As Internet users, marketers, and the general public become more educated as to the ways of the Internet, the search engine optimization and marketing industries have been slowly coming out of the dark. Many people are becoming more and more knowledgeable of SEO, but do not know what the process entails and what they should expect for results. Should you expect your 50 page website to increase its website traffic from 5,000 to 50,000 visitor sessions a month post-optimization?

While it is very difficult to pinpoint the results a given campaign will achieve, the old saying "You get back what you put in" applies to the optimization of any website. We will discuss below exactly what this means, and how it will affect the results you see from your search engine optimization campaign.

So, your boss came into the room and said, "What can we do to improve our visibility on the Internet? We need to increase our traffic and rankings within the search engines!" Being the educated person that you are, you contact and hire a search engine optimization company to take on this task. Below are the three different levels of results that you can expect and the reasoning behind each.

How to Achieve the Bare Minimum Results
Here are instructions on how to yield the minimum results from your search engine optimization campaign. Your search engine optimization company will want to make many changes to your website. They may want to change the website structure, navigation, ALT tags, Title tags, META tags, link titles, page copy, and much more. If you do not allow the SEO firm complete freedom or website changes, within reason, you may be limiting the results your website can achieve.

A professional SEO firm will begin the campaign with a keyword research phase, where they will research and refine a keyword list that will be used to optimize your website. While a good SEO firm will not attempt to optimize the existing website for keywords that do not appear within the current copy, they may make suggestions for additional keywords that could be targeted and could potentially yield more targeted traffic. If you do not allow your SEO firm to develop additional web pages and supporting content to target these additional keywords, you may be limiting the results your website can achieve.

There are other factors that may limit the results that your website and optimization campaign will achieve. One factor is the allotted budget for pay- for-inclusion (PFI) programs and directory registration fees. If you do not allot any money to be included in the PFI programs of Inktomi, Fast, and Ask/ Teoma, or for the registration fees at Yahoo! or LookSmart, you may be limiting the results that your website can achieve.

How to Achieve Average Results
Not impressed by the bare minimum results? Here's how to achieve average results with your search engine optimization campaign. The results you will achieve are by no means bad, but at the same time are not the optimal results.

Just as with the process described above, you allow your SEO firm to make adjustments and revisions to the existing pages, but you allow the company complete freedom to make necessary changes that will help the website rank well for the target keywords as defined in the keyword research phase. The SEO firm will be allowed to make changes to the existing web pages, which may include changes to the navigation, web page structure, ALT tags, META tags, Title tags, link titles, page copy, and more. Allowing your SEO firm to make these changes to the existing pages will allow the firm to effectively target the keywords.

Just as within the process mentioned above, only average results will be achieved if your SEO firm is limited to working within the existing pages of your website, with no freedom to develop web pages and supporting content to target additional keywords as defined in the keyword research phase. By not allowing this production, you may be limiting the results your website can achieve.

If your budget allots some money for PFI programs and directory registrations, your results may increase but still may not be the best possible results. If your budget is limited for PFI programs and directory registrations you will have to decide what pages to submit, what PFI programs to join, and what directories to register your website with. Instead of submitting all of your web pages that have potential for rankings and increasing traffic, you may have to choose 5 or 10 to submit. Instead of submitting your web pages to the PFI programs of Inktomi, Fast PartnerSite, Ask/Teoma, and InfoSpider, you may have to choose one or two of the programs to join. On the same token, you may or not have money left over to register your website in Yahoo!, LookSmart, or another popular directory that has the potential to drive targeted traffic to your website.

How to Achieve Above Average Results
Still not satisfied with the expected results from your campaign? Here's how to achieve the optimal results from your search engine optimization campaign. Allow your SEO firm complete freedom with making changes and adjustments to existing web pages of the site, just as described in the process directly above.

Instead of limiting your SEO firm to working within the confines of your existing web pages and the supporting keywords, you can achieve greater results by working with your SEO firm to develop new web pages, website sections, and quality supporting content for the targeting of additional keywords. For example, you may be effectively targeting "technology colleges", but you may be missing out on targeted traffic from the keywords "technology training", "computer training", "information technology colleges", "IT schools", etc.

Through expanding and diversifying your keyword list, you can expose your site to increases in traffic, rankings and targeted visibility. Additionally, you will have strengthened your website's position in the search engines. If you are limited to a small number of keywords, than your website traffic becomes at risk of losing significant traffic when a few keyword positions are lost. If your keyword list is more diversified, small slips in rankings can happen without creating a major setback.

A budget that fully supports registration of all web pages with PFI programs, as well as all directory registrations, will help to achieve premium results from your search engine optimization campaign. This may require planning your budget to allot for all web pages that have potential to rank well and drive traffic to be included in all valuable PFI programs. Make sure to research and read the current search engine news to be certain which PFI programs are of value and will yield a return on investment. This budget should also allot money for an annual Yahoo! Directory listing, a LookSmart listing, as well as any other directory listings that is of current value. As mentioned with the PFI programs above, read the current search engine news and research to determine which directories are of current value.
March 14, 2003





Andrew is the Director of Search Engine Optimization Operations for a market leading company. Since the Fall of 2001, Andrew has served as the moderator of the Search Engine Promotion forum within Webmasterworld.com - a leading online community of web professionals. Andrew's articles appear regularly on informative sites including Search Engine Guide, SEO Today, SitePoint and others.





Search Engine Guide > Andrew Gerhart > Search Engine Optimization Campaign Results and Expectations