#WeBuildWednesdays Episode 55: How to Measure SEO Success

Tracking SEO Progress

Mike: What’s going on everybody happy Wednesday it’s Mike Norris. I’ve got Eric Siemek here, what’s going on Eric? We were just having a little conversation here over zoom and we were drinking a couple beers getting a little cheers in just celebrating. We’re actually recording this on a Friday even though it’s going live Wednesday but we were chatting SEO.

We were chatting about tracking SEO success, really. And we realized that a lot of potential clients when they come to us, they don’t track SEO success very well at all, or they’re really not measuring anything with SEO, or sometimes they just measure keyword rankings and that’s it, or they’re not tracking leads and all kinds of stuff. So I guess Eric I’ll ask the question of you: how do you think is the best way to track SEO?

Eric: Yeah it’s a hard question. Like you said, a lot of clients come to us and say “I’m not getting any conversions” and well, it’s more than just a simple conversion question –  how are you getting traffic? Are you getting traffic? Do you guys even have visibility?

So it’s a multi-part question: how is your traffic doing? How is your ranking doing? If you’re a local company, do you guys have localization going on? Can you guys be found? So there’s a multi-part question to that and it really dives into how your company’s really set up.

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Setting SEO Goals

Mike: Yeah, and one thing that I noticed that’s extremely strange to me is that it seems like people track clicks and that’s where it stops. People sometimes look at keyword rankings but clicks seem to be the biggest thing.

Sometimes clients don’t know what’s happening with those clicks, they don’t know where those clicks go, they don’t know if they’re getting conversions – they don’t know anything they just say “I got this many clicks” and they come back to their agency and they say “well I got a thousand clicks you said” or however many but my phone’s not ringing or I’m not getting any form fills and then and then the conversation kind of dies there and then eventually they just split apart. How would you solve that?

Eric: Yeah I think the very first thing you need to do is make sure your Google Analytics is set up properly. It’s a free tool so everyone should really use it. There are tons and tons of videos out there about how to properly set it up.

Once you have that set up I think the biggest thing you need to do is to set your goals. You said that people were tracking clicks and that’s great and all but you need to track those goals and those goals could be: are they phone calls? Are they form submissions? Did they download a PDF? Did they watch a video?

So tracking those and figuring out know what acquisition they come from: is it organic? Is it paid? Is it direct? And figuring out where those people are coming from and how often those people are filling those out is the biggest key factor of how well you’re really doing. Clicks, you can get a million of them but it truly doesn’t matter if you’re lacking conversions at the end of the day.

Mike: Yeah and you know as we’re talking about this I keep saying a lot of people. “A lot of people, a lot of people, a lot of people”. A lot of people, though, I think they put the cart before the horse a little bit and they don’t even really know what they’re looking to get out of SEO when they start SEO. So they’re tracking all these things and asking is that good? Is that bad? They don’t have goals for it, there are no goals set up it’s just “okay we’re running SEO and I know I need to do it. I need to have a presence on Google but that’s kind of where I stand”.

I know with us, we have conversations with our clients about their goals all the time but maybe that needs to be something that SEO people in general globally need to get better at.

Eric: I totally agree with that. There are tons of clients that we’ve gotten and we’ve inherited from other agencies and not knocking other agencies, everyone has a different style. But a lot of agencies may say “oh, you’ve got all these clicks or you’ve got all these from these impressions” but they don’t show that they had zero conversions so you may be growing in the traffic but what kind of traffic is that? Is it just bought traffic? Is it just they block out your company’s IP address and they’re just going to the website over and over again and counting all of that as clicks?

So that’s where a lot of what the nitty-gritty in site analytics counts where your bounce rate and then also your time on-page. Those two could be huge for you when you’re identifying whether or not it’s good traffic or is it bad traffic.

Multi-Touch Attribution Models

Mike: Yeah, and something that is gaining in popularity is multi-touch attribution models. I know it’s something that Google Ads has had for a while. It’s a beta right now with Google Analytics but those are really good for being able to tell people that your SEO contributed to a conversion whereas previously-

And for people who don’t know what we’re talking about I should probably break this down but generally speaking you go off what’s known as a last-click attribution model which means: someone comes to your website through let’s say they come through your SEO, they do a search for your brand name and then click on your listing to come to your site, they fill out a form and convert. That’s easy, right? You got a conversion from your organic.

Well, that person may have seen one of your Google ads previously and came to your website, or they may have seen a social media post from you and came to your website, or maybe they just saw those things and they didn’t come to your website but it ended up influencing them to search for you at the end of the day. So those things contributed to you getting that conversion and previously there was no way to track that.

Previously it would just be okay well this person searched for my day and you know I got the conversion so they must have known who I was. Well now we’re starting to get that ability where we can find out how they found out about you in the first place and I think that’s huge. I mean that’s it’s kind of a breakthrough.

Eric: It is a game-changer, truly.  The analytics has a basic attribution model you can go to and look at. And now they also have that beta one that you mentioned where it gets so intense to where it takes about 72 hours for all of your data to actually pull into this machine and figure out where your leads actually came from so you can analyze it. It’s huge and still in beta right now so they’re definitely going to make a lot of changes, there are definitely going to be some bugs and stuff in there but that’s something a lot of companies should definitely take over.

Your SEO can be doing amazing, you guys can have tons of clicks and tons of these key rankings by the attributions. It’s a good point, they could have went to the organic side of things but then they remember your website and now they’re coming back in through directs and now you’re not getting that attributed to the correct organic version so you go and look at analytics, technically it’s gonna say organic tests zero so it’s a good point to make.

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Advancements in Marketing

Mike: I think that’s the beauty in digital marketing is that all these analytics and things didn’t really exist in the past. Marketing and advertising, they’re advancing to that point where there are so many analytics at times it can be overwhelming for people but when you know what you’re looking for and you know what you’re looking at it’s so helpful.

I mean think about back in the day, I always use radio as an example. Not to knock radio, I like radio, but you run a radio ad and then you get whatever you get and you assume that a portion of it came from the radio ad. You don’t really know. You don’t really know how many people are coming from that. And then nowadays you have tracking numbers, things like that where you can track website traffic within five minutes of your ad airing and you can kind of do things like that which is great and they’ll show those advancements.

But back in the day it was, you got your billboard over here, you got your radio over here, and you got your TV spot over here, and you’re running all three simultaneously and you end up with a thousand leads. Well, where did they come from? You don’t know.

I think that’s great and I really like the way things are going but I think the big limitation still in those attribution models is that the ecosystems don’t always talk to each other. So you’ve got Google’s ecosystem, you’ve got Facebook’s ecosystem, you know Microsoft if people are using Bing. I know that’s a small percentage.

Eric: On the display side of things as you branch down there are so many third-party display platforms as well.

Mike: Yeah, great point. So, eventually, I hope that they can all kind of come to some kind of consensus and all speak to each other because it’s like a marketer’s dream but-

Eric: The biggest ones: Facebook and Google, if those two can talk to each other that would be great because the analytics you could get from that alone would be amazing.

Mike: That will be great. I guess that’s our hope everyone. Anything I missed? Anything else we should touch on?

Final Thoughts

Eric: I mean just basically run to it down from our side, judging success of analytics and your website as far as organic we just say really website traffic. Once you’ve got that website traffic, check your bounce rate, is it low or is it high? Check out the mediums for your type of category of business, your time on page, are people there for five seconds or are they there for five minutes can make a huge difference. It’s gonna define them too, is it that spam traffic or is it quality traffic?

After that look at your rankings, having a twenty thousand keywords ranking doesn’t mean that it’s better than a thousand ranking, it just means what are you on the first page for and a what is the average monthly searches for those keywords.

Then, to fully encompass and bring it all together is your conversions. After you analyze those, are you getting conversions at the end of the day? For us that’s a pretty quick and easy way to determine: is your SEO working or is it not?

Mike: Yea, agreed well said. One last cheers before we go.

Eric: One last cheers. Thanks, guys.

Mike: Cheers to that. Thanks, everyone.

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