Should Monetization Be Part of SEO?

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Maybe that blog title is a no brainer and the answer should be yes.  But there are a fair number of SEO services out that promise only rankings, not necessarily if the ranking will actually convert into sales.  And there’s something to this: if the SEO is able to make you rank in the top ten for a vital marketable keyword, then he’s done most of his job.  That is mostly what optimization is about: improving keyword relevance and page rank so a site ranks well in SERPs.

It is often unscrupulous optimizers who only promise high ranking for a specific keyphrase.  These optimization experts often prey on website owners who know very little about how search engines operate.  So an optimizer can set up a URL and rank very quickly for a certain term – especially a regional term, like “San Diego optometrist blog.”  The San Diego optometrist might be duly impressed that the SEO was immediately able to rank for that keyphrase, when all the SEO really has to do is buy up the URL sandiegooptometristblog.com and then it looks like he’s done his optimization duty.  A PR 0 site could rank for obscure terms, especially in the beginning before the listing tapers off.  A vast amount of the SEO work occurring out there is just this type of work: not ranking for “credit card” or “iPod” but for niches within a niche.  The narrower you get, the easier it is and novice website owners don’t understand this.

In search engine optimizers’ defense, these same newbies often don’t understand the concept of monetization.  They think that if you’re in the top ten of Google results, you’ve struck it gold and the money’s going to come pouring in.  Numerous arguments have erupted between clients and optimizers because optimization has not led to sales – especially if monetization was part of the optimization package.  Generally, though, search engine optimizers should explain to clients (and clients should understand this) that a top ten rank is no guarantee of anything except more traffic.  Even ranking in the top ten for certain terms does not guarantee traffic.  An optimizer can’t help it if the website markets duck sweaters or something equally unpopular.  (Note to self: look into the duck sweater market).

But it’s important for site owners to realize that traffic monetization optimization (TMO) is different than search engine optimization (SEO).  SEO is mostly about the search engine side of things, hence the name.  Of course the real purpose of any optimization effort is to make money – unless traffic is all that you’re after.  But it’s not necessarily implied by straight SEO that search engine traffic will convert.

SEO and TMO are not an entirely separate process because a keyword optimization strategy will be aimed at certain types of consumers or clientele.  But even so, the strategy will be different – such as optimizing content for specific products, rather than for more industry-wide information.  Search engine marketing (ppc and other ad opportunities) is another potential collaboration.  So anyone dealing with clients, or any prospective client looking into SEO, should discuss upfront exactly what is going to be achieved by the optimization effort – whether it’s better ranking, better sales, or both.

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