Data. It’s the lifeblood of SEO campaigns and websites in general. We use it to inform decisions, to evaluate results, and to hold ourselves accountable. As a company that values transparency, we provide data to our customers in meaningful ways.
To understand how Dealer.com’s SEO team reports to our dealer customers, let’s first define our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the specific metrics we report:
– Organic visits and visitors — the traffic a website receives from search engines (mostly Google, Yahoo!, and Bing). Like all traffic, it naturally fluctuates and doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s affected by seasonality, offline marketing efforts, OEM programs, and, of course, our SEO efforts.
– Total visits and visitors — the total traffic brought to your website, regardless of source. This will expand as organic traffic grows, but often rises at a higher rate because direct traffic increases for those who sign up for our SEO programs. That might sound surprising, but as shoppers find your website via search, they may bookmark it to return later or remember the URL, which impacts the direct and total numbers.
– Form submissions and conversion rate — the measurement of success of digital marketing. This is where your dealership can profit, which is one reason we emphasize it. As our SEO optimization delivers quality traffic to your website, your conversion rates will most likely rise, as will the percentage of visitors your site converts to leads.
– Rankings — the metric that results in the increases mentioned above. As rankings rise for relevant phrases, so does your traffic from them. All things being equal, the higher you rank for a phrase, the more traffic you are receiving from it.
Dealer.com reports on the above in a number of ways. For the data junkies, like our expert SEO analysts, there’s ControlCenter. Here, you can dive into the above data points within the dashboard, or go to the Detailed Reports section (within Analytics) where you can view them by day, month, year, or any timespan you define.
SEO subscribers also receive a PDF outlining the progress of their campaigns over the previous quarter, and since Dealer.com’s initial optimization of the website. We like looking at the past quarter to gain an understanding of the current trend, but also want to look further back to start to detail the progress we’ve made on the dealership’s behalf.
Our SEO reports have evolved significantly over the years, and because of the rapidly changing automotive and search industries, we are always taking steps to further improve them. In our latest iteration, we highlight the impact that organic search has on the traffic to your website. We also detail visibility (where your site is appearing in the search results), and get granular by providing the specific phrases we are targeting along with the current ranking for transparency.
Another important aspect of our reporting is outlining what we have done on a customer’s behalf, updates we’ve made to the website, and backlinks or citations built. We describe the benefits of this effort and the impact we believe it will have.
Many SEO firms will not provide this level of reporting, or provide reports that appear enticing while not addressing what truly impacts your business. They may highlight the length of title tags, for example, or how many meta descriptions are duplicates, with little to no understanding of how the site is performing, your goals, or how a search engine like Google truly engages and measures the quality of a website. We believe that by focusing on the metrics that matter, and both providing anytime access to reports via ControlCenter and proactively sending customized PDFs, that we are better educating our customers with meaningful and impactful data.
Only by consistently focusing on the right things, and being transparent about the successes and challenges, do we feel we are providing our dealers with a truly valuable service. The other metrics are just noise.