Search Console & Other Bad SEO Reports: How to Spot & Stop SEO & SEM Waste & Fraud (PART 4)
TRANSCRIPT: Plus, here’s the problem with Google Search Console. It’s proving to have lots of inaccuracies, and that’s a problem, all right? For example, we look at the average position for top keywords in Google Search Console against actual searches for those keywords in the market, all right, where we actually looked at the searches in the market and where particular keywords ranked, and then where Google Search Console told us they ranked in the market.
Now, for one of our examples where Google showed a keyword ranking at 8.1 average position means they’re on the first page of Google, right, but they’re at the eighth result, which means almost no one’s going to see it. We found that that keyword, we were actually ranked 1.3 on average. That’s a big difference, isn’t it, right? Why? Why the big difference? You’ll have to ask Google, because just humor me for a moment.
Who gains when you think you rank eighth for an important keyword that you really think you should be ranking one or two? If it were my dealership, I’d increase my PPC spending against that keyword, wouldn’t I? Oh my gosh, I only ranked eighth for this really, really important keyword because that’s what Google Search Console told me. I may need to run out and spend more money. I don’t know if that’s the reason why Google isn’t showing exact results. It may be because they’re not taking actual measurements in the market, but that they’re talking approximate measures in the market, generally by zip code, not by latitude and longitude like someone would do on their mobile device.
Regardless, until Search Console can be perfected, it cannot be relied upon, unfortunately, for what we’re trying to do. Now, again on this report, this report, can you tell me from this report whether the dealer should spend more or less with their SEO provider? Right, you can’t. This, by the way, is the litmus test for all providers of leads and traffic, okay? Again, dealers, any vendor you have that provides you sales leads or traffic, okay, which an SEO provider technically provides you a little bit of both, the litmus test is, can I tell based on the reports whether to spend more, spend less, or spend the same.
If I cannot answer that question, I don’t know whether to spend more, less, or the same, then what I need to do is just cancel that vendor and save the money. It truly is. It’s not just SEO, it’s all of your vendors. If I can’t tell from their reports and my reports, CRM, Google Analytics, whatever I’m looking at. If I can’t tell from the reports whether to spend more, or less, or the same, I might as well get rid of that spend, okay?
Now, how about SEO vendor reports? Well, unfortunately my attorney wouldn’t let me show you an actual report from any provider who I have found truly bilking their dealers for expensive, yet worthless SEO service, so I chose to show you this confused dog instead, right? Why? Because this is the look that you should give your SEO provider when they show their reports.
Let’s highlight some of the info that we can get from various vendor reports that I have collected over the years, over the last, actually 18 months or so from SEO providers. Here’s what we find. We find these types of measurements, these types of metrics. Now, so they give me a report that says organic traffic is up. That’s good, right? Okay, but is it because of their SEO? I can’t tell, can I? Maybe I’m running a lot of ads in the market. Maybe I’m a Ford dealer, and Ford is really hot right now. That’s going to drive up a lot of organic traffic. There are lots of reasons that your organic traffic’s going to go up that have nothing, absolutely zero to do with the quality of the SEO on your website.
Just because you’re showing me my organic traffic is up or down, I cannot tell from that report if that is good or bad. How about conversions? Hey, conversions are up, right? Well, is that good? Well, sure it’s a good thing, except wait, what are you calling a conversion? Right, I looked at one SEO report recently that showed the dealer that conversions were up, and they were way up as soon as they switched to this new SEO provider, magically. You know why? Because the new SEO provider was calling map lookups a conversion. It’s not a conversion.
Let’s look at conversions that humans can do, leads, phones, okay, chats, texts. Those are conversions that people can do. Even that, I cannot tell from the reporting if conversions are up, if my SEO had anything to do with it or not because I don’t know if they’ve increased my search visibility. How about paid views, up or down? Okay, up. My page views are up, so should I spend more or less?
By the way, page views would go down if traffic was dropped on the proper page, right? If all your traffic comes to the homepage and people have to search through three or four different pages to find out what they want, page views go up. If they’re put right on the page that they were looking for, and had all the information that they needed, they would become a bounce, wouldn’t they? They would jump away right away.
How about top keywords and keyword performance? Whatever your vendor’s calling it, it doesn’t tell you a few really important things. I want you to take a second on this. I want to know on my keywords, how do I compare to my competitors? Don’t just tell me I’m in the second spot, but who’s number one, right? I also want to know how do I rank on near-me searches, right? Ford dealer near me. These are huge on mobile, and so I want to know Ford service near me, Ford dealer near me, Ford Mustang near me. I want to know how I rank on near-me searches, again against my competitor.
I want to be able to see that I improve or decline relative to the market week over week. It’s not enough to show me a snapshot at the end of the month and say, look, you’re number two for this keyword. I want to know where am I compared to my competitors, how did I look week over week over, say, the last 52 weeks, right? Where am I ranking, how’s it going? Am I moving up or down? Which competitors are moving up, which ones are moving down?
I need to know that relative to them, but I also want to know in the near-me searches. See, the keyword reporting that I see with a lot of SEO vendors out there is, especially when they’re your website company, at least that’s where I’ve seen the most of this, your keyword reporting is often worthless because the reporting is just a fire hydrant of keywords. Most of these keywords are what we call zero-volume keywords, right? Zero-volume keywords are keywords that no one uses, no one really types those in, but your website ranks number one for those keywords. Congratulations. Nobody’s using that in your market. You think it’s good SEO when it’s not, and that’s one of the biggest things we uncover.