Here at the SEO Braintrust, we’re in the business of answering questions. So, naturally, we get asked a lot of questions, but the vast majority of them, no matter what they seem to be about, boil down to this:
“I know I’m supposed to do this, that, and the other thing. Someone is always telling me about some new thing I’m supposed to do. How the heck do I get all this stuff done, and what the heck am I supposed to do first?”
Some people call this feeling “overwhelm.” We call it “a very good question.”
To begin answering that question, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Sometimes, a business will grow rapidly “just because” – there may be a lot of demand, there may be some unique value in what they offer, and that’s great if it happens.
If you want to sustain that growth, or if you didn’t get lucky from the start, you need to develop a plan to address the weaknesses and strengths of the business.
The growth plans that we develop for our clients always involve three fundamental activities, which we’ll tackle in order, in this series of posts.
- Measuring, Tracking, and Analyzing:
If you don’t know what’s going on, it’s hard to do anything about it… but a lot of businesses are failing miserably at simply measuring what’s going on – and it hurts their results more than they know.
- Testing, Optimizing, and Improving:
Once the website (and the rest of the business) is properly set up to measure, we begin attacking the weaknesses, with conversion testing, optimizing sales funnels, and improving the site architecture to help with conversion and SEO.
- Promoting, Amplifying, and Scaling:
With measurement and testing programs in place, and the “low hanging fruit” of website performance handled, it’s time to start pushing traffic to the website, increase the frequency of follow-up marketing, and scaling up content creation and audience building.
There’s a lot of detail in those three points, of course, but when you do it right, the effects can be dramatic.
Our goal with private clients is to double their business in 12 months, although we’d probably be a little disappointed if that’s all we can do.
You don’t have to do it all at once, of course, and chances are pretty good that you really need to begin with #1 – Measuring, Tracking, and Analyzing.
Some “best practices” you can put to work right away:
- Measure and track site speed & server performance:
There are two parts to this – really three, but I don’t want to overwhelm you – page load speed (Google Analytics does this) and server performance (use a tool like Pingdom to keep track). When you begin to look at how speed and performance affect conversions and per-visit value, it will seriously give you the religion about making your site faster and more reliable.
- Track conversions, conversion rate, and value for every goal, all the way through:
Everything that you want people to do on your website (optins, social shares, ad clicks, purchases) is a goal – track that stuff! For multi-step goals (ecommerce checkout, long lead capture forms), set up funnels in Analytics so you can see where people are dropping out of the funnel and improve it.
- Implement campaign tracking and custom variables:
When you send an email – track the results. When you tweet a link, run an ad on Facebook, run Adwords, use retargeting networks, whatever – if it’s supposed to generate a result in your business, track that stuff. Google’s URL Builder makes it easy to do this with Analytics. If you’ve got video on your site, use custom variables to track what happens after people watch them.
Obviously, getting all this stuff done, even measuring, does take some work, and some technical understanding.
Brian Clifton’s excellent Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics is a great resource for understanding how to implement the right kind of tracking on your website.
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll address how to get it all done, and whether you should have your hands in the “technical stuff” at all. A high level of technical skill can actually hold you back, if you don’t know when to let it go.
P.S. We’re still giving away free tickets to our “Brainstorm” event in October, so if you aren’t signed up already, you might want to read my last post about why you want to be there, then get signed up.