Before you hire an SEO company, pause for a minute and ask yourselff, “how will I measure success?” If the answer is something along the lines of, “increased visibility for relevant keywords” or, “more first page rankings,” you’re setting yourself up to hire the wrong SEO firm and you’re going to waste an awful lot of money in the process of finding the right long-term partner.
In the words of Stephen Covey, “begin with the end in mind.”
When you invest in SEO, what are you really trying to get? More booked jobs, sales, customers, clients, revenue and profit, of course! It’s great to be ranked on the first page of Google for keyword phrases you think prospective customers are using to find companies like yours. But, what if you (or your SEO company) have picked the wrong keywords? You know what you’re going to get? A whole lot of nothing – that’s what.
Organic rankings don’t mean squat… unless they lead to increased quality website traffic, leads and sales.
The SEO Process Starts with Tracking
The world’s best SEO companies always put tracking, data collection and analysis before SEO tactics like adjusting website code and site structure, onsite content and offsite factors. What you’re probably saying to yourself right about now is, “I’m already tracking – I have Google Analytics on my website.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but Google Analytics alone is not enough to accurately track SEO success and outcomes.
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool; in fact, it’s our preferred website analytics solution. This said, think about what you really want to have happen as a result of your investment in SEO. If you own an HVAC, plumbing or roofing contracting company, what you probably want is more booked jobs.
How will you track more booked jobs from organic searches via Google Analytics?
About 90% of the business owners we meet with have Google Analytics installed on their website already. Of these, less than 10% have Google Analytics configured to track website conversions such as online form submissions. Many haven’t even filtered themselves or their employees out of the data. We had one client who appeared to have a lot of monthly website traffic – 2,000+ visitors, but after we applied a filter to his Google Analytics account to remove his employees, he came to realize he only had 700 visits per month – doh!
What’s even more disturbing is that home service companies tend to receive far more phone inquiries than web inquiries. Often the ratio exceeds 4:1. So for every 1 web lead, the typical HVAC, plumbing, remodeling or roofing company is getting 4 (usually more) phone inquiries. Even if the business owner has Google Analytics set up to track web leads from organic search, by not also tracking phone inquiries from the same traffic source, he/she is missing more than half the picture!
If you own a home services company, you might want to re-read the previous paragraph.
You Can’t Accurately Track SEO Results with Google Analytics Alone
So while Google Analytics is a great tool, it’s kind of like a table saw. A talented carpenter can use a table saw to create elegant furniture from simple blocks of wood. Give the same tool to the average person and you’re more likely to end up with missing fingers than a beautiful piece of furniture! Luckily, misusing Google Analytics will not result in the loss of any digits!
Back to the point…
In order to make intelligent SEO decisions, you must customize Google Analytics based on your business goals and requirements. At a minimum, this means filtering out yourself, your employees and perhaps some of your long-time partners/vendors from your data. Removing unwanted visitors from Google Analytics is easy. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Edit your Google Analytics Profile
Step 2: Add a Filter
Step 3: Exclude an IP address
If you don’t know your IP address, just go to www.whatsmyip.org!
With your IP address filtered out, you’ll want to set up goal tracking. Goal tracking is highly customizable depending on the type of business or website you have. Contact us directly to learn more about how to set up custom goal tracking in Google Analytics.
Use Call Tracking to Measure SEO Success
With your internal traffic removed and goal tracking enabled, you’re also going to want to implement a couple additional analytics tools to track your SEO campaign’s success. Again, if you run a B2C home services company (kitchen and bathroom remodeling, home contractor, HVAC company, plumbers, roofers, etc.), you may not realize that you’re getting 4-5 phone inquiries for every web inquiry you receive.
Relying on web conversion data alone will cause you to make decisions related to your SEO campaigns that are far from optimal. Investing in a call tracking service – and connecting it to Google Analytics – is your path to measurably improved SEO success.
Despite Google’s recent changes to their algorithm (which should not have negatively impacted anyone investing in ethical SEO strategies), SEO remains one of the most cost-effective online marketing strategies. However, you should not spend a penny on an SEO campaign or hire an SEO company until you have accurate tracking in place, baseline data and a clear understanding of what constitutes fantastic success (in tangible, measurable terms).
Improved organic rankings don’t mean much if they don’t generate more qualified website visits and ultimately leads and sales. Many business owners are strapped for time and cash and sometimes they need website activity and leads yesterday. Unfortunately, there are no (lasting) SEO shortcuts. Do it the right way or pay the price – the choice is up to you.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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“I used to get a couple form submissions a year—and it was all spam. Now, we’re getting leads—and they’re qualified! You can find an SEO company anywhere. With Blue Corona, you get an account rep that’s there for you. I know there’s somebody looking out for our website and helping us grow. ”