The only way to determine whether to expand, contract or curtail your SEO campaign is to accurately measure results. The first step in this process is to properly define “results.”
Results, as they apply to SEO, should be defined as measurable and meaningful improvements in lead or revenue generation attributable to the SEO campaign.
Using the proper definition of results is quite important in SEO because results often are evaluated in terms of improvements attributable to the SEO campaign that do not cause measurable improvements in lead or revenue generation. For instance …
- Rankings are a poor measurement of SEO effectiveness. High rankings in themselves produce neither leads nor revenue. Further, rankings are very fluid and inconsistent these days, since Google delivers organic results to users differently, based on the user’s browsing history, geographic location and other factors.
- Organic website traffic is a better measurement than rankings, but is still far from ideal. Suppose an SEO campaign generates 10,000 new organic visitors to the website, and zero sales leads and zero online revenue. Is the SEO campaign a success? Would you continue to invest $2,000/month in SEO based on those results?
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Organic traffic is an indicator of successful SEO, since there is probably going to be some correlation between traffic and lead/revenue production. This is true only if the traffic is relevant and the website does its job of channeling visitors into a conversion funnel(s).
To determine if SEO is producing conversions, a company must track them. It sounds easy and obvious, but amazingly few organizations do this properly. Consequently, they cannot really measure the results of their SEO investment with much accuracy.
The first step in measuring SEO results is to accurately track phone and form conversions attributable to the SEO campaign.
Form conversions — the submission of a website’s inquiry form — are easy enough to capture through Google Analytics and other backend website analytics platforms.
Phone conversions — phone calls placed as a result of discovering the company’s phone number via organic search — are not captured through these analytics platforms. A company must install phone tracking on its website through the assistance of a call tracking provider.
Without form and phone conversion data, measurement of results will be incomplete.
Tracking conversions is a great start, but still not enough for lead generation SEO campaigns. Another step is needed — validating sales leads.
Lead validation is the process of listening to recordings of phone calls and reading form submissions, to separate sales leads from other types of conversions. Other types of conversions include spam, auto-dialers, incomplete forms, sales solicitations, customer service inquiries, inquiries for products/services the company doesn’t sell, personal phone calls, etc.
Our findings, based on reviewing well over 1 million conversions, show that about half of all conversions are not leads. If a company fails to validate, it may think its campaign is doing twice as well as it really is!
Lead validation is not typically done in SEO campaigns. If you are not validating, be sure to evaluate how much emphasis you are giving to raw conversion data in your calculation of SEO performance.
The Question Will Come …
Ultimately, companies will grow dissatisfied with their SEO efforts unless they see revenue flowing in as a result. Impressive growth in organic traffic and high visibility on page one of Google may be thrilling at first and encouraging for a while, but eventually someone high up in the organization will ask, “This is all great, but what’s our ROI on all of this SEO work?”
Successful marketing managers, directors and agencies are always prepared to answer that question, and the very best do not even wait to be asked.