From rankings to revenue: How one SEO helps clients make the metrics shift

SEO

From rankings to revenue: How one SEO helps clients make the metrics shift

If you’re reading this, then you haven’t turned your back on Raven Tools, which – as I outlined in my post the other day – is a good thing.

That said, there is still a chance you are trying to cope with last week’s announcement regarding Raven Tools dropping scraped data on January 2.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some firsthand advice to help you convert your clients, your boss, or your sales force from rankings to revenue.

To give you some background, I work for a plastic surgery internet marketing company. In this niche, vanity is the name of the game, so showing up at the top of the search results was the only metric any of our clients cared about – and usually for terms that offered no value to their practice.

When I took over the internet marketing department in 2009 one of the first things I tasked myself with was client and sales education – an effort I have continued to date.

So when I talk about these things, I know exactly what many of you are up against and how hard it can be to get people to change.

Overcoming the rankings hurdle

This is going to be the first hurdle you’ll have to face, and I guarantee you it will be the hardest.

You can make it easier on yourself by using the data in your favor. Talk to your client, your boss, whoever and find out what terms matter to them.

Then take that data and identify how many of those terms are currently ranking, then dive a little deeper and identify how much traffic those terms have actually provided or converted.

In my particular case, this was usually enough to start to open up the eyes of the client. When you show someone that their most sacred term ranks first but has driven only two visits and zero conversions, they’re going to start to think.

Still not getting through? Show them the impact of personalization and localization on some of their terms, and how ranking reports are becoming less reliable.

Metrics that show your efforts matter

Once you’ve opened your client’s eyes, it’s time to help them understand some new metrics that are important to their bottom line.

Organic visitor growth

This one might seem obvious, but where I feel a lot of SEOs miss out is reporting actual organic search growth and not just overall traffic growth.

While our efforts should provide overall traffic growth, one way to attach value directly from an SEO standpoint is to look at overall visitor growth from organic search. In Raven Tools you can access this via the Engine tab under Analytics. Just be sure to filter it by non-paid search. This section will provide you with data on traffic driven to the site solely through organic search, which is what you as an SEO are optimizing for.

Again, don’t discount growth from overall visits, but if you need to prove SEO value this is one place you can do it.

Non-branded keyword traffic

Overall organic search growth is a great gauge of your efforts, but if you want to drill it down even further and show themes related to your keyword efforts, non-branded keyword traffic is the way to go.

In Raven Tools you can throw -”brand name”, -”domain.com” and the like into the search field under keywords in the analytics section and get a complete list of keywords that drove traffic to your website that are unrelated to your brand.

Export this data and group it together with relevant keyword themes that are a direct result of your efforts. I did this with a client, and they were amazed to see that they weren’t only getting new traffic for the keyword they were hoping to rank for, but a number of other relevant high traffic terms as well.

Conversions

Your efforts are meaningless if they aren’t contributing to the company bottom line. You should ideally be reporting conversion data already, but if you’re not – now is your chance. And if you are, dive deeper into your data and show how many of those were as a result of organic search traffic.

Actionable metrics

There are a number of other metrics that can also be used to display how something the client is doing is – or isn’t – working.

Do they think their product or service page is the bee’s knees, but it lacks substance and suffers from high bounce rates? These are action points you can improve upon to show value for the work you do.

Not sure what metrics to look at or work with? Give this piece from Avinash Kaushik a read – it’s chock full of metrics to consider based on the size of the business in question.

Don’t give up

Yes, rankings are a metric, but they are a metric that has been less and less reliable over the years. True SEO success is measured by how your efforts impact the bottom line of your client.

Once you can attribute your efforts to money made, the ranking reports you send out every month will mean less and less – and the amount of money your efforts earned the company will matter more.

If your clients are struggling with the change, wean them off of rankings by showing them average rank data in Google Analytics. This can give them some added insight into where they rank on average, and it may even help solidify the idea that the rankings they see aren’t always what they appear. (Note: If you haven’t connected Google Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics, this report will not be available.)

Changing a client’s perspective is not always an easy task, and not every client will be a believer right away. But if you stick to it and educate them as you go, they are bound to come around sooner or later. The key is honesty and communication.

You may have to do a little more hand holding during the transition, but as long as they know that something is happening and understand the successes of your efforts, they will come around.

I have seen this happen firsthand and can attest to the fact that even the most stubborn people can eventually see the light – if you spend enough time helping them understand how much money you can make them.

File under: SEO

Mike Wilton is an Orange County SEO consultant who specializes in local search optimization and social media. He is a regular contributor at Search News Central and Search Engine People.

More about Mike Wilton | @mwilton13

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