Problem: Client says that site traffic and sales have decreased since starting SEO campaign. You know that since taking over SEO you have eliminated hundreds of pages of duplicate content and increased search spidering of important pages. Site usability has improved significantly and rankings for key terms are also improving. Many site architectural issues have been uncovered but remain unresolved and can only be fixed by the client. What do you do?
I was posed this problem recently and my first thought was, let’s look at the analytics. Unfortunately, the client refuses to give us access to their analytical data, which means everything I’m about to say here falls under the category What-Could-Have-Been-Though-We-Won’t-Know-For-Sure.
Solution: The only real way to find a solution, or rather to find the real problem that will allow us to develop a solution, is to dive into the site analytics. From the limited information we gathered from the client it appeared that the decline in traffic and sales are part of a much bigger issue that started several months before SEO began. It is unfortunate that the SEO efforts were not able to offset the decline in a noticeable way, but it may have done so in a measurable way.
Here is what I was hoping to find out:
First I wanted to look at the traffic numbers to see if the optimized product and pages are showing the same level of traffic decline as pages we had not yet optimized. This could be quite telling. If we found that while other pages show a decrease in traffic by X amount but the pages we have optimized for specific keywords are showing less of a decrease, or even an increase, then this can show that the optimization is effective in bringing in traffic.
We would also want to look at traffic that came to the site via search engines to see if that has increased or decreased. We could compare pre-SEO search traffic with post-SEO traffic while also looking at the keywords that are driving the traffic to see if there have been any changes that correlate to the optimization efforts.
Next we would want to look at conversion data. Has the conversion rate increased or decreased on the site overall? How about just the areas that have been optimized?
Without access to the data I’m not even able to guess as to what’s causing this client’s decline. And beyond that we can only make assumptions as to the benefit that the SEO campaign has provided them, though the measures I stated in the problem above help us make some of those assumptions.
The bottom line, without analytics there really is no way to measure success. You won’t know if you are successful and you won’t be able to determine what’s causing the perceived failure. And if you can’t know that, you’re better off not doing a marketing campaign to begin with.
Did I miss anything? What else would you want to analyze in this situation?