Measurability and Search Engine Marketing: what you need to know about measuring the effectiveness of your efforts.
How do you justify the value of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? This is a question that we constantly have to answer to business owner to justify the value of hiring an Internet marketing firm. Since SEM is a long-term strategy for returns that depends on consistency and accumulation, establishing that return on Investment can be difficult. Here are a few suggestions on how to best integrate web analytics data with other tools to prove the value of SEM.
The key is your analytics software
The key to measurability is that it be as detailed and as comprehensive as possible, and that is one of the most compelling arguments for how powerful Internet marketing can be. There are many great analytics packages out there, and one of the best just happens to be given away for free from our friends at Google – Google Analytics. With the right analytics package in place, you should be able to pull a remarkable amount of information about how people are finding and using your site, and this information is going to be critical to determining the success of your marketing program. First, we’ll look at how people are finding your site.
Understand how people find your site
Search Engine Marketing is all about making sure that people find your site instead of one of your competitor’s sites. Your analytics tool should at least be able to track the critical metrics:
- Which keywords or search terms drive traffic from organic (natural) searches?
- Which sites are referring traffic to yours?
- Which search engines are people using to get to your website?
Identify the search terms and keywords
You also need a keyword ranking tool in addition to web analytics. There are a variety of these tools available, although most of the decent tools out there are have at least some cost associated with them.
Since the foundation of any Search Engine Marketing plan is SEO, it’s recommended to optimize each web page for the few most relevant keywords, depending on the amount of content on the page. The keyword ranking tool is crucial because it’s equally as important to understand how visible your website is for these words and phrases. For example, if you’ve optimized your site for the keyword “website design company,” does your site show up in a top listings within the major engines when a user searches for the term “website design company?”
Integrate analytics with keyword tracking
Once you have a handle on your website’s keywords and search terms, its time to go a step further by comparing this data with your analytics reports. The key question is: are the keywords you’re optimizing for the words that are actually driving traffic to your website? If not your SEO program needs to be re-focused.
It’s important to reach prospects when they are in the early stages of the buying cycle, the people who are searching for general information. Why? Once your site has achieved visibility within the general search listings, prospects have the opportunity to dig deeper and learn more about your offerings.
You must track SEM-driven conversions
When you designed your site, what was the goal? Is your site’s content designed to provide information, generate leads, or both? Often times PPC (Pay-Per-Click) landing pages are designed specifically with conversions in mind, while other pages within a corporate website are more informational and simply describe the product or solution offered. We always advocate that clearly pronounced calls-for-action be present on all of your site’s pages, because you never want someone who is eager to contact you to waste even a nanosecond searching for your contact number of form. SEO campaigns for consumer-oriented sites are typically focus on tracking orders and sales, but in the world of B2B, marketers must be able to track other types of actions (conversions) such as white paper downloads, sign-ups for virtual tours and newsletters, contact form registrations, and even phone calls.
You may wonder how you can track calls that are coming in from your website, which is crucial for certain industries where the prospect is much more likely to call than email due to the specific nature of inquiry. For example: a custom fabricators of granite counter tops and bathtubs, or a commercial real estate developer. For any industry (or site, for that matter) that intends to drive phone calls to contact your sales force, the ability to track those leads that come in from the site is crucial! Setup a unique phone number, either local or long-distance, so that you can easily run regular reports on the incoming calls. There are a variety of solutions available for this, such as services like Kall8 that will let you register numbers and setup reporting schedules for specific campaigns, and more.
Measure your link building progress and effectiveness
Are you tracking the effectiveness of your link building campaign? Cultivating links from other relevant, quality sites not only helps search engines place value on your pages, but it also helps drive targeted prospects to your website. Link building is a long-term strategy so you need to have very specific tracking for these efforts in order to justify their effectiveness. A variety of different software options are available for this as well.
If you aren’t conducting a link building campaign or, like most businesses we talk to, you have no idea how many sites are linking to yours, then try this:
- The easiest way to determine websites linking to yours is by conducting this Google search: link:www.yourwebsite.com
- To find additional sites that might be linking to yours, try: @yourwebsite.com
Now for a better picture of how people are working Again, compare this linking information to your analytics data. Are your link partners actually driving traffic to your site? Linking should always be an ongoing initiative, so use these insights to continually improve your linking initiative. If you find that one type of site is driving more traffic, or higher quality traffic, than another type — focus future link building research in this direction.
Measuring additional off-page initiatives
What about all the other off-site or off-page initiatives that make up (or should make up) your strategy? Such as:
- Social media – Measure traffic and results from your social networking profiles, social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, and blogs and blog sites such as Technorati.
- Video SEO – Measure traffic and results from video community websites like YouTube.
- Optimized PR – Measure results from sites where your press releases and articles are posted.
- Email campaigns – e-marketing has so many amazing features for measurability, each campaign should be carefully quantified for continual improvement.
All of your marketing efforts should be tracked, in one form or another, by your analytics package in order to properly justify the value of your online marketing efforts. And since online marketing meets all of the qualifications for S.M.A.R.T. marketing; SMART objectives should be:
Bottom line: web analytics is the key to effectively measuring SEO success. But you have to combine your analytics data with keyword ranking reports, linking reports, and other conversion metrics in order to track improvements over time and to proactively establish the value of SEO.
We made this offer to several of the associations we have spoken to about online marketing and we’ll do the same for you! If you contact us, Valeo will provide a free Internet marketing analysis of your site as well as to integrate Google Analytics into your site for FREE! If you’re not tracking your site then you need this software, and it is 100% free to you.
Contact us now and find out more…