Update: In January 2022, BrightLocal Academy released a free training course How to Create Relevant and Engaging Local SEO Reports that deep-dives into data tracking and sharing to build engagement.
We Asked the Experts is a brand-new series designed to provide you with the most relevant insights from local search experts. Each month we’ll cover a different question and share insights from key figures in the local SEO community in an effort to help you further your knowledge and strategy.
This month we’re tackling local SEO campaigns and, more specifically, how to measure the success of them.
We asked ten local SEO experts, when all’s said and done – reviews have been generated, citations built, and GMB listings optimized – how do you know whether what you’ve done has actually worked?
Below, we’ve compiled the very best insights to help you understand the most effective way to report back to clients – including what metrics to cover and more. Plus, at the end of this article, you’ll find a whole host of resources to help you do things just like the experts.
Read on to benefit from the unique tips, tricks, and opinions of local SEO pros, from quick snackable knowledge morsels to in-depth analysis.
How do you measure the success of a local SEO campaign?
Greg Gifford (VP of Search, SearchLab)
We track rankings internally, but we never share these with clients. Rankings don’t mean squat to a business’s bottom line. Everything we do is focused on ROI, which means the only way to truly judge success is that the client’s site gets more organic visitors and more organic leads. Typically, we see an increase in leads from other sources, since the content and optimization work tends to make it more likely that visitors will convert, regardless of how they got to the site. But ultimately, we look at an increase in organic traffic and organic leads.
Steve Wiideman (President, Wiideman Consulting Group)
We created a KPI Tracker Template that works as a good starting point for those without a mechanism for goal setting and progress tracking. It really shouldn’t be for the SEO specialist to decide how to measure success, it should be the business (or client). That said, if our client is unsure, we’ll make recommendations about what to track that often include revenue, user actions (conversions), traffic from Maps, and traffic from organic.
Once a client has been set up and initial optimization work has been completed, and it is time to measure the results, we lean on our KPI Tracker to tell the story and help determine success.
Ben Fisher (Founder and VP of Marketing, Steady Demand)
Success is based on good customer experience. It’s also based on real-world business factors such as seeing an increase in calls, clicks, sales, and client satisfaction.
Amy Toman (Search Engine Optimization Analyst, Digital Law Marketing)
Besides the standard looks at Google Analytics and Google Search Console, we look at the ranking changes in tools like BrightLocal. We use the historical tracking to see where the client was at the start, how far they’ve come, and what we have left to do for them. We also take into consideration feedback from the client. I’ve heard clients contact us asking to “turn things off” because they’d been getting so many inquiries that they’d had to hire new staff to handle the new stream of inquiries. That, truly, is the best indicator of a successful campaign.
Krystal Taing (Listings Management Product Specialist, Rio SEO)
At the end of the day, you want to be improving the experience for customers, whether that’s giving them more timely information or doing a better job of driving them through to purchase. Measuring and reporting on this will be critical. Success metrics should always be agreed upon prior to beginning a local SEO campaign. It’s important to know that this is not one size fits all but, most importantly, documented early and reported on regularly.
Jason Brown (Search Engine Optimization Specialist and Spam Hunter, Sterling Sky)
We use UTMs and call tracking so we can truly measure all results. A lot of people care about metrics, calls, visitors, conversions. We also set up various ranking reports so that we can show an increase in rankings and dominance in their area.
Niki Mosier (Head of SEO, Two Octobers)
I usually feel pretty safe saying things are going well for a new local SEO campaign when we start to see engagement metrics like phone calls, website sessions from the GMB listing, and so on, improve. Seeing Maps positions improve or better positions for local-focused organic keywords is also great, but for me, it’s not as helpful if we’re not seeing those engagement metrics improve.
Blake Denman (Founder/President, RicketyRoo)
For 99.9% of SMBs, rankings and traffic don’t pay the bills, new business does! Yes, we track rankings and traffic but don’t solely rely on that to show the success of a campaign. You can create blog posts on topics that generate a lot of organic traffic, but how many phone calls or form submissions resulted from that traffic? We focus on phone calls (CallRail) and form submissions primarily. We pull this data into a Google Data Studio report that shows what a business owner should really care about, new leads.
Matt Lacuesta (Director of Earned and Owned, Location3)
Measuring success is much more than just improving rankings or traffic to a site. Part of showing the value of what you’ve done is based around helping your clients see how your work has directly impacted the things that are important to them. Hopefully, all of your efforts are mapped to specific goals that tend to be driven by revenue increases. Regardless of what their KPIs may be, it’s your job to ensure that the business owner and stakeholders understand how you’re moving the needle for them. This can be achieved by being transparent about your strategy and your efforts.
When you report on campaign performance be sure to provide an analysis of what the data is telling you and how it’s informing your strategy and prioritization of things that need to be done. That way when they start to see improvements, they’ll know it’s due to your work and not just getting lucky after an algorithm update.
How do you measure the success of local SEO campaign? Have the experts taught you anything new? We want to hear your thoughts! Shoot us a line in the comments below.
Plus, keep your eyes peeled for another ‘We Asked the Experts…’ coming soon! (Or simply sign up to BrightLocal emails to get it sent directly to your inbox).