Q and A: How do I prove my SEO work contributed to company sales?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’m a past graduate of Search Engine College (Class of 2009, Woo!) and I’ve been working with a few different companies since then. I’ve recently started to take on private clients so that I can move towards setting up my own freelance SEO business and things are going well.

One of my private clients is an affiliate company that works mainly off lead generation. I’ve been tracking the SEO work I’ve done for them in Google Analytics and produced reports showing a marked increase in traffic from organic search results. They’re happy with that, but the CEO wants me to show a dollar figure of how much SEO has contributed to the company’s bottom line.

I can get the monthly affiliate sales figures from their marketing team and I can set up funnel tracking to see the path taken by organic search referrers towards the shopping cart, but all the purchasing is actually done on a 3rd party shopping cart site and I don’t have access to that information. Also, those figures don’t take into account the brand exposure my work provides for the company by continually getting their name in front of eyeballs. Some of these people may go directly to the shopping cart site later after comparison shopping and buy as a result. How can I track these post-search sales?

Thanks
Louise

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Hi Louise

Tracking the effectiveness of SEO activity for ecommerce and lead generation sites can be tricky. I also have ecommerce sites as clients and I feel your frustration!

Is each customer sent to a *thank you for purchasing* page after purchase? If so, you can add Google conversion tracking code to that page and set up each visit to that page as defining a single conversion, even if that activity happens off the main site. Then you can accurately measure conversions within Google Analytics. Measuring conversions that happen later should also be possible, depending on the way visitors are tracked and cookies stored. Integrating Google Analytics asynchronous tracking code will make that job easier.

Juggling the shifting priorities of various stakeholders aside, most clients just want to see that the money they are channeling into SEO or Pay Per Click efforts is justified. Often, preparing detailed Google Analytics reports and financial spreadsheets can be a waste of time because few staff will look at them. You want to be able to prove, quickly, that your work is cost-effective and making a direct impact on sales.

Ian Lurie of Search Engine Land has written a brilliant article on this very topic this week, called The Challenge of Justifying Enterprise SEO. In the article, Ian tackles the problem of justifying SEO for lead generation sites. He says you just need to know three things to report for such sites:

To make this work, you need three pieces of data:

  • The number of Web leads that become customers.
  • The average lifetime value of a customer (LTV).
  • The referring source, even if it’s a phone call.

Then, Ian says, it’s just a matter of math and a very simple graphic. Read the article for the full story and let me know if it works for you!

Kalena

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Q and A: How do I add Google Analytics code to my WordPress site?

QuestionHello Kalena

I have a couple of questions about my WordPress site.

I have signed up for a Google AdSense and Google Analytics account but I am confused as to where to place the tracking codes.

Can you help me at all?

Thanks
Sarah

Hi Sarah

I recommend you review Google’s own instructions for adding the Google Analytics code.

If you’re adding the code to a WordPress site, you need to add it to the header.php file from within WordPress. You go to the *Editor* area under Administration from your WordPress dashboard. Then you copy and paste the code into the header.php page, just before the closing </head> tag.

Google also provides instructions for adding the AdSense code. However, if you want to put AdSense on your WordPress site and you’re not confident editing code, you’re probably better off installing an AdSense plugin that will help you to add AdSense ads to your pages without messing around with code hacking.

Hope this helps

Kalena

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Outdated Google Analytics Tracking Code Could be Costing You Thousands

Do you run an ecommerce site? Do you use Google Analytics code on your pages? Does your site contain secure pages that start with https? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you’ll probably shudder in horror when you read this.

Tom Critchlow of Distilled – a search agency in the UK – has written a guest post for the Google Analytics blog that demonstrates how using outdated Google Analytics tracking code on your secure pages can be costing you THOUSANDS of dollars.

Tom explained how he noticed a glitch on the analytics report of his client’s ecommerce site that involved users of Internet Explorer 8. These users had a significantly lower conversion and revenue rate on the site, in comparison to users of other browsers and IE versions.

Turned out Tom’s client was using the old Urchin version of the Google Analytics tracking code on every page. The old code included a call to a non-secure .js file that triggers a security warning pop-up in the Internet Explorer 8 browser.

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox don’t display a security warning but Internet Explorer 8 produces the following warning when users transition from the non-secure (http) pages to secure (https) pages on a web site.

The error looks like this:

IE 8 warning

Not surprisingly, the error was causing almost all visitors browsing with Internet Explorer 8 to abandon the shopping cart process and this was costing Tom’s client an enormous amount of revenue, estimated to be in excess of USD 150K per month.

A 5 minute fix to the site saved Tom’s client an estimated 1 million dollars per year. What was the fix? Simple. Installing the new version of the Google Analytics tracking code.

The new Analytics tracking code is asynchronous, meaning that it can track a single domain, or more complex sites with multiple subdomains, database driven pages, php pages or just top level domains.

The new tracking snippet offers:

* Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution
* Enhanced data collection and accuracy
* Elimination of tracking errors from dependencies when the JavaScript hasn’t fully loaded

If you are using older versions of the Analytics tracking code, Google recommends you login to your Analytics dashboard, download the new code and transition your pages over as soon as possible.

Now you have an added incentive to transition – if you run an ecommerce site, the new code might not just save you page load time but thousands of dollars too!

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Zen and the Art of Web Site Analytics

smiling-buddhaSite analytics have always freaked me out a little.

I mean, the sheer amount of data you are presented with about your web site can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. Or even if you DO know what to look for.

That’s why I’m a big fan of Avinash Kaushik, the Analytics Evangelist for Google and author of the Occam’s Razor blog.

I have been avidly reading Avinash’s book Web Analytics: 2.0 for a couple of weeks now and I’m so impressed by Avinash’s writing style and the knack he has of simplifying concepts.

Take for example his definition of a Single Page Visit:

“I came. I puked. I left”

Exactly. If a visitor to your site doesn’t like or find what they’re looking for the first page they look at, it’s  highly likely they’ll simply take off. So you’d better look carefully at those pages with high bounce rates and work out what the heck is turning people away.

Avinash knows that webmasters and marketers often need to present a SWOT analysis or at least a summary of key site analytics to a range of stakeholders. He explains explicitly how to pull the crucial data out of your site analytics and present it in such a way that even the most non-tech of people can make sense of it.

I was reading his feature article in the latest Search Marketing Standard magazine yesterday and something in particular he said really stood out for me:

“Less is more. Focus on the critical few metrics rather than the insignificant many”

Often, we are so obsessed with understanding ALL the data presented by our analytics program that we forget to take a step back and think about WHY we are studying analytics in the first place. Avinash reminds us that we need to use our time wisely and look at just the few critical metrics that impact our business.

These will be different for everyone, depending on the goals of their web sites. For example, for my business, the key metrics are probably bounce rate, keywords, referrers and exit pages. As long as I review these four metrics regularly, I can be confident that I’m measuring the most important data that is influencing my online business. For a lead-generation based site, the critical metrics might be conversions, entry pages, page views and referrers.

So don’t be afraid of your analytics. Think about the main goals you’ve set for your web site, dive in to your analytics and pull out a few metrics that will help you understand why visitors are meeting/missing those goals. Then you can tweak the site based on what you’ve learned.

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Q and A: Can Google Analytics help me identify potential customers?

Question

Hi Kalena…

My question relates to Google Analytics. Does it also track what kind of visitors are coming to your site? I wonder if there is a tool that can tell you what kind of visitors come to your site. What I want to find out is if the visitors who come to my site are people who try to sell me stuff or are they potential clients who are interested in my services.

Thank you,

Galit

Dear Galit,

Thanks very much for your enquiry.  Google Analytics (along with most other site usage stats packages) tracks a wide variety of information about your site visitors – and by analysing this data it is often possible to infer their “intent”.  However, there is no “magic wand” or simple measurement that you can use to determine whether they are really potential customers.

Saying that, if you have goal tracking setup in Google Analytics (and I hope you do), you can relatively easily determine which types of users are more likely to result in a conversion – for example, using goal tracking in place, you may notice that 60% of users coming to your site via a google search query for the phrase “cheap red widgets” go on to buy red widgets from you.  This is important information – as it means that by optimising your sitye for this keyword phrase, you are likley to increase traffic – and more importantly sales.

Another analytics feature that you should consider implementing is – eCommerc tracking . This allows you to relatively easily determine your most profitable sources of revenue, and can be a very  effective way to determine how best to boost your online sales amd enquiries.

Regards,

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

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