Blog Post

Search engine optimization research

If you are heavy into search engine optimization, then you know the time it takes to place something high up in the rankings in Google. And you've heard many, many times that you need to do your research well before you start down the SEO trail. I've heard this many times also, but still just can't learn. So I thought that today I'd share some data about a search optimization project I undertook a while ago and tell you just where it went wrong you can avoid this common mistake.

My goal was to help promote a PHP tutorial on YouTube using search engine optimization. So I did my research, found my targets and went at it. I did all the things that Google tells you are good. I wrote original content that was engaging. I syndicated my content to high ranking sites, always sure to link back to the source as their guidelines suggest. I filled my content with keyword rich phrases like "how to PHP". I had done my research and saw that "how to php" had great monthly volume. Just take a look at the screen shot below:


Sure, 110,000 searches a month is great. If I could rank on that, I'd have all sorts of traffic. So I went to work using the usual search engine optimization techniques that we use for our clients at HubShout. Sure enough, in time, things started to work. I was quite pleased when my promotion page was on page 1, position 5. Not bad, I thought:

Photobucket I thought this was great and the traffic would start rolling in. Based on my research, there were 110,000 clicks per month in Google. That's around 3,666 per day, on average. I was in position 5, so perhaps I would only see 400 because I know that the first 3 positions get a much higher click rate. Any way you slice it, I was happy. That was, until I looked at my Google Analytics report. Take a look at the next screen shot to see what actually happened with traffic from this keyword. The findings will surprise you, and there is a serious search engine optimization lesson in this for you as you consider your keyword targets for SEO.


What! 5 clicks? How is this possible? I'm on page 1 for a high volume term? This is cutting edge search engine optimization here. Well. Not exactly. I went back into my Google keyword volume estimator and took a deeper dive into the data. Something had to explain what was going on here. In this next shot, I've changed the keyword matching type from "broad" to "exact". Watch what happens.


As you can see, the traffic drops dramatically when I made this change. And this helps me understand the actual clicks I'm seeing to my site. Chad wrote on the topic of exact vs broad matching in PPC campaigns a while ago. Here we are seeing how much this data moves on you when you consider it in search engine optimization. In both cases, it's a critical factor to keep in mind as you try to drive traffic and increase sales on your website.