Understanding Paid Search Traffic

The easiest source of traffic to understand is Paid Search traffic. Its simplicity and effectiveness have made it a staple source of visitors for any traffic portfolio. However, because of its inability to truly scale, paid traffic is restrictive and dangerous in the way which it can be extremely costly if not properly tracked.

Paid search traffic works by having webmasters bid on keywords that they feel are relevant to their page, and will generate incomes for them. Every time a user types in a search for that particular keyword, an instantaneous auction is held to see which webpage is willing to pay the most for the limited number of slots available.
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Understanding Keyword Valuation

Keywords are the unpinning reference points that the web uses to index and organize itself. Through correlation and contextual referencing, search engines and spiders are able to understand the relevance of a page to a specific topic, and classify it accordingly.

This means that all traffic fundamentally stems from keywords, with the volume of traffic depending on the relevance of the page itself. With that in mind, we need to understand exactly how it is that the value of a particular keyword is established. From there, we can begin looking at the fundamental worth of different traffic sources, and make the decision as to whether or not they are worthwhile.

Keywords are valued by search engines based on the web’s apparent demand for that topic as a paid link. Search engines (Google in particular) will auction off ad space on their search results for particular keywords. This allows them to determine the most efficient price point for a keyword based on webmaster demand. If a keyword’s price is bid up, it stands to reason that it is particularly valuable in its ability to generate revenues.
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Creating a Website Brand Through Design

The design of a website represents its aesthetic appeal. Be it through clever programming, art work, or an engaging layout, design creates values for a website through its ability to produce higher quality returns from the user base. By establishing a brand of quality, and a sense of sophistication, users are more likely to engage the asset through value-creating transactions.

However, as with many aspects of a web-page, the subjective nature of design means that it can be difficult to evaluate just what kind of benefit the aesthetics of a page are creating for the bottom line. As such, the best way to evaluate design is through the opportunity cost of its creation, the end-user benefit that is created through the enhanced interface, and the traffic benefit that is generated from the sheer appeal of the aesthetics.
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Asset Valuation (Programming & Design)

Despite the modern trend of building content-centric websites to satisfy the wants to recreational web-browsers, there will always be a strong demand for practical websites. Through the innovative abilities of designers and programmers to create new kinds of web functionality that allow users to manipulate and interpret data, users are able to realize real tangible value from the tools that are being provided online.

However, because of the way in which these tools are not always conducive to generating organic traffic as well as a content-focused page or as supportive of social traffic as media-driven strategies, we need to understand how it is that a web-page that focuses on creating practical functionality can be valued as a tangible asset.
Functionality
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Tracking Web Initiated Conversations with Users

To close off the content-valuation section of this series, I’d like to discuss how off-line discussions can still be integrated into our model. As the web-environment evolves to include functionality for phone call, text message, and real time chat integration, we need to keep in mind how it is that these discussion venues can create real value for a web-asset, to the point at which they can drive real revenues. However, until we can keep track of how it is that these transactions are taking place and what kind of results they are driving.

The first way to keep track of off-line interactions occurring with your website is through using a click-to-call mechanism. While this feature never really took off as it was initially predicted to do, it is still an extremely effective mechanism for medium or larger websites to use when trying to engage customers into a more sophisticated transaction. From here, we can use software to record the conversations had with users, and transcribe it into a document that can be indexed.
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Understanding Animated Functionality as Content

The last kind of on-page content that can be embedded into a web-page as a tangible asset is one of the most difficult to understand and value. While animations are becoming more and more informative as an engagement platform, they don’t index well for a search engine, and they are expensive to build and maintain.

However, their ability to suck in users, establish legitimacy, and convey information makes them a valuable investment for a website with a strong incentive to engage its users. The trick for us as web-asset managers is to therefore understand the technical purpose of a given animation, and to value the asset according to its ability to meet that function.
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Valuing Media Rich Content

Understanding how media-rich content focusing on video and images might be undervalued because of the way in which it is handled by search engines, we need to come up with a model for discounting the value of on-page media in according to its contextual relevance. From there, we can determine if there is an opportunity for building up the value of that particular piece of the asset by improving the inadvisability of the content from an indexing perspective, and therefore improve the page’s ability to drive traffic independently.

As mentioned in the previous article, one of the most common ways to make a piece of media-based content indirectly indexable is by including a description box next to the media itself, and use it to explain what is going on in the image or video in great detail. While users might simply ignore this section, it provides something for the search engines to use as a reference point to index off of.

As such, the description box of a piece of rich-content should be valued as a full article on its own, because that’s how the image will be represented from an SEO standpoint. Unfortunately, that will constitute the tangible cash-flow potential of the content itself, along with a small premium for the quality of the media itself.

Upon determining the capability of the content to generate organic traffic, we then need to determine the tangible value of the media from a cost-perspective. Because of the obvious cost differences between media and text content, we need to keep in mind that the cost of procuring this level of media will represent both the opportunity value, and an indication of the intangible worth that is adding to the overall worth of the page itself.

Assuming we were to contract out this sort of job, we’d probably be looking at anywhere between $200 and several thousand dollars being put into an on-page video, while a high-quality image might cost anywhere between $50-800, depending on the amount of research and time that is put into it. However, we must then discount whether or not the information being communicated is particularly relevant to a specific time-period. For example, an info-graphic depicting information from the year 2012 might not be worth as much in the year 2020.

With an understanding of both the traffic-generating and production-based opportunity value of a media-rich piece of content, we are able to finally able to come up with a dollar value denoting the tangible worth of its contribution to an overall website’s asset value. Upon combining that framework with the other strategies we have discussed for understanding the worth of text-based content, we can then come up with a good estimate of what kind of value a sophisticated media-rich content page will create for an overall web-asset as a text, image, video, and social platform.

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Understanding Media Rich Content

Having looked at all of the different text-based content types that can have an impact on the tangible value of a web-page, it is time to look at how it is that some of the more sophisticated content types can have a major impact on the worth of a website. Specifically, it is important to have a valuation framework in place for determining the worth of images, videos, and animated functionality on a page.

While all of these content-types provide a great deal of tangible value to a web-page in the way that they increase its complexity and ability to engage incoming traffic, it is important to remember that search engines still do not have sophisticated mechanisms in place for breaking down media-based content into keyword indexes. Because of this caveat, we must be careful to differentiate between the tangible value of media content, and the intangible benefits that come with it.
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