Bad SEO attracts a low-quality audience that can deliver weak revenue along with higher costs.
An old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Bad search engine optimization falls into that category.
Brand and local websites see a unique behavior among loyal visitors. These visitors will often go to search engines to reach the websites even though they know the site addresses.
Local media websites in particular will have analytics showing that someone came to the site via Google after entering, for example, DaytonDailyNews.com in the Google search box.
These same visitors also will use variations of the brand name in search engines, such as “Dayton Daily News” or “Dayton Daily” to reach the site. Such loyalty has high value because the these brand-aware visitors are more likely to be local and therefore more likely to be valuable to advertisers.
But imagine that DaytonDailyNews.com has a generic gardening column without any local identification that gets to the top spot in Google results. Ten thousand people a month from around the world click into the column.
That’s bad SEO.
Bad SEO Attracts Bad Audience
The largest number of search engine visitors for local sites that I managed already knew the name of the product or site. Quite a few simply entered the name of my sites in the Google search box rather than in the address window.
Just as Google must rue the visitors who use that site for something other than its prime purpose, local sites must rue the visitors who come to their sites from another part of the country or the world by accident via search engines. They:
- Have no lasting audience or advertiser value.
- Consume paid bandwidth.
- Email or call to complain about something they don’t like if they’re in a bad mood that day, which consumes time and labor.
- Distort site audience metrics.
- Increase impressions on local advertisers’ banners while lowering the clickthrough rate.
Effective SEO defines a specific audience in addition to driving numbers. It is best implemented with targeting in mind — usually geographic targeting for a local site or demographic targeting for a national vertical. It uses precise titles, file names, meta tags and meta descriptions and not words chosen simply to attract eyeballs of any kind.
A concerted SEO effort can result in 50 to 100 percent growth in visits from search engines within a short period of time. But it is the quality of the traffic that pays the highest dividends.
High quantity with local quality will often lead to unhappy advertisers who don’t renew contracts or low CPMs with networks such as AdSense.
Bad SEO Audience Review
Checking for bad SEO can take place at the same time as checking any audience numbers at the page level.
If a highly ranked landing page isn’t delivering revenue above the site average, it is poorly optimized.
Likewise, same is true if the page has a high bounce rate (visitors go directly to the page from search engines and leave again without clicking on anything else).
It also is poorly optimized if the site is local and the audience geographic report shows a high percentage of visitors from outside the area.
Flags such as these should lead to changes on the page that make it more targeted, such as adding the location or using keywords and phrases that more accurately describes the subject of the article.
Getting to the No. 1 ranking in Google or Bing feels good and offers some nice bragging rights. But if the audience is bad, the SEO is bad. The cost in money and labor isn’t worth the results.