Talking People Out of SEO #5: Metrics Mayhem


Unscrupulous SEO agencies, let me count thy ways…

  • Thou shalt tout SEO as the be-all and end-all of online marketing which generates masses of free traffic to those with the wisdom to hire thy agency to do it
  • Thou shalt pretend complete ignorance of the term ROI
  • Thou shalt make enormous promises of boosting Google rank and getting websites to the first page without making reference to personalised search
  • Thou shalt guarantee top spot for overly specific long tail keywords which are not necessarily relevant to thy client’s business needs
  • Thou shalt measure results purely on the basis of rankings or page traffic rather than meaningful business metrics
  • Thou shalt not provide any useful reports or insights on work carried out each month except thy invoices to thy client
  • Thou shalt content spam, link spam, article spin and generally use incredibly black hat SEO tactics, in thy mercy…

SEO Metrics

In the first part of this series of seven articles examining reasons not to do dedicated search engine optimisation work on a website, we looked into the reasons why SEO might not be the be all and end all of online marketing in your business sector. In the second we discussed how the use of SEO and other online marketing activities should be governed by projected return on investment for each activity. In the third we looked at one of the most common promises made by dodgy SEO firms and why modern search engine algorithms make aiming for the top spot a completely redundant aim for today’s marketers. The fourth discussed another cardinal sin committed regularly by dodgy SEO marketers, namely guaranteed top spots for given keywords. Now let’s talk about how you should measure the success (or lack thereof) of your search marketing work – and, more importantly, how you shouldn’t.

First things first – what are you trying to achieve? Now this doesn’t wind down to just “I want more visitors to my website.” Few businesses aim to achieve this and only this – you want people to come to your website to buy from you, to call your sales team, to download a file, whatever your overall business aims are. So just aiming for visitors is no good – you need to aim for visitors who will come to the site and then take the actions you want them to take. If you get a million visitors and only five purchases, say, then your search marketing hasn’t been a success (contrary to what some SEO companies will tell you).

The idea of measuring something other than visitor numbers is still relatively new to a lot of search marketers, which may seem shocking, but no more so than the quaint insistence of some webmasters (and not just in the amateur scene) of putting little visitor counters at the bottom of the screen. Visitors used to be the only measurement one could really take, but in these days of phone integrated tracking, on click tracking and other multi-funnel marketing channels a forward thinking marketer really ought to be looking more closely at the desired end results of their work rather than just the stepping stones needed to get there.

The most obvious way to look at this is from an eCommerce perspective. Proper analytics tracking allows for easy analysis of which inbound keywords convert into purchases – and which convert into the highest value purchases – along with how other behaviour affects the likelihood of purchase. Commonly cited factors are time on site, unique pageviews and other such etceteras. Contact forms are trickier – although again easier analysis can be done in analytics, it is a rare business that gets valid leads from contact forms alone. Most people only get spam or dodgy SEO salespeople sending messages through their contact forms – and come to think of it, if all those dodgy SEO people are as good as they claim, why in the world do they need to tout for business by sending unsolicited messages?

Phone numbers, although a more common and useful source of leads for many businesses, are a tad trickier to track, but there are plenty of techniques to use such as multiple numbers on different landing pages and even reactive content which changes the numbers presented depending on the method of entry. These methods are not entirely foolproof – sometimes customers will insist on calling you based on a number they’ve written down from elsewhere rather than the one which displays on that particular visit to your website – but on the whole they give an excellent indication not only of which keywords bring visitors to your site, but also which of these keywords bring in visitors who actually go on to become customers. These are your keywords which give you the best return on investment for your search marketing, so these are the ones you should focus on in order to achieve the most effective growth for your business over time.

If you’re baffled by blogs and lost in links, pick up the phone and call 0330 555 4680 today to find out how Cornish WebServices can help you build a sensible and sustainable set of online marketing to include SEO, PPC, social media and more.

PS we build beautiful websites too!

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