How to Measure Your SEO Success
Hey there everyone, I am Will Gordon, an Internet marketing specialist here at WebFX, and today we're going to be finishing the final of our LiveGuides, and we're going to be discussing how to measure the success of SEO.
When we talk about measuring success of SEO, we really have to start with a baseline of our goals. We have to have realistic goals, first of all. If we're, you know, say we get 10 visits to our website a month, and you come to us and say, we want to have 100,000 visits to our website by the end of next month, that's not really a realistic goal depending on what our market of initiatives are. So the first step in creating success and measuring that success, is making sure that we have realistic goals to go along with our market of initiatives.
Once we have those goals set, then it really comes down to what tools we're typically using to measure whether we hit those goals. Here's where we started with our goals, here's where we want to end up - somewhere along that spectrum - hopefully beyond - is how we say, "did we hit our goals?" and that's how we measure.
So some of the tools that we like to use here, a free one that's online that I suggest everybody use, is Google Analytics. Something in-house that we use is our MarketingCloudFX that's available to all of our clients as well. It really helps us establish, okay here is all of our leads and all of our traffic, and it's clearly laid out as far as "are we hitting those metrics? are we below? are we above those metrics?" and you know, if there's something we need to do to make sure that we are reaching those metrics, we can dig into the data and those measurements to make sure that we're exceeding those expectations.
So SEO specifically, it's much more of a long-term game than it is a short-term game. So another thing we have to bring into frame when we're talking about measuring that success, is a timeframe of results.
So when we start an SEO campaign, we don't expect to see amazing results, or results at all within the first month of a campaign. So really what we're looking at is the grand scheme of things - we may look at things a year-over-year basis, rather than a month-over-month basis, at least to begin with as we start to build the SEO momentum.
Sometimes we might have, you know, disappointed feelings if we don't see results right away with an SEO campaign, but it's not really fair to measure an SEO campaign's effectiveness a month into the campaign. Where 6 months, 1 year, 2 years into the campaign, then we can start looking at the month-to-month basis or quarter-to-quarter basis, as well as still looking at things year-over-year in time. Just because SEO does take time to index into Google's index so that way we can actually see the results of what we're trying to do online, and then measure those results too.
So within Google, you can set your date frame to pretty much whatever you want to be looking at. So if you wanted to look at July year-over-year, you can do that comparative data. Just simply setting it July 1st through July 31st 2017, comparing to what it is in 2016, comparing to 2015 - whatever you want, you have that ability to segment that data out to measure the results of your SEO efforts that you put on your website.
Another great way to measure your own results is actually to measure them up to what we can get of our competitors data. So in Analytics, we obviously can't get the data from our competitors' websites, but there are some tools out there that we can get some insight of how our competitors are doing in the organic atmosphere.
Two of my favorites to use are SEMrush, and Spy Fu. It gives us insights on how they're ranking for certain keywords, or how much organic traffic that they're getting to their website. So if we're looking at our organic data and trend line for traffic or for keywords over time and saying, you know, this doesn't look like to where we want to be or should be, maybe we need to bring it in and say okay, well look what our competitors did over the same timeframe. And maybe we can see that we had far more growth than our competitors, or maybe vice versa, and we need to do more pivoting and some shifting to our strategy. But just looking at our growth alone and measuring our success alone, we should really bring in those of our competitors - at least the insight that we can get from the tools available.
What we can do is compare their data, compare their growth with our growth, and that kind of puts things into perspective as far as the competitive measurement of SEO goes.
When we're in Google Analytics, some of the things that we want to make part of our goals - growth is the number one thing, but what are we measuring growth of. Is it the amount of keywords that our site is ranking for? Specific keywords, or just general number of long tail and short tail keywords? Is it the amount of traffic that we're getting? Is it the amount of leads that we're getting? Even within leads, we can go into macro conversions and micro conversions and what those are on your website. What is it that you are looking to increase for your business or for your website?
Analytics combines everything into one and you can make anything your "goal" within Analytics. Traffic alone you're able to segment down whether you're doing paid search, or organic search, or even from certain referral traffic sites that you're getting traffic from. But you can go in and see how your traffic has grown incrementally month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, year-over-year within Analytics. So it's an easy way to measure the traffic that's coming to your website.
Along with traffic, you want to see the leads that come out from that traffic as well too. Before I get to leads, something that kind of goes inside or along with an increase in traffic and leads is user engagement metrics on the site too.
As Google is getting into more of an AI intelligence with their search results, the user engagement metrics on your site are becoming more important too. So when you're paying attention to things like bounce rate, or time on site, or average session duration - those types of things, or even pages per session - those types of things are playing into how Google is ranking certain webpages and websites now, and will probably continue into the future. So keeping an eye on those trends and measuring the change in those trends over time could also be part of your success metrics. Or if they're in the red or going negative, it's something to look at to see what can we do to turn this around and make it a positive for us?
And then when we talk about leads, we're seeing increases in traffic, increases in engagement metrics, hopefully on the other side you're going to see increases in leads too, what are the leads on your website? Google Analytics makes it extremely easy to measure just about any type of goal on your website. Whether it be a contact form fill-out, if you're using a call tracker or a call tracking number to track calls through your business, through your certain marketing channels - we do that with CallTrackerFX here. You can track any type of video that's been played on your site - you know, whatever your micro or macro conversions are, even for ecommerce if it's sales on your website, Google Analytics makes it extremely easy to integrate that into just about any website so you can track very easily your goals on the website, and what channels they're coming from. Like I said, if you're doing organic, if you're doing referral, paid, social - any type of traffic coming to your site, you can really segment that out and measure by channel itself.
So going into Google Analytics, I suggest that everybody be using this tool. It's free to use, very user friendly - but you can measure just about anything that you need to measure the success of your business. You just want to make sure that you're nailing down from the beginning - I can't harp on that enough - of what your actual goals are and what's the most important thing to your business. So if it's ranking for certain keywords, that's not necessarily going to be within Analytics itself, and personally, I don't think it's the most important thing for businesses out there.
What I would recommend that you be looking at is your traffic, and then the goals that you define up-front as far as whether it be forms for your website, calls to your website, free trial downloads - things along those lines that are really impacting the bottom line of your business.
Say you have a keyword that you're relying on to be ranking number one, top of the page, but you can't even crack page one for that keyword. What you can do is you can go into Google Analytics, segment down to the page that you think you should be ranking for that keyword on and see what the bounce rate is on that page. And then once you find out what the bounce rate is, can you go to your page and say okay, why might someone be jumping on and then pogo-sticking right off my page? You can make adjustments right there that might help you out and bump you up toward the top of page one.
What's the pages per session? Is it only one? Again going along with the bounce rate and people are jumping right off. Maybe we need something else on that page that takes that person directly to another page, whether it be a nice button that takes them to a contact form, whether it's images breaking up the text with a link to another page internally on the site - something to keep that person on the site rather than bouncing back off. Like I said, those user engagement metrics will really help your pages rank better as Google leans more toward this AI in the future.
So when we talk about measuring success for SEO, we have to have that baseline of reports of where is our traffic before we start? Where is our rankings before we start? Where is our leads before we start? We use that data to make projections based upon our marketing initiative to see where we should be in six months, a year, five years down the road based upon again, where we are currently and what our marketing objectives are, and how the whole entire scheme of the Internet is changing.
So we have that baseline data, six months out we have that to compare to so, you know, if we're building so many links to a website, if we're adding so much content per quarter to our website, if we're changing the titles, the meta, and working on technical SEO as well, and going with a full-content strategy - here's what we should see, here's where we are. Sometimes we'll be above, sometimes we'll be below, sometimes we'll be right on track, but we have to have that baseline to compare it to. Like I mentioned in Analytics, we can compare quarter-over-quarter, we can compare month-over-month, year-over-year. So where are we now? Where do we want to be? And that marketing initiative that we have is that plan to get us where we want to be.
Again, we need to be realistic, we need to compare where we are at the current moment, where our competitors are, what their growth has looked like over the past- in our competitive sphere - and like I said if we're on that path, but kind of missing it, we need to look into the data in Analytics to see where we need to adjust so if we're kind of flat lining out, what can we adjust to get back up on that upward tick.
Once again, I'm Will Gordon. Thanks again for joining us for our final LiveGuides series, how to measure the success of SEO.