ChatGPT for SEO: Comprehensive Guide to Maximize Benefits and Minimize Pitfalls
As experienced SEO experts who have been dabbling with AI for years, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to using AI in content creation.
ChatGPT has a lot of potential, and as it stands today, it is useful for a few SEO-related tasks. However, the reality is that it’s not a magic bullet (at least not yet) and there are some serious pitfalls to be aware of.
But don’t just take our word for it — we’ve also scoured Google’s official guidelines, along with our own candid experiences and those of other marketers, to give you the full story on using AI tools like ChatGPT for SEO tasks like content writing, keyword research, meta tag optimization, and more.
- Demystifying Google’s Guidelines for ChatGPT and AI-Generated Content
- ChatGPT For SEO: How to Make AI Your SEO Sidekick (and What to Avoid)
- Frequently Asked Questions About Using ChatGPT for SEO
- Can AI-Generated Content Rank Well in Google?
- Do You Have to Disclose That Your Content Is AI-Generated?
- Can Google Tell That Your Content Is AI-Generated?
Demystifying Google's Guidelines for ChatGPT and AI-Generated Content
AI-generated content is all the rage these days, but does it pass the Google test? And does having it on your website help or hurt your search engine rankings?
Why Google Gives the Green Light to AI-Generated Content
With the prevalence of AI tools like ChatGPT, Google has had to adapt its content guidelines to address the growing amount of machine-generated content.
And so far, the overwhelming message is that high-quality content is high-quality content, whether it was produced by humans or AI.
The top priority for Google is to deliver searchers with useful and relevant information, regardless of the method used to create it. The focus is on the end product, not the process.
The fact that a piece of content is AI-generated won’t give it an edge in Google’s eyes. However, it won’t be penalized for that reason, either. Quality and relevance are what matter most, and Google has specific guidelines for what makes content high-quality.
To sum it up, Google’s stance on AI-generated content is clear: quality is what matters, regardless of the production method. You should, therefore, prioritize generating high-quality content that meets E-E-A-T (Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness) standards and offers value to users.
“Our focus on the quality of content, rather than how content is produced, is a useful guide that has helped us deliver reliable, high quality results to users for years.”Danny Sullivan and Chris Nelson of the Google Search Quality team
If ChatGPT helps you do that, you’re golden.
If you’re using it to game the search engine algorithm…you could be in trouble.
AI Content Creation: Best Practices According to Google
With the use of AI-generated content on the rise, Google has issued guidelines to help creators ensure that AI-generated content meets the search engine’s requirements for quality and relevance:
- Write for people, not search engines. Produce helpful, reliable, people-first content that demonstrates the qualities of E-E-A-T.
- Always have someone on your team review all AI-generated content for accuracy and quality before it goes live.
- While not strictly required, it helps to include AI or automation disclosures for content where someone might question how the content was created.
- If you do choose to disclose the use of AI, don’t use the author byline of your content to do that, even when an AI tool is the primary author.
- Never use AI to produce content that mainly exists for the purpose of manipulating search rankings.
- Never use AI to ‘spin’ content stolen from other sources.
1. Aim For E-E-A-T with AI-Generated Content
E-E-A-T is all about showcasing your dazzling expertise, first-hand experience, unshakable authority, and rock-solid trustworthiness to cement your credibility and win over your audience.
It’s one of the main criteria Google uses to evaluate whether their search ranking systems providing helpful, relevant information. While these criteria don’t directly impact rankings, Google states outright that they offer invaluable insights for content creators looking to thrive in Google Search.
By understanding and adhering to the principles of Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness, you can better assess the quality of your own content and make informed adjustments to boost its performance.
Embracing E-E-A-T will not only improve the quality of your AI-generated content, but also help you align with the underlying factors that contribute to better visibility in Google Search.
In a nutshell, think of E-E-A-T guidelines as your secret weapon to success in Google Search, whether your content is crafted by humans, AI, or even better, a powerful combination of the two.
2. AI Writers Need Human Reviewers
While AI offers a powerful tool for creating content, it’s essential to have someone review and refine AI-generated content for accuracy and quality before you hit Publish.
Human review plays a crucial role in catching any errors or inaccuracies that AI may have overlooked, ensuring that the content truly provides value to users. This vital step guarantees that your content is useful, relevant, and trustworthy, aligning with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.
3. Add AI Disclosures Where It Makes Sense…
When it comes to generating content with AI, transparency matters. Disclosing the use of AI in your content creation process ensures that users understand how the content was crafted. This transparency not only builds trust with your audience, but also helps address any concerns they may have regarding the accuracy or trustworthiness of AI-generated content.
Being open about AI’s involvement in content creation also demonstrates a commitment to honesty and integrity, which can further enhance your brand’s reputation.
4. …But Save Bylines For Human Writers and Editors
While AI can be a valuable asset in content creation, Google recommends that the author byline credit the human contributor(s) who ultimately ensures the end product’s quality and accuracy, not the AI itself.
Instead, disclose AI usage within the text to maintain transparency and foster trust. This way, your audience remains informed about AI’s role in content generation while acknowledging the essential human oversight that guarantees the content’s value and reliability.
5. Use AI to Write for People, Not Search Engine Algorithms
Leveraging AI only for the purpose of manipulating search rankings breaches Google’s guidelines and can result in penalties. The primary objective should always be to create high-quality, valuable content that addresses users’ needs, with search engine optimization as a secondary focus.
AI can be a powerful tool for content creation, but it’s essential to use it ethically and responsibly. The key is to harness AI’s potential to enhance your content’s quality, readability, and relevance, rather than using it as a shortcut to game the SEO system.
By prioritizing genuine value and user experience, you’ll not only adhere to Google’s guidelines but also foster trust and credibility with your audience, ultimately leading to better long-term results in search rankings and online visibility.
6. Do Not Use AI to 'Spin' Content from Other Sources
In the realm of SEO content writing, ‘spun content’ refers to a black hat SEO tactic where you copy existing content from other sources, swap out a few key words or phrases with synonyms, and present the end result as ‘new’ content, with the goal of banging out a large volume of content using the lowest possible time and effort. The resulting content is usually lazy, hard to read, and generally unhelpful, not to mention that it’s pure plagiarism.
Although Google has gotten very good at detecting and penalizing spun content, ChatGPT and tools like it make spinning content easier than ever, so it’s a never-ending arms race. That said,
Using AI to ‘spin’ or copy content from other sources explicitly goes against Google’s guidelines on original and high-quality content creation and can result in an SEO penalty that is hard to remove.
Your focus should always be on generating distinctive and valuable content that provides value to users, rather than sneakily stealing content for the sake of manipulating search rankings.
ChatGPT For SEO: How to Make AI Your SEO Sidekick (and What to Avoid)
Right now, there’s no shortage of misinformation circulating the internet about the use of ChatGPT for SEO. These misconceptions tend to stem from misunderstandings of either ChatGPT’s capabilities, or of SEO itself.
To set the record straight, we’ve conducted thorough research and gained hands-on experience in this domain, leading us to develop a set of recommendations for using ChatGPT for SEO.
In this section, we’ll share the practical applications of ChatGPT for SEO, drawing from the hands-on experience of our SEO experts. These insights are based on what has actually worked for us — we don’t include anything here that we haven’t personally tested.
We’ll tell you what works, and outline the best practices to ensure the content you craft with ChatGPT adheres to Google’s guidelines for high-quality and original content.
1. Streamline the Creation of Schema Markup
One of the ways you can use ChatGPT for SEO is simplifying the process of creating Schema Markup. Schema Markup is a type of code that is added to a website’s HTML to provide search engines with more information about the content on the page. This additional information can include details about the author, ratings, reviews, and other relevant data that can help search engines better understand the content and display it more effectively in search results.
ChatGPT can be used to create Schema Markup by generating content that includes the necessary information for Schema Markup.
By using ChatGPT to create Schema Markup, you can save time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manually generating this content. Additionally, using ChatGPT ensures that the content is generated in a consistent and accurate manner, which can help to avoid errors and inconsistencies in the Schema Markup.
However, it is important to note that ChatGPT should not be relied upon solely for creating Schema Markup. It is still essential to have a human review the generated content to ensure that it is accurate and meets the necessary guidelines for high-quality content.
2. Optimize SEO Elements for Better Visibility
ChatGPT can be a valuable ally in brainstorming essential SEO elements like headlines, headings, meta descriptions, and meta titles. These components play a crucial role in optimizing web pages for search engines, ultimately enhancing their visibility in search results.
Leveraging ChatGPT for brainstorming can save time and effort, as it rapidly generates multiple options for each element. For instance, when creating a captivating headline, simply input basic information like the content’s topic or focus, and ChatGPT will present a list of potential headlines.
Similarly, ChatGPT can be used to generate ideas for headings, meta descriptions, and meta titles. By providing some key information about the content, ChatGPT quickly offers options that can be refined and optimized based on SEO best practices.
However, it’s important not to rely exclusively on ChatGPT for generating these elements. Human input and oversight are crucial for ensuring that the generated options are accurate, relevant, and in line with SEO best practices.
Additionally, remember that SEO is more than just keywords and rankings; headlines, headings, meta descriptions, and meta titles should also be engaging and compelling for human readers.
3. Quickly Craft Summaries, Tables, FAQs and Lists for Blog Posts
Featured Snippets appear at the top of Google search results, providing users with concise answers to their questions and often increasing click-through rates.
By incorporating structured formatting like bulleted lists, tables, FAQs, and summaries, you make it easier for search engines to understand and extract key information from your content, increasing the likelihood of winning a snippet.
Using ChatGPT for these elements also promotes consistency and accuracy across your content. By employing the same tool for these elements, you can maintain a uniform tone, language, and style, resulting in a more cohesive and professional-looking website.
4. Find a Starting Point for Broad Keyword Research on Unfamiliar Topics
Keyword research is crucial for optimizing your content for relevant search terms, ultimately enhancing its visibility in search results. ChatGPT can be a helpful starting point for conducting broad keyword research when you’re dealing with topics you don’t know much of anything about.
However, It is absolutely essential to note that ChatGPT does not have direct access to any metrics like keyword volume, difficulty, or SERP features. To obtain this information, you’ll need to use a dedicated keyword research tool or service. So you’ll need to plug the keywords you get from ChatGPT into another tool to see if they have actual value.
With that in mind, Tom Demers over at Search Engine Land has written an excellent article about how to use ChatGPT to find keyword ideas. We’ve tested this method and found it’s a great way to brainstorm jumping-off points for more in-depth keyword research using tools like SemRush.
5. Perfect for Snippets, Limited for Long-Form Content
ChatGPT shines when it comes to generating bite-size snippets of text for various contexts like landing pages, social media posts, and blog articles.
However, if you plan to use ChatGPT for bigger blocks of content, there’s a few important caveats to consider:
- Repetition: ChatGPT tends to repeat phrases within the same chat, resulting in robotic and formulaic content that puts readers to sleep. Right now, repetition is one of the single biggest tells for AI-generated content.
- Loss of Focus: Like a copywriter without their coffee, ChatGPT is prone to lose focus in long-form content, since it doesn’t actually know the overall purpose or intention of the text. You’ll start seeing a lot of unfocused or even incoherent passages.
- Lack of Natural Flow: Unlike skilled human writers use a variety of proverbial tools to boos readability: jumping between long and short sentences, breaking paragraphs into digestible chunks, cracking jokes to take the edge off, and sharing personal anecdotes to create a genuine connection. ChatGPT can do a decent job.
To make the most of ChatGPT’s potential, use it as a starting point for content and then refine the output with human expertise and creativity.
From our experience, the best approach is to think of ChatGPT as a brainstorming partner that helps you break free from the stifling grip of writer’s block. The next time you’re staring at a blank page, try plugging your ideas into ChatGPT — you’ll get an instant output that can help get those creative juices flowing. Once you’ve got a starting point from ChatGPT, you can take the reins and refine, expand, or build on the output to create a piece that truly resonates with your audience!
Frequently Asked Questions About Using ChatGPT for SEO
Yes, and here’s why: Google uses the same ranking factors for AI-generated content as it does for human-generated content. However content is produced, Google recommends that you aim to produce original, high-quality, people-first content demonstrating qualities E-E-A-T.
To create content that meets these criteria, Google recommends thinking in terms of the Who, How, and Why of content production:
- “Who” refers to the author or team responsible for creating the content. Include bylines that link to more information about the author, their expertise, and other content they have created. This helps establish credibility and authority.
- “How” refers to the process and tools, such as ChatGPT, you use to create content. Be transparent about the use of automation, its benefits, and its role in the content creation process. This builds trust with your audience and enhances the credibility of your content.
- “Why” refers to the purpose of creating content. Focus on producing high-quality, people-first content that meets the needs of users, rather than content aimed solely at manipulating search results or generating clicks.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to provide users with the most helpful and relevant content when they conduct a search.
To date, there haven’t been any reliable wide-scale tests conducted comparing the ranking of human-written versus AI-generated content in search engines like Google. Most examples found online are individual experiments that may not be directly comparable. There are individual examples of AI-generated content that has done well (like BankRate’s content), and content that has not (this experiment using a site with entirely AI-generated content), but the examples are so different that they’re not comparable.
The key takeaway is that Google’s ranking factors focus on the quality, relevance, and usefulness of the content, regardless of whether it is human-written or AI-generated. The main objective is to produce original, high-quality, people-first content that demonstrates Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
No, but there are times when you should seriously consider it. According to Google’s official developer blog, AI or automation disclosures are useful for any content where someone might wonder about the content creation process.
However, Google also notes that giving AI an author byline is not the way to do that. Instead, it’s important to be transparent about the use of AI in the content creation process, while also giving credit to the human authors and editors who were involved.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to disclose that content is AI-generated is up to you…at least for now. However, with the rapid advancement of AI technology and the increasing concerns surrounding AI-generated content, it’s possible that regulatory changes or platform-specific guidelines might require transparency in the future.
By proactively disclosing the use of AI in your content creation process now, you can stay ahead of potential future requirements and show your commitment to transparency and honesty with your audience.
Benefits and Drawbacks of AI Disclosure
- Provides transparency and builds trust with your audience
- Gets ahead of potential platform-specific or legal requirements in the future
- Bias against AI-generated content can create a perception that your content is less credible or trustworthy
- May raise ethical questions about the use of AI in content creation
- Reveals your content creation methods to competitors
Most likely. Back in November of 2022, Google software engineer Duy Nguyen said that Google has “algorithms to go after” those who post AI-plagiarized content. So, it’s safe to assume that Google can detect AI content.
And that makes sense. As a search engine, Google’s primary goal is to deliver high-quality, relevant, and useful content to its users. They’re continuously refining their algorithms to ensure that low-quality, plagiarized, or manipulative content is not rewarded with high rankings in search results.
Google invests heavily in machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve its search algorithms, so it is reasonable to assume they can identify and take action against AI-plagiarized content. However, this does not mean that all AI-generated content is inherently bad or penalized by Google. As long as AI-generated content is high-quality, original, and adds value to users, it can still perform well in search results.
The key is to use AI tools like ChatGPT responsibly. Aim to create content that caters to your audience’s needs and adheres to Google’s guidelines. By doing so, you can harness the power of AI to improve your SEO efforts while avoiding potential penalties or negative impacts on your search rankings.
A Balanced Approach to AI-Generated Content
While ChatGPT and other AI tools have their place in the world of SEO, they are no substitute for good writing, thoughtful content creation, and a strategic approach to SEO.
As with any tool, it’s important to use ChatGPT wisely and in line with best practices to avoid negative consequences for low-quality content or plagiarism. Remember that AI-generated content is not a magic bullet, and it’s up to you to ensure that your content meets the same standards of quality, relevance, and usefulness as any other content you might create.
Our team of SEO experts is ready to help you with your content creation and overall SEO strategy. We understand the importance of producing high-quality, original content that adheres to Google’s guidelines and offers value to your target audience.
If you’re interested in learning more about our services and how we can help you succeed in your SEO efforts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We look forward to working with you!
How to Measure SEO in Google Analytics 4: A Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to step up your SEO in Google Analytics 4?
Whether you’re an analytics pro or just starting out, we’ll take you through 5 easy ways to use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to measure your SEO performance and take your strategy to the next level:
- How to create ‘Views’ like Universal Analytics in GA4 in order to segment or exclude certain traffic to get the most accurate numbers for your SEO reporting
- How to create a Traffic Acquisition Report to see exactly how much of your website traffic comes from search engines like Google Search and Bing, and why
- How to see your top backlinks in order to determine which backlinks are really worth the investment
- How to create a Landing Page Report to analyze which of your website pages are attracting the most organic traffic and which need to be improved
- How to see if your organic visitors are converting and follow their path from discovery to conversion so that you can patch any leaks in your marketing funnel.
Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. Let’s dig into the world of SEO in Google Analytics 4!
(And if you get overwhelmed, don’t worry—our SEO services include done-for-you GA4 integration. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help getting started.)
Background: What’s the Difference Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 for SEO?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, and it brings some significant changes compared to Universal Analytics (UA).
GA4 adds a ton of new functionality, a brand-new interface, and most importantly a completely new data model. This provides some significant advantages over UA when it comes to measuring SEO performance, including:
- Enhanced Measurement: Google Analytics 4 introduces automatic tracking called enhanced measurement which automates a wide range of tracking processes you had to set up by hand in Universal Analytics. GA4 automatically tracks page scrolling, clicks to external sites, using site search, video engagements (including starts, progress, and completion), file downloads, and more.
- Cross-Device Tracking: Google Analytics 4 features reliable cross-device tracking using Google Signals or User-ID. In other words, GA4 can tell when a user switches from their mobile device to a desktop computer and treats them as one user. Not only is it more accurate than UA, but it also offers you deeper insights into how people use different devices.
- Improved Session Tracking: Google Analytics 4 no longer breaks sessions as it goes past midnight, causing it to appear that a person has two sessions when they actually only have one.
- Enhanced Funnels and Paths: Google Analytics 4 offers a robust funnel exploration feature that provides you a detailed look at the steps your users take to complete certain goals on your website, like filling out a form or making a purchase.
- More Flexible Conversion Goals: Google Analytics 4 enables you to set up additional and more flexible conversion goals that can be used to better understand your site.
There are, however, some big changes and missing features that make the transition to GA4 challenging for marketers.
One significant difference from UA is that GA4 does not offer separate Views by default—so, in the next section, we’ll tell you how to configure GA4 to get the same results.
GA4 also lacks certain reports that were available by default in UA and have to be configured manually. We’ll also discuss how to create custom reports for organic traffic, landing pages, backlinks, and organic conversions in GA4.
1. How to Create Views and Filters in GA4
In Universal Analytics, a View is a subset of data for a single domain based on filters that you have applied. Marketers often use Views to exclude internal traffic, test new reporting set-ups, or filter traffic by geographical location.
However, due to a change in the overall account structure, Views are not available as a way to filter data in Google Analytics 4.
The good news is that GA4 does allow you to filter Data Streams to provide a similar experience to UA’s Views.
To create an equivalent to UA’s Views in GA4:
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Events report under Engagement.
- Click on the pencil icon in the top right of the screen to customize the report.
- Click Add Filter to apply a filter based on any of the available dimensions.
- Select a Dimension. For example, if you want to create a filtered view of traffic from one country, apply a filter where the dimension of County equals the country you want to see.
- Click the blue Apply button.
You can also filter certain types of traffic at the Property level. This is the best way to go about excluding traffic that comes from your own staff, since internal traffic can skew the data and make it more difficult to understand exactly how your SEO efforts are performing.
How Views and Filters Help You Measure SEO Performance
Like views in Universal Analytics, this custom GA4 report filters your data so that you can analyze it in a more focused and actionable way.
By creating separate Views for different countries or regions, for example, you can analyze the performance of your website in each location and understand which areas are driving the most traffic. The same can be done using GA4 report filters.
2. How to Check Your Organic Traffic in GA4
To understand where your website users are coming from and how they got there, you’ll need to customize the Traffic Acquisition Report under Acquisition.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Click on the Primary Dimension, which is Session Default Channel Group by default.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Session Source/Medium.
- In the search bar above the Primary Dimension, type Organic and press enter.
Now, you can assess the performance of your SEO efforts metrics such as users, sessions, engaged sessions, and average engagement time.
Analyzing Organic Traffic Growth with GA4
SEO is one of the most powerful tools a business can use to boost its online visibility.
However, without tracking how many visitors are coming to your website through organic search, you won’t know if your SEO strategy is really working or not.
By tracking how many visitors come to your website through organic search, you can gain valuable insight into what is working and what isn’t. Measuring your organic traffic in GA4 will not only help you fine-tune your SEO strategy, but also help you optimize your entire digital marketing strategy for long-term success.
3. How to See Your Top Landing Pages by Organic Traffic in GA4
If you’re familiar with UA, you’ll remember that a landing page report was available by default by clicking the Behavior drop-down menu, then clicking Site Content, followed by Landing Pages.
GA4 isn’t quite as intuitive, but it only takes a few extra steps to create a report that gives you your top landing pages by organic traffic.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Click on the Primary Dimension, which is Session Default Channel Group by default.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Landing Page + Query String.
- Click the + Plus sign and select First User Medium.
- In the search bar above the Primary Dimension, type Organic and press Enter.
Voilà: you have a report that tells you which of your landing pages drive the most organic traffic!
Unlocking SEO Insights with a GA4 Landing Page Report
When you start seeing organic traffic coming in, it means that your SEO efforts are paying off.
Customers are finding what they need on your website—and Google is rewarding you for it.
You can use what’s working on that page to improve your SEO across your website.
Pages with low traffic, on the other hand, might be missing the mark. By taking the time to spot these pages and make the necessary improvements, you can work to unlock your website’s full potential for generating traffic over time.
4. How to See Your Top Backlinks in GA4
You can use GA4 to get detailed information about which of your backlinks drive the most traffic to your site, and which of them carry the most weight for the search engines.
By analyzing this data, you can identify which websites provide the greatest value to your SEO efforts and where you should focus your link building efforts.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Type Referral into the search bar and press Enter.
- Click on the + Plus sign to add a Secondary Dimension.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Session Source.
This report provides information about the source of your referral traffic as well as information about the traffic that helps you determine the value of those backlinks.
Use the objective metrics Google Analytics gives you — number of visitors, page views, pages per visit and bounce rate — as well as subjective characteristics like relevance, uniqueness, and authority.
Analyze Referral Traffic to Boost Your Search Ranking
Building backlinks is one of the most essential SEO strategies. One of the factors determining the ranking of your website on Google for targeted keywords is the number of quality links that point to your website.
5. How to Check Your Organic Conversions in GA4
Measuring the volume of website traffic alone can give you a general idea of how your website is performing, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Conversions in GA4 measure how effective your website is at driving desired actions from visitors. These actions could be anything from making a purchase to subscribing to a newsletter or downloading a PDF guide.
To create an organic conversion report in GA4:
- Click into the Explore section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the third option from the top.
- Click on the Blank exploration report template.
- Name your report Organic Conversions.
- Set the date range to at least 30 days.
- First, you’ll need to create a Segment.
- Click on the + Plus button next to Segments and click the User Segment button.
- Name the new Segment Organic Search.
- Click Add Condition and select First User Medium.
- Click on the Add Filter button. Set the first box to Contains and the second to organic. Click Apply.
- Click the Save and Apply button in the top right corner.
- Next, you’ll need to add Dimensions.
- Click on the + Plus button next to Dimensions.
- Search for the following Dimensions and click the checkbox for each one:
- First user source/medium
- Landing page
- Event name
- Item name
- Device category
- Click the Import button in the top right corner.
- Finally, it’s time to add Metrics.
- Click the + Plus button next to Metrics.
- Search for the following Metrics and click the checkbox for each one:
- Total users
- User conversion rate
- Session conversion rate
- Event revenue
- Click the Import button in the top right corner.
- Double-click the First User/Source Dimension to add it to the Rows section.
- Double click all the Metrics one by one to add them to the Values section.
- Under Values, select Cell Type Heat Map.
Why Organic Conversions Matter in GA4
Organic conversions and organic traffic go hand in hand when it comes to measuring the success of your SEO strategy.
While organic traffic is essential for getting visitors to your website, conversions are what really tells you that the effort you’re putting into SEO is moving the needle.
If you’re getting a lot of website traffic but your conversion rate is low, it may indicate that your website is not effectively converting visitors into customers; or, that your SEO efforts aren’t bringing you the right kind of traffic.
Additionally, comparing your organic conversion rate to that of other channels can help you understand which channels are driving the most valuable traffic to your website. For example, if you see that your organic traffic has a higher conversion rate than your paid traffic, it may indicate that you should redirect some of your PPC advertising budget to SEO.
With this information, you can make data-driven decisions that will improve your website’s performance and drive more revenue to your business.
Unlock the Keys to SEO Success with Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool for measuring your SEO performance.
By following the steps outlined in this post, you can track the most important SEO metrics, create accurate views, and make data-driven decisions for your SEO strategy.
Remember: GA4 can be a bit daunting at first, but with a little bit of practice and the right guidance, you’ll be a pro in no time!
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or need help with integration, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We offer done-for-you GA4 integration and can help you set up your account, track the right metrics and create accurate views.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you drive more traffic to your website.
Best SEO Pricing: How Much Does SEO Cost in 2023?
SEO pricing 2023 varies a lot by industry, location, what’s included in the SEO package and more.
Without knowing a lot about your company, it’s hard to give a concrete answer on exactly how much you should budget for SEO in 2023. However, we can give you a general idea.
Based on the average cost of SEO services in 2023, you can expect to spend:
- $2,000 to $7,000 per month for an average monthly SEO package
- $100 to $350 per hour for SEO consulting
- Starting at $2,000 for project-based SEO work
It’s a wide range, we know. A lot depends on the industry and needs of your company, as well as the breadth of experience of the SEO agency you choose.
It’s also important to understand what those numbers mean, because cheap SEO services are almost always too good to be true and cost you more in the long run.
Quality SEO is complex work that requires specialized expertise and tools.
To further help you decide your SEO budget, we’ve broken down the information further. We hope this helps you better understand exactly where your SEO costs should fall. We’ll go over:
- Why you should invest in SEO
- What actually goes into pricing an SEO package
- What a decent monthly SEO package must include
- SEO consulting: The alternative to a done-for-you SEO package
- How much small businesses should be spending on SEO
- Red flags to watch out for when it comes to low-cost SEO
- Ways to keep SEO costs down without cutting corners
Let’s take a detailed look at how much SEO costs in 2023.
1. Why Should You Invest in SEO?
Fact: organic search accounts for 53% of all web traffic on an average website. Meaning if you’re not showing up in Google Search, you could be losing out on more than half of your potential customers.
And SEO is the most reliable, long-term strategy for getting your website seen by the people who buy what you sell.
That’s not to say it’s a magic bullet. SEO doesn’t work overnight. But when it’s done well, SEO is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that works alongside PPC advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing delivers lasting (and often increasing) value over time.
- Pay-per-click advertisements get your name out there quickly, but at a cost, and that cost fluctuates as the ad auction changes. SEO takes time, but once it’s established, it delivers a steady flow of relevant traffic for free.
- Social media platforms are powerful, but different platforms go in and out of fashion all the time. SEO leverages the value of stable search engines (mainly Google and Bing) that continue to gain influence on our lives.
- Email marketing gives you the freedom to say almost anything, but you can only communicate with existing leads and customers. SEO helps get your message out to new people who are specifically interested in what you offer.
It’s not so much a question of whether SEO pricing is worth it in 2023, but of how much you should invest in SEO based on your business’ needs and goals. Understanding the different types of SEO services available and how those services are priced will help you make an informed decision.
2. What Goes Into the SEO Pricing and SEO Packages?
Pricing for SEO packages largely depends on:
- SEO Agency Experience: You get what you pay for. Seasoned agencies tend to cost more, but they also know what works. They won’t waste your time on unproductive or outdated SEO strategies.
- Project Scope: Large-scale SEO campaigns will not only need more content, but also more labour and resources, while small-scale campaigns have a smaller price tag.
- Location: SEO agencies charge different rates depending on the demand for their services and the number of potential customers or clients in their area. This is where remote work is advantageous for agencies and clients alike — it lets agencies reduce operational costs without sacrificing quality or talent, which translates into cheaper rates for you.
- Pricing Model: There are different SEO pricing models, and each impacts the cost of SEO in a different way. An hourly or project-based model may be more cost-effective for you if you only need a few specific SEO fixes.
- Business Size (Startup vs. Mid-Market vs. Enterprise): Larger enterprises tend to require a broader scope of work, including more extensive website optimization, content writing and link building, so they require more expensive SEO packages.
- Existing SEO Strategy: SEO pricing depends on the state of your existing strategy, including existing website, backlinks, and content. Starting from scratch will obviously require more work and a greater cost since there’s more ground to cover. Having to reverse an existing SEO penalty will also require specialized penalty reversal work before or concurrent with SEO optimization.
- Goals: Want to dominate a particular keyword? Overtake specific competitors? Get a certain volume of traffic per month or year? Your goals play a big part in how much SEO costs, since you’ll need different approaches depending on where you want to end up.
Ultimately, what you budget for SEO isn’t just about what others are spending. Instead, it’s about what you need and want from your SEO campaign.
3. What Does a Monthly SEO Package Include?
A monthly SEO package usually includes a mix of SEO tactics to support an SEO strategy created based on your business’s current SEO standing (rankings, work already completed, penalties, etc.), goals, budget, and competitive landscape.
An SEO package priced at the higher end of the SEO pricing spectrum ($7,000 per month) will include more services than one at the lower end ($2,000 per month.) It could also include going after more, or more competitive, keywords.
When a company is new to SEO and starting from scratch, monthly SEO services will likely include research and setup tasks that lay the groundwork for success, including:
- Keyword and competitive research
- SEO Audit (on page SEO, technical SEO, off page SEO)
- Set up analytics
After the foundation is laid, monthly SEO services tend to transition to technical fixes that improve the health of your website to maximize SEO results, including:
- On-Page SEO fixes
- Off-Page SEO fixes
- Technical SEO fixes
Afterward, the focus generally shifts to ongoing optimization and content creation. Depending on your needs, it might take the form of a specific number of content pieces per month, or ongoing on-page and off-page SEO optimizations.
Overall, what a monthly SEO services package includes is subject to your company’s current and future goals, as well as your budget. Get in touch to learn more about the SEO services we can provide you on a monthly basis within your budget.
4. What’s Included in SEO Consulting?
If you already have an in-house marketing team with some SEO or content writing experience, you may be able to benefit from SEO consulting services, including:
- SEO Audit: The first step in implementing an SEO strategy is a detailed SEO analysis of your website that identifies exactly what’s preventing you from getting the results you want.
- SEO Recommendations: Second opinion on your current SEO plan with recommendations on tactics and keywords, etc.
- SEO Training: Providing training on SEO content, linking, technical SEO, and other SEO tactics to your in-house marketing team.
- SEO Implementation: Usually project-based services which can include fixing an SEO penalty, performing SEO audits and fixes, working on keyword projects, and compiling reports as needed
If you’re not sure if you need SEO consulting or a full SEO package, we offer free 20-minute consultations — for those who are interested in learning more about our professional SEO services without the commitment.
5. What Should SEO Cost a Small Business?
There is no reason why a small business can’t invest in SEO, even if you’re starting with a smaller budget.
In fact, small businesses can often benefit the most from SEO since they can’t just throw money at advertising like their large competitors can.
Generally, a small business’s SEO costs fall within this average range:
- $2,000 to $7,000 per month for a monthly SEO package
- $100 to $350 per hour for SEO consulting
- Starting at $2,000 for project-based SEO work
SEO agencies usually offer tiers of service, with the most comprehensive option costing more than the most basic.
Small businesses that are just getting started in SEO often start with a smaller package that includes things like keyword research, monitoring, and a focus on a small number of realistic keyword targets , then scale up once they see results.
6. Are Cheap SEO Services Worth It?
We mentioned above that you can expect a monthly SEO package from a professional SEO agency to range from between $2,000 and $7,000 per month.
Professional SEO Consulting runs from $100 to $350 per hour.
What if that’s just too much? Is it worth digging to find an even cheaper SEO service?
Here’s why the answer is always no.
While they may seem like a great deal at first, cheap SEO services often use manipulative tactics that go against search engine guidelines and cost you more in the long run.
Google and Bing are well aware of these shady practices. In fact, they deploy advanced machine learning algorithms to actively hunt down and penalize websites that use manipulative black hat SEO practices.
That can cause you to lose traffic, get blocked-listed, and potentially forfeit all of your future search traffic to your competitors.
Cheap SEO services are a huge risk to your company and brand so it’s important to know how to avoid them. The biggest red flags that you’re dealing with shady, cheap SEO providers include:
- Big Promises for Low Price Tags: Long-term SEO success takes a lot of manual work that can’t be done on a budget. You either have to settle for a small number of keywords or pay more later for the work that needs to be done.
- No Long-Term Strategy: Cheap SEO companies offer short-term solutions, but this isn’t realistic. Either they aren’t doing their job or they’re just looking to get quick and easy money from unsuspecting customers.
- No Transparency: Having visibility over the SEO process allows you to assess the results and make necessary changes. Never trust an SEO company that isn’t transparent with you.
If you’re looking for a quick fix to your online marketing strategy, don’t fall for cheap SEO pricing. Contact a reputable agency and see what can be done quickly and on your budget.
7. How to Keep SEO Costs in Check & Get the Best ROI
You don’t want to risk your business’s success by hiring an agency that offers SEO on the cheap.
At the same time, quality SEO doesn’t have to break the bank.
If you’re on a tight budget, making smart decisions in a few key places can help keep your costs down in order to get the most bang for your buck.
Here’s a quick lowdown on keeping costs in check while still getting the best SEO ROI:
- Focus on High-ROI Keywords: The best keywords to target aren’t always long-tail keywords or even competitive keywords — just the words and phrases that have the best chance of producing a good return on investment for your business. Any SEO work you pay for should start with solid keyword research to inform decisions about what to target.
- Test Keywords with Advertising First: Keyword research is important but not always foolproof. One way to test the viability of target keywords is to bid on them through paid search (e.g. Google Ads) before investing in SEO for that same keyword. That way, if the keyword turns out not to be profitable, you won’t waste your time or money chasing it organically.
- Keep an Eye on the Competition: Studying what your most successful competitors are doing can provide valuable insight on your own SEO strategy. Always insist on competitor research as part of your SEO package.
- Play the Long Game: SEO is a long term investment and it’s important to be realistic about ROI. This is especially true for small brands who may need a little more time than larger brands to rank their content. You should be prepared to invest in SEO for at least 6-8 months to see results. If you don’t have enough time or budget for that, stick to other digital marketing tactics like PPC or email marketing to get your brand in front of the right people sooner.
At TrafficSoda, we are committed to helping you get the best ROI with a strong, strategic approach. Get in touch to learn more about SEO pricing and how businesses can keep their costs low while still achieving solid results.
Want More Specific SEO Pricing? Request an Estimate to Find Out How Much SEO Will Cost You in 2023
The average cost of professional SEO services ranges between $2,000 and $7,000 per month for a monthly SEO package, or between $100 and $350 per hour for SEO consulting.
SEO pricing in 2023 varies depending on the scope of your SEO needs, the competitive landscape, and your goals, as well as external factors like location.
If you’re still not sure how to budget for SEO in 2023, we’ll do the hard work for you. Contact us now for an estimate of what you can expect to pay for professional SEO services tailored to your needs.
2023 SEO Checklist: 7 Best Expert Tips to Guide Your SEO Strategy
Keeping up with SEO trends in 2023 is key to staying competitive and reaching more customers. That’s why we compiled this SEO checklist — to give you a year’s worth of SEO tips in one neat package.
SEO is constantly changing. The best SEO tricks that worked 6 months ago may not be relevant today — and what’s worked in the past could even cost you a Google penalty now.
So, where should you concentrate your efforts?
Here are some of the SEO trends our experts are watching for in 2023 and what you need to be paying attention to as well.
- Improving E-A-T — Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
- Leveraging Featured Snippets
- Optimizing for Voice Search
- Improving Mobile User Experience
- Enhancing Video SEO
- Utilizing New Google Shopping Features for eCommerce
- Keeping Up Image Optimization
If you want to move the needle on your website’s search rankings, we’re here to help. Get in touch with our SEO Team to learn more about our services here at TrafficSoda.
1. E-A-T is Crucial, Strengthen Those Signals
E-A-T — Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — is the most important acronym you’ll use in 2023
This plays a crucial role in Google’s ranking system, especially when it comes to high-stakes subjects like health, safety, or finance.
On multiple occasions Google has come out and reinforced the importance of your website’s E-A-T signals.
Remember, Google’s ultimate goal is to provide it’s users the most relevant and accurate results. They want their users to love the ‘Google Experience’ and keep coming back.
In order to find the best results Google uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to identify what a search query means and provide the best possible answer.
This also means this AI and machine learning needs to eliminate junk, spam, and inaccuracies from its results. Which is a tall order because, you know, the Internet.
Showing Google that your site is worth their user’s time, will remain of absolute top importance leading into 2023.
What E-A-T Means For Your SEO Strategy
- E stands for Expertise, meaning you hire real subject matter experts to create, or at least collaborate with you to produce, high quality content.
- A stands for Authoritativeness, which means that you and your website are recognized as a leading source of accurate, timely information on your particular niche.
- T stands for Trustworthiness, which means you have real reviews and mentions from real people (especially people who are also experts in your niche.)
If you’re doing all the above, but still aren’t seen as a leading authority in your niche, then building your brand recognition is crucial. Here are some ways to get started:
- Detailed, transparent About Us and Contact Us pages. Trustworthiness starts at home. When visitors visit your website, they should have no doubts about who you are and what you mean, and they should be able to contact you easily.
- Back up your facts. Throughout your content prove you know what you are talking about by linking to high authority websites like .edu, .gov, etc.
- More and more positive reviews. More than your competitors, with more than satisfactory ratings
- Your own Wikipedia page, or at least mentions. It’s hard to fake authority on Wikipedia since if you aren’t legitimate, your page will be removed quickly.
- Backlinks and mentions on authoritative websites. While press releases are a good starting point, you really want to aim for mentions, news articles and interviews on other authoritative and trustworthy websites.
There are a lot of SEO trends that will take effect this year, and all of them involve the E-A-T of your website on some level.
2. Featured Snippets Matter More Than EVER
Believe it or not, it’s been nearly a decade since Google launched Featured Snippets ‒ a.k.a the info boxes you see above searches.
And they’re becoming more and more powerful by the minute.
Featured Snippets now show up on 41% of all queries and account for an astounding 35.1% of all clicks in organic search results.
Here’s an even bigger shocker: when you ask Google a question, Featured Snippets show up 99% of the time…except for “How” questions, where it’s more like 52%. Still a majority.
To marketers, this reality is at once a tremendous opportunity and a massive existential threat.
When Google uses your page as a Featured Snippet, clickthrough rates can more than double overnight. It’s a huge boon to your organic traffic and a badge of honor for your site’s credibility.
But when one of your competitors owns the Featured Snippet instead — especially for your most valuable keywords ‒ they overshadow your presence in the SERP completely.
It pays (literally) to claim that spot for yourself. So, what can you do to get Featured Snippets in 2023?
What Featured Snippets Mean For Your SEO Strategy
Getting your website Featured in Snippets means playing ball with Google’s artificial intelligence.
According to Google, one of the biggest driving forces behind Featured Snippets in 2023 is an AI model called the Multitask Unified Model or MUM. Essentially, the model compares the top bolded text portion of a search snippet result with established high-quality search results for relevance, accuracy, and credibility.
Google also plans to use more warning messages when a search doesn’t generate results that have “high confidence.”
As a marketer, getting Featured Snippets in 2023 means you need to:
- Focus on reinforcing your website’s Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) as much as, if not more than, keywords.
- Continue building up high-quality content (not just text but video, audio, and images) and backlinks that underpin trust and authority.
- Through your content, answer relevant questions that factor into customers’ journeys.
- Create content that covers all points of your customer’s journey rather than just one or two. Newcomers to your product or service might ask, “What is [Product]?” but they’ll soon want to know, “How does [Product] work?” and eventually, “Who offers [Product]?” Make sure you answer all of these questions!
The importance of Featured Snippets in your SEO strategy in 2023 cannot be overstated, as you’ll see in the rest of this SEO checklist, starting with the very next point…
3. Conversational Queries & Voice Search Deserve Special Attention
Spoken searches have been slowly but steadily on the rise since Google Voice launched in 2009. Moving into 2023, about 40% of the population uses voice search and 71% actually prefer using voice search over typed search, so you can expect the upward trend to continue.
The top three key facts you need to know about voice search in 2023 are as follows:
- In contrast to text-based searches, voice searches are longer, more conversational, and almost always take the form of a question. Where do I find [Product]? How do I use it? What does it taste like? How much does it cost?
- Most voice searches take place on-the-go, using smartphones rather than in-home devices (a.k.a. “smart speakers.”) So, picture people sitting in the car, not on the couch.
- More than 50% of voice searches are for local services and businesses like restaurants and retail stores. Think of search queries that end in “near me.”
In other words, if your business is local, voice search matters to you, and optimizing for voice search should be a key priority for your SEO strategy going into 2023.
What Voice Search Means For Your SEO Strategy
As a starting point for optimizing for voice search, consider the following:
- Long-tail keywords. These are now essential to securing competitive SERP positions, especially conversational queries that show up in voice search.
- Speakable Schema. While still in beta as of writing, Speakable Schema is the Google-approved way to optimize your website for voice search.
- Local listings. Review your company’s Google and other local listings to make sure they include everything customers could ask about: operating hours, location, product selection, price range, wheelchair accessibility, and more. Google will pull from these listings to answer voice queries, so make sure it’s right!
Finally, remember what we said earlier about MUM and featured snippets. A lot of the principles for optimizing snippets are similar to those for optimizing voice queries.
4. User Experience on Mobile Is Still the Gold Standard
Mobile first indexing has been a reality since 2019 and it’s not going to change any time soon.
Yet every single day, we see websites from huge companies that still aren’t on board with Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices.
If you feel your SEO efforts aren’t doing much, and your site isn’t very mobile-friendly, fixing that issue could be the key that finally lets your site’s rankings flourish.
What Mobile-First Indexing Means For Your SEO Strategy
Here’s the good news: Google is very transparent about what they want to see when it comes to optimizing your website for mobile users in 2023.
First, you need to make sure your mobile site is as Google-friendly as possible:
- Have the same content, structured data, alt text, and meta robots tags on both your mobile and desktop sites
- Make sure Google can see your primary content and don’t lock it behind “lazy-loading” (anything that requires swiping, clicking, or typing to load)
- Verify both the mobile and desktop versions of your site in Search Console
- Use mobile URL hreflang for mobile URLs, and desktop URL hreflang for desktop URLs
- Don’t block mobile URLs with the disallow directive
- Don’t use URLs that change every time the page loads for your videos or images
- Don’t use fragment URLs on your mobile version (a fragment URL starts with a # at the end)
Mobile-first indexing aside, mobile devices are now the first point of contact for many customers when they’re looking for information about your products and services. So it’s vital you make sure your site can be viewed easily on any device and that the customer can find what they’re looking for quickly, no matter how small their screen may be. Add it to your 2023 SEO checklist!
5. Optimize Your Video for SEO
Google has featured video in its search results for some time now.
And since over half of customers make buying decisions based on video, ignoring it in your 2023 SEO strategy is like leaving money on the table.
What Video Means For Your SEO Strategy
Video content can rank well if it’s optimized with descriptive and relevant information, including meta info and structured data.
Google has published a detailed overview of what it looks for in video SEO; some of the most impactful points include:
- Give each video its own dedicated page, where the video is the most prominent subject. This page is necessary for some Google features, such as Key Moments, Live Badges, and other rich results, to pull your video and give it maximum exposure. There’s no penalty if you put the same video on a dedicated page and another page with other information (like a news article or product details.)
- Create and submit a video sitemap so that Google’s robots can easily find and understand your videos
- Use a high-quality, relevant thumbnail that explains what your video is about and why people might want to watch it
Google has also added two structured data features to help people find answers through videos faster:
- Seek markup, which allows Google to identify and display Key Moments automatically and dynamically
- Clip markup, which tells Google exactly which timestamps to label and use for the Key Moments feature (like a manual version of seek markup)
You can use Clip or Seek markup to make video results in Google Search more clickable and help users find answers more quickly. It’s a win-win!
6. Improve Your eCommerce Site’s Visibility with Shopping Graph
Google is already the world’s leading search engine, but with the skyrocketing growth of online shopping, it’s also aiming to become a leading eCommerce platform as well.
Recently, Google also launched the Shopping Graph feature, lets customers find your store’s products across Google, — not just on the Shopping tab but on the SERP, YouTube, Google Images, and Google Lens (snap a photo and Google will identify the product and tell you where to buy it…how cool is that?)
And as of now, you can add your products to Google Shopping for free — or, mark up your listings so that Google does that heavy lifting for you automatically.
What Google Shopping Graph Means For Your SEO Strategy
There are two ways to go about getting your products onto Google’s Shopping Graph:
- Manage your listings manually using Google’s Merchant Center
- Use newly-added Search Console Merchant Listings for guidance on adding Product structured data to your product pages.
Anyone who sells products online can benefit from this easy win. Your products will get free exposure by Google on a credible, sleek, and cool platform.
If your business sells products online and Google’s Shopping Graph isn’t on your SEO checklist in 2023, you’re losing a huge opportunity that your competitors might not decline.
7. Make Your Images Worth a Thousand Clicks
It might seem like an easy task to optimize your images for the web, but chances are that it’s a tad more complicated than you think.
For many years, Google has been recommending that you use alternative text (alt text) and other optimizations for images on your site. Yet, many businesses still don’t take this seriously or they think it’s a waste of time.
Nowadays, it is not just about boosting your Google ranking but also accommodating the millions of customers who rely on alt text to navigate your site — who will leave you in the dust and never look back if you don’t offer it.
So, now’s the time to do an image audit on your site to see if you need to make changes to get up to speed with what Google (and customers) expect from you in 2023 and beyond.
What Image Optimization Means For Your SEO Strategy
- Create good URL structure for your images: Google uses the URL path and file name to understand your images, so make sure your URLs are built logically
- Add structured data: Structured data lets Google Images display your images as rich results, including a prominent badge, which drives targeted traffic to your site
- Optimize for speed: Images often make up a large part of a page’s size, so use image optimization and responsive image techniques to make it fast and easy
- Use descriptive alt text in the alt attribute: Alt text improves accessibility for screen reader users and low-bandwidth users who can’t see images on web pages
It is time to do what Google says and pay attention to your website images. Your bottom line will thank you for it!
Leverage These 2023 SEO Trends to Reach More Customers Online
Google changes its search algorithms 500 to 600 times per year. Every day of the year. And as clever as we are as marketers and SEOs, Google’s algorithms are getting smarter by the second.
A successful SEO strategy for your business depends on staying on top of the latest SEO trends in 2023.
Following these SEO tips will help you kickstart the year with a boost in ranking and more qualified traffic.
If you need help moving the needle on your website’s search rankings, we are happy to help. Get in touch with our SEO Team to learn more about our services here at TrafficSoda.
Is SEO Worth It? How to Measure SEO Return on Investment
If you‘re here to learn how to measure SEO return on investment, then you’re already on the right track ‒ because you’re thinking about what actually matters.
Sure, marketers can talk all day about how great SEO is…
But let’s be realistic: the only real way to know if SEO is worth it to you is to calculate its return on investment.
Yes, it is possible to reliably measure the impact of SEO on your bottom line. In fact, it’s much simpler than some marketers make it out to be.
We’ll tell you exactly how to measure the ROI of your SEO, step-by-step, so it’s easy to know if SEO is worth it for you.
How to Measure the ROI of SEO ‒ and the Impact of SEO on Your Bottom Line
It’s all too common for business owners to invest in some form of SEO and, at the end of the day, have no idea if that SEO is actually worth it…or if it’s money going to waste.
It doesn’t help that some marketers claim measuring the ROI of SEO is impossible. They’re either wrong, or dishonest.
As long as you have the right data, the formula you use to calculate SEO return on investment is pretty straightforward.
Here’s a quick and easy formula you can use to determine whether SEO has been worth your money in a specific period:
- (Value of Conversions – Cost of SEO) / Cost of SEO
There it is. And in the rest of this article, we’ll explain exactly how to get the data you need to fill in this formula.
Of course, we’d be lying if we said there are no challenges involved with calculating SEO return on investment. We’ll also help you cut through those challenges so you get the clearest possible picture of your SEO return on investment.
But first, let’s grab the data we need to measure the ROI of SEO.
Step 1: Determine the Cost of Your Investment in SEO
First, you have to calculate how much SEO cost you over the timeframe you want to measure.
When you work with a professional SEO agency, this step is as simple as it gets. You can find out how much you’re paying just by looking at the bill.
If you do all your SEO in-house, or a hybrid of in-house and agency SEO services, the breakdown will be more complicated. Some of the costs you’ll need to factor in include:
- Any in-house staff who contribute to on-page and off-page SEO, including content creators and copywriters
- Web designers and developers who contribute to technical SEO, as well as setting up SEO tracking like Google Analytics (more on that later)
- Monthly or annual subscriptions to SEO tools like SemRush, Ahrefs, or anything else you use for traffic analytics, site auditing, keyword research, list management, etc.
When you add these costs up, you’ll have a figure that can be used in your SEO ROI calculation.
Remember that these costs may change monthly. Don’t forget to take those changes into account when measuring your SEO return on investment for a specific timeframe.
Step 2: Measure Conversions From Organic Traffic
In a nutshell, organic traffic is any traffic to your website from a search engine that you don’t pay for directly.
Whenever someone clicks on your site in Google search results ‒ as long as it’s not one of your ads ‒ it’s organic traffic.
Since SEO is all about boosting organic traffic, conversions from organic traffic provide one of the best metrics for measuring the ROI of SEO.
To get that number, we recommend using Google Analytics to track your organic conversions. You can use it for free and it just works.
The way you set this up will depend on the way your business and website work, and we won’t go into too much detail here. Setting up conversion tracking correctly is extremely important, so we recommend getting help from an experienced developer or digital marketer.
Once you have Google Analytics tracking your conversions, calculating the value of SEO conversions is a breeze:
- For sales made on your website, simply segment conversions by channel and look at revenue for organic traffic. Narrow down the timeframe and you’ve got your number.
- For leads that come in through your website, this is trickier, because the actual conversion happens offline and not every lead converts. You need to assign a value to your leads overall and use that as your value. Best practice is to base that value on the average lifetime value of a customer multiplied by closure rate %.
Step 3: Use This Formula to Calculate SEO Return on Investment
After you’ve collected your data, plug it in to this formula to calculate your SEO return on investment:
- (Value of Conversions – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
Here’s an example.
Say that organic traffic got you $100,000 in revenue over one year, and that the costs associated with SEO during that time were $20,000.
Put these figures into the formula above and we get:
- ($100,000 – $20,000) / $20,000 = 4
So for every $1 you spent on SEO, you got $4 back. This means you’re getting a 400% return on investment.
Using this formula, you can calculate the ROI of your SEO campaign over any timeframe you choose, as long as you know both the costs and the returns.
You can then use this data to help determine whether SEO is worth it for you or not…with a couple of important caveats.
We’ll look at those caveats next.
3 Challenges of Measuring SEO Return on Investment
Real-time conversion tracking has made it easier than ever to reliably measure the return on investment of your SEO efforts.
However, not even the best tracking tools can perfectly measure every facet of your organic search traffic. SEO is a time-consuming and complicated process with many moving parts.
Because of this, quantifying SEO return on investment will always be a bit of an art as well as a science.
Here’s what you need to know about the tricky part of measuring SEO and its ROI:
Challenge 1: SEO Costs Are Complex
First, measuring SEO ROI can be tough because of the sheer number of variables that contribute to a successful campaign.
An effective SEO campaign is based on a number of variables, from high-quality content, to link building, to technical SEO and more.
Having an agency handle your SEO makes quantifying these costs a breeze. You know how much you’re paying them, so use that figure in your calculation.
Tallying the costs of your internal SEO efforts is harder.
While PPC advertising has clearly identifiable click costs, SEO is about earning clicks rather than buying them. Those clicks are technically free. But the SEO you spend to get them isn’t.
You have to consider things like the cost of in-house labour (which you can break down by individuals or tasks), the SEO tools you use, and all the time you or your managers put into running that team smoothly.
It’s a lot, and you’ve got to get it right if you want a true picture of your SEO ROI.
Challenge 2: SEO Takes Time
When you’re doing SEO, it can be hard to tie specific investments and returns to work that was done in a specific timeframe.
That’s because it can take a long time for SEO to pay off. Quick wins are certainly possible, but there’s no guarantee.
From our experience and that of other reputable SEO agencies, we can estimate it will take 4-6 months for SEO to start ‘working’, meaning it begins to produce measurable results.
So, the simplified principle of comparing returns and investments over the same period does not quite work. It gives you a solid idea of whether things are working, but it’s not 1:1.
One way to get around this is to calculate ROI on a category, page, or keyword level, rather than an arbitrary time period, as Ahrefs describes here.
To learn more about SEO timelines, check out our blog post on how long it takes to get SEO results.
Challenge 3: Even ‘Perfect’ Conversion Tracking Isn’t Flawless
This problem isn’t specific to SEO.
But SEO is no exception.
The simple fact is that customer journeys are often more complex than any tracking software makes them seem.
Yes, Google Analytics will tell you if someone converted after visiting your website through an organic search. However, there may be things going on behind the scenes that you aren’t aware of or can’t track.
For example…say you watch a YouTube video about an interesting product. Then you Google that product, go to the website, and buy it.
Organic traffic gets 100% of the credit for that conversion…but it was really the YouTube video that got you there, wasn’t it?
Here’s another example with the opposite effect. Say you Google a product on your phone, find the website, and make a mental note of it. Later, you fire up your laptop and visit the website directly by typing the URL in your browser, and buy the product.
Since you switched devices, direct traffic gets 100% credit…but wasn’t that really an organic conversion?
You can see how customer journeys can twist and turn in ways that can skew your attribution.
So, no matter how well your Google Analytics is configured, you cannot always pinpoint exactly how many conversions you owe to SEO.
The more traffic and conversions you have, the more accurate it becomes, but it will never be perfect.
This begs the question: why even bother?
What You’re Missing If You Aren’t Measuring SEO Return on Investment
Put simply, not measuring your ROI is almost as bad as not doing SEO at all.
In spite of the challenges of measuring SEO ROI to pinpoint accuracy, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable data if you don’t do it at all.
The average business generates 53% of its traffic through organic search. Meaning that SEO does have an impact on the bottom line for most businesses. You can’t afford to ignore it.
And unless you know your return on investment for every dollar you spend on SEO, you can’t decide which strategies are working best, which you should scale, and whether something’s wasting your money.
Since SEO is a long-term strategy that generates results over time, you may not see a positive ROI right away. But once you’re past that, SEO will begin to deliver a return and can continue to pay dividends for years to come.
When that turning point comes, you won’t know it unless you’ve been actively measuring the ongoing ROI of your SEO work. And if you don’t know, you could end up pulling the plug on a profitable strategy just when it’s getting started.
If you need help moving the needle on your website’s search rankings, we are happy to help. Get in touch with our SEO Team to learn more about our services here at TrafficSoda.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: Know the Differences for Best Results
On-page vs. Off-page SEO: in order to rank, you need to know the basics of both.
With Google’s latest ‘helpful content update’ many creators are sweating how to approach SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keep their website traffic flowing. It’s never been more important to optimize your On-Page and Off-Page SEO, and ensure your website offers original and helpful content written by people, for people.
Traditional On-Page SEO best practices are tried and true. There are also important factors outside of your website that impact SEO as well.
Off-Page SEO gives your website more authority, trust, and relevance in the eyes of Google ‒ all key ingredients to better search rankings.
Your best results will come from incorporating both On-Page and Off-Page SEO. And to do that, you’ve got to understand how they work together.
Remember: Google is a business and searchers are their customers
SEO is hard. It takes consistent, meaningful efforts to get recognized by search engines and move up the rankings. Remember: Google is a business and searchers are their customers. They care deeply about what people think about their search engine, meaning they care about providing good search results.
If you can prove your website has useful, relevant, authoritative content that is easy to read and navigate, Google will reward you for it.
On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?
To put it simply, the difference between On-Page and Off-Page SEO is where the magic happens.
- On-Page SEO refers to things you can do on your website to boost its search engine ranking, like optimizing a page’s content, images, and meta tags. These are things you have control over.
- Off-Page SEO refers to things you can do outside of your website using external factors like social media and influencer marketing to boost its search engine ranking. These are things you typically have less control over.
Of course, that’s the short answer, and there’s a lot more to it! So, let’s dive deeper into the difference between On-Page and Off-Page SEO and how they work together to get you better SEO results.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is a series of search engine optimization tactics that take place on your website.
Google’s mandate is to recommend the best web pages to searchers based on their search criteria. So, in essence, On-Page SEO is all about delivering an awesome user experience and making sure Google knows it.
This includes (but is not limited to) optimizations of various page aspects such as:
- Quality of content (like articles, videos, and images) on individual pages
- Behind-the-scenes code that helps Google read your website and understand it
- Overall navigation and structure of your site
- Page loading speed
- How your site loads on mobile devices
- Other on-page elements
Well-optimized pages provide a better experience to website visitors both in terms of performance and purpose. Since Google is more likely to recommend high-quality pages to its users, your SEO efforts pay off in the form of more visitors to your site.
If your website plays a significant role in your business, then it’s well worth the time and effort to make sure that your website delivers the best possible user experience.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Off-Page SEO is a collection of activities that happen off-site but pertain to your site pages. When these activities are beneficial, they help boost search engine rankings.
Generally, this part of SEO involves getting your brand or website mentioned in a positive light on other sites across the web.
Off-Site SEO includes, but is not limited to:
- Backlinks on other websites
- Social media shares and mentions
- Activity on your Google Business Profile
- Other off-site elements
Off-Page SEO is more difficult to control than On-Page SEO. Search engines are looking for ‘natural’ links and mentions, not ones you paid for, and they are excellent at spotting fakes.
That said, there are ways to do Off-Site SEO without going against the guidelines and risking a Google penalty.
Some Examples of On-Page and Off-Page SEO
To give you an overview of On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO tactics, here are a few examples of things that fall under On-Page and Off-Page SEO.
On-Page SEO examples:
- Making sure your website loads quickly and is easy to use on a mobile device.
- Publishing high-quality articles on your website’s blog.
- Creating a well-organized FAQ page that answers commonly searched questions about your company, industry, products, or services.
- Adding relevant and high-volume keywords to your page titles, descriptions, and headings, in a meaningful way. Keywords should not be used for the sake of being included, they should genuinely help explain the page’s content.
- Adding relevant alt text to images helps people who use screen readers navigate your website.
- Making it easy for people to get around your website with internal links and logical navigation.
Off-Page SEO examples:
- Answering questions on a discussion forum and linking to a relevant page on your website.
- Having social media users mention your website and share links to your content in relevant spaces.
- Growing a loyal social media following that engages with your content.
- Increasing the number of relevant links to your website on other high-quality websites, like reputable publishers and industry sources.
- Using your Google Business Page.
Want to know exactly how these activities affect your website’s search engine ranking? Our next section takes a deeper dive into On-Page and Off-Page SEO factors.
On-Page SEO Factors: Things on Your Website that Impact SEO
On-Page SEO has everything to do with what you control on your own website, everything from the content you publish to how it’s designed. If you were to spend any time or money on SEO, we would absolutely recommend you start with On-Page SEO.
Below is a list of a few key factors that play into On-Page SEO. You can use these as a basis for assessing your website’s SEO friendliness.
- Core Web Vitals: a set of metrics that quantify the user experience for the website. The user experience metrics include visual stability, interactivity, and load time. It is important to improve your core website vitals because it communicates to Google that you have a positive user experience.
- Page Speed: load time for a page is an important part of On-Page SEO because Google ranks pages that load faster for the user. Optimizing page speed can also help get your pages to Google’s search index.
- Mobile Friendliness: allowing users to easily navigate your website via mobile device will improve your rankings.
- Title Tags: including defining titles for each page that thoroughly describe the content is important. Google needs keywords to determine whether a page is related or not.
- Meta Descriptions: meta descriptions are HTML tags that assist in describing what the page is about in a sentence or two.
- Content Quality: On-Page SEO thrives on quality content. Quality content answers a question for the user, is easy to read, relevant, and has a unique approach to the problem. If you can check all four of these off the list, Google will love you.
- HTML headers: headers or tags that specify what the webpage’s content contains. HTML headers help your visitors understand your content and help search engines relate your content to a user’s search query.
- Image Alt Text: image alt text is an HTML tag that describes an image or what it conveys. Search engines use image alt text to determine if it is relevant to the user’s search query, and people with screen readers need it to understand an image’s content.
- Internal Linking: aside from linking related content to provide your readers with additional information, internal linking will benefit your website’s SEO by helping the search engines find new relevant content.
- Navigation: important for On-Page SEO because it ensures that all users can access the content on the web page equally. Google prioritizes web page accessibility no matter what browser is in use.
Off-Page SEO Factors: What Impacts SEO Outside of Your Website
Online information about your website, instead of what’s on your website, is what Off-Page SEO is all about. Signals from around the web have a significant impact on how high and where your website ranks on Google. Off-Page SEO is tough to do since so many factors are out of your control. That said, here are a few key factors that play into Off-Page SEO:
- Backlinks: create more authority and trust with search engines. Google takes backlinks seriously and has even implemented algorithm updates to attack spam links embedded in content. Building trustworthy and highly relevant backlinks should be done properly.
- Social Media: does not have a direct correlation to search engine ranking but having a presence on social media allows people to engage with your content and is an opportunity for you to reach new consumers.
- Unlinked mentions: occur when a third party, unaffiliated site mentions your company name or website and does not link to your site. Unlinked mentions hold some value when it comes to off-page SEO because they build authority and trust with your website.
- Google Business Page: formerly called Google My Business, this is a Google platform for businesses to display information like their type of business, location, service, contact, and hours. Google uses GBP to populate Google Maps search results and is a key SEO factor for local businesses that need traffic in specific locations.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO: Why You Need Both
There’s more to search rankings than what’s on your website.
Both On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO are integral parts of a successful SEO strategy.
With so many moving parts and strategies to follow, navigating SEO can be tricky. If you’re new to the process, it pays to consult with SEO specialists for guidance.
Get in touch with our team of expert digital marketers today for all your SEO needs!
SEO Timelines: How Long Does It Take to Get Results?
You might have heard that search engine optimization (SEO) is a quick and easy way to get
Here’s why that’s wrong.
The truth is…once upon a time, SEO could work quickly.
But as search engine algorithms have evolved and the online space has become more competitive, the SEO landscape has changed drastically.
Every business owner wants to see results come quickly. But when it comes to legitimate, proven SEO strategies, results simply don’t happen overnight.
Any agency that says otherwise is not to be trusted.
Below, we’ll cover the real factors that will affect how long it will take for SEO to get measurable results for your business, as well as the minimum time investment to really get your money’s worth from SEO.
How Long It Takes for SEO to Generate Leads and Sales
When it comes to SEO, business owners often ask, “How long does it take for SEO to work?”
Which usually means, “How long before I rank #1 in Google?”
This is the wrong question to ask because ranking #1 in Google isn’t the end goal. The goal is to generate qualified leads and sales opportunities.
In other words, organic search traffic is only as valuable to your business as the revenue it generates.
The real question that you should be asking is, “When will SEO start generating sales and leads for my business?”
Based on our experience and that of our colleagues at other reputable SEO agencies, we can give an estimated timeline of 4-6 months for SEO to begin producing some form of results, which could include:
- Overall improved average ranking
- Website being indexed for more keywords
- More traffic to your website and opportunity to close that traffic
The above timeline represents our average client experience. This is when things start to work, but not necessarily when you achieve your end goal.
There are numerous factors to consider when determining when you can expect to begin seeing SEO generate results. It would be impossible to cover them all in detail here ‒ but some of the most significant factors are:
- Competition for high-priority keywords
- How effective are the site’s inbound links
- Healthy, SEO-friendly site
- Regularly published content on the site
1. Importance of Competition in SEO Timelines
Generally, the more competing websites that your business is up against, the harder and longer it will take to see your website climb to the top of search engine results.
In a crowded industry, many of your competitors will have experienced SEO professionals behind them to improve and maintain their rankings. Understanding the level of competition based on your products/services and location will help you get a sense of how long it will take for SEO to get results.
For example, a small local massage therapy clinic will face less competition than a real estate brokerage business serving a large city, amongst many other real estate brokerage businesses. That same brokerage would face less competition than a national-level mortgage company with competitors in every market in the country.
Search results are all relative, and that is the key to understanding why SEO works differently for different businesses online
2. Importance of Inbound Links in SEO Timelines
Acquiring more inbound links will help your business achieve the SEO success you are striving for more quickly… but it is not all a numbers game.
Quality over quantity, like most things, is always the way to go. Having fewer, high-quality links from relevant websites will have a much greater impact on your overall results than having a greater number of low-quality links from other irrelevant websites.
Acquiring higher quality links are much harder to earn, having them on your website will make it more difficult for your competitors to replicate and compete with you. As well, higher-quality links last longer and keep their effective power.
The speed in which your business online can acquire links takes time, make sure to look out for any abrupt increase in links. This could identify an inorganic attempt at a manipulative ranking and negatively affect your business’ SEO.
3. Importance of a Healthy SEO-Friendly Website
SEO isn’t just about keywords and content. Your website’s internal workings also have a big impact on how it ranks.
When your website appears on a Google search results page, it becomes part of what Google offers its users. And Google cares a lot about its users’ experience.
So, a big part of its search ranking algorithm is focused on checking the ‘health’ of your website. It looks at technical aspects of the site that have an effect on the user experience, like:
- Site speed
- Crawl errors & broken links
- Mobile friendliness
- Site structure
When your site is healthy and SEO-friendly, the work being done on the content and external links side takes effect much faster. On the other hand, a site that is not technically optimized for SEO will move slowly or not at all.
4. Importance of Content in SEO Timelines
Quality content published on your website plays a vital role in how quickly you will see SEO results.
There isn’t a set length/word count for SEO optimized content. It just has to be long and detailed enough to solve the visitor’s problem.
Along with quality content requires consistent content. Maintaining a publishing schedule will encourage Google to come back to your website to read and learn more about your expertise. It also encourages users to return, suggesting a positive user experience that Google’s signals will notice.
If you focus on producing helpful content that answers specific questions your target market may have, you will see results. Users will come, have a great experience and build trust with your brand (possibly reaching out) and Google has more information about you to determine where else you can rank.
SEO Timelines Then vs. Now
To explain why SEO doesn’t happen overnight, it helps to recognize a crucial difference between the early SEO landscape and what we see today.
Old SEO: When Low Competition Got Big Results
In the early days of SEO, it was possible to skyrocket a website’s search ranking by identifying and optimizing for a small number of high volume, low competition keywords.
The trick was to target keywords that were popular, but not competitive.
You could build an entire strategy around these ‘golden’ keywords, climb to #1 in the rankings, and have most of your traffic come from them within a few months.
Nowadays, it’s extremely rare to find a single keyword or small group of keywords that can drive a lot of traffic to your site.
People just don’t search like that anymore. Plus, the web is way more competitive today than it was in the early 2000s. There are nearly 2 billion websites today, compared to just 17 million in 2000, an increase of nearly 11 thousand percent.
New SEO: Targeting the Long Tail
Today, people are adding more words than ever to their searches to get faster, more specific results.
They’re asking specific questions that they need answers to, rather than searching individual keywords and seeing what comes up.
We call these searches long-tail keywords. And search engines like Google and Bing have gotten very good at delivering long-tail keywords relevant results.
Long-tail keywords are:
- Easier to rank for, because they’re less competitive
- Generate more revenue, because they’re more specific
- Account for a higher search volume in total than shorter “golden keywords”
Today, generating search traffic that brings you leads, sales, and revenue means curating a larger number of natural language or long-tail keywords searches that grow and change over time.
Is SEO a Good Investment?
When you have the funds and stamina to be patient with the results, as well as stay in the game for the long haul, SEO is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that all businesses should invest in.
A minimum of 4 to 6 months of SEO services will allow you the time and money to see the results that you want. For businesses that do not have a budget for SEO services for up to a year, we recommend a few key steps regardless:
- Make your website SEO and user friendly – you may need a professional to help with this as a one-time project
- Work on building out good quality content on your website if you build genuinely helpful content to your target market, it will pay SEO dividends down the road
- Consider using additional funds towards paid advertising to start generating traffic to your website
It’s important to remain patient throughout the SEO process. When businesses fail to see results after a couple of months of SEO services, they are tempted to give up ‒ when they could actually see results in a matter of weeks. We often refer to this time period as the “trough of sorrow” in the industry.
We as agencies or individuals cannot control a lot of the SEO process. We don’t control Google, their algorithm, or what competitors do. The only thing we can do is understand what Google is looking for, give them what they want, connect with our customers and give them what they want, and we will start to see results.
SEO is not only a science, but also the art of adapting to changes in the industry.
Remember that SEO results increase over time, not overnight. Your results should be significantly better after 12 months than they were after 6 months.
To get the results that you need online for your business, professional SEO services are OFTEN worth the time, energy, and money that you invest.
If you would like more information about our SEO and digital advertising services, please do not hesitate to contact our SEO team here at TrafficSoda.
3 Fatal Risks of Cheap SEO Services (Avoid at ALL Costs)
Here’s the hard truth: cheap SEO is too good to be true.
Just because you’re better than your competitors in ‘real life’ (better products, better workmanship, better results, etc.) doesn’t always mean you’ll get a better search ranking.
Google and Bing search results are extremely competitive.
If somebody’s ranking higher than you, it’s likely because they hired an SEO company to optimize their website.
And the only effective way to outrank them is to beat them at their own game.
There’s just one problem…
Bad SEO is Worse Than No SEO at All
Many SEO companies are more interested in your money than your success.
Doing SEO cheaply is not only detrimental to your website traffic but can also harm your business’s reputation both online and offline.
The long-term risks of cheap SEO include:
- Loss of business revenue;
- Getting banned from search results, period; and
- Handing all your potential search revenue to your competitors
Those are the consequences we want to help you avoid. So, in this article, we lay it all out on the table.
Read on to learn all about:
- How, exactly, cheap SEO can tank your business
- Biggest red flags of cheap SEO
- Black Hat vs. Grey Hat vs. White Hat SEO (and why it matters)
- What GOOD SEO can do for your business
1. How Cheap SEO Can Tank Your Business
Google and Bing are for-profit companies, and their customers are search engine users. This means that both Google and Bing want to give people the best, most relevant search results. Search engines have spent years building parameters to identify high quality, relevant search results.
The problem is that bad actors frequently reverse engineer these parameters to exploit rankings, which results in low quality search results and poor user experience. As a result, Google and Bing regularly update their algorithm to identify manipulative SEO tactics and suss out actions that are fake and spammy.
Cheap SEO services often use manipulative tactics that go against search engine guidelines.
Google and Bing actively scan the web for these shady practices using the most advanced machine learning algorithms available.
You might not get caught right away, but you must assume you will get caught at some point.
And when that happens, you can lose traffic, get block-listed, and potentially forfeit all your future search traffic to your competitors.
a. Cheap SEO Decimates Your Website Traffic
Organic search is by far the #1 source of website traffic online, and the most authentic.
If you successfully rank at the top of the search results, you will benefit from more clicks and visits to your website, presenting an opportunity to turn those clicks into customers.
Poorly done SEO can tank your ranking, meaning customers won’t be able to find you and will click on your competitors instead.
b. Cheap SEO Gets You Block-listed from Google and Bing
Google and Bing’s top priority is to create a positive user experience, so penalizing manipulative tactics is smart business for them.
Using cheap SEO tactics will cause search engines to penalize and even ban you, banning you from appearing in search results at all until the issue is rectified.
A search penalty means a real and immediate loss of potential revenue for your business.
If you ignore the penalty, you will find it almost impossible to recover. Your site traffic will continue to drop steadily, leaving you behind the competition and low on stamina to make a comeback.
c. Cheap SEO Funnels Revenue to Your Competitors
Now, you’re block-listed from the search results. So, who do you think all those potential customers are going to click on instead of you?
You already know the answer.
Shooting yourself in the foot with manipulative SEO is like handing your customers revenue on a silver platter.
Plus, ethical SEO practices can take weeks or months to have an impact. So, the more time and money you waste on cheap SEO, the longer you will have to wait for results on good SEO when you finally switch gears.
It’s not worth the risk.
2. How to Spot Red Flags for Cheap SEO
Hiring cheap SEO services can have serious immediate and long-term consequences to your business that can be difficult or even impossible to recover from.
To avoid them, you need to know what to look out for.
First, there’s some SEO industry jargon you need to know. These are the labels we use to separate cheap, manipulative SEO tactics from legitimate SEO: white hat, gray hat, and black hat.
- White Hat SEO services follow the search engine-approved guidelines for optimizing a website. White hat SEO focuses on improving the user experience and creating high-quality content. There is zero risk in using white hat SEO.
- Black hat SEO services rely on manipulating and violating search engine algorithms against guidelines to improve your search rankings. The short-term goals of black hat SEO services are to get you fast-paced wins to fool you into thinking their services have the best and fastest results on the market. Manipulating the algorithm is not effective because it can never keep up with Google’s constant updates, which results in your rankings being wiped out due to unethical practices. Black hat SEO is extremely risky.
- Gray hat SEO services test the limits of what search engines allow, exploiting ‘gray areas’ in the guidelines. Once a gray hat tactic becomes known, search engines often crack down hard, which will cost you the same way as black hat SEO. The results do not stick well over time and require repeated work. Grey hat SEO is very risky.
No serious business should never engage in black hat SEO. Your website will no longer be trustworthy to users or search engines, and recovery could take years.
Although gray hat SEO is often sold as a ‘medium risk for a medium price’, which can be tempting for businesses on a tight budget, the risk is high and the results are not sustainable. Business owners should avoid this trap at all costs.
Overall, white hat SEO services are the only kind worth your money and time because the job done will be the safest and most beneficial for your business online.
So, how do you know when a company’s pitching you cheap, black/grey hat SEO? There are a few key phrases and promises that agencies will make that should ring alarm bells:
a. Big Promises for Low Price Tags
SEO is not rocket science, but it is not as simple as you might think. It’s not just sticking a bunch of keywords and tags on a website.
Achieving long-term success with SEO takes a lot of manual work that cannot be easily accomplished on a shoestring budget. Either you settle for a very small number of keywords, or you end up paying for the work that really needs to be done.
b. No Long-Term Strategy
Cheap SEO companies will offer you short-term solutions, but this is not realistic.
SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time to gain the rankings you deserve. If the company you are considering offers no plan past one month, they are more than likely a scam. They are either not doing their job or just looking for quick and easy money from unsuspecting customers like you.
c. No Transparency
Do not trust any SEO company that doesn’t offer you transparency into what they’re doing. It is important that you have visibility over the SEO process so that you can assess the results and make changes as needed.
The best SEO companies will offer a full audit of your site and provide explanations for any errors found. They will also provide recommendations for how to fix these errors, give an overview of how to improve rankings, and show rankings progress.
d. Inexperienced Team
One of the most important things to look for when choosing an SEO company is their expertise and experience.
Do they have a website with a portfolio of websites that they have previously optimized? Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients? Can you find any information on them at all?
An experienced SEO company won’t mind telling you who’s on their team and should be eager to tell you about their experience. If they’re not transparent, they could be hiding something.
e. Guaranteed Results
No one can guarantee a #1 spot on Google.
It is an outright impossible claim to make for an agency, as SEO is a competitive practice that depends on hundreds of signals which can change at any point in the day.
What can be guaranteed are solid and safe practices that can win better results when done properly over time.
Agencies that claim their services will guarantee a specific result in a specific timeframe is one of the biggest warning signs for cheap, black hat SEO that will hurt your business.
What About Using Negative SEO to Attack Your Competitors?
Usually, SEO is about trying to boost your own company’s search ranking. Negative SEO is when one company uses manipulative tactics to hurt a competitor’s rankings instead.
Negative SEO is gray hat SEO. A negative SEO campaign against your industry competitors is risky because the traffic attacks can be traced back to you.
Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online.
Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online. Google will penalize websites for building spammy backlinks that use anchor text to improve their ranking by matching the exact keywords.
Any mentions of negative SEO practices should be shut down immediately, the risk is simply not worth it.
3. The Long-Term Value of Affordable White Hat SEO
White hat SEO isn’t cheap, but it’s effective – and it can be affordable. When done well, SEO is the most cost-effective and reliable way to reach your target customers and understand what they are looking for when they search for businesses online.
Investing time and money into effective, white hat SEO services will benefit your online traffic, leads, and sales in the long run.
- Search is the #1 source of website traffic. Organic search is a key way people find your website and become customers, whether you sell products or services online or offline. Being highly visible on Google and Bing is money in the bank.
- SEO builds trust and credibility. SEO creates trust and credibility by providing a positive user experience that is easily discoverable on search engines. Establishing authority online through good content results in natural backlinks that boost your ranking. Online credibility takes time, working towards your goals of authority and credibility online takes time, patience, and affordable SEO services from an experienced agency.
- SEO boosts local businesses. Using SEO will improve your local engagement and traffic online by connecting users to your business based on their location. SEO professionals can do this by optimizing the businesses website content and including local citations and backlinks to guide the user to their product or service. An experienced agency can provide effective, local SEO services at an affordable price.
- SEO is quantifiable. With SEO, you can measure your progress using analytics. A competent SEO agency has people dedicated to connecting the dots and assessing the improvements made through SEO. This information can also be used to maximize ROI and ensure that your SEO remains affordable. Hiring a team that is knowledgeable about tracking analytics and SEO data is essential.
- Good SEO means a better user experience. Google is dedicated to providing a positive user experience through relevant search results. Search engine optimization also means optimizing your user experience, so people love using your website and come back for more. Optimizing your website’s user experience will also help maximize the ROI from both SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
Bottom Line: Avoid Cheap SEO Services at All Costs
Cheaping out on SEO is never the way to go. This will only cost you more money and more problems in the future that could potentially be irreversible.
We hope that you now understand the risks of cheap SEO services and the benefits to investing in white hat SEO services that put your success first.
TrafficSoda has built hundreds of successful SEO strategies for companies, like you, looking to increase traffic, leads, calls, online purchases and more. When you’re ready to jump in with a personalized plan, reach out for your free strategy proposal.
7 Questions to Ask When Developing Your Lead Generation Strategy
Are you throwing away hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on online advertising with little to no results?
Still can’t figure out how to attract more of your ideal customers cost-effectively?
You might’ve been told that pay-per-click advertising is the answer – but like most things in business (and in life) it’s not as simple as the ‘experts’ make it out to be.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are literally hundreds of step-by-step guides out there claiming to hold the secrets to lead generation success. Thousands of so-called marketing gurus who say they’ve developed a foolproof method to get your business – any business – more leads than you can handle.
And that is mistake number one.
Now, we can’t speak to your situation specifically…but from our experience, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many advertising dollars go to waste: a generic, paint-by-numbers marketing strategy that doesn’t account for foundational facts about your business.
Why You Need to Stop, Think, Ask and Answer
We know you’re eager to hit the ground running. You need new customers, and you want to start acquiring them as soon and as efficiently as possible.
It can be tempting to believe you can skip ahead to the ‘execution’ phase (aka, the fun part).
But it pays – literally – to put in the work and ask the right questions early on, because the result is a powerful lead generation strategy that puts the right messages in front of your ideal customers and turns them into real leads.
These aren’t necessarily easy questions. Developing a lead generation strategy isn’t like a personality quiz. They are, however, crucially important and well worth your time to answer.
We can’t take you through all these questions right here and now, but we would like to introduce you to 7 of the most fundamental questions you must ask when developing any lead generation strategy:
- What is your lead acquisition cost and average order value?
- What is your marketing funnel?
- What is Happening in Your Market?
- What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART?
- Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals?
- Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers?
- How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads?
1. What is Your Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value?
Developing a smart and cost-effective marketing strategy to scale your business is no easy task, especially if you are unaware of the costs associated with lead acquisition (cost per lead) and average order value.
But first, let’s start with defining what a lead is. A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.
Now, let’s define what Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value are and what they mean to your business.
Lead Acquisition Cost (LAC) are all costs associated with getting one lead, i.e., getting a potential customer.
Average Order Value AOV) tracks the average dollar amount spent each time a customer places an order on a website or mobile app. To calculate your company’s average order value, simply divide total revenue by the number of orders.
Wrapping your head around these important metrics can change the way you perceive your business, and how you approach a new cost-effective marketing strategy. Without these numbers factored into your strategy, you could find your business spending substantial amounts of marketing dollars on the wrong initiatives and not producing favourable results.
The good news is that Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value can actually be pinned down to the cent, and TrafficSoda can help, so you don’t have to feel around in the dark for these numbers.
2. What Does Your Marketing Funnel Look Like?
The buying process has multiple stages.
Most people are not ready to buy the moment they see your ad, and for that reason, it is important to warm your customer up so they can go from being unaware and uninterested in your business to engaged and ready to buy.
At TrafficSoda, we specialize in determining the shortest pathway from your advertising dollar to your sales funnel. To do so, we first start by researching our clients thoroughly in what we call the discovery process. By understanding all aspects of your customer audience, market perception, competitors and sales process and marketing – we can develop a hypothesis, test and refine.
3. What is Happening in Your Market?
Creating a strategic lead generation strategy starts with taking a close and honest look at who you are as a business.
What do you do that provides unique value for your customers?
Have you investigated the full scope of your business and have insight into your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Researching what is happening in your market, what customers are saying about your business and competitors, and the actions your top competitors are taking to stand out, and better align with customers, is a great place to start.
With this information at hand, you can then produce the right market messaging that resonates with your target audience.
4. What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART?
Goal setting is an important component when crafting a new marketing strategy.
What are your current sales like?
How much would you like to scale as a business?
What are your timelines for achieving this growth potential?
By mapping out a clear picture of your ideal business situation and your plans to support this growth internally, you and your team will know exactly what you are working towards. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) can help you set marketing goals that align with your overall business goals.
5. Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals?
This is a loaded question, so we at TrafficSoda like to focus first on the current number and quality of leads your business is interacting with.
From here we like to look at overall lead generation strategy, and how it’s managed, monitored, optimized AND nurtured.
Quality lead generation does not mean you can have a “set it and forget it” mentality. Regular monitoring and tweaking of your marketing is essential to its performance and overall impact.
What types of data are you collecting and how are you using it to make data driven decisions and improve your overall strategy?
6. Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers?
Is your copywriting aligned with customer needs or is it more ‘You’ focused as a business?
Copy can almost always be refined to better communicate your unique value proposition to the customer.
We cannot stress the importance of good copywriting enough when it comes to marketing strategy! Without it, all the time and money associated with your marketing will prove ineffective in converting prospects to leads and leads to paying customers.
7. How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads?
How do you nurture leads?
Do you currently have any nurture campaigns?
In the customer buying process, also known as the buying decision process, the customer journeys through multiple stages before making the decision to purchase your product or service.
Customers online are interested in conducting thorough research, weighing their options and taking their time before making a purchase. This means that you have a unique opportunity to entice, connect, build trust, educate and promote the value of your business. Through constant communication with your audience and helpful email automation.
It is important to evaluate where your customers are in their decision making and understand the potential objections or setbacks to why a customer may not invest in your business – and address them honestly while providing value.
Lead nurturing is essential, and in many instances your own sales representatives need to take an active role to ensure that warm leads don’t go cold mid-funnel. It can actually take between 7 and 12 points of contact before getting a sale, so as a business you really want to deliver as much value as you can in advance so there is little to no doubt in a customer’s mind that you are the obvious choice.
An automated email path is a great way to nurture your leads, build a relationship and humanize your company and brand. If a customer is no longer engaging with and opening your emails after a couple of weeks, it is safe to say that they are no longer a ‘warm’ lead and can be removed from future email marketing.
Start Building an Effective Lead Generation Strategy NOW
Ready to attract more of your ideal customers?
We want to help you produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing strategy. Contact TrafficSoda to build a powerful lead generation strategy that fills your funnel with quality leads and helps your business scale.
What Is Link Building? A Beginner Guide
If you want more traffic to your business, linking building is an essential skill.
In fact, there’s no factor within SEO rankings that is more important than link building. If you want to rank high, you need as many links as possible bringing people back to your website.
With this guide, you will learn everything you need to know in order to begin building high-quality links and boost your ranking.
- The Basics of Link Building
- What are High-Quality Links?
- How to Get Backlinks using Content Marketing
- The Penalties of Black Hat SEO
- Link Building Strategies
- Tips for Advanced Link Building
1. The Basics of Link Building
Links are one of the foundation pieces of Google’s search engine algorithm. In fact, Google came out and said that links and content are the top influencers of rank.
To answer this, let’s take a step back to understand what link building even is.
Link building is the process of receiving promotions from external sources, either other websites or social media, in the form of backlinks (also known as inbound links or hyperlinks).
The goal is to increase traffic from other websites to your own as a form of advertising.
But that’s not to say that you just need an absurd amount of links directed towards your website. Google focuses on the quality of the link, not the quantity. Quality links provide the best indicators that your website will provide the information people are searching for.
This seems a little vague though. What makes a link high quality?
We’ll answer this in the next chapter.
2. What are High-Quality Links?
Link building can result in one of two things happening:
- You build a high-quality link and watch as your ranking goes up and up and up, or
- You build a low-quality link and watch as your rank plummets.
This doesn’t leave much room for mistakes. It’s important to know what makes a link “high quality” in the eyes of Google…especially when the website is linking to you.
So what makes a backlink high-quality?
On a page with PageRank
Is the page that’s linking to you highly ranked on PageRank? If so, then it’ll have a huge impact on your own rank, especially if you’re a smaller page.
PageRank is an algorithm developed by Google that evaluates the quality and quantity of the links to a specific webpage. It measures the importance of the website’s pages, therefore influencing your rank. This information isn’t shown publicly, but it has a great impact on the search engine algorithm that Google uses today.
There are workarounds to finding information regarding your own PageRank or the pages that backlinking to you. Ahrefs can be a good indicator of the URLRating of the backlink.
From a relevant and trusted source
This is you. You need to have content that is of high quality and provides accurate information.
But it is also important that the website that is linking to you is relevant to your business or industry. According to an interview from an ex-Google engineer: “Today it’s more about relevance to the site’s theme in regards to your, relevance is the new PageRank.”
Not only do you need to have accurate information but the people linking to you also need to be related to your industry.
Non-misleading anchor text is used, the exact phrase is best
One thing that makes a link more clickable is knowing what exactly it is you’re clicking on.
When anchor links indicate exactly what the viewer is clicking on, the customer’s expectations are met. If you see an anchor link that says cute puppy video, you’re expecting that when you click on it.
The issue with anchor links is that they can to be anything. If the text says one thing and the link turns out to be something else, you’ll feel misled. That results in an unhappy customer.
Google sees anchor links using keywords and notes that the link was useful regarding that specific keyword. While it does help your SEO ranking, it’s important that the anchor links aren’t spammed because that will end up hurting your rank.
While there are a few different ways for a website to link to your page, editorial links are one of the most effective ways of generating leads and traffic.
Google puts a lot of weight on editorial links. This is because the algorithm sees that someone else find your article useful enough to spread the information you’ve posted.
3. How to Get Backlinks using Content Marketing
Simply publishing content isn’t going to get you very far when it comes to obtaining backlinks.
Not all content and copy are viewed the same. Certain types of content are more likely to become backlinked than others.
In order to determine what kind of content will get a backlink, ask yourself: “What have I linked to in my own articles?” You’ll find it’s likely one of the following:
This includes images, diagrams, infographics, and other charts or graphs.
These are linked to most because they are extremely useful for people and they are convenient to link to. Anyone that shares or uses your graph within their article to help confirm their message will provide a link to your website.
Visuals are a powerful tool that helps visualize information in a creative way while also making it easier and more interactive for viewers.
ii. List Articles
List posts are typically articles that condense information into little chunks. This can be tips, reasons why, myths, how-tos, and the list goes on. They can be just about anything
They are clear and concise pockets of information that are easy for viewers to read and easy to take information from to help prove the point of the article that’s linking to it.
List posts generate more backlinks that most other formats including videos and infographics, according to BuzzSumo’s analysis of 1 million articles.
iii. Research and Data
When a business reveals game-changing research and data, the industry goes wild.
Why? Because people need to know about the latest and greatest industry-related statistics, research, studies, and surveys in order to stay on top.
When new research is released, people will source the original material when spreading the word. The backlinks add up fast.
Guides provide the ultimate insight.
A great guide will provide comprehensive information about everything you need to know on a given topic. Everyone, from beginners to industry specialists, can benefit from it.
The ultimate guides pack a lot of extremely useful information all in one place, making them the go-to.
4. The Penalties of Black Hat SEO
If the links aren’t following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, they’re likely following black hat SEO practices, which can result in serious consequences to your ranking.
Google Penguin is an algorithm designed to detect and dish out penalties of spammy link building techniques. The only way to avoid its wrath is to build quality links and avoid any linking that seems fishy.
Additionally, Google can give you manual penalties based on unnatural links.
Unnatural links are intended to manipulate search engine results through the PageRank algorithm.
Unnatural links are considered to be the following:
- Low quality
- Deceptive and manipulative
5. Link Building Strategies
There are countless strategies for link building. We’ll go over some options in depth.
i. Resource Page
For those unfamiliar, resource pages are purely dedicated to linking out to other sources and providing valuable resources on a topic. You need to find content that other people can’t find very easily, and then make accessible through your site.
ii. Guest Blogging
This is one of the oldest link building strategies in the book.
How it works is simple: write an article for another website in your industry. Once that is complete, have the article link out to yourself since you’re the author.
iii. Other Techniques
Here’s a resource page dedicated to other link building strategies if the two examples above don’t suit your current needs as a business.
6. Tips for Advance Link Building
Once you have the basics down and websites are backlinking to your articles, it’s time for some tips that will help gain even more links.
In a perfect world, everyone would credit everyone. However, this isn’t always the case. When someone mentions your website or business, they should be linking to your website, but they don’t always.
With a kind message asking for them to provide the link, most people are happy to accommodate you for this request.
The real struggle is finding them. BuzzSumo is a great option for uncovering. They will find the unlinked mentions of your website.
Another way of discovering some unsourced content is through reverse image sourcing. Similarly to name mentions, a quick nudge towards a link will straighten that right out.
Link building is a very complicated process and it takes a lot of trial and error to get right. This guide is meant to set you up for success and help you grow your backlinks to gain traffic to your business.