Market Brew

December 21, 2014

Report: An Estimated $90 Billion in Online Revenue Lost In 2014

Report: An Estimated $90 Billion in Online Revenue Lost In 2014

In 2014 alone, Market Brew estimates at least $90 billion has been lost in online revenue due to the continued misallocation of ranking potential on websites – major brands are involved.

What is Going On?

Throughout 2014, the Market Brew team has tracked major brands that are effectively shooting themselves in the foot by misallocating their website’s ranking potential online. To date, they are losing significant share online to their competitors due to the issues in this report.

Due to a misalignment in their website’s link architecture, major brands are losing a combined $90 billion of online revenue this year alone. How did we arrive at this figure?

At Market Brew, we can see search engine ranking distances across all keywords, and can easily determine how this particular issue is causing a lowering of click-through rates, which translates to an aggregated lost revenue figure. Additionally, we used past user data from 2014 and extrapolated across all industries to obtain an aggregate figure. Specifically, we used a number of websites with these same issues (including at least one Fortune 200 brand that used Market Brew in the past 6 months). All of the websites had similar use cases, and subsequently were shown to have recovered an average of 150% of their total organic revenue due to these particular issues, an extrapolated aggregate total of over $90 billion / yr across all online industries.

In summary, we are seeing this issue in all verticals and with all business sizes (including major brands). To the unaware CEO, link imbalance KILLS your website’s ranking potential, and therefore your online revenues. As a digital marketer, you are effectively spilling money out of your pockets whenever you are over-allocating or under-allocating link flow to a particular webpage. Let me explain…

Real-World Example

I think it is easier to just show you a real-world example. It is important to note that, as of this writing, Procopio is not a user of Market Brew. I chose the website just randomly from a huge list of problematic sites. Procopio, a law firm based primarily out of San Diego, CA, has effectively built a good amount of external incoming links to their site, giving them a good amount of link flow (or “ranking potential”). However, they are clearly misallocating link flow to the wrong pages on their website and losing significant revenue because of it. Before you laugh, make sure your website isn’t doing the same thing.

I used Market Brew’s patented Link Flow Distribution technology to uncover this story, but as a Market Brew user, you could easily do this for any website on the Link Flow Distribution screen. Below is an example of a FLAT Link Flow Distribution.

A Flat Link Flow Distribution. Note: what the current distribution is (in blue) vs. what it should be (in orange).

For every website, there will be keywords that will require significantly more link flow to rank than other keywords in the list. I’ve added about 300 keywords (shown as a word cloud below) for this specific site/example, which gives us a unique target distribution (in orange, above) according to the amount of traffic that is associated with each keyword.

300 of the top traffic-producing keywords for Procopio were used in this example. Here some of the top words are shown in a word cloud.

Also note that you can always override these traffic values according to your own internal metrics if you want to – the keywords should be a reflection of both traffic AND conversions / revenue, with an emphasis on REVENUE.

You can clearly see from the screen below that they are directing a large amount of their link flow to some old 2008 retreat page. Unless 2008 is still a hot year, they’ve just thrown out a percentage of every dollar they spend on online advertising (this, it turns out, is a wildly conservative estimate due to the local effects on other pages in the website).

Procopio’s Home Page is 3rd Most Important Page?

In fact, to a search engine, their home page (outlined in green) is actually 3rd in order of importance! This clearly cannot be correct (note that with flat distributions, the order of importance can vary greatly). Worst yet, the top page has the wrong Market Focus™: “Mexican Real Estate”? Phew.

Procopio’s Top Webpage is About “Mexican Real Estate”

And what is going on with all of these conference pages showing up above all of the main pages?. There is some serious link flow dilution going on here.

Procopio’s Main Pages Superceded by Series of Article and PDF pages, causing major dilution.

In summary, Procopio’s website is pushing it’s “ranking potential” in all the wrong places, resulting in massive amounts of lost ranking power for it’s main landing pages, and we can only suspect a decent amount of revenue is lost with it.

The Fix

There are two issues in the example I gave here:

  1. Link Flow Distribution
  2. Link Flow Imbalance

For Link Flow Distribution, you need to typically dedicate 50% of the total link flow to the top 5-7 pages in your website. You can do this by carefully deciding which webpages should target your top keywords, and moving them higher up the link flow distribution curve. How do you do this? You can focus on the main navigation bar on your website, and reduce the amount of links. Try doing sub-menus, only available on those parts of the website. For instance, in a sub-category, you would only have the sub-category links there (instead of appearing on the main menu). This causes a pooling of link flow into your more competitive landing pages, and gives you a sharper link flow distribution to work with.

In Procopio’s situation, the website is evenly distributing all of its “ranking potential” to various article PDFs and “past event” pages. Here is a couple screenshots to show what I mean:

Procopio’s “Articles” page in sitemap format causes a very flat distribution.

Here, we have a sitemap-like page, where all of their articles (in PDF format) are linked to, page after page. Users don’t find your content like this! Hint: they find it on search engines.

Procopio’s “Past Events” page in sitemap format causes a very flat distribution.

Again, a list of past events, page by page. There is no need to do this, and it is destroying their link flow distribution. Internally at Market Brew we call this “a death by a thousand pages”. Given a website’s total ranking potential (i.e. how much it is being linked to from other important websites), the website can only support a certain amount of webpages at a time. This is the reason why you can’t just add hundreds of articles to your blog and instantly get more traffic (unless you have a ton of external incoming link flow).

Procopio’s Fix

So the issue here in Procopio’s case is that they have diluted their main pages (that should be competitively driving traffic and potential clients to the website), by creating two main “sitemap-like” pages, which evenly distribute link flow throughout all of their PDFs and articles.

Procopio just needs to showcase only the recent PDF or article on these main pages. There can be internal sitemap-like pages such as these, but they should most certainly be de-indexed (noindex, follow) from the search listings (the article pages should still remained indexed!). These PDFs and article pages do not need so much link flow distribution! Once this dilution is stopped, they will have something that looks like this:

What a proper Link Flow Distribution should look like.

In this way, the top main pages will have sufficient ranking power. These top webpages should in turn have proper landing page content for both search engines and users / conversions.

To ensure Link Flow Balance, they must be careful to make sure that their top pages (that they will now be pushing this ranking potential to) have the correct semantic focus (or Market Focus, as we call it). Be careful though: if you are Procopio in this use-case, you shouldn’t say: “Ok, we’ve solved the Link Flow Distribution issue so we are all set!” Why? You now have your home page, which has the wrong Market Focus, at the top — you essentially have put the wrong keywords at the top and wasted this ranking opportunity!

Currently, Procopio’s Home Page is about “Procopio Cory Hargreaves” — brand keywords that need absolutely NO link flow to rank. So just fixing the Link Flow Distribution is only half the solution.

Instead, their home page should be targeting their top traffic-producing keyword: “lawyer”. Remember, it must be the correct pair of landing page and keyword that is targeted in each slot. This is done by adding “lawyer” to the anchor text on the internal links pointing to the home page, and adding more references to the keyword “lawyer” on the page itself.

Procopio’s Anchor Text to their Home Page doesn’t contain their top traffic-producing keyword “lawyer”.

Fortunately, for our users, they can easily fix these particular problems. They can adjust both the internal link structure (typically the navigation plus other “more important” internal links that are revealed in Market Brew) and each webpage’s semantic structure, test their changes, adjust, test and confirm. All within a few days. If you are not a Market Brew user, you will need to wait approximately 60 days to confirm your link flow distribution changes, adjust, and continue to wait 60 days in between each subsequent test to finally confirm your improvements.