Monthly SEO reports for dental websites
What information should they contain?
I was recently asked to review the SEO performance of a dentist’s website where the owner was confused about the disparity in the results his monthly report was implying versus what he knew from the actual number of new patients coming through the door.
The web performance report seemed to indicate that all was rosy whereas his new patient numbers suggested otherwise. Not being experienced with dental marketing and solely reliant on his SEO company for guidance, he sensibly decided to seek a second opinion. So what was going on here and what lessons can be learned for your own marketing reporting?
In this short article we’ll take a quick look at monthly search engine optimisation reports and the types of information you should expect in there. Also, the tricks that some companies use to mask ineffectiveness.
This is a headline statistic which indicates how popular your website actually is. It’s extremely important but can also be rather confusing in that many people don’t realise that there are various forms of website traffic. I won’t go into detail here but it’s important to know what traffic originates from which source and how this links to the number of people actually making enquiries about your services. So a good report will differentiate between the different traffic types, paid, non-paid, organic, direct, referral etc and also explain the trends.
In the example at the start of this blog, the dentist’s web company was only reporting total traffic, much of which was being generated by ‘bots’. The true underlying trend of organic (search) traffic was actually flat when we investigated further.
Whilst the chase for keyword prominence has now taken a back-seat versus targeted traffic generation, it is still very useful to have a set of marker keywords to indicate how a search marketing campaign is progressing. However, what some companies do is to present a raft of keywords which actually attract very little traffic but which are easy to rank at position one in Google.
For the dentist I mentioned earlier, the web company was proudly presenting that “air polishing Margate” was number one along with other terms which actually delivered little value. They also made great play of “brand” keywords appearing at number 1 which frankly isn’t of much use either – if you can’t rank for your own business name then there are serious problems. However, the real generic money terms i.e. “dentist”, “cosmetic dentist”, “NHS dentist” etc were hidden away on page two of the report and were also not in good positions.
So whilst it is important to have some “long tail” keyword tracking in your report, make sure that they aren’t taking precedence over the important ones.
Other useful information
Whilst the extent of information supplied will depend on the type of campaign and to some extent the client’s budget, you should also expect to find information on the following:
- your website bounce rate and the implications
- top landing pages – which pages of your site are most popular
- goal path – how users navigated through your site to reach your contact page
- traffic trend data – what is your traffic like now versus previous periods
- telephone call analytics (where appropriate)
- how your website is perfoming in local search, reviews etc
There are many other elements than can be reported but as a minimum, you should expect some information on the above.
Conversions and Goals
This is most important but often omitted; sometimes I suspect quite deliberately. This is where your analytics program can record when a user completed your contact form or indeed any other element you wish to tag and record on your website – for example when someone signed up for your mailing list. These conversions or goals can be linked to the type of traffic which generated them which allows the site owner to see which marketing channel is delivering the best returns. In particular you can determine how your organic (free) traffic compares to your pay-per-click traffic (usually a quite a lot better!) when it comes to delivering useful new patient enquiries. For more sophisticated SEO campaigns which also employ telephone analytics, we can also determine exactly how many enquiries came from which source, so for example the website, a radio advert or the local newspaper.
A word on Automation
Many SEO companies try to automate everything so they can simply fire off your report every month with minimal intervention. Whilst automation of key information is perfectly valid, you should also expect some interpretation of the data and discussion on next steps of the search strategy. Very often there will be no such discussion which leaves the client wondering what it all really means. You may also see a few short paragraphs about what is happening in the world of search generally, e.g. Google updates etc and whilst this is reasonable to present to keep the client informed, it shouldn’t take precedence over the specifics of the actual campaign.
Another classic pitfall to avoid is where your dental marketing company sets up Google Analytics in their own account to “maintain it for you”. More often than not, you will not have access to the account and should you part company later, your historical data is gone too. Make sure your website analytics is set up in your own Google account and that you have full access to it. Whilst interpreting the data can be quite a challenge for the inexperienced, simple things such as web traffic, can easily be checked and validated.
Good SEO work is not cheap and like any aspect of your business investment, you need to be able to monitor the performance. A well structured, transparent SEO report will allow a business owner to see exactly what is happening and allow them to validate the work of their chosen digital marketing company.
However, some companies will deliberately obfuscate and fail to deliver critical information, such as conversions, which prevent a website owner from fully understanding if their investment is actually delivering. Hopefully the short discussion above will guide you on what to expect.
If you need to know more about Google Analytics and your overall website performance, please call the Dental Media seach marketing team on 01332 672548. We will be pleased to provide a complimentary SEO report for your dental website.Google+