A formula for keyword success

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Michael Stebbins
Michael Stebbins

When it comes to guaranteeing keyword success, bragging rights go to marketers who assess keyword value based on multiple metrics, including visitor volume, revenue, conversion and metric time on site. Let's look at the criteria and limitations of some of the most common metrics.

  • Volume isn't enough As you're putting marketing dollars into keywords, you need to measure the volume of engaged visitors, not of all visitors. Marketers love high volume, but in the online world it has little value if there isn't interest in your site's content.
  • Revenue isn't enough While revenue is the measurement of your marketing, Web site and product value, it really shouldn't be the sole indicator of keyword value. Why?
    - A Web analytics tool cannot account for all revenue.
    - A sales cycle may disassociate revenue from valuable visitors.
    - Neither of the above factors consider visitors who almost buy.
  • Look to conversions It's a good bet that more visitors convert than buy, so by counting converted visitors per keyword we get closer to a measurement of keywords that bring engaged visitors.
  • Time on site is your MVP Time on site measures your Web site's ability to successfully retain each visitor's interest. It's also a good indicator of the synergy between the expectations visitors had before clicking to your site and how pleased they were with what they found once they arrived.
  • Combining volume, ROI, conversion and time But don't look at time-on-site numbers in a vacuum. Take a holistic look at metrics, including ROI, conversion and volume to ensure you have an accurate picture of the value of each keyword and you aren't wasting pay-per-click and SEO dollars.
  • PPC and natural search Even savvy marketers can inadvertently buy inappropriate keywords, over-promise in their ad messaging and under-deliver on their landing page. Measure PPC ad effectiveness for each keyword separately from natural search listings.

A good Web analytics tool will show these metrics side by side for all measurements. It's a sign of effective PPC advertising if your PPC ads deliver visitors with more time on site than your natural search engine listings deliver.

Keyword success isn't determined by one factor alone, so use a combination of metrics to increase your keyword success, your company's ROI and your bragging rights.

Michael Stebbins is vice president of marketing at ClickTracks, Santa Cruz CA. Reach him at mstebbins@clicktracks.com.

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