Is Keyword Conversion Rate a Worthy Statistic?

Rohit Bhargava list of most overused web metrics for 2007 includes one that doesn’t seem appropriate for the list: Keyword Conversion Rate:

The Top 10 Most Overused Metrics of 2007 – Part I

Keyword Conversion Rate – When running search marketing, keyword conversion rates are great metrics to point to … particularly when the percentage conversion is high (10% or more). The problem is, these rates are usually on low volume niche search terms. It is a misleading metric that some marketers love to employ to inflate the success of a keyword marketing program.

While it’s certainly true that a marketer could use the success of low search volume terms with high conversion rates to mislead about the success of an online marketing campaign, the fact of the matter is that long-tail search terms do tend to convert at very high rates.

And this isn’t something that should be ignored. Ideally, trends should be mined out of this data. For example, if a company like Amazon wasn’t consistently including SKUs on their product description pages, they may pick up on the fact that very low search terms for long numbers are converting extremely well on their site. With a bit more digging, they may realize that SKUs are driving high conversion rate traffic (which would make sense since someone’s likely pretty close to buying if they’re searching for something that specific).

A smart company would learn from that and immediately build upon that success by making sure to include SKUs on all product description pages, leading to an increase in a small amount of extremely valuable (yet free) traffic to thousands and thousands of pages.

When I hear “low volume niche search terms” I hear “high conversion rate, easy to rank high for, or cheap to PPC advertise on terms.”

Rohit, you stick to the high volume, general, short tail terms that tend to convert poorly. I’ll cover everything else. 🙂

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