How much is a top 10 natural search engine ranking worth?

Aaron's picture

What's a top 10 Search Engine Ranking worth?

 
Natural Search Engine Optimization and gaining top 10 natural rankings can be a decent investment of time and capital, but it is one that can pay of residual dividends if done correctly (and can reduce your long-term advertising costs significantly - details below

Have you ever wondered or considered how much a top 10 search engine ranking would be worth for your business?

Pay close attention, because this is a slippery question, and is as general as asking, "How much would a billboard advertisement be worth to your business?"  Would you be able to answer a question as general as that?  We wouldn't be able to either.
 
In order to appropriately answer this for your particular business, we need to ask more questions and dig deeper into the question for clarity.  Some additional questions that need to be answered first are:
  • What search phrase are you optimizing a page for ranking?
  • What is the conversion rate of your page that is being optimized?
  • What is your optimized page selling (product, services, pay per click ads, banner ads, memberships, etc.)?
  • Are you optimizing for a research phrase, a general interest phrase, a product or service phrase, or another selling phrase?
  • How well is your competition presenting their goods?
  • What is your targeted audience seeking from this search phrase?  (how do you know?)
  • And the list of questions goes on. . .

In order to assess the value of a top 10 search engine ranking, one must consider many more factors, and all should be scientifically researched and tested before the decent investment of SEO is undertaken.

Imagine having natural search engine rankings for one of your most competitive key word phrases.

If you sold homes for a living in Columbus Ohio, it would first benefit you by doing a key word analysis search to find out what people are actually typing into the search engines when looking for homes in the Columbus Ohio area.

Thought there a more robust "paid" tools, Google offers a great free tool to online competitors call the Google Keyword Tool.   Simply type in that phrase "Google Keyword Tool" and check it out.   Here is a link directly to the Google Keyword tool as well (if this link is changed or broken, please report it to us so we can fix it.) 

Step 1:  Make your common sense list first!

Before you do this, however, create a common sense list of 30-50 keywords and key word phrases to research.  For example, if I were looking to help a client optimize some of their web pages for home buyers in Columbus Ohio, I would start with a keyword list from a brainstorm session like this:

  • Buy a home in Columbus Ohio
  • homes for sale in Central Ohio
  • selling a home in Hilliard Ohio
  • homes in Westerville Ohio
  • realtors in Central Ohio (using this to make a list of my competitors' sites)
  • new homes for sale in Central Ohio
  • good neighborhoods to buy a home in Central Ohio (or near Columbus Ohio)
  • etc. etc. . .  (exhaust your list- this can be quite an educational and fun exercise while giving you a better understanding of your prospects and how they use the Internet to begin the home search)

Additionally, I would interchange Columbus Ohio with Central Ohio, as well as suburbs where I would like to target for selling and buying homes as a broker or realtor.

Step 2:  Use the free and powerful Google Keyword tool to refine your list

Next, take your list to the Google Key Word Tool and begin plugging them in.  What you will find will be fairly eye opening and will help you to refine your search and discover other phrases that you would otherwise miss.

For example:  the first common sense phrase for my list above had no search results (numbers so low that Google does not register this phrase)

However, some similar phrases that the tool returned at the time of this writing were:

"homes for sale columbus ohio" averaging 5400 searches per month (and a highly competitive phrase)
"houses for sale columbus ohio" averaging 6600 searches per month 
"new homes columbus ohio" averaging 1000 searches per month
"homes columbus ohio" averaging 18,100 searches per month
"new homes in columbus ohio" averaging 720 searches per month
and the list of similar results goes on. . .

Step 3:  Test before you invest! (ALWAYS)

Before setting on a key word phrase or phrases to begin an SEO campaign, make sure you test your market with some in-expensive and highly track-able  advertising.  In the great marketing handbook: Scientific Marketing by Claude Hopkins, he made fortunes for large companies and for himself by being frugal and wise in testing advertising in small market samples and tracking the returns before dumping sums of money into large marketing campaigns.  Many companies could learn how to dominate their markets, or at least continually improve their ROI for marketing and sales by reading and implementing the genius in this book.  Claude actually stated that mass advertising, if tested and carried out correctly, should be one of the safest forms of investing for a company and gives credit to his frugality and success to his mother who was very conservative and frugal and instilled these principles into his life as a youth.

One can easily set up a pay per click advertising campaign for their top 10 search phrase picks (or whatever the budget allows), and track the results.  In other words,  one can track how many actual leads converted to sales they made for each search phrase they tested.  In the housing industry, this could take some time, but the returns would be well worth the investment.  Additionally, the savings in otherwise lost advertising dollars on poorly performing search phrases could be invested in the best performing search phrases (see the science and ROI concept involved here?)

Once a test give some credible results based off of a reliable sample size, then the SEO campaign can begin.

Given any search phrase researches, one would expect a certain number of those searchers to not be home buying prospects at all.  Some might be designers looking for ideas, other realtors and brokers looking for information, government workers researching different things about homes in Columbus Ohio, etc.  The only way to know the demographics of a search phrase is to thoroughly test your choice phrases. 

Step 4: Focus on your top 3 -5 phrases and get busy

Begin finding other quality websites to obtain links to your sit pages.  Additionally, your site pages should be optimized with opt-ins, contact information, and other strategies to capture leads from the traffic that will come to your site.  It should be very easy to opt in or contact you from your website.  In order to begin optimizing your pages for certain key word phrases, you will need to make sure you are able to commit the time or money to a natural SEO ranking campaign.  If you have the time and not the money, you can do it with a few months of consistent effort.  Simply being looking for other websites that are non-competitive and have page rank scores of 3 and above (use Google tool bars and other page rank tools to find these scores), and begin contacting these website owners offering quality content for their sites.  The sites should have themes non-competitive but related to your topic so that your writings or articles will be received by a percent of these webmasters / owners. 

For example, a realtor could contact owners of sites related to home ownership, home decorating, home remodeling, home cleaning, etc. as long as the realtor or broker can craft unique articles (or have them written by freelance writers) that suit the themes of the sites he or she is contacting.  In other words, the broker would contact home cleaning sites and offer articles about themes such as:

  • "Cleaning a home in preparation for the Sell"
  • "Top 10 things to spit polish before presenting a home"
  • "How to add curb appeal to your home"

and other writings that could naturally bridge one site theme to a realtor's site.  Optimize these articles for your partner sites that you will approach so they will serve the visitors to their site (not necessarily yours).  In those articles, create 3 anchor text links that use the search phrases you are trying to compete for in the context of each article.  When you are successful in having 20 articles published, you should have a total of 60 new highly targeted links to 3 specific pages on your website.  

If your articles are given to quality websites, and the articles are of high quality and are unique (not copied anywhere else on the web), then you should begin to see your pages steadily rise in search engine rankings for those phrases.  When choosing your key word phrases, you should divide your 3 phrases into 3 categories:

  • 1 Highly competitive phrase
  • 1 Moderately competitive phrase
  • 1 Less competitive phrase

This strategy of spreading the competitiveness of your phrases will almost ensure that one of your phrases will see top 10 rankings while the more competitive phrases might need additional links.

Gaining quality links from other trusted websites (pages) is perhaps the most effective way to build quality into the world wide web by offering and publishing unique and quality content, while simultaneously gaining in the rankings and helping other website owners improve the overall quality of their own site content for their visitors.

This is a fairly straightforward process, and can be accomplished with a small budget and consistency.  If you run into a snag, browse more of our articles or contact us for help.

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