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    Estimating number of website visitors


    I'm new to the forum and to SEO but have been chatting to and emailing a few SEO experts. We have a situation where we are not actually selling anything direct to website visitors. We are asking them to become free subscribers to our online magazine or within the magazine to click on various adverts from which we get a CPC return.

    What this means (stating the obvious!) is that we need to be careful that the costs of SEO do not exceed the return through visitors clicking on adverts. What I don't understand is why it's not possible for SEO experts to be able to give even the vaguest estimate of numbers of visitors if we optimize everything effectively. Or to say that we won't to be able to reach our desired number of visitors - 200,000 a month within 6 months through SEO.

    My knowledge of SEO is imperfect but in the sector in which we are operating, namely European Travel, if I look at possible relevant keywords in the Google adword tool and combine that with the use of a keyword difficulty tool if becomes very difficult to find any keywords with a significant number of global searches where the keyword difficulty percentage is less than 60%, If we are working on the basis of say two keywords per page (is that right?) and have say 30 pages of excellent content, increasing by 15 pages each month then is it feasible for an SEO agency to achieve our objective of 200,000 visitors at a reasonable cost? Alternatively is it feasible to get an SEO agency to do the on-site optimisation and a portion of the off-site optimisation supplemented by something like SEOMOZ?
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    You realize that even Google couldn't tell you that, right?
    What if Google changes what they like tomorrow? What if your demographic shifts and they suddenly want to Asia? There's a thousand factors that affect traffic and not all are related to SEO. My top site is highly seasonal. We benefited from the warm winter last year but my boss still can't believe that the deep cold we're having this year is why sales are flat. So I don't know that I would ever put my name behind traffic. I can't guarantee how you'll rank, let alone if people will search for you there.

    I'd say you're on the right track. Estimate how much traffic a term gets and then focus your efforts there. That's about as far as I dare go.

    Comments on this post

    • Doodled agrees : Good points but remember the competition is also as unpredictable as the weather!
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    Originally Posted by eurotravel
    What I don't understand is why it's not possible for SEO experts to be able to give even the vaguest estimate of numbers of visitors if we optimize everything effectively.
    The answer above is valid - if Google changes the algo then hard cheese. But the other factor that no SEO company can answer is what your competition is going to do.

    Imagine you went to an advertising agency and agreed to spend $5m on a TV commercial campaign. The agency would not make you any promises and why not? Because the next day your competitor might start a $500m campaign.

    When it comes to marketing we all want to know what we get for what but the history books are full of campaigns which turned customers off and caused sales to drop, campaigns that did nothing and campaigns that cost a nickle and a dime but became worldwide phenomenons winning awards left right and center.

    Now the best advertising agencies use their track records to show they "get it right alot of the time" and so it is with SEO companies. Do they manage to get (sensible) keywords ranked for other people? If the answer is yes then they might be able to do it for you ... unless something happens ... and things always happen.

    When Harold Macmillan was asked what might blow his (British) government off course her replied "Events, dear boy, events"
    Learn SEO and Online Marketing with Doodleddoes or follow me on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+TimHillDoodled/
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    I'm not expecting complete certainty here. I'm not expecting someone to say spend $500 a month with us and we'll get you 213,648 visitors a month but on the other hand I'm not expecting total uncertainty. Of course there are variables and a host of unknown factors, but I would expect someone to be able to say - if they do the onsite optimisation effectively then if they can find 75 keywords where the keyword difficulty is say below 45% and the average number of monthly global searches for each keyword is say 8000 then there is a very good chance of getting 100,000 monthly visitors as a result
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    Then I think if you look closer they will be able to make a more concrete statement but they will tag "all things being equal" to the end of that statement. In other words:
    - so long as Google does not change the algorythm (which it will)
    - so long as your competitors do no SEO (which they might)
    - so long as user behaviour remains constant (they continue to search the keywords and phrases they have in the past - which they might)
    - etc.

    But it strikes me that you have been lucky to deal with some "real" SEO companies. There are plenty out there that will throw promises around, lock you into a 6 month contract and then make excuses at the end about why it wasn't possible.

    Further - and this is even more important, what do you actually want? So far you've talked about visitor number targets but this is a red herring if those visitors do nothing. I've optimised many sites on the insistance of the owner for certain keywords which have bought in traffic that does not convert.

    My question wouldn't be so much how many visitors you want but what is your goal? Say it is to create 100 new subscribers to the magazine every month? The second step would be to use PPC to identify which keywords generate visitors who subscribe.

    Now we are in a position to say "if you ranked organically for that keyword it would produce about X visitors per month of which you would get Y new subscribers and the cost of doing this optimization is $Z"

    I've just seen way to many people chase after traffic via keywords which generate nothing to the bottom line of the business. PPC is a great temporary way of finding out which keywords work and making your organic SEO more targeted.
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    I'm happy with the "all things being equal" bits. As regards what I want, we need "eyeballs" for the following reasons:

    - to click on highly targeted CPC third party adverts which will produce a revenue
    - to be able to demonstrate to traditional print type advertisers that the pages where their adverts are are getting views
    - to get visitors/subscribers to book "readers offers"

    We need to do more to monetise the return from visitors but that's a start.

    The other thing that puzzles me is that there seem to be a lot of people into earning money from being affiliates but I cant see how they make a decent return unless they are investing very heavily in SEO.

    Im also looking at email marketing. We did a one-off 350,000 hit to the travel trade and got around 60,000 unique page views, over 1000 subscribers, 40 or so interested in advertising etc.

    Another issue is the optimisability of the flip-page magazine itself which is hosted at EuroTravel Magazine - EuroTravel December 2012. Website, which is a work in progress is EuroTravel Magazine | All the Very Best of Europe – Online
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    Originally Posted by Doodled
    "... and the cost of doing this optimization is $Z"
    Better qualify that! "The cost is approximately $Z all other factors remaining equal."
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    You know your industry better than we do, all we do is rank you well, maybe provide compelling content, calls to action, and a navigation structure that pulls people into the site. Will this provide you with a positive return? A professional SEO would not take the work if they didn't think the return was there for you but we can just make broad estimates, it's your job to know your demo inside and out.
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    I'm happy with the "all things being equal" bits. As regards what I want, we need "eyeballs" for the following reasons:

    - to click on highly targeted CPC third party adverts which will produce a revenue
    - to be able to demonstrate to traditional print type advertisers that the pages where their adverts are are getting views
    - to get visitors/subscribers to book "readers offers"

    We need to do more to monetise the return from visitors but that's a start.

    The other thing that puzzles me is that there seem to be a lot of people into earning money from being affiliates but I cant see how they make a decent return unless they are investing very heavily in SEO.

    Im also looking at email marketing. We did a one-off 350,000 hit to the travel trade and got around 60,000 unique page views, over 1000 subscribers, 40 or so interested in advertising etc.

    Another issue is the optimisability of the flip-page magazine itself
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    OK - with actual targets we're rolling!

    Clicking on ads
    Again, some keywords will do this, others won't. On top of this some industries are better than others. I've noticed health specific sites do well with advertising while IT related ones are hopeless!

    Eyeballs for advertising
    I don't know if this is your first forage into the internet(?) but one of my clients is a newspaper. They have more visitors each month than they print hard copies but their print advertisers won't buy the online space. They will buy the hard copy advertising space despite the fact that in reality it has less eyeballs. That's an example but this mentality is not unusual from my experience.

    What I'm saying is you could chase your 200,000 visitors, get them, and your advertisers will just shrug their shoulders. I've seen it happen over and over. Advertisers just don't 'believe' the internet.

    Subscribers
    So here you very much need to do your keyword PPC experiments to see what keywords lead to subscribers.

    Affiliates
    Again very industry specific. I have a colleague with a travel related website and finds it hard to make affiliate programmes work. On the other hand one of my sites (real estate related) does very well out of affiliate programmes for mortgage programmes.

    Put it all together
    Why not start by making a quality site than is optimised as you think it should be. URLs related to the content, clear titles and H1 tags for humans and that will give you a line in the sand?
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    Just going back to your original question this is quite timely:

    http://forums.seochat.com/search-eng...rs-383180.html

    Read the whole thread as well as the article and you will see why I think he has got it wrong and why both his data and mine shows there is little connection between your ranking in Google's SERPs and your CTR.
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    All interesting stuff!

    Clicking on ads: The travel industry doesnt tend to be spectacular with regard to click throughs from email marketing and I would suspect that the same is true with regard to click throughs from keywords

    Eyeballs for advertising: Our experience is very different. We did a big e-mailshot to the travel trade worldwide and got about 60,000 unique page views, over 1000 subscribers, over 40 companies interested in paid advertising and over 200 interested in a free directory section in the magazine. I think the situation that you are talking about is the problem area of getting advertisers to migrate from print to online, but print advertising anyway is declining seriously. Perhaps the travel industry is different in that it has embraced the internet in a very big way

    Subscribers: Not sure what you mean here regarding
    keyword PPC experiments to see what keywords lead to subscribers


    Affiliates: What we will have here is adverts which are directly relevant to each specific article. So if we have a visitor from LA who is reading an article about Amsterdam, an advert might invite him to get quotes for flights from LA to Amsterdam. The expectation is that click through rates would be higher than ordinary adverts


    Put it all together: yes - the website was a bit of an afterthought. We produced the flip-page magazine and got a lot of very nice comments on it but people don't seem to agree whether it is optimisable or not. It's hosted externally at Uberflip and the problem is that we are driving traffic to them rather than to our website, so we need to put all the articles from the magazine onto the website - currently they appear as posts but I guess we need to covert them to pages


    Google Ranking and CTR: I find it fascinatingly incomprehensible that moving up Google doesnt necessarily increase the number of website visitors. I don't understand how there can be little connection between the ranking in Google's SERPs and the CTR? How can there be little difference between being Google #1 and Google #5? Isn't that totally contrary to both logic, common sense and the commonly held view. Statistics are very much not my thing but from your graph-google-pos-ctr graph isnt there a consistent downwards curve? But your comments suggest I'm wrong. Would love to know more

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