A common concern (or more accurately, misconception) amongst business owners is that Internet marketing is an unquantifiable or even abstract enterprise. Although any SEO would vehemently disagree and offer up a plethora of resources which serve to disprove such claims; there are still doubters.
So, how exactly does one measure the ROI of search engine optimization, social media marketing, public relations or any other aspect of online marketing? It all comes back to where SEO began – Google.
Before Google Analytics was first unveiled in 2005, there were only a handful of third-party traffic and conversion statistics reporting tools available on the Web. While some of these proved to be fairly effective, none have quite lived up to Google’s proprietary service. In fact, Google Analytics remains the most widely-used application of its kind to this day.
An SEO’s Best Friend: The Google Analytics Dashboard
Not only does Analytics provide advanced functionality for experts, but it delivers viable real-time data that business owners can understand and use to get more from their site and improve their bottom line. By tracking traffic sources, gathering visitor data and learning which pages on your site are receiving the most views, you’re able to not only improve conversion rates, but easily re-strategize your entire online marketing plan with relative ease, as well.
The Winds of Change
Traditional marketing and advertising initiatives are still effective for many businesses; however, determining the cost-benefit of these efforts is still a difficult process. Today, even some of the world’s largest and most recognized companies have turned to the Internet to increase their sales and utilize Analytics to boost their lead generation and conversion optimization efforts.
As more brands begin to hop on the digital marketing bandwagon, traffic and conversion reporting has become an even more valuable asset. With Google firmly maintaining its position at the forefront of the analytics game, the search engine that started it all is bringing it all back home by offering one of the single most useful tools for businesses.
Thanks to resources such as Google Analytics, much of the skepticism surrounding Search Engine Optimization is beginning to dwindle. With statistics reporting and tracking tools providing solid facts and definitive data to back the claims of marketers, one thing is evident – a strong online marketing plan is a necessity for virtually every business.
If you’re an SEO who interacts with clients, or even a small business owner keeping tabs on your traffic and visitor flow in Google Analytics, you have done the ‘Google Gasp’ a few times.
It’s that moment your eyes grow wide, you lose your breath, and your stomach drops to your feet when you see those glaring red traffic metrics. You become frantic, trying to figure out what went wrong and you begin to second guess yourself, your marketing team, or your strategic approach. What you should do is calm down, take a breath , and refrain from changing every page on your website.
What do you look for when you’re struck with the ‘Google Gasp’? Here are three typical ‘bad’ results that will help you see the Analytics glass half full:
- Drop in Organic Traffic - Surprisingly, this drop has two positives that can come from it. The first can be tied to your Paid Search campaign. If you are utilizing paid search and your CTR, Quality Score, and CPC results have been their best ever, your organic traffic is going to drop. Since organic visits are those not brought to your site via adverts or paid search, any visitors that come to your site by clicking an ad will not be counted towards the total number of Organic Visits. The second can be seen by reviewing your site’s Referral Traffic. Referral Traffic can include a number of ways a visitor came to your site just by clicking hyperlinked text, or a link in a Tweet, without making a search query. Very few of these referred visits are considered organic, so look for increases in Social Media referrals, Content and Article referrals, and affiliate site referrals.
Looking towards the right end of the blue line in the graph, we see noticeable increases in Paid Search.
This is Organic Traffic from the same site, within the same date ranges. Notice the end of the blue line in this graph; it is noticeably lower in the same area that the Paid Search graph showed increases.
- Drop in Visit Duration -When this happens, take a look at your Bounce Rate; did the Bounce Rate improve? A drop in the number of pages a visitor went to on your site doesn’t mean that they are not interested, nor does a decrease in time mean they are bouncing right off. Take a step back and think about any UX or conversion-driven changes you may have made to your site; have you made some content or design changes to a few landing pages? Did you conduct some navigation renovation or product re-structuring? If so, then a drop in the visit duration per encounter and an improved bounce rate can be closely tied to an improved user experience. Even the smallest changes that improve the site’s navigation, product listings, or descriptions can reduce the amount of time a visitor spends sifting through a number of products to find what they are looking for.
- Decrease in New Visitors - When increasing your customer base and site visibility are your main goals, having less New Visitors is worrisome, but take a look at the other side of the story; how many of your site’s visitors are returning? Returning Visitors are just as good, if not, better than having an influx of New Visits, because they have a different mind-set. The average consumer will rarely make a purchase on their first visit to a site and will often leave the site prior to completing the conversion or ‘checking out’. The reasons vary, from doing additional product research and price comparison to waiting for a sale or special offer. A majority of Returning Visitors will complete a conversion and make a purchase because they have not only familiarized themselves with your site, but with your brand, product offerings, or simply because you offer the best customer service.
Looking at the negative in a positive light isn’t just a way to keep the fire from turning into an inferno; it’s a way to discover how some of these metrics inadvertently affect each other. It also helps you identify what is working and not working in your marketing strategy. Lastly, it will allow you to make reasonable adjustments or changes to your site that will produce more positive results.
Measuring the success of the search engine optimization campaign can take many forms. Since the internet is constantly changing, measurement and evaluation is the most important process of the SEO campaign, once it has begun and continues. In order to stay on top of changing conditions and to ensure the website is staying competitive, it is important to devote time to evaluating the success of the campaign.
How do I measure the success?
First, use comparable data including old PageRank versus new, in addition to old website traffic versus new. Right away it is going to be very simple to measure the success of the campaign by comparing traffic results. For example, if the website was averaging 1,000 visitors daily during the earliest stages of evaluation, and currently averages over 5,000, it is clear that the SEO initiatives increased website traffic 500%. This is very common amongst SEO campaigns.
Another important measure is to simply view the original PageRank versus the new. If at the beginning of the campaign the website was populating the 4th page of Google, and has now moved to the 5th position on the 1st page, the evidence is clear. Note that 85% of website traffic originates from search results.
It is very important to ensure the SEO company provides an Analytics reporting and metric program that acts to display the differences over time for important areas including PageRank, Keyword Search, Keyword Density Ratio, Website Index Score, Website Traffic, and more. This is an important question to ask the company in the earliest stages, even prior to signing a contract! “What is your method of evaluation? Do you offer an analytic (evaluation) platform?”
Usually, the higher-end SEO firms are the only ones that offer this Analytics program and tracking services. It is important to understand that since the internet is constantly changing at a rapid rate, it is utterly impossible to measure the effectiveness on a day-to-day basis without these tools. Therefore it’s important to ensure the SEO company provides a tracking tool that reports in real-time the success and the differences in the important numbers.
Announced today, Google will be adding “Google Webmaster Tools” data directly to their Analytics platform. This is a big deal for SEO companies as a new section titled “Traffic Sources” and “Search Engine Optimization” with sub-sections displaying data of summary, queries, and landing pages.
With this, people will be able to see how many impressions and clicks through, in addition to comparing impressions and clicks to conversions directly from the search results.
The company is fully devoted to continuing to enhance their analytics platform. During April, the company updated their platform to let users view real-time data.
This information was also reported today on the official Google Analytics Blog.
Measure the success of your internet marketing campaign with Call Tracking Services by WebiMax. Call Tracking allows our clients to see which campaign is generating the most conversion rates whether it derives from search engine marketing, social media, or any other campaign we build for you.
How does it work? By adding tracking code to our clients various advertising channels (search engine marketing, billboards, yellow pages, direct mailings, PPC campaigns, local search, and others), you can see exactly which advertisement results in the phone call. Calls are passed through a proprietary phone system that store analytic information.
All of that information is available to the client because it integrates fully with the WebiMax Client Center and Tracking Platform. Our Client Center is a platform developed by the internal team of developers at WebiMax that fully integrates and reports in real-time the status of their campaigns.