Like all aspects of the continually evolving digital landscape, it makes sense to step back and assess assumptions and default methods of operation from time-to-time.
We recently undertook such a review around our assumptions in relation to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For the uninitiated, SEO is the application of a range of work both on the website and on third party websites with a typically stated goal of improving ranking within search results.
Our findings were that the underlying logic driving the type of work performed (and how it is performed) remain sound. However, one area remains a problem for the vast majority of providers of SEO services. This is an area of potential improvement that we decided to investigate and have since decided to implement for new SEO campaigns.
Essentially, we believe the problem is strategic in nature. It’s now a truism that page 1 position is the standard we measure to determine success. And therefore, why improvements to page 1 position becomes the primary focus of the effort expended during the course of an SEO campaign.
There are a number of reasons why this is so. The most obvious reason is that it intuitively makes sense to clients. There is also a correlation between ability to achieve page 1 positions and overall success of the campaign. Furthermore, the amount of site visitors scales up in a greater than linear fashion the closer to position 1 on page 1 of search results. This is also easy to prove and include in analytics reporting. This is why page 1 is emphasised as a primary goal.
After a great deal of reflection, we have come to the conclusion that while page 1 position remains an important metric to track – it’s not the full picture. Concentrating primarily on position distracts from what we should really be concentrating on as our ultimate metric for campaign success. Instead of page 1 position, we now choose to focus on the result that most clearly impacts your bottom line – how many site visitors are getting in touch with you.
In terms of analytics relating to this… We use the term "conversions". This term is most directly recognizable in relation to e-commerce transactions, where a conversion directly equates to a sale. However, it’s still the most appropriate term to use for practice websites. That's because from an analytics point of view we can define any goal state that we achieve as a conversion.
We define conversions in the context of our practice websites as clicks on your phone number, or certain web-form submissions. These types of conversions are metrics we are able to monitor and report on. They are also the closest possible indicators that site visitors are getting in touch with you.
While we do report on improvements to Google ranking positions, we see this as a requirement and a means to our ultimate end. Improved ranking positions generally means more traffic. However, we want to ensure that we generate not just increased traffic… but more specifically, we want increased relevant traffic. This is the critical area where most campaigns fail, with subsequent downstream problems for our ultimate metric.
Focussing our efforts on ensuring the right people are targeted helps us to achieve more relevant traffic and therefore improves the likelihood of more qualified site visitors getting in touch with you. For onsite work, ensuring landing pages that relate to our target keywords and any pages designed to nudge relevant site visitors towards conversion are working well is critical. For offsite work, ensuring that referring websites are well regarded and relevant is important – as well crafted posts and referral links helps drive appropriate visitors to the website.
Our new campaigns report on a more comprehensive range of factors:
- Number of position on page 1 of search result.
We are interested in both the month to month variations, which should be trending positively, and also the overall improvement when measured against the starting stats at the commencement of the campaign.
It’s important to understand that because a conversion is the last step of the user journey (within the website), conversion numbers do not seem impressive compared to overall traffic numbers. These smaller conversions numbers are a natural outcome – as not all visitors are ready or willing to get in touch. Conversion numbers (by definition) are a subset of overall traffic numbers.
Ultimately, we believe where we choose to focus our attention is significant, as this can help improve your SEO campaign results where it matters – the bottom line.