Today I'm going to talk about a sore topic - predicting results when promoting a website. First of all, this topic worries customers at the time of choosing an SEO contractor. When ordering search engine optimization, the company wants to understand whether this service will be beneficial to them, what the results will be, how and when they will be able to increase their sales.
For example, a company applies to several SEO studios. They make predictions to her. One gives a forecast - growth of 60%, the other - growth of 80%, the third generally predicts the growth of search traffic by 100% for the year. The company chooses a studio that gives a 100% forecast.
Where do these percentages come from?
Let's look at the situation already from the SEO studio. She was approached by the company in order to promote the site. Even before the conclusion of the contract, she asks to make a forecast. It turns out that the studio, having not yet received any money, should conduct research and do analytics, on the basis of which there will be a forecast.
How is forecasting done in SEO studios
1) Collecting frequency by semantic core. Since the SEO studio has not received money yet, it allocates a linear specialist who promptly collects the basic semantic core. The semantic core is a list of phrases by which customers can search for your company's services in the future.
Then the frequency of these phrases is removed. That is, how many times this phrase was entered into the search engine over the past month.
2) Seasonality. Naturally, there is seasonality in most business sectors. With the help of services or manually, the seasonality of specific requests is collected. The seasonality coefficient will give the forecast additional scientific value and volume.
The seasonality coefficient is multiplied by the frequency of phrases. You can either give a forecast for phrases separately, or simply sum up the numbers for each phrase. It turns out to be especially fun if phrases that are included in each other are summed up. For example, "apartment repairs" and "apartment repairs in Vladimir".
The result is one or more frequency graphs multiplied by seasonality.
3) CTR (the chance that the site will be accessed from the search results). To get closer to the coveted figure in traffic, you need to multiply the previously collected data by CTR.
Depending on the specific queries, the CTR of the first place of the search results is different. Somewhere there is more contextual advertising before organic delivery, somewhere there is less. Somewhere people want to choose among a variety of options. Somewhere in the first places of issue are catalog sites.
There is very approximate data that 20-30% of all traffic gets the first place in the search results. This percentage may differ significantly from request to request, from topic to topic. THERE IS NO EXACT figure ANYWHERE + IT ALWAYS CHANGES.
And this is just the beginning. CTR directly depends on the snippet of your site in the search results. That is, how it is displayed in the output for a certain request.
The snippet cannot be directly influenced. Search engines themselves choose which information is more suitable for the snippet. You can only indirectly influence its appearance. There are no guarantees.
Thus, an unknown variable appeared in our prediction formula. There is no way we can give a more or less accurate CTR figure.
So, the formula of most SEO studios for traffic forecasting is:
Forecast = frequency of incomplete semantic core X seasonality X unknown CTR
Is it even possible to make a traffic forecast
No. It is impossible to give an exact figure. In order to sell website promotion services, studios still make forecasts. Moreover, this figure can easily be overestimated even after calculations, if another studio promises even greater growth.
Forecasting is impossible not only because of poor semantics or unknown CTR.
The most important thing that completely negates any prediction in SEO is the search engines themselves. We (Internet marketers, SEO specialists) work with search engines.
But we cannot be responsible for THEIR WORK. There is NO way we can directly influence their work. We can improve the site, do work on external optimization. And already this activity affects its position in the search results.
It happens that for some queries, search engine users want to see a selection from several companies at once. Such a choice is given by catalog sites. Starting from Yandex.Market, ending with highly specialized regional catalogs. Naturally, search engines put catalog sites in the first places of issue. It will be almost impossible for your site to reach the top.
Search engines are NOT REQUIRED to respond to changes on the site in a short time. It is very important. Our edits may not be taken into account for a month. Once again, they are not obliged to take them into account, they do not have such rules and agreements. We can only hope that the changes will be promptly indexed and taken into account. The "Page Reindexing" tool in Yandex has recently begun to gradually solve this problem. But these are only the beginnings of some agreed deadlines. But the number of such pages for reindexing is limited, and deadlines are not always met.
SEO specialist acts as an intermediary between clients and search engines. But it is not associated with a search engine, it optimizes the site for the target audience.
If search engines issued optimization rules, opened all ranking factors, then the work would be more transparent. But they specifically hide their hundreds and thousands of ranking factors so that left-wing companies do not adjust their sites in such a way as to be in the top of search results.
And there is also such a thing as search engine sanctions. They punish sites whose actions are considered fraudulent. For example, if there is a cheat of behavioral factors on such sites. The funny thing is that a normal website can accidentally fall under the sanctions of a search engine.
Considering the above, I can't imagine how one can seriously talk about forecasting in a sober mind. It is impossible to guarantee the work of a third party.
That's not all
Let's talk about the behavioral factors of the site. That is, how satisfied are the visitors with the content of the site after they clicked on it for some request.
If they don't order anything on your site, visitors don't find what they expected, then why should search engines put it in the first place in the search results? High prices, poor description - this is uncompetitiveness.
The problem is that not all the suggestions of an SEO specialist can be translated into reality by the client company. Perhaps the business simply does not have the ability to do this. There are many companies that offer different prices to different customers. They can't post prices on the site. Such closeness simply will not allow the site to reach the top. How can this be taken into account at the pre-sale stage?
There are many companies that will not be able to approach the market leaders in terms of business opportunities. For such cases, getting into the top 10 for key queries is already an excellent result.
That is, without analyzing the company itself and its competitors, it is impossible not only to predict traffic, but also just the optimization work itself.
We continue to forecast
Another third-party company that we cannot fully control is hosting. It can be hacked, place viruses, disable the site. The servers themselves may hang, not withstand the load. After a series of such events, the site will inevitably fall in the output.
What if the customer or another company is responsible for the technical support of the site? That is, everything is fine with hosting, but the site management system has not been updated for a long time. The result is viruses. The search engine will mark your site with a special icon "The site is infected". And you will fall again on the positions in the output.
Implementation of edits on the client side. The customer's programmers did something wrong in the process of work. Meta tags flew off, duplicates of pages appeared, the work of the site slowed down. Yes, an SEO specialist will check the implementation of edits, but, for example, if the client reports the implementation a day later. Search engine robots have already visited the site, saw that everything is bad. I think you can guess the consequences.
The human factor cannot be predicted.
Initially, the problem may be in the most basic thing. SEO studio will simply collect the wrong semantics. They don't know your company, your positioning, they don't know your target audience, the market.
The reverse side is super-complete semantics for 30 thousand phrases. But what kind of work will be done on it? Meta tags will be written once and the template will be taken into account for the occurrence of phrases in the text? It's not serious in 2018. You will never catch up with the market leaders by such blind methods. And the forecast figures will only make you laugh in a few months.
I'll tell you a secret, some studios make a forecast for a year, and they have an average client life of 6 months. How do you like this turn?
By the way, do you know that the frequency of phrases is collected over the past months? What if your service becomes just less popular in the future? What happens if it becomes outdated? Which variable in the forecast formula takes this into account? I think this question will easily stupefy any SEO forecaster.
What is a website promotion service? You are ordering work on your site that will improve your position in the search results for certain queries. That's it. No more, no less. It is impossible to predict the result.
By the way, asking to make a forecast is one of the easiest ways to verify the competence and decency of an SEO studio or specialist. If they answer you about 60%, then either it's some kind of intern or a cheater.
How then to choose an SEO studio? According to her portfolio. On projects that they have ALREADY promoted. This is the easiest and most effective way. Ask to show graphs in the web analytics system. Ask to show the landing pages "Before" and "After".
Call current and former clients. Find out how their sales were affected by the work of the SEO company. Were there any delays in the execution of work, were there any deceptions?
There are enough decent and professional SEO studios and specialists. Please don't be fooled by the promises of strangers who want to sell you a service. Believe only the facts.