25+ Reasons why predicting CTR from Rankings is Impossible

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So, you want to develop a model showing how rankings in Google, Bing, etc will lead to clicks, conversions, and revenue? We think that is dangerous in all cases, but especially for sites with very little historical data. As SEO professionals, we get it, mobile vs desktop, logged in vs non logged in, personalized vs non-personalized, brand vs unbranded, again we get it, but our bosses and clients sometimes don't, so we decided to share with you one of our slide decks built specifically to help the SEER team to get our clients thinking more holistically about the impact SEO can have. We hope it helps you getting your bosses and clients thinking more holistically too.

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  • So glad to see this confirmed for the many people I've repeated it to for the past 10 years. You can get at all the bits and pieces - but what they add up to is anyone's guess. Gotta love SEO budget forecasting and predicted ROI.
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25+ Reasons why predicting CTR from Rankings is Impossible

  1. 1. Predicting impact of SEO Wil Reynolds Associate @wilreynolds
  2. 2. @wilreynolds Makes sense
  3. 3. 3 @wilreynolds Keyword Volume (x) Click Through Rate (x) Conversion Rate (x) Conversion Value ROI
  4. 4. @wilreynolds
  5. 5. @wilreynolds Keyword Volume + Cost
  6. 6. @wilreynolds Multiplied By
  7. 7. @wilreynolds Click Through Rate
  8. 8. @wilreynolds Multiplied By
  9. 9. @wilreynolds Conversion Rate
  10. 10. @wilreynolds Multiplied By
  11. 11. @wilreynolds Conversion Value
  12. 12. 12 @wilreynolds 33,000 Searches (x) 1.04 CTR @ #10 343.2 Visitors
  13. 13. 13 @wilreynolds 343.2 Visitors (x) .18% conv. rate (x) .62 Conversions
  14. 14. 14 @wilreynolds .62 Conversions/mo (x) 12 months 7.5 Conversions @ $150k = $1,125,000
  15. 15. @wilreynolds You Us
  16. 16. 16 @wilreynolds Easy, right?
  17. 17. @wilreynolds Problem, predicting search volume and CTR is impossible
  18. 18. @wilreynolds
  19. 19. 19 @wilreynolds #1 – Search Volume
  20. 20. @wilreynolds Impacted by News Fall out of Favor Change in how we search Google gets Smarter Google Changes Behavior
  21. 21. @wilreynolds News
  22. 22. @wilreynolds Fall out of Favor
  23. 23. @wilreynolds Fall out of Favor
  24. 24. @wilreynolds Change in how we search
  25. 25. @wilreynolds Google Gets Smarter
  26. 26. @wilreynolds Google Changes Behavior
  27. 27. 27 @wilreynolds #2 – Click Through Rate
  28. 28. @wilreynolds Carousel Google’s Comparison Ads Mobile Changes PPC + SEO impacts CTR
  29. 29. @wilreynolds Carousel
  30. 30. @wilreynolds
  31. 31. @wilreynolds
  32. 32. @wilreynolds
  33. 33. @wilreynolds
  34. 34. @wilreynolds
  35. 35. @wilreynolds PPC Ad + SEO = More SEO traffic
  36. 36. @wilreynolds PPC Ad + SEO = More SEO traffic
  37. 37. 37 @wilreynolds “SEO CTR rises by 416% (brand) & rises by 125% (non-brand) When a PPC ad is also on the SERP” -SEER Study 2013
  38. 38. @wilreynolds Tale of 2 searches
  39. 39. 39 @wilreynolds Search #1 “SEO Company”
  40. 40. 40 @wilreynolds 7 – Philly 2 – National 1 – Review 0 - Atlanta
  41. 41. 41 @wilreynolds Search #2 First search “Things to do in Atlanta” Second search “SEO Company”
  42. 42. 42 @wilreynolds Impact CTR?
  43. 43. @wilreynolds Amazon, Trusted + Prime
  44. 44. @wilreynolds Get more branded search? Probably get more rankings
  45. 45. 45 @wilreynolds Cut that TV campaign, rankings might slide…
  46. 46. @wilreynolds Mobile Search changes 1 – How we search 2 – What we see (vs Desktop)
  47. 47. @wilreynolds
  48. 48. @wilreynolds Impact On CTR? (Call + Map)
  49. 49. @wilreynolds
  50. 50. @wilreynolds How confident are you NOW?
  51. 51. 51 @wilreynolds • Is the Map showing? & is it mobile vs desktop? • Is mobile growing more than desktop for that KW? • Is your PPC ad showing? • Is a Click to Call Ad showing on mobile? • Is that person in your circles? • Have they searched for a different city before? • Ranking is lower if site is improperly configured? • Did you get the person to visit from a “how much to save” query, which increased your rank later for certain people but not others? • Is your brand trusted in SERP, like Amazon/Zappos? • Have they been to your site before? • Are branded competitors moving up? • Is Google launching a test? • Where is the person located, was location detection accurate? • Is PPC showing for your brand, how many other ads?
  52. 52. @wilreynolds Each of those questions impacts CTR, increasing complexity, decreasing confidence in CTR models.
  53. 53. 53 @wilreynolds Predicting CTR w/ any degree of confidence is impossible making predicting impact reckless
  54. 54. @wilreynolds I can give you a number, I’ll have 5%-30% confidence in it 90% of the time
  55. 55. 55 @wilreynolds Have you ever been @ a store and did a search to compare price? Then go to another store? Or Buy online?
  56. 56. @wilreynolds Online Leads to Offline
  57. 57. @wilreynolds Build content high in the funnel Probably get more conversions
  58. 58. 58 @wilreynolds If we can get content on getting a checking account at 16, then we have a higher chance to rank when that 16 year old does a search for “checking account”.
  59. 59. @wilreynolds
  60. 60. @wilreynolds “If we can be there at every step of the customer journey, they’ll know our brand, we’ll get higher CTR, and we’ll rank higher…”
  61. 61. @wilreynolds I propose we look to get better… EVERY month, than we were last month (rankings, traffic, conv.) Theory + Implement + Analyze Tweak, Improve, Measure, Win.

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