Many SEO practitioners as well as clients of SEO firms like-mindedly dream of watching organic search referrals climb from month-to-month and from a year-over-year perspective for that matter. While any SEO firm can boast the ability to lift organic traffic to a site, the dream of this success is much like that of my fantasy of a red Ferrari…without an engine.
Why you might be scratching your head at my analogy(and they are not always the best), there is quite a lot of validity in this statement considering that organic traffic increases can be much like that shiny car, pretty on the outside and hollow on the inside. For the most part, any SEO firm at some point can perform enough basic SEO and content creation to lift a site’s traffic simply because at some point you will drive so much long tail traffic that referrals will likely increase. What so often looks like a great report should have additional questions posed.
A review of your site analytics and these factors in mind can paint a better picture of whether your SEO program is targeted appropriately.
What site sections are driving traffic?
– Site sections such as a blog can drive a lot of traffic for a blog but often are virally motivated and this traffic can result in a 80+% bounce rate. Your traffic should be landing on your homepage or key pages that are a starting point for your conversion funnel or a page along this pathway.
How do organic visitors consume your content?
– Only in a perfect world does someone stumble upon your site and immediately become so enthralled that they instantly perform the intended action you are attempting. From an organic-wide view you need to ensure that page views, pages-per-visit and time on site are gradually increasing. This is also a way to show that site content has been developed for search engines but also for human visitors as content is compelling and there are links and calls to action to help propel visitors throughout the site.
Are organic referrals branded or non-branded?
– Every time you go all out on an offline effort or social promotion you are building your brand. And while not every offline viewer picks up a telephone and not every social user follows a link these web users search for company through a branded term. It is very important to parse your SEO reporting by branded and non-branded segments. Non-branded development should most often be your focus as a common SEO goal is to gain visibility across popular brand/service related terms.
How well does organic search referral s convert?
– Yes, I know, this is obvious. However, I am still surprised at how many people do not even think about this factor but more so with the climb in traffic. A thousand visits that do not convert at all are not as important as one visit that converts (brand identity freaks excluded). Analysis of these conversion metrics will allow you to figure out the most important goal of whether visitors are doing what you want them to.
Asking these questions of your SEO firm or analyzing these areas for yourself will help you to identify if your SEO campaign is successful or if the traffic numbers are misleading. Rankings are great but if they drove hollow traffic there is no importance for having a listing in that position and driving meaninglessness traffic. Who knows, if your site is a likely candidate for the conditions above, hopefully after a little work your traffic will drop next month…and your conversions will increase.