With the landscape of life totally changed right now, it can be hard to know where to invest as a marketer or small business. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has always been at the top of the list of ways to see what your customers are searching for and how to reach them. A solid SEO strategy can help grow your business, generate leads and sales, and put you at the top of the first page of Google to take advantage of people searching for your offerings.
Trackable SEO will give you clear insight as to what’s working and what’s not. While many marketers swear by Google Ads, there is still so much that can be done with SEO that Google Ads simply can’t touch. While SEO is seen as “more affordable and sustainable than paid search” there is still a huge draw to Google Ads for marketers, but the value is in a long-term SEO strategy.
Interestingly enough, while the data all points to SEO being the best route for affordable organic growth, many marketers are either moving away from it or spending more time, money, and effort on paid search (PPC).
With many small businesses in the dark about SEO or intimidated by it, PPC seems like the smart alternative that can be monitored, controlled, and calculated. However, SO is foundational, and this is a both/and scenario, not an either/or.
SEO provides trackable and quantifiable results that you can then expand upon. In addition to the outstanding data available with a solid SEO strategy, consumers also trust organic results more than they trust a paid ad. If your business is on the first page of Google, it’s more likely to be clicked on than an ad on the same page. A study conducted showed that organic search is responsible for 53% of traffic while PPC is responsible for only 15% of traffic.
Regardless of this data, marketers are favoring paid ads over building a tracking SEO strategy. But why? It seems as though marketers are drawn to the control of paid ads, while consumers trust the organic results of SEO. So what’s a marketer to do? Go with trackable SEO to build organic search results, and supplement more immediate and specific campaigns and offers with paid ads. The two can coexist, but you’re going to want to build the bulk of your strategy around SEO.
Benefits of Trackable SEO
Marketers are always looking for ways to innovate, boost traffic, and grow. And while an SEO strategy may seem like you’re randomly picking words and taking a gamble, there is much more reliability with an SEO strategy than with PPC alone.
Until you figure out the sweet spot with keywords and phrases with SEO, it can feel frustrating and even like a waste of time. But doing diligent research into what your customer is searching for and what they’re clicking on will make a huge difference in the long run.
The PPC vs SEO debate has been going on since the birth of Google. For decades, marketers have been creating websites with an SEO strategy in mind to build it right from the start. Traffic that didn’t organically come from SEO efforts was supplemented with PPC, which is less sustainable, much more expensive, and much less reliable. Marketers have always seen and known the benefits of trackable SEO, but when Google began PPC, it changed the whole game.
Sustainability is the main attraction to trackable SEO. Developing a strategy, choosing keywords and phrases, and integrating the phrases with copy is the most sustainable way to increase traffic, build a thriving community, and convert that traffic to sales. When something is sustainable, it is by definition built to last. PPC is absolutely not sustainable unless you want to dump millions into various campaigns over the lifetime of the company, if not more. Great for specific campaigns and to attract a new audience, PPC has its place in marketing but it is definitely not sustainable as the sole marketing effort.
SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies because it specifically targets users who are actively looking for your products and services online. Rather than dump a bunch of cash into ten PPC campaigns, hope one works and then adjust the rest, SEO allows you to put well-researched keywords in the copy of the website and let Google do the rest. This creates qualified inbound leads that are coming through with passive action, and who are already interested in the product or service being offered. Once a solid SEO strategy is running and off the ground, the income follows.
ROI – Return on Investment
With the comprehensive analysis available with SEO or working with an SEO agency, you can directly see your ROI in real-time. Regardless of whether your company is eCommerce or not, SEO provides trackable and quantifiable results for any traffic. The SEO strategy is dependent upon the end goal (sales, downloads, newsletter sign up, etc) and the way the customer interacts with the website. With all of this easily identifiable, SEO is a great ROI. And with an ongoing SEO strategy, the cost of investing in that in comparison to PPC is much less, which leaves much more room for a higher return on the initial investment.
How to Track SEO
If you can measure something, you can prove it. Measuring SEO efforts is totally dependent on Google Analytics. So before you do anything, set your website up for Google Analytics so you can dive deep into the data.
So you know SEO is essential in your marketing strategy, but how do you track it and what do you look for? Among the incredible data that can be mined from a soil SEO strategy, it’s all going to center around keywords and keyword phrases.
However, with the advent of voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home, SEO has become much more colloquial and conversation than before. Think in full questions and phrases rather than one keyword. This newer technology has opened the door and the need for SEO to be even more advanced and specific than before. But it also opens the door to better understand the user and the customer and what exactly they’re looking for.
If you have SEO strategies set up but aren’t sure how to track the efforts that you’re putting in, here’s how to get started:
- Work Backwards: Working with the end in mind and moving backward to what you need to establish to get there will help you get clear on what needs to be done. If you have a specific goal identified at the beginning of your SEO strategy, then you’ll be laying a solid foundation to build upon.
- Set Goals: Once you identify where you want to go, it’s important to set goals to hit as you go. These benchmarks will help keep you on track and will allow you to monitor your progress in traffic, conversions, and data.
- Identify Profitable goods/services: This is the goods and/or services that you provide that other people want. Whether it’s an online course, mentorship services, a physical product, etc, knowing what your most profitable goods and services are from the beginning will help you place your focus there and build everything else around it. This is also where the bulk of your traffic is going to point to, so be sure that wherever these live on your website that people have all the information they need right in front of them to make an informed decision to pull the trigger.
Tracking SEO Metrics
Tracking and measuring SEO metrics is your vehicle to move in the direction of your goals. The benchmarks that you identify as you’re setting your goals in preparation for an SEO strategy are going to serve as the guiding light throughout the process. These can, of course, change as needed and adjustments are natural, but try to stick to them as best you can in the beginning so you have something tangible to go off of.
These are the metrics that you’re going to want to pay the most attention to. All of these can be seen on Google Analytics:
When people come to your site, they are already engaging with your content and your products. Measuring these metrics will give you the best insight to their behavior, which you can then cater to as time goes on.
Engagement metrics include:
- Conversion Rate
Conversions depend on what your end goal is. Whether you want people to purchase a product, subscribe to your newsletter, download a digital product, etc, this is where you’ll discover the rate at which users convert. Google Analytics will tell you this, but you can also calculate it yourself by dividing the number of conversions by the number of unique visits.
- Time on Page / Session Duration
The average time a user spends on any one page will tell you the session duration. Tracking this will let you know how attractive your content is to the user. A short session isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on the purpose of the page. However, if a user is spending 10 seconds on a sales page without taking any action, then it’s important to go back to the drawing board and make adjustments to that page to encourage conversions through a longer session duration.
- Pages Per Visit / Page Views
If you have a clear and direct one-page site, this doesn’t really apply. However, if you want users to navigate to different pages on your site to consume different content, then you’ll want to track how many pages the average user navigates to. This is important for tracking the effectiveness of a call to action (CTA) button, for example.
- Bounce Rate
The bounce rate tracks people who came to your site but left almost immediately. They either weren’t captivated within the 3-second window we have to make an impact, or they realized they didn’t want the goods/services you’re offering. A high bounce rate can also be because a site is taking too long to load. A high bounce rate isn’t a terrible thing if people came to your site and got the information they needed, then left. It all depends on the purpose and goals of the site. Scroll depth will give much more information than the bounce rate.
- Scroll Depth
This metric measures how far down on the site a user scrolls. If you have a CTA below the fold and then another further down the page, you want people to scroll down to that second CTA to make a conversion. If users aren’t scrolling past the fold, you can reorganize your content to ensure that the important stuff is at the top and then peppered throughout the rest of the page.
Now that you have a good idea of how people are engaging with your website, it’s time to look at traffic. Google Analytics makes this super simple, so you can get a good idea of where people are coming from, how much of your traffic is new, and where they’re going within the site. The Click Through Rate (CTR) is going to be the most important metric about site traffic that you’ll want to track for your SEO efforts.
CTR is the percent of people that clicked on your site from search results. If your site is ranking high on Google but your CTR is low, you’ve got a problem. If the CTR is high, then your optimization is working.
Keyword rankings are the next most important metric. Are you gaining keyword rankings? Are these gains on the relevant bottom of the funnel SEO terms? These questions will help you determine which keywords are working and which aren’t, which saves you time and money. The SEO terms that live at the bottom of the funnel of traffic are going to be the most relevant, the most specific, and the highest searched. Optimizing for these keywords will bring in the most traffic and conversions, and will boost your ranking with Google, putting your website high on the first page of Google.
Building a website with trackable SEO in mind from the beginning is going to be the most successful piece of growing your business. The goal of SEO is to answer the question the user is searching for off the bat, and then hooking them with an expanded answer so they click through to the site and engage with the content, ultimately converting.
Working with an experienced SEO agency will help you see blind spots, set realistic and attainable goals, and get clear on the purpose of your business and website. Developing this early on is so important.