Local search has become one an extremely important factors in online advertising for small and medium business in the United States. However, most of those business owners don’t have much of a clue as to how well their local search is performing, let alone their return on investment on their advertising campaign. A recent survey of SMB owners found that while 75% felt that their online marketing campaign was performing “well” or “very well,” less than half were actually tracking any type of ROI from these investments. While tracking the performance of local search is complicated, there are a few simple ways to start gauging the ROI created by your local search.
Track Branded Traffic and Keywords
Branded organic traffic is coming from people that know who are and are interested in your services. For small and medium businesses, an increase in this traffic along with keywords that may be related to your business or service is another great predictor that your local search is improving or that the local awareness of you is growing. Tracking branded keywords is also a useful tool for partially evaluating offline marketing techniques as well. Non-branded search is a great tool to help evaluate ROI from overall SEO or campaign, but by itself isn’t very helpful when looking at local search.
Compare Your Disparate Data, But with a Grain of Salt
SEO writer Andrew Shotland wrote that “One of the biggest issues we see, particularly when it comes to local SEO, is that revenue and CRM data are siloed in separate systems that are not integrated with digital marketing data, so you are always comparing apples to oranges to pretzels” (Local SEO Guide). This means that while comparing things like revenue, leads, traffic and keyword rankings can give you a good idea of your local search, all these pieces of information are influenced independently by various factors as well.
Track Leads from Forms
Tracking leads can be a difficult and expensive endeavor but can provide some good information how well your local SEO is performing. At a minimum, configuring your website to track leads generated from forms and emails is a relatively cheap and useful way to see some of that information. Additionally, simply asking customers where they heard about your service is a tried and true method that is still used by the most successful businesses.
Keep an Eye on Reviews
Customer reviews of all types of business have become an extremely important and often overlooked aspect of traffic and conversions. Positive customer reviews are possibly the most influential marketing tool a business can use, while on the opposite spectrum, over 87% of customers refuse to use a business with an average to low rating. Therefore, tracking new reviews is another tool that can be used to gauge how local search is going to a certain extent. The Google My Business app can even instantly alert a business when a new Google review is posted.
Look at Data on a Monthly Scale
Any SEO or marketing game is a long one, with changes often taking weeks, months or longer to be reflected properly by data. Therefore, being patient and tracking your business traffic and performance on a monthly or even yearly basis makes the most sense. While there is quite a lot of data to look at, a good start is always web traffic provided by Google Analytics. By rule of thumb, a pattern of increase in web traffic from month to month is a good sign that your marketing is doing its job in one way or another. Analytics can also be used to create conversion goals and track your website’s progress towards them over time.