Calculate Your First Campaign's Opportunity
It's interesting to find out how many searchers are being referred to your site with the keywords you have targeted, but you also need to know how many searchers do not come to your site. Those are the people that you want referred your waythey are your search marketing opportunity.
Obviously, although search marketing can drive new visitors to your site, you might need to make other changes to your site to increase conversion. Although marketing opportunities certainly exist, they are not particular to search marketing because your changes affect every visitor to your site, regardless of how they landed there. To go beyond search marketing visit Jim Sterne's excellent Web site (www.targeting.com), which is loaded with ways to measure your Web site's success and to make improvements.
Now you have learned enough to estimate the traffic increase a well-designed search marketing campaign can produce, and we do so through the next few pages.
Check Your Keyword Demand
The number of searches for any particular query is referred to as keyword demand. So, although search referrals tell you how many of those searchers clicked through to your site, keyword demand tells you how many searchers used that keyword in total. Keyword demand counts the people that chose a result from your site as well as all of those searchers for that keyword who chose to click someone else's site.
We explain keyword demand in detail in Chapter 11, exploring several sources of keyword demand information, but we can give it a "once over" here. Table 7-10 shows the results for our targeted keyword phrases from the Yahoo! Keyword Selector Tool that we used earlier to choose our targets. We explain the reasoning behind the calculation in Chapter 11, but just take it on faith that multiplying the Yahoo! total by 2.2 yields a relatively accurate number of total worldwide searches in the major search engines.
Discover Your Missed Opportunities
Although it is helpful to see how many searches are performed on your targeted keywords, you must remember that you are already getting some search traffic to your site. How many searchers are you missing? To answer that question, we must develop a missed-opportunity matrix™.
Because every searcher that uses your targeted keyword is an opportunity to bring a visitor to your site, merely subtracting your search referrals from the total number of searches yields the number of searches where no one came to your site. You can also calculate your share of the search traffic by dividing the number of your referrals by the keyword demand. Table 7-11 shows how simple it is to calculate missed opportunities for Snap Electronics.
Project Your Future Traffic
Now it is time to calculate what you really want to know: How many more search referrals can you reasonably obtain if you execute a strong first search marketing campaign? Although those searchers that failed to come to Snap's site are literally missed opportunities, it is not realistic to expect that any one site could collect all the clicks for any query. The question then becomes how to estimate the reasonable number of clicks that can be achieved after a successful first search marketing campaign.
Before we begin our analysis of future traffic, you should know that it is impossible to accurately calculate something as nebulous as a "reasonable number of clicks." Anyone who tells you that he can pinpoint the answer is oversimplifying the complexity of searcher behavior. But we can make estimates to help make a business decision on how to invest in search marketing. Although it will not be terribly precise, it will help you make a better decision than using the seat of your pants.
We know from Chapter 4, "How Searchers Work," that 48 percent of searchers click a result on the first page of results and that 60 percent of those clicks are on organic results rather than paid. Multiplying those numbers together tells us that 29 percent of all searchers click an organic result on the first page.
Although helpful, that statistic does not tell us nearly enough for us to calculate our real opportunity, because searchers frequently click more than one result from the same searchfirst clicking on #1, then #3, and finally #4 before going off to do something else. So, although 29 percent of searchers click an organic result on the first page, there are more pages clicked than 29 percent. What we need to know is how many clicks there are per search. And honestly, no one knows, except the folks running the search engines themselves, and they consider the information to be proprietary. Anecdotal evidence indicates that between 1.8 and 2.8 results are clicked for each searchif we take the more conservative 1.8 number and multiply it by 29 searchers, we get 52 clicks for every 100 searches.
So we have estimated 52 clicks per 100 searches as the average, but not all searches are average. Some produce more than 52 clicks and others produce less. But even that isn't all, because those 52 clicks per 100 searches are not spread around evenly. Far more of them are clustered at the top of results page, where the highest-ranked pages are shown. The exact results that searchers click vary greatly from query to query. Table 7-12 shows four different distributions that all average 52 clicks, and there is no way to be sure what distribution any particular query yields.
Although you cannot be sure of the number of clicks you can get, you can make some reasonable assumptions. The first two distributions shown in Table 7-12 are for informational queries, where the "weak" results list has no clearly superior result and the "strong" list has markedly better results at the top of the list. Contrast these two distributions with the last two, where a brand query ("snapshot camera") might return the manufacturer (Snap Electronics) or a leading retailer (in the #2 through #5 slots, perhaps), leading to stronger clickthrough (especiallyat the top of the list). When searchers enter a navigational query ("snap electronics") where there is truly a "right" answer for most searchers, we might see a distribution like the one in the last column where the #1 result gets the lion's share of the clicks.
So, by looking at the table, we can take some educated guesses as to how search ranking can affect the number of clicks to your site. If you rank in the top three, you might get clicks for 8 percent to 30 percent of the queries for a particular keyword. If your page ranks four through ten, perhaps you will get a click for 0.5 percent to 7 percent of searches. If your page shows up on the next two result pages (ranked #11 through #30), you will pick up a few clicksmaybe clicks totaling 0.25 percent of all searches. One quarter of 1 percent might not sound like much, but it is better than nothing, which is your likely fate beyond position #30. At the other end of the spectrum, some search marketers report getting clickthrough rates of more than 50 percent, especially when their listing is in the top three of both the organic and the paid placements for the same query. If we carefully examine the tail end of the table (the last few results), using the graph in Figure 7-5, we can see that seemingly small differences might be significant for popular queries.
Figure 7-5. Little differences add up. The tail distribution shown in Table 7-12 varies a lot from query to query even though the numbers seem small.
If you are considering mounting both an organic and paid campaign, your clickthrough rate could be considerably higher than what is shown here. Recall that 40 percent of the 87 clicks (35 clicks) are for paid results. It is typical to get 5 percent clickthrough or more for a top three paid placement. If your plan includes a top paid placement bid for each keyword, you should add 5 percent of the paid clicks to the organic clicks you anticipate. Table 7-13 shows how the range of clickthrough rates dramatically affect the number of searchers that come to snapelectronics.com each month.
The next step requires a cold look at what your potential improvement in rank can be for each keyword. Let's haul out yet another table to show the potential improvements from a successful search marketing campaign. Table 7-14 shows a projected-rankings matrix, with the current rank for each of Snap's targeted keywords along with a guess at what the new improved rank might be.
When you develop your projected-rankings matrix, you are realistically assessing where your pages can rankin this case for Google. (A more complete approach, avoided here for brevity, would be to analyze each of the major search engines and all major camera competitors.) Taking the phrase "digital camera," we can see that it might not be realistic for Snap to get a top rankingthe current top results include no camera manufacturers, showing high-quality camera review sites instead. But it is entirely reasonable for Snap to move from "off the charts" to a respectable #10.
Similarly, when we look at the keyword "best digital cameras," we see that all the camera manufacturers are missing in action. But there might be some hope here. We note that none of the other manufacturers use that phrase on their pages, possibly because large corporations do not want to appear boastful. Snap does not like to toot its own horn either, but many third-party digital camera reviews actually call the SnapShot the "best digital camera"Snap can quote these reviews on its site without appearing boastful, and the search engines will find the words on Snap's pages. Armed with this information, it might be reasonable to project that Snap can break through at least to the top 30 for this query where the other manufacturers did not.
When you develop your own projected-rankings matrix, you must make similar decisions, keyword by keyword, and you need to be as realistic as possible. You might find that your projections are conservative at times, but that is better than overpromising and underdelivering.
After you have decided what rankings you can achieve, you need to assign your clickthrough rate for each keyword, as discussed in Table 7-12. For each keyword, you need to decide what the right click distribution is across every organic search result, and then assign the appropriate percentage to your result based on the position you expect to achieve. Table 7-15 shows Snap's decisions. Projected "top 30" rankings are valued at a 0.25 percent clickthrough rate, whereas a #1 ranking for a quasi-navigational query such as "snap digital camera" might get 20 percent clickthrough. Multiplying that rate by the estimated monthly searches produces the projected visits resulting from the search marketing campaign.
If Snap Electronics planned to place a top paid placement bid in both Google and Yahoo! for every keyword, they could add as much as 5 percent to their clickthrough rates to generate a larger number of added referrals. But Snap wanted to take a more conservative approach. Rather than buying each of these keywords across both Google and Yahoo!, Snap decided to buy just one keyword in Yahoo! as an experiment. They chose the most popular keyword, "digital cameras." This approach allowed them to gain experience with paid placement without having to make a big commitment of money and management time. Based on the results of the experiment, they will decide how to approach paid placement in the future.
Snap's approach required them to project the added search referrals for paid placement for the "digital cameras" keyword, which was fairly easy. Snap took the number of Yahoo! searches for "digital cameras" from Table 7-10 (1,337,422) and multiplied by a 1 percent clickthrough rate. Many paid placements yield 5 percent clickthrough rates or more, but Snap decided to make a conservative projection for their first paid campaign. Multiplying the Yahoo! searches by that 1 percent clickthrough rate produced an additional 13,374 monthly search referrals from paid placement.
If we add the 17,348 organic search referrals from Table 7-15 to the new paid search referrals, it results in 30,722 new search referrals each month. That kind of number will draw the attention needed to get your search marketing program off the ground. It is hard for anyone running a Web site to turn down additional traffic, but you can make your case for search marketing even more enticing by projecting not just traffic, but conversions.
Project Your Future Conversions
Regardless of what your Web site's goals are, you saw in Chapter 5 that you can choose certain visitor events as your conversions. Obviously, if you are selling your product online, it is easy for you to translate your conversions into revenue, but you saw in Chapter 6 that that you can translate most conversions into some kind of business value.
Continuing our fictitious scenario for Snap Electronics, we can project our digital camera search marketing campaign's conversions and its incremental revenue. Snap needs to know a few numbers to do so:
After you have compiled the necessary numbers, you can put them together to project the incremental revenue from search marketing for digital cameras, as shown in Figure 7-6.
As you calculate the opportunity for your own first campaign, you might be wondering how big the opportunity can be if you go all out with a site-wide search marketing program, consisting of many individual campaigns. In Chapter 8, "Define Your Search Marketing Strategy," you decide how broad your overall search marketing program should be, and in Chapter 9, "Sell Your Search Marketing Proposal," you will see how large the profit could be.