The aim of this article is not to downgrade SEO Agencies, or indeed give the impression that search optimisation is a waste of time. The issue it addresses is that most clients and businesses need to better understand how organic listings can be setup successfully, not just an income stream for a SEO agency or freelancer.
The first challenge is to measure your traffic. If you don’t measure the visitors to your site, how can you then work out whether Search Engine Optimisation is working for you?
Whilst there are many good walkthroughs for setting up Google Analytics, and even some from Google themselves, the reality is that any web developer or designer can set this free service up with a minimum of fuss.
The next step is to login and take a look around. Too many businesses who have analytics never look at it. If your website is a serious part of your business, then you need to take it seriously too. Get to know Analytics, and in time, you will LOVE it, not because it’s beautiful, but because it can do beautiful things to your business performance!
This is a little contentious, but strikes at the heart of SEO. The old claim of ‘Page 1’ ranking or performance can miss out the two most important first steps:
We are not saying that ranking reports are useless, but merely that they need to know their place, which is after ensuring that the keywords being targeted are both relevant and popular.
Once you access Analytics, you can quickly find your ‘Organic’ traffic into the business. We have three ‘hats’ into which we put the keyword phrases we measure:
The ONLY category which your SEO should be working in is the ‘Relevant‘ category. The ‘Branded’ phrases you will end up ranking for regardless, it is something that Google is fantastic at doing for you. The ‘Irrelevant’ phrases are to be ignored, if your SEO points to these, then just ask them to focus on the business aims as these are of no value to you.
Here’s an example graph from a spreadsheet you can download here (the numbers have been modified as this is merely an illustration).
The spreadsheet illustrates clearly how we can then take this ‘Relevant’ traffic and work out the value of it to our business.
The guesswork is now gone, we actually understand the value of the traffic.
To clarify, we go through these steps:
Then, we have something to work with, and can evaluate the performance of our SEO agency which will help us lead the process in the right direction.
So, what happened in the top image, did the business in question upset Google and get ‘whacked’? Or, was it an update which affected rankings? Perhaps the site changed dramatically?
No, it was not an external factor causing the drop in organic traffic. In this instance it was that the client was running a Google AdWords campaign and didn’t tag the links correctly into the website.
So the reporting was bundling organic and paid traffic together and giving the impression that the overall traffic was really strong. Worse, it was also reporting that there were rankings on many of the target keyword phrases when it was the advertising, not the SEO, achieving this. It was only when we got involved that this error was corrected.
For any business, the key is to set a long term SEO objective for your business – if natural traffic can win you business, then SEO is an excellent channel to market. But only if tackled properly and effectively. If you need some help, just call us on 01962 605 000, or read more about our marketing services as we think SEO is great, but only successful as a part of the overall digital marketing mix.