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Local SEO: Focus on Traffic, Not Rankings.

09/10/2014 3:34 AM IST | Updated 08/12/2014 4:29 PM IST

My company speaks to several small business owners that contact us and say things like, "I need to rank higher for my keywords" or they ask, "How fast can you get me to #1 on Google?" They are completely focused on keyword rankings when that is not what is solely responsible for producing revenue for their business.

Part of the blame can be placed on their previous SEO agency, as they were simply sent a keyword ranking report every month with no explanation of the actual value of those rankings. Rankings alone don't dictate success when it comes to local SEO, organic traffic does!

Imagine a keyword ranking at the #1 position but only delivering 50 visitors a month, and then a keyword that was ranking in the #6 position that was delivering 900 visitors a month - which one would you rather? Traffic numbers are much more valuable than rankings alone.

There are several SEO metrics to focus on that carry significantly more weight than keyword rankings alone. While keyword rankings look impressive they don't allow you to see what is really going on, and whether or not your SEO effort is delivering a solid return. Forget fancy keyword ranking reports -- the data that really matters can be seen in your Google Analytics and Google My Business dashboard.

Here are some more important SEO metrics you need to focus on, rather than just your keyword rankings.

Organic Search Traffic

It is amazing how many local SEO companies will give their clients a ranking report but not show them what kind of traffic volume resulted in those rankings. As we mentioned above, rankings don't men anything unless they are driving traffic to the website.

It is important that you single out your organic search traffic in your Analytics account. There are going to be several traffic sources listed - you will want to ignore the social media and referral traffic and just look at the organic numbers. While improving organic search rankings is great, looking at traffic numbers alone doesn't do much to determine if specific ROI goals are being met. This is where the next local SEO metric comes into play.

Organic Search Conversions

This is the metric that is going to let you know what kind of revenue your local SEO campaign is responsible for. Rankings alone, just like traffic alone doesn't signal a successful local SEO campaign, but your conversions will!

  • Is your organic traffic converting?

  • Are your visitors signing up for your email newsletter?

  • Are they completing your contact form?

  • How about downloading coupons?

  • Making purchases online?

Every possible conversion can be tracked, and you can also assign a dollar value to your conversions to help you determine the overall ROI of your search engine optimization effort.

Conversion numbers don't lie. They show you what kind of return your campaign is truly delivering. What if a SEO company had you ranking #1 for several keywords and all they did was send you a ranking report each month showing they were ranked at top? Many business owners would assume everything was great without even diving into their traffic and conversion numbers.

Google My Business Views

Your Google My Business dashboard will show you an approximate number of impressions that your Google Business listing received by clicking on the Insights tab. It is important to understand that this number is impressions - how many times someone was shown your local listing.

This doesn't mean that all of these people clicked over to your website. In fact, many local searches don't result in a website visit. Instead the individual calls the business or they physically visit the business. You should be looking at this data over time to see if your impressions are increasing on a regular and steady basis.

Driving Direction Requests

This data can be seen in the same Insights tab within your Google My Business dashboard that was mentioned above. This data represents how many times someone clicked to receive driving directions to your physical business location. An increase of clicks shows that your local search effort is working and more customers are finding your business through local search.

This will also show you what local zip codes the driving direction requests came from, allowing you to determine if the campaign is paying off in the event that you are targeting a specific geographical region.

Useless reports full of graphs and rankings are not the metrics that matter when determining how effective a local SEO campaign is. The metrics mentioned above provide you with real insight, allowing you to determine whether or not the SEO is working according to plan. While rankings look nice on a report, they don't necessarily prove you are generating a ROI.

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