The overall intent of search engine optimization is to increase web traffic by improving organic search engine traffic.  Organic search engine traffic is the result of web visitors clicking on search engine results that are NOT sponsored links or ads.  A search engine result on the first page is going to produce more traffic than one on the second page.  It is critical that webmasters learn what search terms produce the best traffic.

Andy LoCascioSponsored Links – Web visitors have learned that the sponsored links and ads may not be their best choices.  They know that someone needed to pay for that traffic most likely because the search engine would not rank their page high enough to be produce significant traffic.   Why didn’t the page show favorably in the list of organic results?  It  just didn’t have the best content and/or few other websites have linked to it (the two major factors in determining keyword phrase rank).

Top Three Nirvana – The most productive spots on the search engine result for a specific keyword phrase are the first three organic results.  After that, traffic starts to drop off quickly especially for terms that are more competitive.  The reason for this is simple; for the most competitive terms there is a very good chance that the web visitor is going to find exactly what they want in one of the first three search results.

Page Two Blues– The further down the list of search results , the faster the traffic drops off.   Of much greater concern, is that web visitors rarely have the patience to look at the second page of results.  If they do not see what they want on the first page, they typically refine their search and get an entirely new result.

I have a great rank, but still no traffic!– This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the SEO.  A site ranks in the top 5 for one or more keyword phrases, yet still there is not traffic or sales.  Most sites are going to rank well for something.  At very least they will rank well for the company name (unless that happens to also be a term with lots of competition).  Many times sites are optimized for phrases that are supplied by the site owner or worse, pulled out of thin air!   Unscrupulous search engine optimization specialists are notorious for this.  They guarantee a great rank for phrases that they know have very little competition and never bother to find if they have any traffic.  Be sure to  choose the right SEO specialist!

Monitoring Must – The only way to accurately measure the effectiveness of an SEO campaign is by correlating keyword phrase rank changes with traffic.  To monitor rank you must use a tool specifically designed to track keyword phrase rank through time.  The right tool will provide you with multiple data points through time for a basket of keyword phrases.  The best tools use graphs to provide this information.  To monitor traffic, you only need to be familiar with the default statistics package on your server.  Even the least comprehensive packages will provide enough information for you to correlate rank improvement with traffic.

Correlation is Key– An SEO campaign is designed to improve the rank for multiple keyword phrases by changing content and acquiring quality inbound links.   Even when no campaign is in progress, rank for specific keyword phrases will fluctuate through time.  This is a feature built into all search engines.  The better the rank, the smaller the fluctuations.  A good SEO specialist will watch for improvements in rank especially when rank for a specific keyword phrase shifts from the second to the first page, into the top 5, into the top 3, and especially to number one.  The specialist will look at the dates where these thresholds have been crossed (in either direction) and then check the traffic for corresponding increases or declines.  This method allows the specialist to adjust the SEO strategy so that it produces the most traffic.

Google Dashboard – The Google dashboard and the Google Analytics tools are NOT substitutes for a keyword phrase rank monitoring tool.  Even when used together, there is no way to accurately correlate rank improvement for specific keyword phrases with increases in traffic.  This is because these tools only track Google traffic and also include sponsored link traffic with organic traffic.

Graphs Rule! – There is not better tool than a graph when it comes to monitoring keyword phrase rank.  A good graph will allow you to simultaneously view the rank history multiple keyword phrases through time.  All you have to do is view the graph, identify spikes in rank, and compare the dates to the traffic data.  What would normally take hour of data gathering and analysis only takes a few moments.

Sample 4 Month Graph

Phrase Rank Graph
Rank thresholds (20, 10, 5, 3, and 1) are easily identified on this graph. This specific tool allows the user to mouse over any point in the graph and see the keyword phrase, rank, and date. This data was gathered for a new site with moderately aggressive SEO and moderate competition for geographically relevant keyword phrases.

Asset Management 101 – Websites with or without SEO campaigns can be one of the most vital assets to a company.   Even the best and most compelling websites are useless if there is no traffic.  Better rank for the right keyword phrases will translate into more traffic.   The only way to identify the right keyword phrases is to accurately monitor rank.  

All to often, the alert only sounds after traffic has plummeted.  At that point, getting back that traffic costs money and more importantly time!  The search engines simply do not respond that quickly to changes and 60 day+  time frames for improvement not unusual.  Understanding how keyword phrase rank affects your traffic is the key to maintaining the effectiveness of your website asset.