How do you best measure a local SEO campaign? We posed this question to a group of local SEO experts to find out the most important metrics to measure and what to report on (plus, what to ignore!).
Read on to find out their advice, and learn how you can make the most of your reporting efforts.
Typically the success of a local SEO campaign is measured by its ability to drive more relevant traffic and leads to your business, increase your brand awareness and visibility, and, ultimately, lead to more revenue. It’s imperative to define the success criteria before you launch the campaign, as well as identify the tools you will use to measure this. I typically use a combination of the following:
- Google Business Profile Insights to track GBP clicks
- Monitoring the increase in reviews and the average ratings on critical sites
- Website analytics to evaluate traffic and conversion rates
- Rank tracking to measure visibility for the targeted keywords
- Ideally, sales, calls, or bookings during the defined period
SEO is more than just ranking. It’s about driving business results that matter. In most cases, the desired outcome is revenue. But that’s not always the case! For example, your goal might be getting volunteers for a local charity event, signatures on a petition, sign-ups for a loyalty program, or downloads of a coupon to be redeemed during in-store visits.
Achieving that ultimate business goal is generally a series of events. Valuable metrics measure the outcomes of each step along the way. While SEO isn’t just about ranking, rankings are fundamental. So, yes, rankings are a vital metric.
Rank for keywords that your customers are using to search—ranking well for keywords no one is searching for will prove fruitless!
Business owners may think in terms of industry terms that lay people aren’t likely to search (e.g. “injectable hyaluronic acid” vs. “lip filler”). Don’t ignore the industry jargon, but focus on the more common search terms.
There may be a significant local component to consider as well. A keyword with a large national search volume may not be a common search query in your region.
Similarly, a common search term in one region might not be a common term in another—for example, New Yorkers looking for a winter hat might search for “beanie”, while Torontonians might search for “toque”.
How do you measure this? Search volume is a good starting point but you can do more. Check your rankings to make sure you’re ranking for your target keywords. Then, check Google Search Console and Google Business Profile performance insights. Are those keywords leading to search impressions? If you rank well for a keyword people are searching for, there should be impressions!
Pay attention to click-through rate (CTR)
Rankings should lead to impressions, which should lead to clicks. Check Google Search Console for click rates. Check Google Business Profile performance insights for Business Profile interactions.
Don’t worry too much about the Overview; aggregate data often hide important details. Look at the more detailed breakouts: calls, website clicks, etc. Unfortunately, GBP Performance doesn’t connect which keywords are leading to interactions.
SEOs are marketers. It took me a while to grasp this simple notion. (h/t Rand Fishkin.)
It’s important to look at insights around actions that are important to your business. So, if you’re a service area business, you’re looking at phone calls and website visits from GBP, but maybe not direction requests. However, if you are a restaurant, then looking at all of those action metrics from the listing is going to help show growth and if what you’re doing is working.
Additionally, from an organic visibility standpoint, I like to look at Total Search Impressions and especially Discovery Search Impressions from GBP insights.
It’s important to use UTMs to help measure other metrics in Google Analytics, so you can see what’s driving sessions and conversions.
Also, tracking rankings to understand the changes from that standpoint. However, I really think looking at conversions and how you’re driving customers to action is one of the most important. Seeing more form fills start coming in after optimizing a profile or local landing page is definitely a sign of success.
It depends on the client’s business goals—but, ultimately, you should be tracking organic traffic and leads, and they should be increasing over time. Increased visibility SHOULD result in more traffic, which SHOULD result in increased leads, which in turn SHOULD lead to more sales. Most agencies/freelancers don’t ask for sales information to tie everything together, so most people will use organic traffic and leads as the bar.
First, make sure tracking is set up properly on their site, and then build reports that specifically target a client’s goals. Every local SEO campaign should have a purpose to meet a specific goal.
Friendly reminder: it’s important to always set realistic expectations with your clients on any local SEO project or campaign.
A local client is investing in SEO to gain new customers for their services. While trying to measure success for a local SEO campaign includes tracking organic traffic and traffic from maps, the most important metric to track is how many leads clients are getting from this traffic. We want to know the ROI, and it’s important to track form submissions and phone calls that come in from organic users.
While steady and increasing traffic is lovely, qualified leads are the true mark of success. Getting tons of traffic to blogs twice a year is helpful, but if the traffic arrives nationally and not locally, it doesn’t help. So while those occasional bumps are nice, they’re not indicative of success locally. For that, I look to calls, social interaction, and LSA leads.
I usually measure the success of a local SEO campaign against the KPIs that are put in place before a campaign starts. These are usually based on what it is that a business needs to drive leads and conversions—things like phone calls, form fills, and other inquiries.
Often, the strategist’s measures of success and the business’s measures of success can be different. While a business ultimately cares most about the leads achieved from local SEO, we are responsible for explaining what it takes to achieve those leads.
By growing local rankings, we can improve organic traffic, which then results in more leads. This concept seems simple to explain, but I’ve seen SEOs get excited about rankings that aren’t really bringing in traffic or leads.
Ultimately, the bottom line for success isn’t a metric; it’s building sufficient trust with the business to help them understand that local SEO is an ever-evolving discipline based on several modalities. If the business trusts the SEO, that means more investment in the channel, more acceptance when something doesn’t work, and a celebration across both sides of the aisle when initiatives are successful.
As far as metrics go, it’s still all about traffic, leads, and sales.
How do you report on your local SEO campaigns?
Let us know over on Twitter or in our Facebook Community, The Local Pack.