How to gain more from SEO than just rankings

By Simon Ensor
SEO 07.04.2017

SEO is often defined as increasing a website’s rankings on search engines, hence the name ‘search engine optimisation’. Some go further and look at the increased visibility a website gets through search engines via an SEO campaign but even this is somewhat misleading. The majority or businesses will employ an SEO agency to deliver a return on their investment via increased sales. Therefore, the main objective of SEO is an increase conversions via search traffic. The key point is that keyword rankings are purely an indicator, they should not be the end goal.

Yes, higher rankings do often fulfil a goal. The higher you rank on Google the greater the proportion of search traffic that is captured by your website which may result in more traffic and in turn more conversions. The reason why we have penned this article is because higher rankings do not have always have a direct correlation to higher conversion stats.

Note: this is not to say that rankings are not important, they absolutely are. Dive a little deeper though and there is more to a successful SEO campaign and managing this success than simple ranking reports.

Below you will find some tips and tricks that will give you the confidence to get the most out of your SEO campaign.

Set Your Objectives

This applies to any marketing campaign. Setting objectives at the start is critical in your ability to measure the success of said campaign. If you can set specific KPI’s even better. For example, following the theme of conversions, instead of stating that the campaign should ‘Increase Conversions’ you may want to attach a percentage increase to this goal. Your SEO agency should be able to help you with this percentage through analysing search volumes, current rankings, CRO on your site and the opportunities present within the campaign.

Focus on Commercial Drivers

When setting your objectives you should ensure that your commercial drivers are baked into the core of these objectives. Commercial drivers will help you identify quantifiable KPI’s and tell if the SEO campaign is delivering results which will have a direct impact on your business. Whilst setting revenue generation targets is important you can be more specific by targeting particular products or services based on your overall strategic goals.

Analyse Keywords

Being 1st place on Google for 100 search terms does not mean success. Unfortunately the SEO industry is littered with those that pull the wool over their client’s eyes through a combination of misleading rankings, vague reporting and excessive terminology (hence why we created our glossary to explain SEO terms). We recently saw such a report. It only took a little research to see that the search terms not only had almost zero search volume but also had some pretty questionable user intent. Not surprising then that the business did not feel like the SEO campaign was working!

First place rankings are fantastic and can genuinely transform a business, but only if they are for the right search term. We have listed a few factors to take into account when agreeing on target keywords:

  • Relevance: The search term must be applicable to your business.
  • User Intent: If somebody was using this search term, would they be looking for your product or service?
  • Search Volume: If the search term is relevant and has the correct user intent, the next question to ask is whether anybody uses it. Without search volume it is purely an exercise in vanity.
  • Opportunity: Simply going after the keywords with the highest search volume may not be as effective as those that are super relevant with less competition. OpenSite Explorer gives a useful opportunity indicator.

Through analysing your target keywords you can identify those that will have the highest return according to your objectives and rest assured that should you get to the top spot that it will deliver an ROI.

Traffic: Quality over Quantity

Once you are confident that the search terms you are targeting will be result in the achievement of your SEO goals you can factor in rankings into the metrics used to measure success. You guessed it though, rankings should not be the only metric taken into account.

In order to increase conversions, you need one of two things (preferably both): Quality traffic and more of it!

As a result one of the metrics that you must look at as part of your SEO reporting is traffic. Use a combination of Google Analytics and Search Console to determine quantities and traffic sources. You can delve deeper into statistic related to Organic Search or your Search Console query data to gain a better understanding of your traffic specifically from search engines.
A great SEO campaign will result in more than just high rankings and more traffic from your target search terms. Through a combination of semantic indexing and a comprehensive content creation strategy, your traffic data should be showing a few things:

  • An increase in the variety and amount of keywords that you rank for and subsequently get traffic from.
  • An increase in the amount of traffic that your site receives via long tail search terms
  • An increase in the amount of direct traffic to your blog or other content area.
  • Of course, an increase in conversions.

Long tail search terms make up the majority of searches performed by users. Furthermore, generally speaking long tail keywords are more specific than short tail keywords. Through targeting long tail keywords and providing real solutions for users you can not only harvest users but also capitalise on users with more established user intent.

Conversion Tracking is Essential

To look at it objectively, increased traffic does not mean more conversions. Much like 1st position rankings for irrelevant keywords might be misleading, lots of traffic will also be misleading if the traffic is not relevant to your goals. But how do you determine the difference between good visitors and bad visitors?

  • Check out our blog post on how to block those pesky bots from ruining your traffic data
  • Compare the overarching data such as bounce rate, page per session and average session duration.
  • You can check that your target demographic is visiting your site or from the correct device.
  • Analysing your user flow may help you identify weak areas in your site but will also show whether the traffic is relevant to your site.

This is all well and good but to really get the most out of your SEO reporting you need to have conversions and/or event tracking set up on your analytics – check out a previous blog post here. Through this function you will be able to gain further insights into the success of your campaign and have real data to work with. As we always like saying, it will enable you as a business to make ‘data driven decisions’.

So there you have it, a few tips that will help you keep track of an SEO campaign and avoid being blinded by the bright lights of rankings!

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