To avoid getting taken advantage of by an online marketing company who offers you lead generation services or search engine optimization (SEO), unfortunately, protecting yourself takes time. You’ll need to educate yourself on the SEO basics. By doing so, you can save your company from losing thousands and thousands of dollars on one of the many SEO schemes out there.
Know what to look for when choosing an SEO company to work with and how to gauge performance on a month to month basis. When done right, SEO can be the fastest way to grow a business by ten-fold, head over heals better than typically TV marketing and word of mouth.
TV or Online Marketing, What’s More Scalable?
Think about if you were to pay to have a billboard put in the center of Times Square in Manhattan. How many millions of dollars would this advertising cost you? And why? The answer: because you would have massive exposure, where millions of consumers could see your billboard when walking in NYC. SEO can give your business that same exposure, but for a tenth of the price. Essentially, you put up a page on your website (like a billboard in Times Square). Potentially you could show your web page to more visitors in a day than what putting a billboard in NYC’s Time Square could ever offer you, but for a tenth of the price.
This guide will show you essential tips on how to evaluate an SEO company and know if they are doing a kick-butt job or not, after hiring them!
There are three key performance indicators (KPIs) that make it easy to track whether or not the SEO company you just hired is doing their job correctly.
- Keyword Rankings
- Clicks & Traffic
- Click Through Rate (CTR)
These three KPIs are online marketing metrics to help determine if the SEO agency is making your business money or not. Of course, there are also other external metrics that you need to look at, which vary from business to business. These other metrics include the quality of traffic that your website is receiving. Has your overall sales volume gone up in proportion to how your website’s traffic has increased? Or, is there some discrepancy between the increased site traffic not correlating with sales and conversions? Then, of course, the pages that are getting the most traffic, what’s the conversion ratio look like on these pages? Meaning, how much of the traffic is converting and how can your SEO company improve the conversion ratio. Are they working to improve the conversion ratio, or just looking at traffic? The best SEO’s look at all sides of the equation and strive to increase their client’s company profitability.
Some SEO software even allows you to incorporate your average revenue per client to track the value of your increased website’s visitors. You can track someone from the second they type in a particular keyword on Google and track that person all the way to after they purchase your product, which is just one example of how scalable online marketing can be. With TV marketing you can’t trace the value from a keyword that someone typed in, giving you less control. Online marketing is the ultimate type of marketing when done right because of how measurable it is.
First, let’s take a close look at Keyword Rankings as your KPI.
Keyword Rankings as a Key Performance Indicator
This is one of the best long-term (annual) metrics to keep an eye on. Every year you should set new goals and strive to achieve these keyword ranking goals.
If a company says that they will make your company number one on Google, your first question to them needs to be, “for what keywords?”. Get specific keywords. Once they give you the keywords, you can then double check the figures they gave you with a keyword tool like what SemRush.com.
At SemRush.com you can simply plug-in your company website, and all of the keywords that it ranks for will appear. Export this list and save it. Next month, re-check your site and compare how the rankings have changed. If you see a keyword ranked at number “301 on Google”, next month that ranking should improve some, and continue to grow closer to the top of Google, month after month.
Another free tool is to use Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), owned by Google. With Google Webmaster Tools, you just log in and click on “performance”. Next, select the metrics that you want to track, so in our case here we are looking at rankings and clicks. Lastly, export the data into a Google Spreadsheet or Excel. Every month, update a new tab on your Google Spreadsheet or Excel Worksheet, and voila!
Now you are in total control and can see exactly what, if anything, this lead generation company is doing for your business. Now bear in mind, SEO takes 6+ months to start producing significant keyword ranking improvements. However, a reputable SEO company will be able to increase your website’s traffic from month to month right from the get-go (starting on month #1), by using social media to drive more traffic and advanced SEO tactics to get your website more clicks immediately!
Click Through Rate (CTR) & Advanced Tactics
After someone, Google’s a keyword, next they will click on a link. Even after only one month of using an SEO company, they can bring more clicks and traffic to your website. There are ways to improve the click-through-rate (CTR) almost immediately for a company, and reputable SEO companies know how to do this.
Click Through Rate (CTR), is the rate that something gets clicked. If lots of people click a link because it’s click-worthy and just irresistible (click-bate), this link has an excellent click-through rate. Improving the click-through rate is a simple way to get a fast gush of traffic, and every SEO company that is reputable is undoubtedly using this strategy. Just improve the way a website looks in the Google search results, common sense right? Well it should be, but not every “SEO company” is focussing on this legitimate goal, some only focus on the fees that they charge you!
Even though it may take 6-months or longer to see your keyword rankings drastically improve from an SEO’s work, you should notice your website’s traffic, CTR and the volume of clicks going to your website increase and improve after just one month of using an SEO company. Clicks are the same thing as traffic; clicks are people going to your site, so that is traffic.
One easy way to get more clicks to a website fast is to simply change the meta title and meta description. The meta title and description are what you see on Google after Googling something. Like, that little description under each company link.
Even if your website doesn’t rank #1 for a keyword, a competent SEO company can steal the clicks on Google just by making the meta title and description irresistible for people to click on. You do this by showing the most compelling content obviously, but there are also advanced ways to really enhance your company’s presence on Google that the smartest SEO’s use.
One advanced strategy that marketers use is to incorporate Schema.org and other advanced markup languages that Google understands, to enhance a company’s listings. For example, the image above is showing the 6th ranked website on Google for this keyword “credit card relief programs“, as the only website with 5-stars showing. Even sitting in the sixth-ranked position on Google this listing still jumps out at you. Try Googling on your own, “credit card relief programs” and see what I mean. Whatever marketer is handling this website’s SEO, is doing a great job. This sixth place listing will improve over time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it move to number one eventually, based on how things look here.
This website is stealing some of the clicks on Google right now, from the top 3 listings, just because these stars are showing (all from the magic of Schema.org being used). A good SEO company will surely start implementing Schema.org into your web pages, starting on month number one, and if they fail to mention it, find another SEO company to work with because this company is lacking in using the modern day best practices that Google wants to see. Many, many SEO companies don’t even know what Schema.org is or how to implement it. Or if they do use it, they only do so by using a Schema.org WordPress plugin that probably does more damage than it does good for your site. Too many plugins on a website can severely slow it down. Make sure the SEO company helping you is manually implementing Schema.org into your website.
So hopefully, right about now you are either ready to HIRE this new SEO company or FIRE your current SEO!
GWT – Easiest Free Way to Track Website Clicks & Click Through Rate (CTR)
Again, you log in to GWT and click on “performance”. Next, select the metrics that you want to track, so in our case here, we are looking at clicks, CTR and Keyword Rankings/Positions. Lastly, export the data into a Google Spreadsheet or Excel, and update your metrics every month to track performance. You and the SEO company that your business hired should be on the same page with these reports, all working towards the same goals and KPIs.
Google Analytics to Track Performance
Never only rely on one tool to track your website’s SEO performance. Another free tool offered by Google is Google Analytics. Hire someone at Upwork.com to properly install your Google Analytics code into your website or just use the WordPress plugin called Yoast (one of the best plugins to use) which basically does it for you. Google Analytics will show your website’s traffic in an easy to read manner and allow you to specify dates to compare traffic on a month to month basis, making it super easy to compare traffic gains. If you see your website’s traffic going up every month as shown in this next image, maybe consider giving your SEO agency a raise. No just kidding, don’t give them a raise over just this one SEO metric, at least also incorporate overall gross revenue that came in this month into the equation also!
Obviously, there are many more advanced options that you can learn in order to properly evaluate your SEO’s performance, and easy basic ways as well. Like for example here’s another easy way to evaluate performance, “how many leads did your SEO generate this month and what percentage of these leads closed”. Or from a more technical standpoint, did the HTML errors that SemRush notified your team about, get fixed by your SEO company?