How effective is your SEO? I came up with the idea of a 2×2 cost-effectiveness quadrant while on a train from Beijing to Shanghai.

SEO Effectiveness Quadrant

Here’s an example of each quadrant:

HIGH COST, LOW EFFECTIVENESS: Traditional marketing that spills over to the web

The Fiat 500 Arbath SuperBowl commercial, which spiked branded search queries for the new car brand, but trailed off soon after.
Abarth search demand surrounding superbowl commercial


Milanoo posting spun content on garbage blogs.

LOW COST, HIGH EFFECTIVENESS: Viral, one hit wonder

Docracy’s Be my (legally binding) valentine, which was a simple one-page tongue-in-cheek document put on their site right before Valentines Day that got picked up and linked to by a lot of other blogs. Another great example would be OKCupid’s The Death Test, which was a quiz that went viral.

HIGH COST, HIGH EFFECTIVENESS: Content strategy, media production

These would be companies that use expensive enterprise SEO platforms like Conductor (client list) or BrightEdge (client list), for example.