This post is part of our series, A Better Agency, which looks at many of the different challenges that can arise when working with an agency, and what Forthea is doing to overcome it.
Several factors contribute to determining if an agency is the right fit for your company. Some of these include integrity, responsiveness, and technology. Another item to add to this list, though, is results. More specifically, tangibility when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) results.
SEO can be a hard thing to measure. Keyword rankings rise and fall, search volume in Google is outside of your control, and tying conversions to a specific channel can sometimes be a challenge . In this world of ambiguity, how do you bring something concrete to your clients to show improvement? That’s the question we try to answer with the rest of this post.
Explaining What SEO Is
Before we dive into how to show tangible SEO results to clients, it is important to ensure that clients understand what SEO is. To those not in the field or otherwise unfamiliar with it, SEO can sound like a particularly foreign concept. To put it simply, SEO is the practice of of impacting the the online visibility of a website in Google’s unpaid search engine results pages, also often referred to as organic search. There are several factors that influence the organic performance of a website including content, technical factors such as site speed, usability, local optimizations, backlinks and much more. Organic search is a long-term strategy that can ultimately help to significantly influence the bottom line of a business. It is important to explain and educate clients, in the best way possible for that client, what the world of SEO involves first and its potential to impact their business if they are going to being able to fully appreciate its value.
Tangible SEO Results
Tangible results, what does this mean? When it comes to paid search advertising (PPC) this is easier to define for a client. Paid search has the benefit of clearly defined statistics like click-through rates, impressions, and conversions. Our PPC team is able to deliver precise information to a client, how much they spent, and the exact return they got out of it.
Unfortunately, there’s not a set magic formula that says if you include a keyword twice on a page, and once in the title and meta description, you’ll get that page ranked on Page 1 Position 1 in Google search engine results. Sometimes SEOs wish we could just ramp up the CPC bid on a page and watch the traffic roll in, but we’ve chosen our side of the digital universe and have to work within the confines of our work.
On the organic (or SEO) side, it can sometimes be vastly more difficult to show value to a client. Many of our clients have come to us from other agencies scratching their heads. Monthly reports that are filled with numbers, but no meaningful analysis leaves the client confused and frustrated.
Many times, reporting for search engine optimization involves showing clients data that’s hard to contextualize like keyword movements, engagement metrics like time on site and bounce rates, YoY organic traffic visitors, and the volume of quality & relevant keywords ranking on Page 1, let alone data that explains how the competition stacks up on Google Search. While this is valuable information, it can sometimes be repetitive and also leave clients unsure about their investment with questions such as “Keyword X moved 8 spaces up in an organic search results page, what now? What is the value added exactly?”
To really deliver tangible results that inform a client and answer the question of why is SEO important for them, Forthea presents certain metrics and items that can be analyzed further in order to show a return. One way to do this is to change your reporting mindset. Instead of gathering a bunch of metrics and throwing them into a report, it’s important to really know and explain what those numbers mean, and to also focus on the ones that a client would ideally have the greatest amount of interest in knowing about.
How do we do that? Think of how these metrics affect the business as a whole. Think about what clients really want to see for their business. Forthea likes to show clients trends in the keyword terms that their site is ranking for, but more than that, we want to show how that affects their business. Knowing the right metrics to analyze to show this value is crucial. This comes with understanding your clients and their needs.
By honing in on the key metrics for clients, Forthea can focus on things they care about and tie those to actual results. A few ideas on key metrics:
- Organic revenue
- Timely comparison data like year-over-year visitors
- Number of calls tracked back to organic traffic
Once these metrics are explained, you can begin to add value by analyzing the fluctuations of the numbers.
Furthermore, to really drive this analysis home, a good agency partner will show how the SEO work done relates to the entire business. For example, account not only for the amount of revenue that SEO brought in for the company, but how that number compares to other marketing channels. The latter has the potential to be a much more powerful statement and can be done using resources, such as multi-channel attribution in Google Analytics. With multi-channel attribution, it is possible to tell if organic search assisted or had an impact with other referring channels. A person may convert via a direct channel, but begin their search organically.
Multi-channel attribution can also be used as an example to describe another way to prove the value of SEO: its offline role. It is important to emphasize to clients the role that search engine optimization plays in offline conversions. While this may be more difficult to pull concrete metrics on, it is proven that the majority of consumers in the United States will research a product online before either making a purchase online, or in the store. If a company’s website does not have strong online visibility when a consumer is searching, this will most likely eliminate them from being considered by the buyer. For this reason, it is important to stress to clients the importance of maintaining a healthy website.
Proving value can be a challenge in the world of search engine optimization, however, recognizing which metrics mean the most to a client, and really digging into those, can go a long way to maintaining an open dialogue with a client. Reporting that time on a product page of a website improved by 30 seconds with no other data that supports an actual return for a client, is not proving value. Making landing page improvements, optimizing content and a shopping cart experience, and then seeing conversions increase on that page is tangible value.
Partner With An SEO Agency That Understands Your Key Performance Indicators
The key to all of this is knowing where to look while keeping the client’s point of view in mind when reporting. To get in touch with an agency focused on delivering tangible results to clients, contact Forthea today.