Conversions, Analytics, Search Engine Rankings


Goal Conversions are The Bottom Line

Recently there seems to be a big shift in focus in the SEO industry regarding the importance of conversions over search engine rankings. This concept really sounds like a no-brainer to me … probably because I was trained in SEO by a company that earned income solely from their lead generation … If our rankings didn’t turn into conversions for our clients … We didn’t complete our goals … We lost our clients. The bottom line for my SEO strategy has always been focused toward online conversions of search traffic.

So Why Are Conversions Important » Now?

Last year Google ramped up their personalized search initiative which effectively tailors search results from behavior based user data … According to Google’s Matt Cutts, there needs to be a shift in the way SEO’s currently operate. WebProNews’s Mike McDonald recently asked Matt “Is Ranking Dead?” In response to Mike Matt stated,

“I’m not sure I would say ranking is dead but it’s not as important as it used to be. The fact is the smart SEOs are not just necessarily looking at the rankings. They are looking at conversion, they are looking at their server log. It’s great if you’re ranking for a phrase but unless that leads to sales that doesn’t help you very much.”
“The challenge is not to pay so much attention to ranking, pay attention to traffic, pay attention to conversions and keep building good content and don’t worry about ‘can I show people that I rank number one for my trophy phrase ‘ … “

The video below is from the interview with Matt Cutts and Mike McDonald at PubCon LasVegas …

Furthermore, Google’s working diligently on their Universal Search model and SEO’s need to be able to adapt to Google’s ever changing environment by learning to develop and initiate a broader range of tools to complete the conversion equation by bringing in targeted search traffic. For the SEO industry this means you need to focus more than ever before on building campaigns that are targeted towards conversions and not so much on rankings. However, it is important to note that rankings are only a metric, and have always been only part of the equation that is required to increase conversions. Obtaining search engine rankings without actually benefiting from that positioning is not very useful.

SEO is Changing » Is Your SEO Strategy Changing Too?

Recently there was a guest post by Eduard Blacquiare on Joost de Valk’s site entitled, “Measuring SEO » Why Rankings Are Worthless“. In his post he mentions several key points supporting the transition of rankings-based success to a conversion focused model. Some of the key factors Eduard mentioned are:

  • Ranking Checkers » Google has recently been blocking some automated ranking testing equipment.
  • Personal Search » Google is putting a great emphasis on their efforts to tailor their search results.

Furthermore, Eduard continues in his post with his view on things we can do to measure our success.

  • Measure the Growth Rate of Search Engine Traffic …
  • Measure the Growth Rate of Search Engine Traffic per Keyword …
  • Measure the Growth of Conversions from Search Engine Traffic …
  • Measure the Growth of Conversions from Search Engine Traffic per Keyword …

Personalized Search » What About Traffic from Nationally Focused Search Terms?

This is a topic I would like to discuss with Matt myself… In Matt’s discussion with Mike McDonald, he mentions searching for the word “bank” will illicit a different result in the United States than it would in Great Britain. This is due in part because part of the metrics to determine personalized search results are based on the user’s I.P., their search trends and their search behavior. From what we can infer from what Matt stated, personalized search result are relevant to the term as well as user data. Though personal search is playing a big roll in the dynamic, ever-changing environment at Google, I don’t believe that competition for keyword ranking is going to be dismissed for nationally focused keywords.

Analytics are Paramount in the Quest to Obtain Conversions

Again, I received a fairly intense introduction to the SEO industry, so I have a solid understanding of the importance of conversion statistics. One of the first tools that I used was ClickTracks, which I still to this day consider a powerful tool in any SEO’s arsenal. However, I recently also picked up a copy of the absolutely fantastic book, “Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics” by Brian Clifton which I highly recommend for anyone interested in measuring the success of their SEO marketing campaigns.

A Little Gem at the End

So, now that you’ve gotten this far, I can only assert that you are interested in the success of your SEO campaigns. Again there was another excellent post on Joost de Valk’s blog, this one by Andre Scholten, on how you can track your organic Google rankings with Google Analytics … Here’s the video on Vimeo …

Adding a ranking filter in Google Analytics from Joost de Valk on Vimeo.

I’ve implemented this on several of the campaigns that I am currently running and I can verify that it definitely works. You can now have your organic keyword rankings appear in your Analytics reports by setting up some custom filters in your Google Analytics account. This means you can determine the quality of the conversions you are getting from both paid, and non-paid keywords and their respective positioning in the search engine results pages … How’s that for conversion statistics?

That’s It.

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Edward J. Beckett is a passionate software engineer, web developer, server administrator and polyglot programmer with nearly a decade experience building desktop and web applications ranging from simple personal web sites to enterprise level applications on many technology stacks including Java, Java EE, Spring, Spring MVC, Spring Data, Hibernate, SQL, JPA, JMS, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ColdFusion, PHP, Node.js and more...
  • Plastic Printing

    This is very true. It’s adapt or die with Google changing their algorithm constantly. One thing is constant though, ‘content is king.’

  • Ed

    My eyes…my eyes! – What a messed up color scheme this site has. Truly a prime example on how to give your readers a very bad reading experience.

  • Edward Beckett

    @Ed … I guess it’s as messed up as your vision is … I haven’t had any complaints until now … I hope you know Ed …

    I care … I "really" do … 😉