Most marketing managers want to know “how well they’re doing in Google”, and often have to report on that. But what’s the best way of doing it nowadays? Let’s start with the worst way, which is looking at a few search terms which are guessed-at as being important, and seeing where your website ranks. We’re slightly complicit in this, by providing our clients with automated weekly reports which graph exactly that data, showing (for example) that the company website moved from position 10 up to position 6 and then down to position 7 last month. But these reports are designed as a monitor that there’s nothing alarming happening in Google, and a look at which websites are ranking higher, so we can investigate why. They’re not designed to be a KPI in themselves.
The reason why looking at your position for a random search term is not a good performance measure is that it’s often the “long tail” searches which bring you the most (and the best) visits. Ranking highly for a search on “blue widgets” makes an impressive Powerpoint slide, but it’s not really related to the amount of business you’re going to get from Google.
Looking at the amount of traffic Google is sending you year-on-year is a much better KPI. However, there is a problem: it might be that there are simply a lot more people looking for your company, thanks to other marketing activities. For that reason, I’ve previously recommended setting up a report which looked at the traffic from Google excluding searches on your company name.
You may be ahead of me here. As we know, Google is no longer passing through data on the searches people used to reach your site. So how else can we measure performance in Google using website visitor analytics?
Here’s what I reckon is a very good KPI. Measure the number of people which Google is sending to pages inside your site, i.e. excluding the home page. It’s probably safe to assume that the vast bulk of searches on your company name are being sent to the home page. Let’s ignore them. Which pages are getting you more intriguing traffic from Google?
If you’re actively trying to improve your SEO, this is a terrific report, and it’s one on which you can judge any external efforts. It’s a graph from which SEO consultants cannot hide.
I’ll leave it to you to work out how to set up the report (below). If any clients want us to do it for them, however, please ask.