Got this question from a potential client earlier this year during the RFP process, and thought it would be worthwhile to share with our readers.

What is your agency position on performance based SEO?

There are several factors that need to be taken into account when discussing performance based SEO in order to ensure that the project is successful and cost effective for both parties.  In particular, we believe that all goals for the site must be clearly set and goals must incorporate reasonable measurement objectives.  There are many variables and techniques  that go into a successful SEO project, so success depends on ensuring that each of these variables are addressed and that participation objectives are clearly followed.  If a single objective is not incorporated into the SEO project, it will result in sub optimal results.

A small sample of these variables that may cause challenges with performance based SEO techniques:

  • Is performance based on peak rank for keywords?  Rankings can fluctuate on a day to day basis, so this can cause measurement problems when it comes to grading performance.
  • Increased personalization of search results means that not all searchers will see the same results as other searchers.  As a result, measuring the rank for a given keyword is an inexact science and is not a reliable indicator of success.
  • We do not necessarily believe that the position of your site within a search results page are a fair indicator of success for a search program (it's all about traffic).
  • Traffic through search engines can fluctuate due to a number of factors, including seasonality of keyword searches, user behavior, and personalization of rankings.
  • Three Deep has found that an ideal optimization of a web site for SEO is often compromised due to other website objectives.  This can include home page animations, personalization of content, site layout issues, focus on visual elements over readable text, seasonal campaigns that modify site content, and other marketing objectives carried out on the web.  As a result of these factors, it is not always possible to produce a perfectly search friendly web site.  Compromises made along the way could negatively affect performance based SEO if not addressed during the objective setting process.

The bottom-line is that while Three Deep is open to performance based SEO, the project and measurements must be well defined upfront. We'll work with you to develop custom techniques to get the most out of your SEO efforts.