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How Do I Know My SEO Program is Working?


A common marketing frustration for companies is knowing whether their SEO program is working even for those who understand the basics of SEO. It takes time to build up a large online presence of keywords but even those who know it still struggle with understanding if their SEO program is really effective.

Reporting is a Must.

The most important factor for a company handling your SEO program is the value of the reports they provide you. Different marketing companies use different reporting methods. The reports aren’t going to look the same from company to company and that’s OK. Don’t get hung up on what the report looks like, rather focus on the information the reports show.

We happen to prefer the use of a dashboard. This allows our clients to log in and see for themselves what work has been done on their behalf.

Our customers love their dashboard access because:

  • It’s transparent
  • It’s straightforward
  • It’s easy to understand
  • It’s easy to verify

This image shows a client an overview of their SEO campaign:

Why are reports so essential?

If you aren’t receiving reports showing you where your keywords started and which keywords are increasing in rank each month, then your marketing company has zero accountability to you.

If there’s no reporting, how do you know which keywords are improving and whether or not they are keywords that are really helpful to bring in leads? You know your business better than anyone so you absolutely want to have a say in the keywords your marketing company is targeting. If they aren’t reviewing that with you, you will want to rectify that immediately.

A lack of reporting also begs the question as to what they’re measuring against. If they aren’t presenting you with reports, are they even looking at reports themselves? How are they monitoring the progress of your SEO program?

This example below shows our clients where the keyword ranked when they started with us and where it ranks currently. We assign a green success “badge” once we’ve gotten that keyword to the first page of search results.

Your report may be different, it may come from Google Analytics and that’s OK as long as it is giving you data so you can monitor progress.

SEO reporting is essential in being able to know the next steps after you’ve been working on a set of keywords for 6 months or more. As more relevant keywords are moving up higher in rank, you will want to expand into additional keywords, or into new geographical locations.

If you do not have good reports, you won’t have the information you need to know in order to continue to grow your online presence. You’ll know your SEO program is working when you can see your relevant keywords moving up in ranking and when you see an increase in organic leads.

The RIGHT Keywords are critical.

One very important aspect of an effective SEO program is using the right keywords. This means identifying the keywords that people who are your potential customers are searching for.

If you rank for keywords unrelated to your business, it will not help you. For example, we did a keyword audit for a small dance company. They offered everything from ballet to hip-hop for school-age children. It was a small, local studio growing year after year and the owner wanted to be sure they were capturing every person possible in their local market.

We found they were ranking for lots of great dance terms. They were also ranked for “pole dancing”. That term was not what they wanted to be ranking for. A person searching for “pole dancing” would never become a customer of theirs.

Although this sounds like an extreme example, it’s all too common for us to find keywords that are either irrelevant or send the wrong type of buyer to a website.  When this happens, it shows us that the SEO program is not as effective as it could be. Sometimes this is a result of a company offloading keyword work to overseas workers who don’t understand the nuances of the English language. In this example, not all “dancing” terms apply to a children’s dance studio.

This is one of the biggest reasons to work with companies whose SEO team members are in the U.S. When it comes to anything that will be permanently associated with your domain name/website – it is essential you understand what work is being done and who it is being done by.

Link Building is essential.

Another important element of a successful SEO program is link building. It takes time, it requires methodical processes, and is rarely something a company can do without a marketing company’s help.

This is another area where those marketing companies who use offshore workers can actually hurt your website and can put into question the effectiveness of your SEO program.

We had an online retailer client who had only hired local marketing people prior to us, but one of them outsourced work overseas. The problem wasn’t who did the work, but that they created backlinks to sites that Google considers “high-risk” and “low-quality”. It also wasn’t just that he had hundreds of these low-quality backlinks, but his competitors didn’t have them.

In other words, if all his competitors had similar spammy backlinks they would all be viewed the same in Google’s eyes. In this case, his competitors all had high-quality backlinks so all other things being equal, they would always rank higher than his website in search results because their sites didn’t have any suspicious links attached to them.

This is where it’s important to remember what Google wants when you’re evaluating the effectiveness of your SEO program. Google makes money by selling ads. Companies who advertise will continue to spend more money advertising if those ads return a favorable ROI (return on investment). When users click on ads and have a positive experience, they will continue to click on more ads. This is how the whole system makes money.

Google’s objective in ranking results is for the people like you and me to have a positive experience so if their algorithm finds two similar companies and one has high-quality backlinks and a similar website has spammy backlinks that could potentially harbor malware – which company’s website do you think Google is going to return first in the search?

You got it, the one with high-quality backlinks is going to appear above the website with the suspicious, or spammy, backlinks.

One last comment on low-quality backlinks. The worst part about all of those bad links – removing them isn’t the answer. The solution is actually to build high-quality backlinks so that over time they become minimized and you show Google you’re doing things the right way.

In our dashboard, we include the links to the backlinks we create for you:

In summary, any legitimate SEO program requires reporting. Reviewing reports is the only way to know if your SEO strategy is working and it’s the only way to know how to shift gears if it isn’t returning positive results.

We’d love to have a conversation with you if you’d like to learn more about our SEO program! Reach out to us at 888.723.7194 or email Leah@visionforcemarketing.com to set up a time to discuss your business goals.

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