How to interpret your ranking reports in real business terms

Ever received a report that you couldn’t make heads or tails of? Even with the most clear and comprehensive ranking reports, it can be difficult to see what’s really going on in terms of visible impact. Whilst rankings are critically important in terms of measuring potential traffic and business, they are not the be all and end all in terms of sales results. Rankings are the first step towards driving growth, but there are two other important metrics that need to be taken into account. Whilst they aren’t necessarily easy to connect, with a little planning you can expand on the information that’s included in your rank report track how it’s transforming your business online. The main metric that these reports represent is search engine rankings and positions, but traffic and conversions are the key. Whilst a high ranking makes it exponentially more likely that you’ll get the qualified traffic you need to convert visits to enquiries to sales, search volume is the gateway here- and it’s something that can fluctuate from day to day, week to week, month to month depending on trends, news and seasonal interests. Traffic is measured through your analytics tool (most likely Google analytics). Whilst you can’t plot the two trends on the same graph, you can identify the timing of spikes and upturns in traffic, and draw correlations from there. Remember that the impact can be delayed, or can occur in a different pattern within the same time frame; results may climb slowly and result in a sharp increase in traffic across a month, or vice versa. Once you’ve compared these, it’s time to see how that traffic is converting. You can do this by tracking both enquiries and sales- it’s super important to take both into account- across the (past) month, and comparing this to the aforementioned trends in rankings and traffic. There may be a gap or a significant difference between the two; your SEO account manager may have identified this anomaly and pointed out ways you may be able to improve those conversions, both on your end and online. The issue could be with the number of visits that turn into enquiries, or it could be with closing the sale itself; for the former, great web design and content can really help. One useful idea is to export the data from all three programs into a spreadsheet where the X axis/rows are based on dates; this way, you can compare all five variables (rankings, traffic, enquiries, sales volume, sales value) in one place.