The case: Business owner feels overwhelmed by SEO and turns to experts.
The facts: SEO experts implement various changes to improve the business’ online presence in order to help the business owner reach set goals.
SEO can be a bit of a mystery for most business owners. How do you know if it’s working? Luckily, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. Here are some tips to help you find out if your optimisation efforts are working.
The evidence lies within the data (well, mostly)
The proof is in the numbers. The best way to see if your SEO is working is to be familiar with the data you need look out for, and what it means.
Don’t worry, you haven’t landed on a blog post about organic food causing traffic delays… ‘Organic traffic’ is used to categorize the traffic coming to your website via search engines (like Google).
Typically, when working on improving your search presence your first goal is to bring more visitors to your website via search engines. This is why organic traffic is one of the most important metrics you can track.
When looking at your acquisition channels, you need to look out for traffic coming from ‘organic search’ specifically. This will show you the traffic that comes from users who did a search and then clicked on your website from the search results page.
To see this data:
- Login to your Analytics account
- Click on ‘Acquisition’
- Then, select ‘All Traffic’ > ‘Channels’
- Click on ‘Organic Search’
You should be looking to see an increase in sessions and users from organic search over time. An increase tells you that more people are finding your website in search results (which is a good sign that your website IS in fact showing up) and is enticing users to click through (which indicates that your title tag and meta descriptions have been optimised).
Here’s the truth,
seeing a noticeable increase won’t happen overnight. So, how long do you have to wait to start seeing SEO results? Let’s keep the champagne on ice (just for now)…
On average, you should start seeing noticeable results within the first 6 months. Factors such as your competition’s SEO efforts, the number and quality of your inbound links, your content, the frequency of your own SEO efforts and more all come into play here. Put simply, SEO is an ongoing effort.
In general, the first keywords you will start showing up for are your branded ones and those with little competition. Ranking for highly competitive keywords or gaining more exposure in local search results could take longer than 6 months as this requires a consistent, long-term effort.
Let’s have a look at which pages on your website are driving the most organic traffic. This should be consistent with the pages that you are focusing your SEO efforts on. To do this, click on the ‘Landing Page’ link found in the ‘Keywords’ report.
This information will provide you with an indication of what content is performing well in organic search. If you have an established brand, you might notice that your homepage is the top landing page in this category. That’s ok.
Try segmenting your branded and non-branded pages to gain deeper insights.
Time on page
Now that you’ve had a closer look at your organic traffic and landing pages, let’s see if users are engaging with your optimised content. The amount of time a user spends on a page can be a good clue to determine if your on-page optimisation efforts are working.
It’s important to keep in mind that some pages might always have short time on page results regardless of SEO efforts. This is especially true for pages with less content such as your homepage or contact page, where you don’t expect users to stay for very long or the intention is for them to click-through to another page immediately.
Tracking the amount of time a user spends on a page will tell you whether or not the content on that page is getting the right results.
Ok, now it’s time for you to get your hands dirty. Have a read of the content on your website yourself to determine what a good time on page result should look like. Put yourself in the user’s shoes to figure out how long it should take to digest the content on that page or take the desired action. Now, you’ve got a realistic benchmark.
In the wise words of Cuba Gooding Jr., “Show me the money”. Yes, this is where you can see the good stuff. Your data is a good place to start seeing if your organic traffic is leading to conversions on your website.
Conversions are the actions you want website visitors to take on your website, or on a specific landing page. This could be anything from a contact form submissions, booking request, purchase, download, etc.
In your organic traffic report you should be able to see a column named ‘Conversions’. From here, you can break these down into individual goals by clicking the drop down menu ‘All Goals’. This is where you will be able to determine if organic traffic is a source of growth or profit for your business.
Online conversions don’t provide the full picture. Your SEO efforts can also lead to offline conversions. Research shows that most in-store buyers visit a company’s website before making a purchase and over 60% of purchases made by consumers who conducted online searches are made offline.
So, how do you determine if SEO can be attributed to offline sales? Perhaps you have noticed that the phone has been ringing more often, that more people are stopping in to your shop or business or that in-store sales have increased since you began optimising your website.
These types of conversions are often overlooked but are also a way of determining if your optimisation efforts are getting you the results you’re after. It’s important to have a system in place that will allow you to track this growth so you can attribute it to your optimisation efforts.
It’s common for organic search to be a means of finding information in the early stages of a customer’s decision making process. This (very valuable) information isn’t included when looking at the organic traffic report.
You can use the ‘Assisted Conversions’ report in Google Analytics to find out if organic search traffic played a role in a customer’s purchase decision and led to a conversion. Sweet Caroline! How good is that?
To see this data:
- Click on ‘Conversions’
- Then, select ‘Multi-Channel Funnels’ > ‘Assisted Conversions’
You’re all set and ready to start auditing your website’s SEO performance. Now that you understand what data to look for and what it means, use these questions to get started:
- Has organic traffic increased?
- Are optimised pages showing up in the Landing Page report for organic search?
- Are users spending the right amount of time on different pages?
- Has organic traffic led to online conversions? Has this increased?
- Have you been getting more phone calls, foot traffic or have in-store sales increased since you started your SEO efforts?
- Has organic search resulted in assisted conversions on your website? Has this increased?