Tag Archives: Google Analytics

What Is Zombie Website Traffic and How Do I Mitigate It?

What Is Zombie Website Traffic - Eminent SEO

If you’re looking over your website analytics and you notice a peculiar uptick in visitors and/or a significant drop in your conversion rate, there’s a good chance you are experiencing zombie traffic.

It’s been known by a few different names over the years, but webmasters seem to be settling on the term “zombie traffic,” and it’s become increasingly noticeable in the last year or two. Zombie traffic is little more than a tease, since you’ll see a higher number of visits, yet no increase in conversions or engagement.

Your website may be the victim of zombie traffic, and the bad news is there’s no way to weed it out entirely. The good news you have options to keep such non-converting traffic to a minimum, and we’ll tell you how in this post. Before we get into that, let’s see more about what zombie website traffic is and how to identify it.

Characteristics of Zombie Website Traffic

Zombie traffic seems to come and go seasonally, but some websites go through stages where this type of traffic seems to recur every other day, although the incidents are unpredictable.

Zombie visitors are believed to be real people who just sit on your site (sometimes for quite a while) but don’t really interact with the content. They might make their way to a separate page or two, but they never click on one of your money-making items, and, thus, your conversions stay idle. Much of this traffic will come from places far beyond your country’s borders, in areas where you probably don’t even do business.

Sometimes zombie traffic won’t even cause a spike in your usual visitor levels. Your traffic could be stable throughout, but if you notice a period of time where your conversions inexplicably drop off, that could mean zombies were there.

Zombie Traffic’s Effect on Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Organic

Webmasters have noticed that zombie traffic doesn’t discriminate: It effects both organic and paid results. So, whether the traffic on your site came from the normal search results or through a PPC ad you’ve placed, both are viable avenues for zombie users.

Where is the increase in zombie traffic coming from? It’s not entirely clear, but if it primarily attacked PPC ads, then that would support one of the theories of what’s causing zombie traffic.

Zombie Traffic Theories

Many webmasters are blaming Google when it comes to recent spikes in zombie traffic. Some think it’s as simple as Google testing algorithmic changes on a number of websites. Others think that Google’s intentions aren’t so innocuous – if the tech giant even has a hand in it at all.

  • Some believe that Google is trying to keep your traffic steady while paying little mind to helping you boost conversions. This low-quality traffic might appease those who are only taking a quick glance at their visitor levels while overlooking their conversion metrics. If you use Google AdWords to produce PPC ads on the search engine, then it makes sense that Google would have a vested interest in keeping your business happy with its website traffic volume. This is, however, just one of the theories floating around.
  • Another theory takes the above scenario even further, claiming that Google is keeping its customers’ traffic levels steady (no matter how unqualified that traffic may be at times) in order to encourage them to keep their PPC campaigns running. If a business does not have a Google AdWords account, an increase in zombie traffic might push them to open up an account for paid ads, which presumably would bring better-qualified traffic to their site, all playing into Google’s favor.
  • A less inflammatory theory out there places Google as more of a bystander in the zombie traffic phenomenon. If websites, especially ecommerce ones, are seeing distinct periods of high conversions and no conversions, then they may toggling between different Google “buckets.” What this means is sometimes Google sees the website as informational, and other times the search engine considers the site to be transactional. If your website is one way or the other, then it makes sense why you would see a drop in conversions when the site is receiving the wrong kind of traffic.
  • Another popular hypothesis on webmaster forums has nothing to do with Google at all. Perhaps some well-disguised bots (aka not people) are invading different websites, or maybe hundreds of people in a foreign country are behind this, running endless searches from false IP addresses. Whatever the case, these zombie visitors come off as real people when they’re infiltrating a website. However, the way they behave on a certain site is not consistent with the actions of most real users.

How to Mitigate Low-Quality, Non-Converting Traffic

Many website analytics experts are saying that unless you have an ecommerce site, zombie traffic shouldn’t be that big of a nuisance. As far as weeding out zombie traffic, there’s only so much one can do. We’re all more or less at Google’s mercy, so if the search engine is behind these spurts of zombie traffic, we have little recourse.

However, if there is some truth to the buckets theory, then you’ll want to go over your site and make sure it’s optimized for the right purpose. If you have an ecommerce website, for example, here are 10 ways to optimize your online storefront, which should help Google better understand that your site is transactional, not informational.

If you have ongoing PPC campaigns through Google Adwords, now’s the time look closely at the results and determine if your ROI is enough to continue those efforts. If Google really is sending waves of unqualified traffic your way through your paid ads, you might just want to call an end to all campaigns through AdWords.

Finally, a surefire way to weed out a different form of traffic that also eats away at your conversion rate is to block bot traffic, which does not consist of real users. This type of traffic artificially inflates a website’s visitor count and does nothing for page views, average time on site, and conversions. If you have someone who’s technically inclined, pass along this article on how to use Google Analytics to block bot traffic and referral spam. Even once you get all current bots filtered out, be sure to check back every couple of months, because other spammy referrers can converge on your website at any given time.

In Closing

It’s not possible to cut off all zombie visitors and other forms of useless traffic to your website, but if you follow the advice above, you can keep the negative impact to a minimum. Even if you don’t have an ecommerce site and the thought of zombie traffic doesn’t bother you, it’s still worth tracking your analytics more closely to see if your visitor count is really what it purports to be. If it’s not, then that might give you more motivation to get back to aggressively marketing your online content and make sure you continue to gain new visitors.

If you’re looking for help in identifying low-quality traffic to your website and weeding out referral spam, Eminent SEO’s Website Audit and Maintenance Services can help! Learn more here or call 1-800-871-4130 today.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Spammy Referral Traffic: What Is It and How Do I Get Rid Of It?

This entry was posted in Analytics and tagged , on by .

This all started a few months ago when we noticed specific clients had a HUGE spike in Referral Traffic out of nowhere. Sometimes a client will acquire rented ad space without our knowledge, so we started looking closer at the Referral Sources in Google Analytics. This is when we noticed that the new Referral Sources appeared to be tools for website optimization or SEO:

Referrer Spam Site

Referrer Spam Site

Referrer Spam Site

Was it us? Was someone here using new tools I didn’t know about?


It quickly became clear we are dealing with spam. Around here we call it bot traffic and it’s pretty easy to tell it’s fake, as generally it’s 100% bounce rate and the names of the referral sites always include something like “buttons”, “site”, “traffic” or even “SEO”. Stupid spammers.

Referrer Spam Site List

Unfortunately, Google still displays this traffic in Google Analytics, which means that clients see a spike in traffic (overall and referral specifically) but it’s not backed by increased time on site, page views, phone calls, form fills or conversions.

This traffic is actually hurting, not helping – and skewing our reporting. So, now what?

Spammy Referral Traffic: What Is It and How Do I Get Rid Of It?

You Should Exclude Spam Bots from Google Analytics

As mentioned above, if you are reporting to clients or even simply using Google Analytics to track and manage your marketing campaigns, you need accurate data. Who wants to send a client a report with hundreds or sometimes thousands of referral visitors and zero conversion data to back that up? Not me.

And, Block The Bots

Also, who knows what these spammers are doing and what the bots are collecting? Every spammer has a reason for spamming, right? I mean, it seems like a lot of work to create these web bots and run these scripts, so it’s got to serve them some purpose. What if they are looking for vulnerabilities in order to hack in? No thank you.

How To Block The Spammy Referral Traffic

The good news is there are a number of ways you can block the referral spam. We suggest you block known spammers in the .htaccess of your site code and also filter the spam out of your traffic data using advanced Google Analytics filters. Below is the lowdown.

Editing the .htaccess File for Known Spammers

This part can become pretty technical, so it’s important to have a developer perform a full backup of your website before implementing this change. If there is anything wrong with the code in this file of your site, it could cause your entire site to go down. So if you don’t know what you are doing, please get a pro help you. (and if you screw it up, don’t say I didn’t tell you so!)

What is the .htaccess file and how can it prevent the spammers from hitting the site?

This hidden file located in your server cPanel, allows you to alter visitors who are able to access your site from a server level. We’re going to block the visitors we don’t want (referral spam) by not allowing them to hit the server at all.

To access the file on your server, simply log in to your hosting account and go into the cPanel. Your .htaccess file will be in the File Manager area but may be hidden. Check with your hosting provider to see the necessary steps for accessing this file.

Once you’ve located the file, implement the code to block all of the referral spam from hitting your server.

# Block Russian Referrer Spam
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly.\.ru/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.org/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*ilovevitaly\.info/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*iloveitaly\.ru/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*econom\.co/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*savetubevideo\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*kambasoft\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*buttons\-for\-website\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*semalt\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://.*darodar\.com/ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ – [F,L]

Unsure of all of the spammers altering your referral traffic? You can always go into your Google Analytics account to find the spammers. Simply export all of the referral traffic sources from the past 6 months. Otherwise, here is a comprehensive list of current spam bots that you can refer to.

Blocking Spammy Crawlers with Google Analytics Filters

One way these spam crawlers are accessing the Google Analytics servers are through inaccurate hostnames. To ensure the spam crawlers aren’t hitting your server with these hostnames and causing inaccurate data, you must verify to Google Analytics what the valid hostnames really are.

1. Create an unfiltered view in Google Analytics first because you can’t go back to an unfiltered view after implementing filters.

Google Analytics Unfiltered View 2. Locate your valid hostnames by going in the Reporting section of your Google Analytics profile using a wide date range. Under Acquisition –> All Traffic –> All Channels –> Referrals, select the Secondary Dimension for Hostname. You can export this list and identify the valid hostnames, which may include the following: your domain, sub-domains, or redirected domains. Anything else would be an invalid hostname. So keep the ACCURATE hostnames in a list.Google Analytics Valid Hostnames

3. In the Admin tab of your Google Analytics under View (make sure you’re on the main site view now, not the unfiltered), click Filters.

Google Analytics Filters View

4. Add a new filter to include the valid hostnames you found.

Valid Hostnames Google Analytics Filter

Note: This method will NOT remove all of the referrer spam. You must also add additional spam filters in Google Analytics to filter all of the spam sources since the spammers can alter their hostnames to be a valid hostname. See the steps below for adding additional spam filters to prevent as much referral spam as possible.

Blocking All Referral Spam Sites with Google Analytics Filters

Since simply validating the hostnames isn’t enough to block spammers, you will also need create additional filters to block each individual site at a domain level. You do not need to include sub-domains since the domain itself should be enough to filter the sub-domains as well.

1. Locate referral sites that are currently spamming your site. You can do this by searching the web for the most accurate list of referral spam (already linked above), or you can export a list of referral sources from your Google Analytics. To know if it’s spam, you will notice the visitor behavior is non-existent. There will be 100% bounce rates and little to no visitor duration.


2. Create your list of sites using guidelines for the Filter Pattern using Regular Expressions provided by Google. Note: For the referral spam list filter pattern, you can keep it simple. As long as there aren’t any special characters within the domain. Keep this at a maximum of 255 characters. See the example below:

3. Create a new filter in your main analytics view entitled Referral Spam Filter #1.

4. Filter Type: Custom – Exclude. Filter Field should be set on Campaign Source.

Referral Spam Filter

5. Save this filter. Repeat this step a few times until you have used all of the referrer spam sites you’re finding in your analytics (because of the character limit in Google). The end result should look like the example below:

Referral Spam Filters Overview

Exclude Bots with the Bot-Filtering Setting in Google Analytics

This is an easy one, we promise: The last step to make sure you have excluded as many spam crawlers and as much referral site spam you possibly can is to check your Google Analytics settings to make sure the bot setting is checked. In the Admin panel, click on View Settings. Check the box to exclude all hits from known bots and spiders. Save these settings.

Bot Filtering Setting

Closing Thoughts

The steps listed above are not an end-all solution, unfortunately. New spam referrer sites are going to show up even if you do everything you can to try and prevent them. We suggest monitoring the site referral spam by checking in every 1-3 months (give or take) to see if you notice any new spam sites showing up in your Referral Traffic. If you do, simply follow the instructions above. There is word Google is also working on a solution to this problem, so we’ll keep you posted when we learn more.

Do you need help monitoring your Google Analytics for accurate data and reporting? We’re experts at that stuff! Give us a call: 800-871-4130

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Top Tracking Metrics to Measure for Organic Marketing

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tracking metrics

Organic marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your website as a long term investment. With that being said, you want to be able to track how effective your efforts really are. So, what are the right metrics to track to showcase a campaign is successful?

Tracking the right analytics will help strengthen the marketing campaign as well as show off the work. Here are some top metrics you should be paying attention to:

Visitor Duration

In order to understand how people are engaging with your content, you need to know how long they are spending on your website. Make it a point to optimize each landing page and blog post with a call to action, so users are staying engaged with your content.

You wrote a great blog, now what? If you’ve already optimized each page with a call to action, but leads aren’t increasing, make sure your calls to action are relevant and worth taking for the user. Really understand your audience and what they would expect to do next.

Landing Page Traffic from Organic Search

Measuring landing page traffic, that is sourced from organic search, allows you to understand the top pages searchers are landing on when they search for a relevant query. You can look at this and know that the top landing pages by clicks are the top ranking pages of your site. You will be able to tell if the ranking pages are relevant to the query by digging into their individual bounce rates and session durations. If bounce rates are high and duration is low, you may want to think about re-optimizing the page with a better call to action or different keywords.

Returning Visitors

It is just as important to measure returning visitors as it is for new visitors. By having a steady growth in returning visits, it shows that your content is giving your followers something worth coming back for again and again. This is also prime data to understand if your leads are being nurtured with the right content or not.

Total Bounce Rate

When someone bounces off your website in under 3 seconds, it’s a good chance they didn’t find what they were looking for. You have about 3-5 seconds to capture your audience and your overall bounce rate will indicate if your content is relevant to their searches. Each industry is going to have different bounce rate averages, so look up the industry standard to know if your bounce is above average.

Social Shares

With organic marketing, a heavy focus is put into the creation of quality content with the goal of people sharing your content for more exposure. Keep track of which social channels are producing the most shares of your content. By understanding this source, you can spend more time engaging with your audience on that platform with more chances that the audience will grow and convert into leads. This is also helps build stronger social signals which builds organic rankings with Google.

Total Leads by Source

Tracking leads is one of the most important metrics to have in place in order to know if your efforts are meeting your end goal of growing your business. Track leads from organic search, social media, referrals, and email marketing to really dial in where visitors are converting from the most. If you’re putting less effort into email marketing, but your conversion rate is higher from this source, try putting more effort into it and measure the results.

Lead Close Rate

You know how many total leads your organic marketing is producing, but how many are actually converting? The lead close rate will reiterate the value of what you are offering to potential customers. It also indicates trust. If your lead close rate is below average, it can indicate that your website is not producing qualified leads. This means you need to invest more time in understanding your ideal customer and making sure your pitch is a good fit for that customer.


To prove your organic marketing efforts are producing a return on investment, you need to monitor the right metrics. The above suggestions are only a handful of what we would normally suggest, but it is a good start to really understand how well your campaign is performing. Organic marketing is an investment and should continue to show steady growth with time if you continually put effort put into it. If steady growth isn’t happening, you may need to develop a new organic website and marketing strategy.

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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Stop Trying To Track Keyword Rankings. It’s Dumb.

Look, I get it. You are working on organic marketing and that means you are intentionally trying to get Google and the other big search engines to rank your site for what you believe are important keywords. So, why wouldn’t you want to track them?

Because it’s dumb.  Dont be a dumbass Don’t trust me?

Let me explain:

The Strategy is Flawed

There are literally 1000 or more ways an individual could go to Google and search for something similar.

For example:

Let’s say a number of people are all seeking out a great painter Arizona. Some might geo target, others might not. Some might search for a specific service, such as a stucco house painter, others may do a general search for painter. Some might seek out a painter by including an adjective to help qualify the search such as affordable or experienced, others may not.

Some specific examples of what a search query could look like:

  • Painter
  • House Painter
  • House Painter AZ
  • House Painter Arizona
  • House Painter in Mesa Arizona
  • House Painter in Mesa, AZ
  • House Painter in the Mesa Area
  • House Painter in East Mesa
  • Painter for Houses
  • Find a Painter
  • Find a House Painter
  • Stucco House Painter in Mesa
  • Stucco House Painter in Mesa AZ
  • Affordable House Painter
  • Affordable House Painter Mesa Arizona

And a million more variations.

You get my point.

Even if you use sophisticated tools, hire SEO experts and spend hours analyzing the backend data of your site, there is still NO WAY you are EVER going to know every single possible variation of each type of potential way a user could search for your business, your services, your products and your website.

Of course keyword research is still important and I absolutely recommend you have a solid strategy for integrating your important keywords into the meta data and content of your site, but my point is to say the strategy is flawed.

What strategy?

Picking keywords and only tracking them.

You can pick a handful of important keywords based off of their estimated monthly search volume, but so what? If you don’t rank for them does that mean that you aren’t getting traffic? No. If you don’t rank for them does that mean that your site isn’t doing well? No.

There are a thousand reasons why you might not be ranking for a specific keyword… A few:

  • Your page SEO isn’t properly optimized for that exact term specifically
  • Your SEO is good but your in-bound linking doesn’t support the term enough
  • Your content isn’t properly optimized for that term
  • Google likes other keywords better for that page
  • Your competition is doing a better job
  • Your site is new and hasn’t gained enough authority to rank for that term
  • Your site is old and never established enough authority to rank for that term

I could go on.

Oh, and one last thing. There is only so much you can do. Back in the day you could pick a keyword and add it to your website meta data, content and then build in-bound links using that term as the anchor text and BAM! Rankings! Guess what? That exact strategy will now potentially harm your site and could even result in penalties. No bueno.

Google Penguin

The Penguin is going to GET YOU!

Instead, your on-page SEO, content and organic marketing strategies have to be much more sophisticated and diverse. It looks unnatural to put a keyword phrase in each important key area of your site meta and content and then to also have a bunch of in-bound links pointing to that page using the same keyword as the anchor text. That strategy is outdated and IT WILL HURT YOU.

The Information is Not Accurate

We’ve had clients track rankings using a tool and then manually look for the same results only to find they are not the same. Well duh. I hate to break it to you but the information is intentionally inconsistent, Google knows your game and they are trying to deter you from playing it. Did you know that Google has even said tracking rankings is against their terms of service? And don’t think they don’t know. They know.

So, why and how is the information inaccurate?

There are several big reasons why… all of which I already wrote about in a previous post called “Why Tracking Your Organic Search Rankings Will Drive You Insane”… but I will recap here for you:

  • Your Locations Matters (where you search from changes your results)
  • Your Web Browsing History Matters (what you’ve already searched for impacts what Google serves you)
  • Your Personalized Results are Influenced by Social Signals (logged in users get personalized results – and many are heavily influenced by their social circles)
  • Technical Aspects Play a Huge Role (Google has a ton of data centers and all can display slightly different results at any given time)

To further that, if you are using a tool – paid or free – to track your rankings then you have to understand that the tool itself is also impacted by the above variables. They aren’t allowed to scrape Google every week, day or hour to find your rankings. They are potentially buying the data or pulling it from another resource even that may or may not even be Google. You could be looking at outdated information or data pulled from some 3rd party source.

It’s okay to use a tool to track a few keywords, especially if you are a marketer and you want some very specific insights to use in your campaign strategies – but to rely on the data as a key performance metric and to give it to your client as an indicator of how well their marketing campaigns are doing is INSANE!

Tracking Rankings will Drive You Insane The data is all over the place! All you are going to do is frustrate yourself AND your clients.

Which leads me to my next point…

Rankings Don’t Equal Traffic or Conversions

I mean, think about it. Even if you are number 1,2 or 3 for a specific keyword in Google that doesn’t guarantee ANYTHING! People might not click. People may click a paid ad above you instead. People might click but they don’t like your site or content and decide to keep looking… so, there is no guarantee a ranking will lead to a click that converts.

Also, so what if you rank for a keyword – what about the other 1000 variations of that term (as shown in my first point: The Strategy is Flawed )? I am much more excited to see increased organic search engine traffic then I would ever be over a keyword ranking. Organic traffic means you are ranking for terms that people are clicking on. THAT is real data. Rankings mean nothing. Traffic is everything…. Well, good traffic (but I’ll get to that in a second). Why would you track your rankings or report on rankings to a client when they are VERY possibly 1) not accurate (as shown above) 2) not likely to maintain their placement and 3) not directly correlating with any tangible traffic data?

Such an outdated measurement.

Let’s say I want to rank for terms related to my previous example (above) on “House Painting”. So, I go to a marketing firm and they say to me, “Oh, you should really target ‘house painting’ because that term clearly has the highest search volume in your space”. I would be like, great – let’s do it! Then, for the next several months that marketing firm would work on that term… but then I don’t see any rankings and I am frustrated and think they are doing a terrible job and who needs them anyways. But, if that marketing firm says, well, you know what? You may not be able to see rankings for that term, but guess what? We were looking at your Google Analytics and you have tripled your organic traffic in the last month!

I’d be like, WHAT? Okay!

What? Okay!

Why? Because traffic is what I hired a marketing firm for. Not ranking me for ONE (or a set of) specific keywords.

Besides, the REAL measure is how that traffic is leading to increased conversions. This is marketing people. Why does ANY business pay for marketing? Because they want to make more money. How do they do that? By making more sales. It’s pretty simple. No one cares (or should care) what their rankings are or how much traffic they get if their sales aren’t increasing.

I could write a whole new blog post on that so I’ll just leave it at this – organic online marketing is intended to help you get more traffic and conversions. If you are getting organic traffic you have rankings! If you are currently tracking specific keyword rankings and you don’t see solid results but you DO see increased organic traffic in your analytics, then guess what? You ARE ranking somewhere for something, you just aren’t tracking the millions of variations of the keywords Google could possibly serve you up for.


And I’m just going to say this one more time for kicks…

Who cares what you are ranking for as long as you are getting traffic and increased conversions?

There Are Better Metrics To Focus On

So, I basically just said it – but for those of you questioning what to track, measure and report on instead, here are a few of our favorite client KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) here at Eminent SEO.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we DO NOT track or report on rankings. Ever.

What to Track INSTEAD of Keyword Rankings

KPI #1: Conversions

I don’t just mean visits here. If a visitor doesn’t take a desired action, then they aren’t worth your on-going marketing spend. I am talking about tracking actions – such as: a phone call, a purchase, a form submission, the download of an ebook or something else of that nature.

Of course to do this properly you have to have some amount of skill and might even need to have some paid tools (such as a call tracking tool), but we are talking about metrics here – if you need help implementing any of these suggestions, well, you’ll just have to call us!

KPI #2: Cost Per Conversion

Okay, great! Now you have conversions, but how much is that costing you? I’ve had clients come in with multiple lead source types (maybe they are running a PPC campaign, have a local campaign going, they are renting space on a large directory AND even doing TV ads) and they have no clue which ad source is actually bringing them their leads and conversions and in turn they really don’t know which marketing source is the most valuable to them. Why? Because they aren’t tracking them individually.

Each individual marketing campaign you are running (on and off-line alike) should be tied in to a separate number, landing page, website or conversion form if you are going to truly measure your efforts. From there, you should tie your ad spend into each individual ad source. Your online marketing firm should be able to track online actions, such a fill form or other web submission, however, if you are also taking calls this does take some extra effort on your part. If done properly you will know exactly where each lead/sale is coming from and determine a cost per lead/sale.

This is HUGE! Reread that if you have to. This is important people!

KPI #3: Visitor Behavior

Once you are certain you are properly measuring your conversions and cost per conversion you can start diving back into important the website metrics, such as visits, repeat visitors, number of page views and the average time on site.

Any good online marketing company is going to use these metrics to improve your conversion rates by addressing quality issues. For example, high bounce rates from a particular page indicate that even though you are getting traffic it’s not converting – so there is a problem on that page that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, as a marketing firm, if you see monthly improvements to these metrics you should be able to show your client that the website is capturing their audience and resulting in better leads and conversions….

Client Thumbs Up

Get a BIG Thumbs Up

And isn’t that a ZILLION times more important that some random keyword rankings?

THE Nutshell:

The Strategy is Flawed

You can’t possibly know every variation people might use to find you. And even if you could, your marketing company can’t just rank you for a specific term anymore anyways. That strategy is outdated and could actually hurt you!

The Information is Not Accurate

We now know (for a FACT) that there are dozens of ways rankings can be influenced and therefore not accurate. So, what are you really tracking anyways?

Rankings Don’t Equal Traffic or Conversions

If you think rankings (or the lack thereof) are proving anything, well, I hate to break it to you… but you are wrong. If you don’t see rankings but you have organic traffic and conversions, well then guess what? You DO have rankings.

There Are Better Metrics To Focus On

I could list 1000 key performance indicators that we feel are more important to a client on how their marketing dollars are actually increasing their bottom line… but I shared 3: conversions, cost per conversion and visitor behavior. If you are tracking rankings and not focused on these other 3 metrics, it’s time to get with the times.

Rankings are a thing of the past. Don’t be dumb.

Why are you so dumb

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Why Tracking Your Organic Search Rankings Will Drive You Insane

Anyone who uses SEO techniques to increase their organic search engine visibility and traffic should be measuring their results. However, HOW you measure and WHAT you measure should depend on your specific business goals.Organic Rankings

SEO is tricky stuff, especially with Google and their insane amount of algorithm updates and data refreshes. SEO techniques that used to work a few years ago are practically obsolete now. You really need to perfect your marketing strategies if you expect to make money online. It’s no longer about mass quantity. Everything is about quality…. especially when it comes to traffic and leads. It’s too time consuming and costly to simply target anything and everything relevant to your business. It’s better to research and test very specific topics so you can better understand your user behaviors and market to your future prospects more precisely.

I mean, who cares how much traffic you get to your site if none of it converts!

It’s easy to get caught up in your website rankings and traffic, but the real number you should care about is your bottom line!

If your marketing campaigns are resulting in conversions, it shouldn’t matter where you rank specially for any one particular keyword phrase on any given day. Besides, rankings LIE!

Let me break it down for you:

Your location matters.

Go to Google right now and type in something general, like “SEO”. I’m in Mesa Arizona. Guess what I see? Arizona SEO firms. Not because they are the top SEO sites in the world, but because I am searching from an IP in Arizona! The search engines aren’t stupid. They know where you are and they are giving you results based off of your current physical location. This is especially apparent when you search for something local, like a restaurant or a daycare. Google and Bing want to give you local results as much as possible, and you will see varied organics depending on where you are when you search.

Note: This is why having a Google + Local Map and a Bing Map is so important for any business that wants local, geo-targeted traffic!

Your web browsing history matters.

You’ve heard it before, websites and search engines store cookies in your browsers and use this data to determine what they should serve you. When you visit a website frequently, Google will start to assume you want to see that site in your search results, and the site will start to appear higher when you search organically.

If you want “real” organic results, you can clear your web history and cookies or try using a Proxy server to search instead.

Personalized results are influenced by social signals.

Bing is integrated with Facebook, so when you are logged in to both, guess what you see when you search? If you search for a topic related to something your Facebook friends have liked, shared, or otherwise recommended, you will see it in your organic Bing results.

The same thing goes for Google. Google wants you to be logged in at all times, encouraging you to use their free services for almost everything you do. When you are logged in to your Google + account, anyone with you in their circles will see your +1 recommendations in their organic results.

Sure, you can log out and your results will change, but many people don’t even realize they are logged in and therefore social indicators are heavily influencing search.

Technical aspects play a huge role.

Google has hundreds of data centers, when you query Google (or Bing) you are pulling data from one of hundreds of data centers that houses information. You could be searching for the same thing I am from across the room or across the country and see different results.

Also, websites can re-index day to day; many variables can change the way Google decides to index and display a site at any given moment. A site can add content, change content, remove pages, add pages, update their on-page SEO, gain new links, loose links, etc etc. All of these factors play a role in how Google will choose to rank a site and it can vary day by day.

Bottom Line:

If you Google yourself (your business, your keywords, your brand) too much, you are asking for an anxiety attack! Of course you want to know IF you are ranking, but you will know how well you are doing when you look at your organic and referral traffic. If your analytics show traffic is coming from the engines, you know you are ranking. You don’t need a rankings report to tell you that!

Remember, you need to track traffic (where it’s coming from – source and keyword) and how that correlates with conversions. If you are investing marketing dollars, you need to know how that money translates into sales.

Don’t drive yourself insane measuring results that don’t matter. Focus on traffic and sales and let your marketing team worry about the rest.

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Website Analytics Audit: 5 Things You Should Know About Your Business Website

If you are considering a new marketing campaign for your business website, there are several important elements you should look at. I typically suggest using a website checklist to help you narrow down the most important elements for your needs specifically. Custom marketing strategies are essential to a successful campaign, and a custom solution can only be delivered by auditing the proper areas first.

Although it’s important to look at the bigger picture, if your budget is limited and you want to focus on the most important things first, here is a list of 5 things you should absolutely include in your website analytics audit:

1)      Where your traffic is coming from (source)

Once you understand where your traffic is coming from, you can better understand where you should be spending your marketing dollars. Sometimes that means following each conversion back to the source it came from and then generating a list of top sources to invest into because they convert the best. Google Analytics will allow you to see what percentage of your overall traffic is coming from organic search engines, referral sites, direct hits and paid search.

2)      What keywords people are using to find you

Although Google blocks a fair amount of your keyword traffic, it’s good to take a look at what keywords are driving traffic to your site. Just as you should follow your conversions back to your traffic source, you should also track your conversions back to the keyword used to find you. If you know what people are searching for, you can use those keywords more in your website optimization and off site marketing. It’s also good to know what isn’t converting so you don’t waste your budget on keywords and techniques that don’t covert.

3)      What page your traffic is landing on

When you know what keywords are leading traffic to specific pages to your site, you can focus on making those pages more optimized for conversions. By incorporating those keywords into the on-page SEO, content and calls to action, you can increase your conversions by really improving the user experience by giving them exactly what they are looking for.

4)     Top socially shared content

If you are blogging and you don’t already have social sharing built in to your posts INSTALL NOW! Your blog should be ON your website and you should track what content is getting the best visibility and social shares. If you are blogging regularly, you should be covering a number of target keywords in your content and individual post optimization. Once you see a particular type of blog getting a lot of traffic and shares, you know where you should focus more of your efforts.

5)     Conversion channel – how well your website is converting

If you have implemented a solid keyword strategy, your website is ranking but your traffic isn’t converting, there might be a problem with your website. A lot of people blame marketing but the truth is marketing can drive traffic to your site, but if  your website is outdated, not clear on what to do or hard to navigate, your visitors will try another site instead. If your website sucks, people know there are 1000’s of others to check out instead. Keep your users there by evaluating your conversion channel and developing a strategy to give the traffic exactly what they need to convert.

BONUS: Know your goals, short and long term

You’d be surprised how many SEO clients look for rankings and traffic, but they have no idea how that translates into sales and profit!

You need to understand what you can realistically expect from your marketing dollars so that your goals make sense for your budget. You should start with what you can afford and then once you reach your initial goals, reinvest so you can go after bigger ones! If you are not meeting your short term goals in the expected time frame, you might want to reevaluate what you are doing and adjust your strategies.

Final thoughts:

SEO and online marketing is all about testing. You need to develop a strategy based off of your initial research, but when you implement a strategy you have to watch it and adjust. It can take several months to get your strategy just right depending on a number of variables. Before you make major adjustments, look at how much traffic is coming in – you should ensure you have collected enough data to analyze your marketing efforts properly.

Analyze, test, analyze again, adjust – that is the KEY to a successful marketing campaign.

If you want help with a website audit, we have a range of custom audits we can perform for you…

Just call us at 1.800.871.4130 or set up a discovery call by emailing hello@eminentseo.com

Thanks and happy analyzing!

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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