You know how SEO goes. First, you start with your keyword research. Then, you start building a bunch of links, produce content, and get people sharing your information on social media.
You check those keyword ranking reports every month, and hope for significant change every 6 months or so.
Now, though, that’s not the way you measure success anymore!
And the good news is that even though this might be what you’re used to seeing, there are much better ways to measure the effectiveness of your SEO. First, let’s cover why keyword ranking reports are meaningless:
1. Modern search results are personalized. If you have a browser with cookies and a browsing history, which everyone does, know that Google uses a bot to examine these and serve up search results. Google also searches based on your location. Finally, it’s also more likely to return results to you based on content written by people who know you in various social media accounts.
It’s very rare that two searchers see the exact same results when entering in the same keyword.
2. Other keywords could be bringing you more relevant traffic. SEO pros can check this in Google Webmaster tools. Just go to “Search Traffic” and then “Search Queries” to see what terms you’re showing up for, and how often people click through to your website. And yes, you optimize your site for specific keywords, but every word on your site is a keyword. You can’t track them all, so which ones do you track?
3. Rankings don’t necessarily bring you sales. You can rank highly for all sorts of keywords. But there’s no point in doing so unless they’re the most profitable ones available. There’s countless stories of companies ranking highly for search terms that drive traffic, but very little sales.
Which SEO Metrics Should You Track?
That’s highly dependent upon the company and the goal of SEO. For most smaller businesses, you want to invest a couple thousand bucks per month, and then get a return several times that, right?
So, track the one that makes the most sense for every company: sales.
It can be somewhat tricky to do, and it does require some effort on your part. Your SEO company can track the number of contacts you get through your contact form. However, it’s up to you to know the source of the lead, and whether that lead turned into a customer or not.
You should also track the same for the phone calls you get through your website. It’s as easy as getting a separate phone number that you post online for people to call.
Finally, you do what any good small business owner does – crunch the numbers. Calculate the average lifetime revenue and net profit you make per customer. Total the number up for the year and compare it to your annual SEO costs.
Voilà, now you know the true value of your SEO efforts! Remember, too, that it’s hard to track all the sales. For example, what if someone’s been reading your blog for months and they know the phone number that’s not posted online? Or, what if someone who bought from you online referred a friend or family member?
SEO, in part, is responsible for those sales too.
In any event, you can find the obvious, direct sales and easily measure the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns.
What are your thoughts on keyword rankings reports? Do you still use them? If so, what’s your methodology on the effectiveness of these reports? Let us know in the comments below!