We have not done Professional SEO of our website till date. Thus, I have been weighing options of the new buzz word SEO !

I am told by vendors that I need it badly for my site www.stockimagebank.com. That I may be missing  out on driving traffic to my site. 

..That my site is not SEOed.

..That I am not ranking No. 1 in the google page no. 1 

Agreed that except when one types Stockimagebank.com or stockimagebank or stock image bank our site does not come up. 

SO I am sold that I should spend money and get 05/ 10/ 20 / 30 keyword SEO for my site to get it NO. 1 ranking. 

My question is simple. This activity will drive traffic to my site and will keep me on a no. 1 position till I keep paying for the seo vendor since it is a regular activity. 

What I am wanting to know from you guys who have dabbled in SEO and are currently getting it done either in-house or outsourced. WHat is the kind of stats on ROI ? Agreed the hits will increase and the rankings will go up, but are there success stories where someone can share statistic with me of the % of conversion to real time business ? 

Tags: /, SEO, bank, image, images/, indian, photos/, stock

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:) Alok has engraved 'SEO is bunk'* on his heart based but it is just not true.

SEO works.  Proof?  See this:

We doubled the site traffic in 7 months with just one tactic.  Now am not saying that this particular tactic will work for you.  Stock pics are a pretty competitive search category so just the one tactic may not do.  But don't get too hassled by it.  Treat SEO as one more spoke in your overall marketing plan.  In 2012 SEO involves all these:

As you can see there is a lot of overlap with the more fuzzy aspects of marketing.  In your case Local SEO & Citations don't really matter since you are not neighborhood specific.  The rest though you need to pay attention to.  

For the on page optimization stuff a good starting point is the Google SEO Guide.  Once you've digested and verify that you are somewhat in compliance head on over to seofaststart.com and grab the free SEO ebook.  

If you are crunched for resources (time, people, money) then focus on the on page stuff and social media.  Social media mentions as a ranking signal is going to grow in importance over the next year and by 2013 or so it is going to become a strong positive signal.  So those who have an army of enthu fans will get more search engine love than those who don't.  Preferably on G+.

This should keep your head above water.  Beyond that there is other fancy stuff that you can do but I wouldn't bother too much with it unless you are above 5000 pages and/or your pages indexed in google is different by more than 10%.  Login to webmaster tools to see that.  If yes then by first following the above two guides should get 90% of your pages indexed.

At some point though SEO will need to become a line item on your marketing budget.

*What Alok really means is that trying to optimize your site for non-relevant keywords is a huge waste of time.  That is the real problem.  How do you identify the keywords that really matter to you?  This is where the bulk of your initial SEO focus will need to get consumed.  Generally speaking you need to peg the keyword to a conversion (some kind of action on your site that is beneficial to you) which in your case is a signup for a subscription plan.  

The problem now is that identifying your converting keywords is no longer "free".  You need to pay google to find out.  Yup, Big G has gone over to the dark side.  Search keywords sending traffic to your site from google show up as (not provided) or similar in your analytics package.  If you want to know your converting keywords, you need to run an adwords campaign.  Once you identify that then you work on improving your SEO for those keywords.  Monitoring success becomes a bit of proxy guessing game and the best you can track is your ranking for the keyword, and the click through rate to your site.  Beyond that keep your finger crossed but don't hold your breath and roll out the rest of your marketing tentacles.  

If anyone says SEO is "free traffic" feel free to laugh at them in their face.  Those days are long gone and if anyone harbors such illusions it is like a knife at a gun fight.  That said, you can't ignore SEO. It is a critical part of your marketing mix as it will lower your cost per acquisition considerably.

Abey, that's a nice detailed explanation and agree to most of it.
What I most disagree with is your position on google [not provided] analytics:
This will explain you that its just the encrypted search on google.

I helped out an e-commerce company (selling to more than 100 countries) whose primary strategy was SEO and discovered this mathematical solution to the [not provided] problem.

@Sugandha
On SEO, I believe its definitely giving way to social and would continue to do so. But under no condition should you undermine its potential (Abey puts a compelling case). What is important is the context in which SEO and social would drive traffic to YOUR business.

I see that YOUR business is selling stock photos. There can be two ways a person buys from you:
1. He likes your collection/prices/variety and has regular demand - so he opens up an account and buys regularly - This one can be marketed to very effectively by social. To reach him with SEO is a very long road.
2. Someone needs a stock photo of a lamp post and searches on google - "stock photo lamp post" - If you rank well - you have chances of making the sale. (SEO game) - Don't forget - this guy will will become a regular shopper too if he likes your collection (depending he has continuous demand).

To go with SEO or not depends on your strategy - whom do you wish to market and how and what suits your style of business.

Nothing to do with "decrypted" or "encrypted" Anshoo.  Big G doesn't want to give us the data, period.  The Chinese wall between GA and Search is just coprorate BS to cover up their actual intent.  Keep webmasters in the dark about converting keywords.  But that back door method to reverse engineering the search values looks interesting.  Will investigate it some more.  Thanks for the find!

Sir, your sentiment is strong. But I fear I don't share the opinion with your argument. A primary reason, I contend it, is the fact that even after having 'premium' access via AdWords program, the section on GA remains [not provided] - This is with knowledge of having run the two programs and having several Google India employees as friends.

Ofcourse, my claim is challenge-able and would love to see some 'proof' against my case.

Proof:

Anshoo, I had a closer look at recovery process for the (not provided) bucket.  Nice.  You get a better estimate of your visit count per keyword.  But beyond that it doesn't lead to anything useful.  Visit count in itself is only good for vanity metrics.  For actionable insights the visits need to be correlated with other metrics like time on site, bounce rate, conversion, etc.  Even if we could recover associated ToS or BR through some process then we have some basis for optimizing the site.  

I agree Abey, its not all black and white! However, it was my observation that the [not provided] numbers were almost similar in distribution to the ones listed below it (here I mean visits). But ofcourse, this conclusion is limited by the fact that it was just one large case where I applied the method - and that makes generalization very dicy.

As for the 'proof' - all I see is a screenshot of the 'adwords' program and not GA numbers for organic search.

My original argument was that the [not provided] visits are from organic search and belong to those that search on https://www.google.com and NOT http://www.google.com. I provided you a method to mathematically break down the [not provided] numbers (I agree the system is applicable to visits only and therefore very limited in application)

Aaah like that.  I thought you meant that even with adwords you can't find out converting keywords.  Yeah that's right.  Organic keywords is still f**ked over with or without adwords.  Hmmm I can see how you made that inference that all organic keyword data is being obscured.  That wasn't my point.  When the objective is to determine keywords that are important to your site the (not provided) blind spot is a serious bullet hole in your side.  This also is schizophrenically contradictory with Google's guidelines to provide "useful content".  How the blazin f**k are we goin to provide useful content when you hide a large chunk of the data Google?  

BTW that's the adwords data within the GA interface.  

Happy to have made peace.  :)
Hope the 'trick' helps you more. (Do let me know if you can add something to the trick - I wish I had more datasets to play with. Use SPSS, and see if we can model it somehow)

I agree there is a dearth of options for you to fall back to . . other than to pay Google for adwords - but it is pointless to blame [not provided] data!

Most importantly, we must understand that it is through adwords that Google makes money and that as Alok summed it up in the post against SEO : 'there is nothing like a free lunch'!

As of now applying the Avinash Kaushik 'so what' test I don't see any utility in recovering the per user visit count.  And I do blame (not provided) and the entity that fired it.  :)

Hmmm.  The 'no free lunch' story is old.  And again I have deep issues with it.  It is for one a sodden stinkin lie at it is core and is more to do with current humanity's cultural bias which is actually a modern rendition of "life is suffering" and its cousin sister in science "entropy".  But that's another topic and nothing to do with SEO.  Probably better ranted over a free lunch with drinks.  :))

I wonder why we need GA or AdWords to show us what keywords are converting. There are tools to track this on your website and they are free.

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