Too many SEO companies are getting away with misleading or non-objective reporting. Why? Well in most cases, it’s simply because they can. The fact is that many of their clients simply don’t know how the success of an SEO campaigns should be measured, leaving their agency to throw any positive figures at them to keep them sweet. Well, not for long. Phone your SEO agency now and ask them the following. If they can’t give you a straight answer, it’s probably worth looking elsewhere.
To gauge any improvement, you need to find out where you were before they ‘started work’ on your account. Any credible SEO agency will have measured a vast array of reporting metrics before they got to work. You can’t know where you are or where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. Ask them for the following metrics before, during and if applicable, after their search marketing campaign:
1. Percentage and number of unique visits from natural search engines.
Ask them how many visits you are receiving from natural search engines before and during their campaign. Ask them to supply a % for the traffic referred from natural search engines compared to those referred from elsewhere. This data should be supplied frequently, at least on a weekly basis but preferably daily. A successful campaign should show a steady increase in unique visitors.
2. Figures and ratio of visits from natural search engines from brand and non-brand related keywords.
A brand keyword is one that includes your company or website name. This ensures that words that you probably rank in position 1 already for are omitted from measurement criteria. Non-Brand traffic is one of the most important measurements needed to track progress. Ask them for this data both before they started their campaign and on a weekly or daily basis during their campaign.
Ask for the rankings for Google, Yahoo and Bing for your agreed target keywords. (If you weren’t involved in keyword selection, run a mile now. You know your business and customers better than any search agency so don’t let them talk you into targeting irrelevant, low volume keywords). SEO companies should show a significant improvement in rankings within a 3 months period, depending on how much time they have allocated to your account. Be aware that this does not necessarily mean reaching 1st position in Google, but improvements in rankings should be continual and incremental after this period.
Chances are it’s why you employed them in the first place. Any increase in traffic reported by your SEO agency should yield higher revenues. If this isn’t the case, it’s worth taking a look at the keywords responsible for delivering this traffic. Are they relevant? Are they high volume? Do they convert? Make sure you look at revenue from both brand and non-brand keywords.
5. ROI (Return on Investment)
Find out how much your revenue has increased from natural search visits since you employed your search marketing agency. Take this figure then subtract the fees your SEO company has charged you up to this point. If the number is negative, you really need to wonder why you’re employing these people. But before you go hammering their door down, be aware that SEO is long term. Don’t expect too much too soon. A reasonable time period to see significant results is around 3 months, depending on how much time they have allocated to your account. Other things to consider when looking into results vs. time is the competitiveness of your keywords and where your website ranked before they started the campaign.
These metrics are certainly not gospel, and may not apply directly to every website or business model. However online marketing should be 100% measurable, so there’s no excuse for not providing these figures if you ask for them.
Feel free to add your views on how SEO success can be measured.