Stories about Software


Reasoning About and Projecting SEO Content ROI

Hello folks.  And thanks for sticking with me as I continue my relentless assault on any remaining soul I have yet to suck out of content creation.  I’ll try to finish it off today.

And there’s no better way to do that than to start talking about return on investment (ROI).  Return on investment is amount that you wind up reaping (or losing) from a given investment of money or labor.

There are two main ways to think of ROI for SEO-minded content:

  • Comparing the ROI (or cost) of SEO campaigns to that of other lead acquisition tactics, measuring relative ROI.
  • Reasoning directly about the revenue (well, profit, really) generated by your SEO-minded content efforts.

I’m going to dive into both extensively.  But first, let’s take a detour through some business terms and some extremely opinionated takes on digital marketing metrics.

How Should We Measure a Content Program? (Hint: There is a Right Answer)

For my money, one of the most surreal questions that I see when DevRels or content marketers get together and talk shop is a simple one.

What’s a good metric for the success of a content program?

This seems both innocuous and like a good question.  But here’s what I hear when someone asks that:

What’s a good cardinal direction to drive in?  I’m a south kind of guy, but I’ve been hearing a lot of good things lately about northeast.

Both questions are kind of absurd, because both beg the contextual question of “what are you trying to do / where are you going?”  Metrics and tactics both are meaningless absent articulated goals.

If DevRels and content marketing managers are asking this question as a matter of shop, someone in the org chart above them has faceplanted in setting them up for success.  Nobody should need to flail around aimlessly for a success metric or a driving direction.

Luckily, however, unlike “which direction should I drive,” there is a universally right answer about how to measure the success of a commercial content program.  You measure that with the relationship between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer profitability.  This is your return on investment in the purest form: how much profit do you realize from spending money or time on content?

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The Phases of an Organic Campaign

Don’t look now, but it seems like I’m in real danger of finishing this series of posts.  One day, I might even become a blogger again.

In the last few posts, I went into a good bit of detail about how to do keyword research.  This culminated in a post about assembling your research into campaigns and even fully-formed marketing funnels.

But today I want to switch gears.  Instead of talking taxonomies and hierarchies, let’s look at timelines.

What are the phases of organic traffic campaigns?  Or, perhaps more precisely, what are the phases of your site’s relationship with the search engine?

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Keywords 301: Campaigns, Roadmaps, and Funnels

Alright, once more unto the breach, dear non-scumbags.  I’m continuing this series, and with slightly better cadence than once every 9 months.  We’ll get ‘er dun yet.

Here’s a recap of the three most recent posts:

  1. I introduced the idea of “keywords” as searcher questions.
  2. Then I introduced the granular mechanics of evaluating individual keywords.
  3. And, finally, I talked about how keywords relate to one another.

All of that is valuable groundwork, but it leaves an important, dangling question:

How do you turn all of that into an actual, editorial plan for content?

That’s what I plan to talk about today.  And to nudge the conversation along, I want to start by defining three concepts: campaigns, roadmaps, and funnels.

(As a slight caveat emptor here, I am defining and using these terms in the way that Hit Subscribe defines and uses them, in applied client situations.  Digital marketing textbooks, assuming that’s a thing, might use them differently).

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Keywords 201: Tails, Association, Authority, and Cannibalization

Editorial note: Believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten about this series or the DaedTech blog.  I just let it all languish for like 6 months to prank you, dear reader.  Gotcha!

In all seriousness, I realize I’ve created a bit of a ghost town.  I’m hoping to remedy that, but it will have to happen on a pretty shoestring budget, in terms of time.

In my last post, I introduced you to the basics of keyword research.  This included the essential pillars of difficulty, volume, and segmentation.  You’ll need that backstory because today I’m going to build on those concepts to create an intermediate-level treatment of keyword research.

My aim here is for you to come away with a thorough understanding of how keywords relate to one another.

You’ll need that knowledge in order to start thinking of your site and your traffic holistically, rather than simply as a mish-mash of posts addressing a mish-mash of keywords (searcher questions).

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Keywords 101: Difficulty, Volume, and Segmentation

More content today, in keeping with a cadence that one can only describe as “halting, at best.”  But, in spite of my failings, on we go with the SEO for non-scumbags series.

Defining the Important Terms

Last time out, I introduced the idea of keywords, focusing on searcher psychology as the foundation.  In this installment, I’m going to get more into the nitty-gritty of keyword selection.

But before doing that, let’s define some terms of art. And I mean really define them, rather than just saying that “difficulty” describes how hard it is to rank for a keyword.

Keyword Volume

I’m listing these concepts in order of ease of understanding, from easiest to hardest.  So, let’s start with a softball in the form of keyword “volume.”

Keyword volume is simply the approximate number of times per month that somebody types this keyword into the search engine and examines the results.

I say approximate because none of the tools you’ll use will know the exact number.  And, even if they did, they’d know historical numbers and, obviously, not be able to predict the future.  As for why “per month” is the standard denominator convention for this, I must confess, dear reader, I do not rightfully know.

Mystery conventions and approximation aside, searches per month does give you a sense for the traffic potential to your site, should you write content targeting this keyword.  (Recall from the last post, “targeting the keyword” really means answering the question that you deduce the searcher is asking with this keyword.)

As you brainstorm keywords, I definitely suggest tracking them and their stats with a spreadsheet.  When you do this, you’ll acquire enough data to view the keyword volumes in relative terms which, I would argue, is more important than the actual number, per se.  In other words, the value in recording keyword volume comes less form the actual number and more from having a sense of “high volume” and “low volume” keywords.

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