEO Forecasting

Building on this initial forecast scenario, we can now move our attention to the second objective I outlined: “to grow non-brand organic search traffic for new areas of opportunity.”

How To Identify Gaps In Your Competitor’s SEO Strategy

After extensive research into new areas of opportunity for “Property Search”, and identifying clusters of keyword phrases that related to the business, we identified achievable gaps in the competitors’ landscape.

We consider gaps achievable due to the business’s level of authority in the competitive landscape.

  1. Import Keyword Phrases & Clusters: We manually import them into SEOmonitor and create a second forecast scenario for our second objective; this forecast will present different metrics so we can validate the opportunity and our second objective.
  2. Create SMART Objectives: With the two completed forecast scenarios, I have all the metrics we need to create measurable and achievable SMART objectives, thus the ability to validate these objectives and our main SEO goal.
SEO Forecasting: 3 Unique Ways To Prove The Value Of SEO To Clients & StakeholdersImage by SEOmonitor, September 2022

3. Use Predicted SEO Forecasts To Help Business Decisions

Working with the Sales Director at “Property Search”, we were able to use the data in the two scenarios to forecast revenue generated from the site based on the increase in conversions.

Based on the estimated increase in non-brand traffic, we are also able to consider the uplift to their display advertising revenue from advertisers on their site.

All of this impacts the ability to forecast better commercials and make decisions at the board level as to the best areas of investment in marketing.

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On a final note, you may be wondering why we did not group these two forecast scenarios together, which is a good question.

The reason for this is that the two objectives we had both required different tactics to achieve success for them:

  • Our first objective required more significant time and investment in technical and on-page SEO.
  • Our second objective had a stronger focus on content and digital PR.

Being able to assign these objectives to specific stakeholders within the “Property Search” team enabled better accountability and clarity on who was responsible for delivery in each area of our strategy.

Use SEO Forecasting To Show Business-Wide Needs For SEO

Forecasting SEO based on keywords and desired ranking targets enables you to set clear, measurable objectives and make a solid business case for:

  • Leveraging current non-brand organic traffic.
  • Identifying new opportunities to grow the non-brand organic traffic of the business.

That further translates into potential business outcomes that clients and stakeholders care about.

It’s how you turn the conversation from SEO as a cost to SEO as an investment.

With SEOmonitor’s Forecast, which considers all key variables influencing your keywords and ranks (device segmentation, search data including seasonality and year-over-year trends, CTRs, and conversion rates), you can check every calculation and trust the data.

Join us if you want to create greater value for your clients and stakeholders with more transparency and precision.

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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