Regardless of how your SEO agency reports their performance to you, any marketing manager or business owner might always wonder if the reports they see are completely accurate.
After all, what’s really stopping an agency from just writing in big gains into those presentations every month? Here are a few tips from our own analytics department here at Xivic for some ways to make sure you’re seeing the most accurate data and no fabricated traffic numbers.
Ask for fancy aggregate statistics to be broken down
If your “SpyFu” score is up or your DA is down, don’t be afraid to have your SEO or Analytics consultant explain exactly how that number translates into ROI and value. Not all metrics have to be sales-related, but they need to be part of a coherent growth strategy that is driving value and hopefully, of course, sales. And if you really like to get into the nerdy statistics, don’t be shy about asking how these numbers are calculated.
Is this real data or just a statistic reported by your SEO Agency?
Some stats are just estimates (and there are obviously huge ranges of what those estimates could be) while other metrics in analytics can be real-world data. A great question during any SEO presentation is to ask the analyst if the data they are seeing is real-world data or just an estimate or tool’s best guess.
There’s nothing wrong with some estimates (for example, CPC and PPC data is usually well-known and easy to estimate), but certain metrics like traffic numbers and organic clicks can be wildly inaccurate if not from a service like Google Analytics that is tracking direct clicks. Don’t hesitate to get an explanation of any numbers you’re being shown.
Screenshots or live dashboards can beat presentations
Ask for screenshots! It’s easy to type in any number into a Google Slides presentation, but a screenshot or screengrab from a well-known software like Google Analytics can help you know that what you’re seeing is real. Another solution here is to use live dashboards like Dash This or Google Data Studio that are pulling in real data from services like Moz and Google Search Console, allowing for a simplified, client-facing view.
Timeframes and Timing
Are you seeing month over month growth? Year over year? Quarter over quarter? Period over period? Why is that timeframe the one selected? Should we be measuring from a campaign start date, or from the total history of a website or campaign? These are questions your SEO agency’s team should answer, but that you should be monitoring at all times. Make sure the answers to these questions make sense and are driving toward the overall goal of your digital strategy.
What do SEO Rankings Mean?
Organic rankings are perhaps the most important metric in search engine optimization and organic digital marketing. The branding and reach that can come from ranking #1 in Google, Yahoo or Bing for any search term can be a fantastic boost for any business or organization. So, it’s important to know exactly where you rank.
No ranking in 2019 is static, so it’s difficult to report an exact ranking that will be identical for everyone viewing a search result, but you should be able to ask your SEO or analytics consulting firm to provide detailed information on the rankings they’re showing you.
Are they local rankings? National? Is this #1 ranking the same on all devices? Mobile vs desktop? What about different search engines? Are we getting #1 clicks, or do users just scroll over us? These are vital questions that affect your branding and ROI on your organic rankings.
What is SEO value?
Remember, at the end of the day, a business needs more than organic traffic or better rankings. Traffic and rankings in search engines are simply tools that can help a business reach its goals. All SEO efforts and campaigns should be tailored and geared toward helping a business’s digital strategy and overall growth, in the most efficient way possible.
Your SEO agency should be able to explain fully and coherently at all times exactly how and why their search marketing efforts are supporting your organizations’ overall goals and digital strategy. Set expectations right away that the goal is to drive ROI and value, not simply metrics and web statistics.