Hi everyone, my name is Mike van der Heijden and I work as a Senior Business Analyst at SEO Works, an Australian based SEO services provider with offices throughout Australia.
I have been invited to be a regular contributor to Marketing.com.au on everything and anything in the wonderful world of online marketing.
Today’s article discusses the various reports/information you should be requesting from your SEO professional or potential SEO company to ensure that you’re making the right investment with the right company. As I like to say, search engine optimisation professionals shouldn’t work for you, they should work with you.
Even in this day and age there are still people (and companies) who are unsure about Search Engine Optimisation, and rightly so! SEO companies and professionals have been wrongly educating the general public on how to measure the success of a campaign. For years clients have been told that the success of a search engine optimisation campaign can be measured by traffic and rankings!
Enter The Rankings & Traffic Metrics
If you have ever engaged a Search Engine Optimisation company/professional, you undoubtedly have seen a “ranking report” and a “traffic report”. I won’t go into the details of each as the level of detail of these reports vary from company to company, but generally are an overview of traffic of your website (perhaps broken up by source e.g. PPC, Organic, Direct etc.) and the rankings of a list of keywords.
Let me ask you a question, after your investment in SEO and seeing a ranking report and/or general traffic report have you gotten the feeling that what you (or the SEO Company) were doing was increasing your bottom line? Did those rankings directly relate to your increase in traffic and more importantly, increase in revenue?
Didn’t think so! If you are serious about your business, you need to be serious about the KPIs you set for your SEO firm, you need to know what to look at and in some cases request from your search firm.
Overall Campaign Metrics
I will explain 4 overall metrics to measure your websites performance by. By no means are they simple factors to influence and in some cases SEO companies might not be solely responsible for influencing these factors, however, each of these lends elements to be improved by a solid SEO campaign.
Are you tracking the amount of revenue that is created by your website? If you’re running an e-commerce website have you set up e-commerce tracking properly? If you’re a service provider are you tracking the amount of people contacting you? And have you attached a value to these conversions?
This is the number one mistake businesses make. If you are not tracking any type of conversion, talk to your SEO Company on getting this set up as soon as possible, because only then can you start measuring the money your website makes you, and in term, your SEO Company delivers you.
Ask your SEO Company what they are doing overall to drive an increase in revenue, this should align properly with your business goals and needs.
2. Conversion Rate
Simply put, your conversion rate is the total number of goal achievements divided by the number of visits to your website.
E.g. if at the end of the month you received 1,000 visits to your website, and 100 conversions/sales were made, that would mean a conversion rate of 10%.
Because a website can have multiple “goal achievements” set up you should be measuring the conversion rates for all your goals.
Ask your SEO Company for monthly updates on your conversion rates and what they are doing to improve the conversion rates on your website.
3. Leads / Sales
As discussed in the Conversion Rate section, you want to have an overall report of total leads/sales/conversions that were made on your website.
Generally these reports will show the overall statistics for conversions on your website, broken down by the source of the visits (be it direct, referral, paid or organic).
4. Cost per Acquisition
Possibly the most important metric, after having figured out all of the above, is the cost per acquisition. How much are you paying in order to attract sales/leads/conversions?
Typically, this should be as easy as taking the amount you are investing in your Search Engine Optimisation campaign and dividing that by the amount of sales/leads/conversions driven through organic search.
When you first start with your SEO Company, this should be set as a benchmark, and the company should strive to improve (read, lower the Cost per Acquisition) over time.
Measuring ROI on Keyword Clusters
Firstly, let me introduce the term “Keyword Clusters”. Keyword Clusters are, in a nutshell, keywords that relate and incorporate a main keyword within.
For example: The keyword “Sydney Hotels” would have a cluster of keywords that contain either the phrase “Sydney Hotels” or contain “Sydney” and “Hotels”.
Sydney Hotels, Sydney Luxury Hotels, Best Sydney Hotels, Hotels in Sydney etc.
The reason for measuring activity on a “cluster” is to take away focus of one particular keyword, because ranking for 1 keyword could mean ranking for endless variations of that keyword.
Clusters aren’t evident in normal keyword ranking reports and therefore you might be missing out on tracking keywords that provide you revenue rather than just search volume.
1. Sales Per Keyword Cluster
Now that we understand the meaning of a keyword cluster, it is important to find out how many sales your website is making from these keyword clusters. It could very well be that a low search volume cluster is producing more sales for you than a high volume keyword cluster (which is often the case).
Ask your SEO Company for a breakdown of keyword clusters and the amount of sales/leads/conversions generated for that keyword cluster. This will give you a good insight into what keyword clusters you (and your SEO Company) should be focusing on.
2. Conversion Rate Per Keyword Cluster
Naturally, the next step is to work out what your conversion rate is per keyword cluster. It’s one thing to see a low search volume cluster producing more sales/leads, but it is also important to know what ratio of people searching for those clusters are actually converting.
3. Cost Per Acquisition for a Keyword Cluster
Last but not least, figure out what your cost per acquisition is per keyword cluster. It could very well be that the cluster producing the most leads is also the most costly (in terms of SEO investment and time taken to rank particular keywords).
A Few Extra Tips
- When engaging/interviewing potential SEO companies, make sure you request them to do an audit of your current state of affairs. Give them (read only) access to your analytics in order for them to do a proper analysis of where your website currently stands.
- Whilst interviewing your potential candidates, ask them what they think are reasonable goals and milestones to set for your campaign and how long they will take to achieve those results. If they return with an answer anywhere near “That’s hard to say/SEO is a difficult process/We can’t be sure” I say, run for the hills.
- Ask for recent successes/experience with other clients in or similar to your niche, more than likely they will have worked with a client who has been in a similar situation to you.
In closing, Search Engine Optimisation isn’t the black voodoo some companies make it out to be. As long as you’re well aware of the information that is out there and the information that you can request from your SEO Company there is no longer any reason for you to be “wasting” money or getting yourself caught in endless contracts.
While not working on SEO, Mike enjoys working out and keeping abreast of industry trends.