Making things even worse, SEO campaigns die a premature death every day because the appropriate return on investment (ROI) parameters aren't in place. With an intense focus on the mechanics of SEO, small business often lacks discipline when evaluating the success of an SEO program, missing key components that simply can’t be missed.
Don’t Fly Blind
Believe it or not, people actually spend time and money on websites that don’t run analytics. This is crazy. You can’t fly an airplane without instrumentation, unless you want to crash into a mountain.
You need to know your traffic sources, such as the percentage of visitors that come from search engines versus referral sites. You need to know what keywords perform, which means tracking time-on-site and bounce-rates at the keyword level. You simply can’t have a positive ROI from your SEO campaign without tracking, studying and really understanding your traffic.
Non-Branded Traffic is Key
Mastery of web traffic analytics means understanding the types of traffic as well. Branded traffic are visitors that either directly type in a domain name or use a search engine to find a variation of a business name they already know.
If a veterinarian clinic in Cleveland is called DrPuppy.com, then a visitor who found the website via Google by typing in “DrPuppy vet” would be considered a branded visit. These are very important visitors as this customer already knew the business name. Public relations, reputation management, advertising and branding will drive this traffic.
SEO, on the other hand, is about non-branded traffic. A potential visitor who finds the website via Google by searching “vet in Cleveland” is a non-branded visit. This is SEO at it’s best. A well-positioned website scooping up existing demand in the marketplace that had zero knowledge of the business name, but is searching in a relevant category.
Conversion is King
A great deal of time and resources are spent getting visitors to a website. A common trap is to then forget about the experience after a visitor lands. Typical conversion rates are in the 1-3 percent range. That may sound small, but it’s huge.
The difference between a 1 and 3 percent on-site conversion can make-or-break the ROI for an entire SEO strategy. Study this. Use tools to understand where people go on the website and why they leave. Complete A/B testing to tune the site.
People Like Telephones
When focusing on Internet marketing strategies, it’s easy to forget that people like to use phones for initial contact. Up to 40 percent of conversions can come from phone calls for customers who were on the website before deciding to call the business. Without phone tracking techniques to understand which phone calls were ultimately from organic web sources, the ROI will look much poorer than it really is.
Email is Alive and Well
A confirmed lead from a website must be automatically enrolled into an email nurture program. While not a sexy topic, email is in fact one of the best tools for keeping leads warm between sales calls.
The metrics on open and click-through rates are easy to understand and should be reviewed. Sophisticated sales managers also understand the importance of integrating email nurture data events (such as a lead opening an email or newsletter) with sales CRM.
SEO is a competitive place. With such a strong emphasis on specific SEO mechanics and tactics, it’s easy for small business owners to lose the forest for the trees.
A disciplined approach that surrounds sound SEO with best-in-class measurement and evaluation techniques is critical. Furthermore, tight integration between SEO and other marketing processes such as email nurturing and sales CRM might just make the difference in achieving a positive ROI for SEO.