I was reading an article earlier on a fellow search engine marketing blog which reminded me of something very important when it comes to measuring the success of SEO – that first page listings are not the be-all and end-all of online success.
At I-COM, we too are putting less emphasis on listings in our reporting documentation – focusing more on traffic and, more importantly, conversion levels. Although listings on the first page of Google are a nice thing to have, and we have them coming out of every crevice within as varying business sectors as maternity wear and IT support (including everything in between), first page listings do not necessarily equal making lots of money online.
All too often, clients are far too concerned with listings, sometimes to the point of obsession (you know who you are!) – whereas really, the focus of any SEO company worth their salt should be on helping business to grow online and providing a good return on investment.
But if you cannot measure the success of SEO on listings – how can you assess whether your SEO company is delivering results for you? Three of the most important things to look out for are highlighted below:
- Traffic levels
- Number of keywords driving traffic
- Goal Conversion
Now this may seem like an obvious one, but the level of traffic visiting your website should show a steady increase as your SEO campaign progresses. What you are really looking for when it comes to measuring the success of SEO is the percentage increase in organic (or non-paid) traffic. An increase in the level of organic traffic automatically infers that listings are improving, as more people are managing to locate your website through the organic search listings.
It is also useful to know what percentages of overall traffic to your website are being driven by SEO and Pay Per Click – if you are running both strategies. That way, you can analyse where the majority of the return on investment is coming from for any one period.
This is always one measure I use to monitor SEO campaigns when I am checking Google Analytics. The number of keywords that drive organic traffic to the website should grow as your SEO campaign progresses. This is because as the on-page content building and off-page linking activity progress, Google is finding and ranking your website for a wider variety of search terms. This therefore ‘widens the net’ of people who will find your website – as more and more terms to describe your products and services are covered.
Wherever possible, we try and set up goal conversion in Google Analytics that tracks the interactivity of visitors to our clients’ websites. This is usually the completion of the online contact form, although Analytics can be set up to track virtually anything you like as a goal. For example, if you are looking to promote a certain service or product through the website and this is being targeted through the SEO campaign, you could track how many people visited the relevant section or pages of the website.
Generally, we track the number of people who complete the online enquiry form or contact page – and each one completed counts as a ‘conversion’. This should obviously increase as your SEO campaign progresses – as the quality and quality of traffic being driven to the website increases.
Any online campaign should be judged, however, by the overall level of enquiries or sales that are generated through the website – be it through the completion of an online form or people who first find the company through search, but complete their purchase or enquiry over the telephone. Whilst we always try through calls-to-action to encourage visitors to fill in an enquiry form via the contact page, as this provides us with some measurability, we know that the vast majority of people still prefer to complete their purchases offline. So whilst an increase in the Goals or Conversions shown through Analytics is an encouraging sign, tracking and monitoring where phone enquiries are coming from will also prove a valuable insight into the success of your SEO campaign.