Win the Game or Know the Reason Why: Creating a Simple Benchmark for Traffic Search Programs

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Win the Game or Know the Reason Why: Creating a Simple Benchmark for Traffic Search Programs


Posted by Brian Aubert, Program Manager, Search

“We’ll win the game or know the reason why!”  An old Ohio State fight song contains a nugget of wisdom that should be applied to traffic accounts in search engine marketing.  You don’t know if you hit or miss your goal unless you know what the goal is.  Further, you cannot optimize if you don’t know if you’re performing well or poorly.  In a traffic program, there are simple ways to determine a benchmark against which to measure performance.

Determining Traffic Benchmark

If driving searchers to your site is the goal, clicks should be a benchmark.  But how many clicks are good?  Set a target for the number of clicks you expect in a certain time period, such as a month.  One simple calculation of target clicks is to divide your budget by your expected average cost per click (CPC):

Target Clicks = Budget / Expected Avg CPC

Average CPC can be based on historical performance or backed out from back-end ROI or other internal goals.  If neither of these options is available, you can ballpark an estimate based on what you feel comfortable spending per click – over time you can refine this estimate. 

As your program matures, your benchmarking can mature – regression models might offer more sophisticated techniques for trying to predict traffic.  Regardless if you use simple or sophisticated calculations, though, you need to develop a benchmark.

Once you have a click target, you can optimize your program against it.  Are your actual clicks too low?  Consider increasing bids (if average position is poor) or refining copy (if click-through rate is poor).  Are you outpacing your clicks benchmark?  Consider changing bids (if CPC is high) or reviewing negatives (if certain clicks are unwanted).

If you don’t have an idea of how many clicks you should have, you can’t take the next steps of optimizing your program.  For a traffic program, measuring performance against a clicks benchmark helps you win the game or know the reason why…so you can optimize.

As the fight song goes:
“We’ll win the game or know the reason why!
And when we win the game, we’ll buy a keg of booze!
And we’ll drink to old Ohio
‘Til we wobble in our shoes!”


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