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4 Ways To Boost SEO ROI With No Overhead Costs

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4 Ways To Boost SEO ROI With No Overhead Costs

This post was sponsored by ResultFirst. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Your CEO wants to know how important your SEO team is in the company’s big picture.

The CFO wants to make sure you’re staying within your tight marketing budget.

Meanwhile, shareholders want to see a higher return on investment (ROI) with limited cost.

So, how do you transform your SEO team into an ROI powerhouse without breaking your budget?

We’ll show you how to improve your ROI through an updated keyword ranking strategy and some untapped SEO strategies for enterprise SEO teams.

And some of these SEO strategies only cost money when they work.

We’ll teach you how to work more efficiently with a smaller in-house marketing budget.

1. Get More Qualified Visitors: Add Mid-Volume Keywords To Your SEO Strategy

You know the drill. Your CEO wants to see millions of visitors pouring into your site with a minimum spend.

Enter SEO.

Your SEO team focuses on high-volume keywords and branded keywords to make sure traffic flow improves.

However, once website traffic begins to increase, shareholders seem to start focusing on the next key metric – return on investment (ROI).

Suddenly, your CEO starts asking to see conversion data and asking how many hours went into each conversion:

  • How many hours went into nurturing each visitor?
  • How many of those nurtured visitors converted into a sale?
  • How many fell out of a long marketing funnel?
  • How many of those visitors are converting into true profit?
  • Is all of this work financially paying off?

Then, you realize that high-volume keywords and branded keywords only attract top-of-the-funnel visitors, a.k.a people who are the farthest away from making a purchase.

The excitement begins to fade – your marketing team has spent hundreds of hours nurturing those top-funnel visitors to the consideration stage, only for 4.31% of visitors to convert.

Each hour spent nurturing reduces the ROI of SEO.

It’s time to make sure that the leads entering your website are closer to the conversion phase of your marketing funnel.

After all, less work to transform a visitor into profit means higher ROI.

The key: pivot your SEO team’s focus towards adding more mid-volume and low-volume keywords to your SEO strategy.

Why Should I Allocate SEO Bandwidth To Mid- & Low-Volume Keywords?

To make sure that your website leads are closer to conversion, allocate SEO bandwidth toward mid- and low-volume keywords.

What’s The ROI Difference Between High-Volume & Mid-/Low-Volume Keywords?

High-volume keywords, such as the short-tail keywords [iPhone 14] or [Android], are great for awareness and traffic. But because visitors who enter your site through high-volume, short-tail keywords are in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel, only 3% of these visitors may convert.

Mid-volume and low-volume keywords, such as the long-tail keywords [buy 256GB iPhone 14 pro max], have a 23% chance of converting with less work.

How To Increase ROI With Mid- & Low-Volume Keywords

To add mid-volume and low-volume keywords (a.k.a long-tail keywords) to your SEO strategy, simply repeat your in-house keyword research strategy to focus on search intent.

Re-performing your initial keyword research with search intent will naturally help you uncover the long-tail keywords you need to get more qualified leads and search visibility.

The Easy Way

Don’t have the budget to repeat keyword research for more qualified search terms?

Look into:

  1. Hands-on pay-for-performance SEO agencies that combine your current keyword strategy with a well-balanced mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords. Bonus, you only pay for results; there are no budget-wasting retainers.
  2. Automated SEO tools, which will still require bandwidth for configuration and quality control.

2. Audit The True ROI Of Your SEO Strategy: Reduce Unnecessary Marketing Spend

Being wise about how you allocate your resources is the second key to higher ROI.

Ask yourself:

  1. Are your marketing teams aligned with your SEO goals?
  2. Are you streamlining and automating simple SEO tasks to improve bandwidth and innovative output from your key players?
  3. If you’re outsourcing parts of your SEO strategy, is their success resulting in net profit?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may be accidentally lowering the ROI of your SEO results.

Focus on these key areas to solve the largest unnecessary drains on your marketing budget.

Cost Reduction Tip 1: Ensure Content Marketing, PPC & SEO Are Aligned For Higher Success

Sharing strategies and data between marketing teams can help your organization save bandwidth costs while improving how you optimize and manage campaigns.

Siloed enterprise marketing teams can quickly become one of the largest sources of budget drain.

In fact, 13.9% of marketing managers and department heads cited alignment with other departments as a major hurdle to SEO success in 2022.

However, when broader interdepartmental collaboration is implemented, you can quickly see the ROI of SEO strategies increase.

The Problem

ROI is severely lowered when PPC teams, content marketing teams, and SEO teams are not communicating with each other, content can quickly overlap, causing cannibalization, repeat work, and more.

The cost of duplicate work, educational meetings, and strategy repairs cause unnecessary additional costs toward a conversion.

The Solution

Reduce repetitive work and raise ROI by:

  • Using proven data from recently completed campaigns. Save time on SEO research by leveraging successful PPC ad copy as a starting point for SERP titles and meta descriptions.
  • Combining and sharing PPC and SEO keyword research.
  • Sharing Google Ads and Search Console data between teams to save time on experimenting and help avoid mistakes.
  • Discovering SERP ownership and allocating ad spend to SERPs that have higher competition.
  • Locating and combining content pages that directly compete with SEO-focused pages, then working together to focus those content creation resources on new, high-ROI targets.

By reducing repeat work for the same conversion, you can quickly raise ROI.

Cost Reduction Tip 2: Safely Streamline & Automate SEO Tasks

In 2022, the majority of marketing managers and department heads cited a lack of resources as their largest hurdle toward SEO success.

The Problem

ROI drops when your team is stretched thin; high-quality output decreases and mistakes are made.

Mistakes take time to correct, and to your CEO, time is money that’s taken away from ROI.

The Solution

Raise ROI by investing in AI and machine learning tools that save time and help allow the output of higher-quality work from your teams.

Time saved = lower conversion costs = higher ROI.

AI and machine learning can reduce conversion costs by up to 20%, with up to 70% of the cost reduction resulting from higher productivity.

To get started, uncover which simple SEO tasks can be automated and taken off of your team’s plate.

AI can safely automate time-consuming tasks and augment SEO performance through:

  • SERP anomaly detection.
  • Ranking and traffic report updates.
  • Backlink profile creation.
  • Gathering manual SEO data.
  • Backlink sourcing.
  • Initial keyword research reports.
  • Topic research and article structure.

By allowing tools and AI to perform those tasks, you’ll find:

  • Fewer costly mistakes and correction periods, because your team has more time to focus on quality instead of racing to complete their tasks.
  • Less time-spend on time-consuming work, allowing your team to focus on needle-moving strategy and collaboration.
  • Faster paths to scalability and growth within your SEO team structure.

Each of these elements directly influences the ROI of SEO.

Cost Reduction Tip 3: Audit The ROI Of Outsourced SEO

Your CFO and CEO are highly focused on costs to operate versus profit.

You should be, too.

Outsourcing SEO tasks solves any bandwidth problems your marketing team has, but how do you know if the cost of the retainer is worth the ROI?

The Problem

ROI drops when retainers enter the picture.

When there is an expense simply because your company signed the contract or because the agency requires three months of setup time, it can be hard to prove that your agency choice was a good idea.

The Solution

Learning how retainers impact your ROI can help you paint a better picture of success.

Calculating your SEO strategy’s ROI and including retainer costs plus the time it takes to get to page 1 is key.

  • When is your outsourced SEO agency expecting results to begin?
  • How many months of the retainer will you be paying before that?
  • How much money could you save paying only for results?
Image created by ResultFirst, February 2023

In this scenario, the first SEO results are seen around month four.

With traditional SEO billing, you’ve already spent $4,000 for the first conversions.

With pay-for-performance SEO billing, you’ve only paid $450 for the first conversions.

After discovering the cost impact of your current retainers, try exploring other types of SEO agencies.

3. Hire Specific Top Skills: Scale Your SEO Team Into A High-Impact Powerhouse

Like searching for the perfect SEO agency, hiring new SEO professionals can be an ROI-draining gamble.

So, in order to positively impact your ROI, the key is to look for specific traits for the perfect enterprise SEO professional.

Look For These Traits In Your Next Enterprise SEO Hire

In addition to critical thinking, great speaking and writing ability, technical and programming skills, and analytics knowledge, you should also look for these key enterprise SEO traits:

  • Inherent knowledge of your business and its vertical(s).
  • A multidisciplinary mindset with a collaborative nature.
  • SEO reporting mastery and the ability to communicate results in ways that matter to your CEO.
  • A solid foundational understanding of how search engines crawl, index, and rank content.
  • Experience creating and maintaining technical documentation.
  • Deep experience with AI-assisted SEO tools and platforms.

By crafting your enterprise SEO team around these skillsets, you automatically attune your team towards high-quality, high-ROI results.

Scale Your SEO Department Effortlessly With No Recruitment Costs

This year, many marketing and SEO budgets are lower than usual.

If hiring is not included in your budget for this year, it’s still possible to scale your SEO program.

You can avoid hiring expensive SEO teams in-house and work with a pay-for-performance agency like ResultFirst to affordably scale your SEO program.

4. Implement Pay-Per-Performance SEO Into Your SEO Strategy

As you know, the startup costs of onboarding a new SEO agency can cause your ROI to plummet as you wait for results.

In some cases, the first true SEO results from a retainer SEO contract can take up to six months, effectively causing your conversion value to be much lower than your CPC.

A great alternative to traditional SEO agency models is the pay-for-performance (PFP) SEO model.

While you work with your PPC team for immediate visibility on SERPs, a PFP agency can begin working on your search visibility for free.

What Is Pay-For-Performance SEO?

Pay-For-Performance (PFP) SEO is a performance-based service model in which you are only charged when your SEO campaign is successful and your SEO goals are achieved.

Enterprise SEO: 4 Ways To Boost SEO ROI With No Overhead CostsImage created by ResultFirst, February 2023

So, once you reach the desired ranking for your top keywords, then, and only then, will you be charged.

PFP SEO works primarily to boost rankings, increase web traffic, and drive more revenue through:

  • Industry Analysis.
  • Competitor Analysis.
  • Complete Website Audit.
  • Keyword Research.
  • Complete On-Page SEO Suggestions.
  • Backlink Acquisitions.

Outperform Your Competition & Grow Your Digital Marketing Initiatives With ResultFirst

Pay-For-Performance SEO is here to address your economic challenges by allowing your company to achieve greater results with less marketing spend.

Ready to increase organic traffic, improve rankings, and boost conversions for your business – all while saving money and getting the most return on your investment? Start marketing with ResultFirst today!


Image Credits

Featured Image: Used with permission.



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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Olga Strel

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Google’s Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

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Google's Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, Gary Illyes, Analyst at Google, revealed that the search engine takes a binary approach when assessing a website’s lastmod signal from sitemaps.

The revelation came as Illyes encouraged website owners to upgrade to WordPress 6.5, which now natively supports the lastmod element in sitemaps.

When Mark Williams-Cook asked if Google has a “reputation system” to gauge how much to trust a site’s reported lastmod dates, Illyes stated, “It’s binary: we either trust it or we don’t.”

No Shades Of Gray For Lastmod

The lastmod tag indicates the date of the most recent significant update to a webpage, helping search engines prioritize crawling and indexing.

Illyes’ response suggests Google doesn’t factor in a website’s history or gradually build trust in the lastmod values being reported.

Google either accepts the lastmod dates provided in a site’s sitemap as accurate, or it disregards them.

This binary approach reinforces the need to implement the lastmod tag correctly and only specify dates when making meaningful changes.

Illyes commends the WordPress developer community for their work on version 6.5, which automatically populates the lastmod field without extra configuration.

Accurate Lastmod Essential For Crawl Prioritization

While convenient for WordPress users, the native lastmod support is only beneficial if Google trusts you’re using it correctly.

Inaccurate lastmod tags could lead to Google ignoring the signal when scheduling crawls.

With Illyes confirming Google’s stance, it shows there’s no room for error when using this tag.

Why SEJ Cares

Understanding how Google acts on lastmod can help ensure Google displays new publish dates in search results when you update your content.

It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if the dates are deemed untrustworthy, the signal could be disregarded sitewide.

With the information revealed by Illyes, you can ensure your implementation follows best practices to the letter.


Featured Image: Danishch/Shutterstock

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

There’s one thing standing between you and several days of SEO, socializing, and Singaporean sunshine: your boss (and their Q4 budget 😅).

But don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Here are 5 arguments (and an example message) you can use to persuade your boss to send you to Ahrefs Evolve.

About Ahrefs Evolve

  • 2 days in sunny Singapore (Oct 24–25)
  • 500 digital marketing enthusiasts
  • 18 top speakers from around the world

Learn more and buy tickets.

SEO is changing at a breakneck pace. Between AI Overviews, Google’s rolling update schedule, their huge API leak, and all the documents released during their antitrust trial, it’s hard to keep up. What works in SEO today?

You could watch a YouTube video or two, maybe even attend an hour-long webinar. Or, much more effective: you could spend two full days learning from a panel of 18 international SEO experts, discussing your takeaways live with other attendees.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve speakers from around the world.

Our world-class speakers are tackling the hardest problems and best opportunities in SEO today. The talk agenda covers topics like:

  • Responding to AI Overviews: Amanda King will teach you how to respond to AI Overviews, Google Gemini, and other AI search functions.
  • Surviving (and thriving) Google’s algo updates: Lily Ray will talk through Google’s recent updates, and share data-driven recommendations for what’s working in search today.
  • Planning for the future of SEO: Bernard Huang will talk through the failures of AI content and the path to better results.

(And attendees will get video recordings of each session, so you can share the knowledge with your teammates too.)

View the full talk agenda here.

There’s no substitute for meeting with influencers, peers, and partners in real life. 

Conferences create serendipity: chance encounters and conversations that can have a huge positive impact on you and your business. By way of example, these are some of the real benefits that have come my way from attending conferences:

  • Conversations that lead to new customers for our business,
  • Invitations to speak at events,
  • New business partnerships and co-marketing opportunities, and
  • Meeting people that we went on to hire.

There’s a “halo” effect that lingers long after the event is over: the people you meet will remember you for longer, think more highly of you, and be more likely to help you out, should you ask.

(And let’s not forget: there’s a lot of information, particularly in SEO, that only gets shared in person.)

The “international” part of Evolve matters too. Evolve is a different crowd to your local run-of-the-mill conference. It’s a chance to meet with people from markets you wouldn’t normally meet—from Australia to Indonesia and beyond.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve attendees by home country.

If you’re an Ahrefs customer (thank you!), you’ll learn tons of tips, tricks and workflow improvements from attending Evolve. You’ll have opportunities to:

  • Attend talks from the Ahrefs team, showcasing advanced features and strategies that you can use in your own business.
  • Pick our brains at the Ahrefs booth, where we’ll offer informal 1:1 coaching sessions and previews of up-coming releases (like our new content optimization tool 🤫).
  • Join dedicated Ahrefs training workshops, hosted by the Ahrefs team and Ahrefs power users (tickets for these workshops will sold separately).

As a manager myself, there are two questions I need answered when approving expenses:

  • Is this a reasonable cost?
  • Will we see a return on this investment?

To answer those questions: early bird tickets for Evolve start at $570. For context, “super early bird” tickets for MozCon (another popular SEO conference) this year were almost twice as much: $999.

There’s a lot included in the ticket price too:

  • World-class international speakers,
  • 5-star hotel venue,
  • 5-star hotel food (two tea breaks with snacks & lunch),
  • Networking afterparty, and
  • Full talk recordings to later share with your team.

SEO is a crucial growth channel for most businesses. If you can improve your company’s SEO performance after attending Evolve (and we think you will), you’ll very easily see a positive return on the investment.

Traveling to tropical Singapore (and eating tons of satay) is great for you, but it’s also great for your team. Attending Evolve is a chance to break with routine, reignite your passion for marketing, and come back to your job reinvigorated.

This would be true for any international conference, but it goes double for Singapore. It’s a truly unique place: an ultra-safe, high-tech city that brings together dozens of different cultures.

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Little India in Singapore

You’ll discover different beliefs, working practices, and ways of business—and if you’re anything like me, come back a richer, wiser person for the experience.

If you’re nervous about pitching your boss on attending Evolve, remember: the worst that can happen is a polite “not this time”, and you’ll find yourself in the same position you are now.

So here goes: take this message template, tweak it to your liking, and send it to your boss over email or Slack… and I’ll see you in Singapore 😉

Email template

Hi [your boss’ name],

Our SEO tool provider, Ahrefs, is holding an SEO and digital marketing conference in Singapore in October. I’d like to attend, and I think it’s in the company’s interest:

  • The talks will help us respond to all the changes happening in SEO today. I’m particularly interested in the talks about AI and recent Google updates. 
  • I can network with my peers. I can discover what’s working at other companies, and explore opportunities for partnerships and co-marketing.
  • I can learn how we can use Ahrefs better across the organization.
  • I’ll come back reinvigorated with new ideas and motivation, and I can share my top takeaways and talk recordings with my team after the event.

Early bird tickets are $570. Given how important SEO is to the growth of our business, I think we’ll easily see a return from the spend.

Can we set up time to chat in more detail? Thanks!

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