I can't stress how important this short post is. Before you ever ever make changes to your website or embark on a new marketing campaign you must have a baseline of all your search and traffic metrics. The number of times I talk to clients who want to improve their search ranking and they don't actually know what it is boggles my mind.
Running an successful business is about retaining profits. ROI Return on Investment is an important thing to know. However analysis on spending money on the best use of your funds is often over looked or in this case thrown out the window for the sack of imagined rank.
The reason I mention this is because if you don't know where your site ranks, the traffic volume and the basics of that behavior you can never truly know the best place to start improving. I'll give you some real world examples I have had in the last few years, which could have been.
Client - Aaron we want to invest around $10k into this section of our eCommerce store. We really aren't happy with the look and want to ramp it up.
Mebsites - Great, Let me check your analytics and see what it says and I'll get back to you with my thoughts.
I check the sites analytics and find 1 user has clicked through to that section in 24 months. Client immediately feels their investment is now justified. However that is not true. I also look at general search requests in Google for the product/keywords at it is very very low. The investment is not warranted with the current data. However the client is insistent the product is hot and just not correct displayed.
This is my solution - The current web page is essential acceptable with no obvious flaws, however it is impossible to know because it has no significant traffic. There for the place to work on is improving the links into the page from the site and seeing if we can capture some of the current traffic first. This can be done very cheaply by changing the menu title to make it more interesting, adding a featured link or call to action to attract more traffic. A very cheap alternative to going all in on black.
Additionally, through my analytic investigation I found another page that was getting an insane amount of hits, but also had a very high bounce rate of 90+ % . The client agreed online sales of the product were lower than they should be, by a lot (Client also had a bricks and mortar store to compare sales too). As I then pointed out if you were to spend money on improvements this had the best potential upside for the lowest investment and risk.
Client - Aaron I am not ranking at all anymore. I used to be number 1 a few weeks ago. However now I am no where.
Mebsites - How are you measuring your ranking?
Client - I search for services XYZ and I don't come up.
This is not an accurate way to measure your ranking. Do not think for one second this is accurate. Yes even if you clear your cache and search in incognito mode. The only and I mean only way to accurate access your rank on average is to use google webmaster for your google ranking.
Also keep in mind it is an average ranking over a set time period for a certain keyword. The statement I rank number 1 is disingenuous in most cases.
Why is searching for your own business not accurate. Firstly it is a game of averages. You may rank number 20+ for some locations and number 2 for others depending on a bunch of variables. Secondly, Google is spying on you and in a helpful way it tries to display stuff that it thinks is most relevant to you based on other searches you have done, the content in your gmail account, G+ account, Youtube etc. So if you have been doing the classic checking on your competition like a paranoid Boy friend you could be skuing the results that are being displayed.
The take away here is to seek independent ranking analytics. Luckily Google is so nice they give it to you free in Webmaster tools.
Client - I wasn't ranking well so I change all my SEO to improve it.
Mebsites - Ok, when I look at your analytics you are very doing very well.
Client - Nah mate I just haven't been getting the work I should be.
Mebsites - Well the analytcs are showing; a good ranking, traffic and behavior is all good with users going to the contact page. Are you not getting email enquiries and phone enquiries.
Client - Oh I never checked my email (he checks and there is a couple hundred enquiries unanswered).
Mebsites - What about phone enquires?
Client - Well I can't answer the phone a lot of the time due to the noise and safety aspects while working.
Mebsites - Well bad news! Ranking is now tanking and I think you should be investing it answering enquiries with some type of auto reply and or call centre booking service? Dup and Dup
Don't just assume ranking is affecting your business profitability. There can be other things at play. Personally, I know Mebsites ranked poorly for quite a while, but we got lots of business regardless, by being highly accessible.
How to check your Google search rank. (If you are a mebsites client you will likely already be setup so just ask for access) Create a gmail account if you don't have one. Then create a Google Webmaster account.
Now add every active version of your domain name to webmaster e.g. www.mydomain.com, mydomain.com, https://mydomain.com, https://www.mydomain.com make sure you also add and check your robots.txt file. Make sure you add your sitemap as well. Now wait a few weeks and you will be able to check your ranking under Search Analytics.