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If you own a business, you’ve inevitably gotten an email from an SEO company at some point promising you #1 rankings on Google. And if you’re like most business owners, this probably piqued your interest. After all, more rankings = more clicks = more visits to your website = more customers. Right?
Well, sort of. Hear me out.
First of all, no company can guarantee you #1 rankings.
I had a call with a remodeling company in Chicago recently. The marketing manager was confused because a lot of smaller, and well, crappier websites were outranking their company for certain organic keywords.
“Is it possible to pay to rank in the organic search rankings?” he asked me.
I’m afraid it’s not.
And while most SEO companies know the best practices for improving Google rankings, no one actually knows Google’s search algorithm. And even if they did, it changes constantly (about 500 times a year).
What complicates this even more is the personalization of search. The search engine results that you see for a certain search query most likely aren’t the same results that I would see for the same exact query.
So as you can see, it would be nearly impossible for an SEO company to guarantee you #1 rankings.
Perhaps more importantly, revenue is a better measure of SEO success than rankings!
It’s very possible to connect your SEO success to your bottom line—and you absolutely should. After all, it’s tough to pay payroll with keyword rankings. That’s why we always prefer to track our clients’ SEO success with revenue, rather than with rankings, visits, or even leads.
Rankings in particular are a poor measure of SEO success—especially if you’re targeting the wrong keywords. Let me give you an example.
I once had a local chimney client who wanted to rank for broad keywords like “chimney sweep.” I explained to him that keywords like “Maryland chimney sweep” would be more likely to generate quality leads and sales for his business. After all, someone in Colorado looking for a chimney sweep is unlikely to want a chimney sweep located in Maryland!
Revenue is also a better measure of SEO success than website traffic!
Even if it’s incredible to look at!
For local businesses, website visits are also a poor measure of SEO success. First, you’re really only interested in visits in your service area. But also, all the website visits in your service area won’t do you any good if the visitors don’t convert into leads (either by picking up the phone and calling you or by filling out a contact form on your website).
Here’s an example of this. Say you hire an SEO company to help you get more website traffic. Through smart keyword research and tactful optimizations, they’re able to send an additional 100 qualified visits to your website this month. But while your visits have gone up, your leads have not!
There are plenty of reasons why your qualified visitors aren’t converting into leads. Maybe your website is too slow and they bailed. Maybe they can’t find your phone number. Maybe they would prefer to contact you online but you don’t have a contact form. Maybe they aren’t sure if you offer the service they need. Maybe your website looks sketchy as hell and they don’t trust you with their credit card info!
All of these things are fixable, but it’s an important lesson nonetheless. It’s a waste of money to pay for more website visits if your website isn’t capable of turning those visitors into paying customers.
What about leads? Are leads a good measure of SEO success?
They’re the next best thing to revenue, but even this metric can be flawed. I’ll tell you why.
Call tracking can tell you how many phone calls you’re getting from organic (SEO) traffic and say you get 100 calls this month from SEO. “Awesome,” you think. “My SEO company is doing a great job!”
But once you get your income statement, you see business is flat. How can this be?
At Blue Corona, we take call tracking a step further by recording, listening to, and tagging every single one of our client’s calls (we call this Call Intelligence Reporting). This might seem like a lot of work, but it’s crucial. Here’s why.
While call tracking can tell you how many phone calls a certain marketing strategy (in this case, SEO) generated, it doesn’t tell if those phone calls are leads. And anyone who’s ever handled inbound calls will tell you there are plenty of non-lead phone calls that your business receives each week, such as:
- Job inquiries
- Personal calls
- Existing customers
- Wrong numbers
We <3 Revenue
At Blue Corona, we always prefer to measure SEO campaign (and any campaign) success with revenue dollars and ROAS (not with rankings, clicks, visits, or even leads). Judging SEO campaign success on rankings or visits would be like one of your clients saying you’re a good contractor just because you showed up for your appointment. Sure, it’s a great start, but what matters is how well you perform the job.
Ultimately, we’re interested in helping our clients grow their businesses. That’s why for us, the ultimate measure of SEO success is always revenue and ROAS.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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