Increasing overall business results can start with reviewing and deploying improved analytics tagging on your company’s site.
Let’s say your data reveals outstanding conversion rates from search-engine traffic that are significantly higher than ads or social media. This isn’t to say that other channels should be ignored, only that the potential for increased sales is there if current destination pages could be optimized and new pages provided that have markedly better content than the competition.
One critical tool utilized in an audit is a search-engine optimization (SEO) platform. These platforms monitor both paid and organic searches and keyword volumes, and provide a ton of tools that provide insight into opportunities to optimize pages.
Pages can be optimized through a number of methods, including:
• Optimized infrastructure to improve page speed.
• Optimized titles to increase the indexing of the pages for relevant keyword searches.
• Optimized meta descriptions that would better entice search-engine users to click through on the search-engine result pages.
• Optimized page content with improved wording, better subtitling and use of formatting, videos and other imagery.
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There are of course concerns—from whether the site will lose rank to whether errors and warnings that an SEO platform revealed should be prioritized. These concerns are not uncommon, but they are often unwarranted given the context of the overall strategy.
Search-engine optimization is often viewed by consultants as feeding the algorithms of a search engine, which can be in direct conflict with the desires of the search-engine user.
At their core, all search engines want to serve better search results to users. As a result, it helps to focus on the user, not the machine.
Some errors and warnings do affect users. One example is broken internal links where users can’t find the information they attempted to navigate to. However, many more errors and warnings do not affect users.
Here are some examples:
• You mark an advertising landing page so that it’s not indexed in search engines. Google Search Console and many SEO platforms will report this as an error when you did it on purpose. You purposely hide different ad offers so they do not attract organic search traffic.
• You develop a no-nonsense landing page with a registration form and it comes with a warning because it has low text-HTML ratios. Adding text would eliminate the very goal of the design, which is only to provide a path to register and convert.
Search-engine marketing platforms provide amazing reports on virtually every digital characteristic of your site. What SEO platforms don’t do, though, is provide useful visitor insights.
Here’s an example we continue to see: Sites rank for an irrelevant keyword that drives a ton of traffic that immediately bounces and never converts customers. Great for the algorithms, prominent in every SEO platform, but absolutely useless for your business.
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In fact, it may even frustrate visitors. There are quite a few brands in the technology space that do what they can to own the keyword rankings but don’t offer anything of value on their destination pages. I now skip those sites when I’m researching in my industry.
Let’s revisit those concerns and reword the question to concerns that matter:
• Are current rankings of the site driving conversion rates from high-value visitors?
• Are the errors and recommendations affecting ranking and subsequent purchase behavior?
An ideal first step in every SEO strategy is to ensure that tags are properly managed throughout the site to capture campaigns, events and conversions accurately.
You should always be working from the conversion back through to the search engine to identify the right target audience, the right content and to compare the client to legitimate competitors.
When you understand how your potential customers or clients are using search engines to find the products or services that you offer, only then can you optimize your site and content to attract the appropriate search-engine users. SEO platforms are critical in helping you do this—but only after you are able to tie purchase behavior to search-engine behavior.
So, how do you know what to ignore and what not to? If you are using Google Analytics:
1. Link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics property.
2. Configure Search Console data in Google Analytics.
3. Ensure that all campaigns like email, app notifications or text messaging are properly tagged with UTM campaign code.
4. Review your default channel definitions in Google Analytics and modify them to ensure all traffic is properly classified by channel.
5. Use goals to measure how often users complete specific actions.
Google does not report on the activity of its logged-in accounts, so tracking organic search visits by keyword to conversion is nearly impossible. However, you can use an SEO platform to identify the pages that are ranking on your site and for what keywords. At that point, you can use analytics to identify those pages as entry points and begin analyzing whether those visitors are engaged and converting.
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Now you have a much clearer picture of how search-engine users are finding, engaging and converting on your site. It’s time to work backward to identify the keywords that you could rank better on and the pages you should either optimize or create to attract those visitors. At this point is when your SEO platform can help, but only after you’re focused on the visitors that matter—not every visitor from search.