By Dave Davies, Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Inc.
The quest for higher search engine positioning on natural search engines is generally quest to increase revenue from a product or service. It is not rankings themselves that hold any special value; it is visitors that they bring and resulting increase in business. It is for this reason that PPC engines and namely secondary ones are a great tool in developing a campaign strategy for natural engines that will produce highest return on investment.
While tools such as Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool and WordTracker are great tools for helping to determine which phrases are most searched, they cannot provide you with which phrases will produce highest return on investment and let’s be honest, search engine positioning is not about traffic it’s about money. While traffic can often mean money, knowing which search phrases are going to lead to highest conversion rates will give you a great advantage going into your SEO campaign.
While testing phrases on PPC engines will result in an increased timeframe for your search engine positioning campaign, this step can result in much higher conversions from traffic you are going to get. For example, if you were a business owner who was promoting a brand new acne treatment and you were to simply look for phrases with highest numbers of searches to target in promotions for your site, you would undoubtedly settle on single keyword “acne” as your primary targeted phrase. Will this produce highest ROI? Unlikely and lets take a look at why:
Keyword phrase: acne
Searches: 2,470/day estimated on WordTracker
Inbound links of #1 site: 2,642 on MSN
Number of pages of #1 site: 34,100
Approximate cost to optimize site assuming it is new with 50+ pages: $7,000 - $10,000 with guarantee.
Now, let’s a take a look at a less competitive phrase such as “acne treatment”:
Keyword phrase: acne treatment
Searches: 516/day estimated on WordTracker
Inbound links of #1 site: 216 on MSN
Number of pages of #1 site: 153
Approximate cost to optimize site assuming it is new with 20+ pages: $3,000 - $5,000 with guarantee.
Armed with this information you would then want to test these two phrases on PPC engines. Engines such as Google and Overture provide great reporting tools that will enable a website owner to actually track which phrases are converting for them, however at $8.85/click on Overture to be #1 for “acne” or $2.90 to be #1 for “acne treatment”, that option may be just a bit out of your price range. And so we have secondary engines.
Pay-per-click engines such as Enhance Interactive (formerly Ah-ha) make a great testing ground for those choosing their keyword phrases. Ranking #1 for “acne” on Enhance can be had for $0.15/click and “acne treatment” is only $0.23 to be #1. Setting aside money that could potentially be made from PPC engines themselves, with bids this low this engine and others like it make great testing grounds for keyword selection.
To test your keyword phrases simply bid to be #1 or at least in top three for a potential primary target phrase. Keep site ranking for a couple weeks monitoring your traffic and sales of your product/service. After a couple weeks remove phrase from your list and switch it to an alternative phrase. Again, monitor this success of this phrase for a couple weeks. After you have tested all of your potential primary phrases you will be in a position to assess which one will produce highest return on investment.