The fact is that even if you know absolutely nothing about the SEO process, the means should be in place for you to be able to measure the success of any SEO campaign created for you. If not, then alarm bells should be ringing.
We will say from the outset if you ever come across an SEO agency or consultant, that does not give you any way to check what they’ve done is working, be very, very wary of working with them. After all, if they were that good, would they not be putting their results front and centre for you once their SEO campaign has been implemented.
Let us assume you have employed an SEO agency whose previous results and testimonials indicate they can get you results, how are those results going to manifest themselves, in terms of measuring success?
One way could be to micro-manage so that you check every single piece of data. However, for most business owners, especially those who value their time, that might be regarded as overkill.
By that we mean if you want to check hourly for how much traffic you are getting you can, but it is not necessary, or indeed useful. Checking data to that degree is not an effective use of your time, and in fact, even the SEO experts do not check data that often…well most of the sane ones do not.
There are basically three result areas that will give you a strong indication as to whether an SEO campaign is achieving its objectives, and they are rankings, traffic, and leads/sales.
You will note that each one follows the previous, so better rankings increases the amount of traffic going to your website, which should increase the number of leads or sales that are being generated.
Let us take a closer look at each of the three…
There are many business owners who believe that getting keywords ranked highly in Google is the end of the work. In fact, that is only the first stage, and a lot has to happen after ranking to turn them into sales and profits.
The other mistake they can make is to focus entirely on just one or two of their top keyword targets and look only for an increase in rankings for them. The more searches any keyword gets, the more competition there is to rank for it, and so these are not going to be overnight successes. In fact, rather than one night, they could take several months.
This is where reputable SEO agencies, which are upfront with you about the level of difficulty, help this situation by setting realistic expectations so that you fully understand the time frames you are working to.
That does not mean that every keyword is going to take several months. With proper keyword research, your SEO team will hopefully uncover several keywords, where there is a decent level of searches, but little competition for them. By optimising for these keywords, you can see some reasonably quick wins in terms of higher rankings.
An SEO agency should have tools to track all your keyword rankings and be able to present you with reports that are clear and easy to understand in order for you to assess the progress they are making.
We should point out immediately that this refers to organic traffic from search engines, rather than traffic generated from PPC campaigns. Any decent SEO agency should be able to identify and measure each of type of traffic separately using the tools and software they have if you happen to have a PPC campaign running at the same timer as an SEO campaign.
One of the most popular tools for measuring traffic is Google Analytics, and you can set up an account for this via any Gmail account. There is a bit of a learning curve to fully understand it, and at first glance it can seem a bit overwhelming to new users. However, Google has a lot of excellent training that should allow anyone to use this excellent tool.
The benefit of Google Analytics is it can segment your traffic by what searches were made before someone clicked through to your website. This helps to identify those keywords which are heading in the right direction in terms of generating traffic and those which are not.
Leads and Sales
The reason we have said ‘Leads’ and ‘Sales’ is not every business will actually make sales on their website. This includes contractors who need to create a proposal first before closing a sale and some services where an appointment with the potential client is required before any fee is agreed.
While an SEO agency might not be directly involved in converting or closing sales, the quality of traffic generated is, and that will be dependent on them identifying the correct keywords for buyer related searches within your niche.
Keyword research is not only meant to find keywords that you can rank for, but also to find the keyword phrases that those people who may be further along the buying journey are likely to type into Google’s search bar.