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The Value of Search Engine Optimization / Search Engine Submission

 

Red Creek Farm

 
The problem with search engine submission and optimization is that there are so many variables that influence a web site's ranking, and it is difficult to tell where the results are coming from. Recently, though, I have been studying the variables involved, and I am starting to get to where I can visually see the results and predict them.

As an example, at the end of September 2005, www.RabbitHuntingBeagles.com, had no ranking on Alexa and received 964 unique visitors for the month. The site had only generated contact from 14 visitors (through the contact form) between January and September.

At that point, the site was getting some action from the search engines, but was not on the front page for any of its search terms. Here is a sampling of the keyphrases and keywords (along with the number of times they were returned to search engines:

Stats for the month of September, 2005 (the Search number represents the number of times this site occurred in Search Engine Results Pages based on the specified keyphrases/keywords)

528 different keyphrases

Search

 

256 different keywords

Search

rabbit hunting

59

rabbit

297

rabbit hunting beagles

44

beagles

289

hunting beagles

43

hunting

259

beagles for sale

36

for

139

rabbit beagles

24

sale

132

www.rabbithuntingbeagles.com

22

dogs

86

rabbit dogs

20

beagle

37

hunting beagles for sale

16

rabbithuntingbeagles.com

22

rabbit dogs for sale

12

in

20

beagles

12

akc

16

Other phrases

274

Other words

352

I started employing a bunch of different techniques on one of my sites from October, 2005 - January 2006. These techniques included search engine submission, optimization of the key pages, and one-way link building.

By the end of January, the figures had risen across the board. While the results in Google were a bit sluggish (as is typical), MSN and Yahoo were producing nicely. For "hunting beagles", the site was 1st in Yahoo, 3rd in MSN, and in 367 on Google. For "beagles for sale", it was 18th on MSN and 10th on Yahoo. Add South Carolina to that (Beagles for sale in South Carolina ) and the site was 2nd in MSN and first in Yahoo. For "rabbit hunting beagles" (the easiest keyphrase, because it is the domain), the site was 2nd in Google and 1st in Yahoo and MSN.

The Alexa ranking for RHB at the end of January was 284,593, with daily totals often just above 100,000 (before I started, the site had no data registered in Alexa).

Scott received 70 unique contacts (via the contact form) from October 1st - January 31st (up from less than 2 a month to 17 a month). The unique visits for October, November, December and January were 1231, 1400, 1765 and 3000. The actual visits were 2240, 2501, 3149 and 5000. The keyphrases made a remarkable jump.

Keyword Stats for the month of January, 2006

581 different keyphrases

Search

 

271 different keywords

Search

beagles for sale

272

beagles

1314

rabbit hunting beagles

154

rabbit

1212

rabbit hunting

136

for

902

hunting beagles

131

hunting

901

rabbit dogs for sale

83

sale

892

rabbit beagles

81

dogs

421

rabbit beagles for sale

79

beagle

280

hunting beagles for sale

71

in

127

rabbit dogs

65

Carolina

79

rabbit hunting dogs for sale

49

dog

69

Other phrases

1199

Other words

1620

As you can see, we had very positive results for the 4 month campaign. Scott sold every dog he had for sale during that period - which is probably the best metric of the results. While results may vary with different web sites (there are still an awful lot of variables to consider), the results are clear that action beats inaction (in the search engine world).

 
 

C and H Livestock

Now - are these numbers impressive? If you consider that the marketing budget to achieve this was around $1 per day, I think it is pretty good. If you are spending $10,000 per month, of course the numbers would be higher. But, since I am working on the cheap (most clients in this niche don't have huge marketing budgets), the level of comparison and the metrics for results must be measured against the budget. I have been working with this niche for a few years and have followed the visits very closely. I have determined success at a few levels. The bottom line is always sales, but the number of visits is a direct indication of a successful advertisement campaign.

My benchmarks (visits per day / per month / cost per visitor*):

  • Goal 1: 10 unique visitors per day, 300 per month, $0.22 per visitor.
  • Goal 2: 33 unique visitors per day, 1000 per month, $0.07 per visitor.
  • Goal 3: 100 unique visitors per day, 3000 per month, $0.02 per visitor.
  • Goal 4: 200 unique visitors per day, 6000 per month, $0.01 per visitor.
  • Goal 5: 333 unique visitors per day, 10000 per month, $0.006 per visitor.

Whether or not you agree with those, I think (in the niche of small farm web sites), they are reasonable. Now, there are ways to artificially manipulate the number of visitors (through paid sites), but I am not interested in those (at least within this market - other business models might support, though). I am interested in a natural rising in terms of rankings, and steady performance (maybe a gain of 5-10% each month). At the rate rabbithuntingbeagles is going, if we maintain the pressure, his site will reach the 200 unique visitors per day by the end of May and will reach 10,000 by the end of August (that is increasing by 20% each month, which is typical of his site over the past 4 months).

*Cost per visitor based off prices for annual hosting and maintenance, and $30 a month spent on optimization and submission. ($99 + $360 + $360 = $819 per year or ~$2.25 per day).

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