Conversion Statistics

Just some useful statistics on conversions as I’ve found them somewhere else or from my client analytics. In the interest of keeping this usable as a reference tool, this is intentionally brief. Perhaps I’ll expand more on certain points as necessary. All statistics are no older than 2018.

@ 60% of all conversions happen during a single visit
@ 15% of conversions require two visits
@ 25% of all conversions require at least 3 or more visits

@ 70% of conversions happen on the same day as the first visit

**Typical Local Business traffic Sources
@ 25% Maps
@ 25% Organic

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Semalt Still Spamming

They aren’t giving up so I assume it works to catch the dumb fish. I (again) found “traffic” spikes in Analytics coming from,,, only to find that it is our old friends at Semalt. Does this spam even work? Maybe their real purpose it to generate traffic out of your curiosity to visit one of their spam links in Analytics that forwards to their website to improve their Alexa Rank or something. I can’t imagine anyone would do business with someone who uses dirty tricks to advertise “spam advertising” – not cool! So I advise that you don’t give them the benefit of a visit.

For those who won’t visit but are curious, search a bit for other webmaster comments. What I have found (and I’m not visiting their site to see what they are pitching today) is they are reportedly a Ukrainian SEO outfit.

Since this isn’t real traffic (100% bounce rate) you can’t filter them from your analytics. You’ve got to block them at the server. If you have access to your Apache htaccess file, adding this line in mod_rewrite should do it.

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^.*seo-service.* [NC,OR]

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Keyword Enlightenment for 2018

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing You are a business owner looking at reports from your SEO vendor and they show you a list of 100 keywords that you rank #1 for. You feel good!

This article will explain how keyword volume and rank reported throughout the SEO industry is misleading because it is based on a source (Google) that is assumed to be respectable and accurate. Well, we can prove it is not accurate anyway.

You want to know that your SEO vendor isn’t selling you a feel-good story. Lets face it, most of those fancy reports don’t tell you anything actionable anyway – they are just pretty and somehow leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. But business decisions should not be based on “fuzzy feelings”. So lets cut through the crap.

  • The truth is, those reports are just telling you what you want to hear, showing you what you want to see.
  • Most Search Rank Reports highlight Zero Volume keywords that make you look good, 0 volume means noone uses those.

Your SEO is probably using Google’s Keyword Planner to find those keywords for on-site optimization and for PPC in Adwords? I’ll show you why Keyword Planner, the source of most reporting, is completely inaccurate to the degree that it is useless. ( remember this article is about local search, not global. Google Keyword Planner may be fine for huge volume keywords, but not for local small volume keywords. )

I know many SEO’s reading this will say, “Why bother? Just build more content and do more link building.” ( But that sounds very much “build it and they will come” – not much business acumen in that! )

The fact is, if we are going to do any Internet Marketing at all, blog more (build more content) and get more backlinks; we still want to know which keywords work and which don’t. OK. How do we find which keywords we should use?

Step #1 – What does Google say about our current exposure?

In Google Analytics > Acquisition > Search Console > Queries

(If you don’t have this menu option, it means you need another type of help first)

Google Analytics Acquisition Search Console Queries

On the far right is the first level on our way to Keyword Enlightenment; our Average Position. Now think!

  • if our website is getting an Average Position of 1st place for this keyword, shouldn’t our website be seen EACH time someone SEARCHed using that keyword?

Correct. So in that 2nd column are the Impressions we got. Next logical step would imply;

  • if our website is seen for each search, then IMPRESSIONS = SEARCH VOLUME

So lets verify the Search Volume for our keywords using Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

Step #2 in Keyword Planner we must narrow our view to a Geo ( otherwise Google will give us global volume instead and we are not interested in what happens more than 100 miles away from our business ).

We copy and paste our keywords from Search Console > Queries into Keyword Planner, we download our results, sort in a spreadsheet, correlate the two sets of data (the tedious part and why good SEO work is so time consuming – and because Google is not really trying to help ) and we get an interesting juxtaposition.

  • Why is Google telling us there are 390 searches (Search Volume) for a keyword that our website got the #1 spot for yet was seen only 83 times?

That does not make sense. That is a 470% inflated “estimate”. Why does Google report two different results for what is essentially the same thing? I’m inclined to believe that Keyword Planner is a feel-good tool. And that is why I think it is useless for doing any keyword research. I could extrapolate further whether anything Google reports is accurate, including the clicks a website “supposedly” gets in analytics. This all means that SEO vendors using Google data for their prettier reports (which is almost everyone) are even more useless.

BTW, this is why we built SearchStation. At least with SearchStation we get accurate search rank (which means Impressions in both Organic and Paid results). I would suggest employing a 3rd Party Analytics tool to track clicks as the other reporting we would need to get some realism back into our keyword research and SEO reporting.

We can now cut the crap and conclude that the only way to To Do Keyword Analysis For Local Search Engine Optimization is to derive it locally from actual SEARCH RANK and TRAFFIC that actually hits your website.

Having reached our goal of Keyword Enlightenment we know that Google’s Analytics and most SEO Vendor Reports are feel-good reporting and not the real world. We also now know that if our website consistently ranks #1 for a keyword, then visitors reported in our analytics is the most accurate measure of Search Volume for that Keyword.

Coming soon, in Part II of this series, we will take a look at the accuracy of Search Rank Reporting in Google Search Console.

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Inaccurate Search Rank in Google Search Console

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Google’s Search Console (GSC), formerly Webmaster Tools (GWT) is the go-to for many people looking to determining the performance of their website. Many SEO firms and Third-Party vendors build tools entirely around Google’s Search Console API. For individuals its a warm-and-cozy-and-FREE source for search rank reporting. GSC data and related reporting is so ubiquitous that you would assume it must be, well…ACCURATE.


What if Google’s search rank reporting is inaccurate or plain erroneous?

We stumbled upon this issue because Google’s Search Console told us a client’s website ( don’t click here yet!) ranks an average 8.1 for their brand name keyword (black forest tours). That didn’t make sense. We’ve seen the website perform magnificently in search. It simply crushes all competition. So before you click-through and corrupt your personalization bais, conduct your own search for “black forest tours” and tell us in the comments what position the website got in your SERP.

Why should I use GSC

We searched from many different locations using different computers, employed SearchStation*, called some friends around the world to remove any personalization or location influences, and the website is in fact usually in the #1 spot and sometimes #2 – consistently for an average rank of 1.3 – globally!

Google’s reported average search rank of 8.1 is a huge difference. You would think something like that can’t be. So you have to ask, can we trust Google at all? Google says they “Dont’ Do Evil”. Does that translate into “we don’t mislead for profit?” There would be a strong motive here. If I rank #8 for my money-keywords, then I am highly motivated to pay Google (via Adwords pay-for-position) so that I am #1. Hmmm…

Search Console increasingly offers some useful tools for the webmaster, SEO, and business, but search rank reporting is not one of those.

What can you do about it?

You can use SearchStation* to get accurate real-world search rank reporting and other valuable analysis.

Are there others questioning or challenging the accuracy of search rank as reported in Google Search Console? Yes.

…My message to everyone: think about data quality and validity before using Google Webmaster Tool data for your research, predictions or reporting purposes. It is ok to analyse trends and movements, using individual data points is not recommended.

…Call me unsurprised, but this wasn’t even close. Standard rank tracking methods performed far better at predicting the actual number of clicks than the rank as presented in Google Search Console. We know that GSC’s rank data is an average position which almost certainly presents a false picture.

…Google does not really like others to evaluate what they scrape 🙂 So if you want real rankings from specific locations or languages you’ll have to go with…

*We build SearchStation for exactly these reasons, and more, accurate search rank checking is impossible to get any other way.

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Google Analytics Direct/Other Traffic Drop – Answered

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Has your website analytics traffic suddenly dropped -80% in the Direct channel?

Normally we would look for this missing traffic to show up elsewhere, but no other channel has increased proportionately. You are probably down @ -50% overall as seen in this screenshot.
Default Channel Direct Drop in Traffic

What has happen?

Don’t panic. That traffic did not go somewhere else. Your search rank did not tank.

The traffic is still coming to your website. It is just not being reported in Google Analytics.


What happened is the referring website was switched to https but your website is still http therefore those visits will not be reported in your Google Analytics.

Didn’t you get this memo? back in 1999 in (RFC 2616)?

Because the source of a link might be private information or might reveal an otherwise private information source, it is strongly recommended that the user be able to elect whether or not the Referrer field is sent. For example, a browser client could have a toggle switch for browsing openly/anonymously, which would respectively enable/disable the sending of Referrer and From information.

That essentially was a privacy design in the https protocol 18 years ago. Now that privacy “option” is the default for our modern browsers. That means no referrer information is passed when outbound https protocol goes to (inbound) http protocol. The assumption is that you don’t want anything passed to an insecure (http) host from a secure (https) host.

Here’s an easy to understand grid of how it works between http and https:

http > http referrer passed
http > https referrer passed
https > https referrer passed
https > http referrer not passed

Back in about 2012 Google implied that employing https (secure internet communications) would increase your search rank performance. Savvy webmasters implemented https right away. “Old” industries didn’t get that memo.

The Cleanest Dirty Shirt

Five (5) years later and our (slow to adapt) website vendors just read what Google said (actually they are suddenly faced with competition forcing them to show they have a cleaner dirty shirt).

How to Fix https-to-http Referral Loss

Three (3) things :

  • 1) All outbound links on the referring website need to be edited to https where they link to an https enabled website.

However, you may not be able to get those links edited by the referrer. And to edit each link individually depending on the receiving protocol? That’s crazy! Everyone has got more important stuff to do. So we have to look at what we can accomplish ourselves.

A workaround was developed to tell browsers to override the privacy feature. All pages on a https website should include this meta tag to enable the referrer explicitly – so Google can capture it for analytics.

  • 2) <meta name=”referrer” content=”origin”>

Note that a newer tag has been introduced in HTML5 but fewer browsers support this tag. You may want to experiment for best results.

  • <meta name=”referrer” content=”always” />

Read more at W3C about Referrer Policy.

What if you have an https website, and the referrer is https. That should work, but it does not? Help!

  • 3) That means your website/host/vendor needs to FORCE https encryption (this is on the inbound website). Some hosts will accept both http & https requests and therein lies a problem for you. ( If you can’t get the referrer to edit the page and change the link to your websites to https, then that http link will be answered by the unencypted http protocol and then Google won’t report those visitors)  The solution to this problem is to FORCE HTTPS for all incoming traffic. That is how a proper webmaster would do it.

In the case you have the ability to edit both the outbound links and control the inbound website. Then do all of the above.

Want to know more about Google Analytics traffic sources ( Direct / None)?

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Can I Use One Google Search Console for Multiple Domains?

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing You can Google all-day-long and you will not find a definitive answer to this question.

Why is that?

For clarity, here is the closest thing you’ll find on the topic

We are not talking about Subdomains!

We are talking about Domains aren’t we? Exactly! I have been “doing this stuff” since Google was birthed (or became better than Altavista) @ 2001. I have seen all the evolution of methods to do-these-things with Google. These “things” I’ll call “methods”. They are simply ways to communicate with Google so they can do what they want to do; bigger, faster, better. These methods are called SEO (or “White-Hat SEO” that is).

So there are millions of people (you) doing their own SEO. You read Google support pages like most people read the newspaper. You participate on forums, ask questions, write about your opinions and experiences. All that gets indexed by Google.

Then how can a question like this remain ambiguous?

Exactly! Now here is where the developer says, “I don’t understand?”. The marketing person says, “But of course! That’s marketing”. The business person says, “Of course! That’s the nature of proprietary information.”.

I’m going to answer this question based on experience alone.

  • Question: Can I use one Google Search Console for multiple domains?
  • Answer: Its probably not a good idea.
  • Question: That’s no answer. OK! Why should I NOT use one Google Search Console for multiple domains?
  • Answer: Because Google likes Accounts linked to websites. ( And so do you because it provides more accurate telemetry in your analytics reporting ).

An ACCOUNT is a gmail login. A website is a PROPERTY of the ACCOUNT.

  • Question: I don’t get what that has to do with setting up multiple Domains in Google Search Console?
  • Answer: Because Google links Services (like Analytics) with Search Console, with Adwords, with GMB (Google My Business – God awful name that it is), and Adsense, etc.

Given all that linking between SERVICES, why do you think its a good idea to add to the complexity by adding multiple domains (Properties) to one Search Console (Account)?

  • You are not supposed to ask US questions! You are just blowing smoke with this “Services linked to Properties, linked to Accounts”. What’s next in your complexity lesson? Worm-holes?

I have found only by relative search rank performance – there is no absolute benchmark I can offer – that keeping 1 Google Account (gmail) dedicated to 1 Domain (website), yields much better search rank performance ( also mistakenly called SEO. re “My SEO is now much better because I...” Sounds like a health problem to me ).

  • Question: What else? Is that all that is floating around in your pea-sized brain?
  • Answer: No. Keeping 1 Google Account (gmail) dedicated to 1 Domain (website) also cuts down on management headaches, because Google gives you all the methods you need to setup your many Account/Domains in an easy-to-manage MCC, ( …wait for it…) proving that Google is very aware of the difficulties in adhering to all these ever-changing “methods” they create for you, whether you can find it documented online or not.
  • Question: Will this post get indexed?
  • Answer: Yes.
  • Question: Will I be able to find it in search results?
  • Answer: Probably not.

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What is a Blog Post Worth

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Does Blogging Pay?  Its the most common directive issued in SEO. Blog! If you want free traffic, Blog! If you don’t have a big budget to pay Google Adwords or Bing Adcenter for clicks, BLOG!

But does blogging really payoff? Here is your real-world-local-business answer. Not only can we see exactly how many clicks a blog post is bringing every month, month after month; we can calculate the exact value of those clicks, and therefore calculate the exact value of the blog-post. (which means how much could you pay someone to blog for your business) Here is our Query Report from Google Webmaster or Google Analytics.


A single Blog-post about how swimming pools can pop out of the ground, brought our business 31 clicks from natural searches last month.


Therefore if our blog-post brought 31 visitors and we are paying a nice round figure of $3.30 per visitors in our PPC campaigns, the blog is worth $102.30 per month or $1,227.60 per year. With this data, we can now make many more assumptions about our marketing spend.

Brilliant! Hold on! What you may have missed is that there are 4 blog-posts on this website, but this is the only one that is performing to bring us a measurable number of free visitors. That is a variable that needs to be included in our overall marketing calculations to determine what a blog-post is really worth (paying for).

Plus there are a few noteworthy bullets to go with our numbers that can serve to flesh-out your Internet Marketing assumptions:

  1. The blog-post title, when written, did not reflect what those online searches would be that produces our traffic. This blog-post could potentially perform much better with the right title. That’s water under the bridge, but now that we know, we can still do some SEO to increase our page position and thereby, increase our clicks.
  2. The CTR for this post is exceptional. Combined with Average Positions (that are at the bottom of page 1) and that tells us the other results on the SERP (search results page) are not as appealing, and may also mean our meta description (SEO) is working well.

Another critical marketing variable not provided here is CONVERSION (into leads, into sales) but that’s something for another post. With conversion figures you can really dial-in your ROI – the ultimate in Internet Marketing Planning.

Alrighty then:

  • Q: What should I blog about?
    • A: What questions do your customers ask you?
  • Q: Should you hire someone to write blogs?
    • A: Can you produce the material for them and can they optimize the content?

I know those are not an answers, but they should point you in the right direction to the answer you need. Only you know your business well enough to make all this work. Everyone else can only help.

Well, without question, blogging works to bring (relatively) free traffic and save you the cost of paying Google and Bing for visitors. There is technique (SEO) involved in making it work to its full potential, but my experience is that everyone has moments of inspiration and motivation, but few can actually execute – consistently. Perseverance and persistence (lack thereof), not $, is what inhibits most Internet Marketing from real success.

But at least now you cannot say you don’t know whether blogging is worthwhile for your business.

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Effective Keyword Research and Analysis

Effective Keyword Research and Analysis is exactly the opposite of what you think.

In the 1980’s a Canadian psychologist Dr. Lee Pulos produced a book/audio tape that I luckily stumbled upon while perusing the many self-improvement books on the very wide shelves in your local book stores. This one was fascinating and original. I still remember and use what I learned from this brilliant book/audio tape about “The Qualities of High Performance People”. Thank you Dr. Pulos.

How is that related to SEO?

Dr. Pulos hit on an important, very “human” concept that translates to our business of Search Rank Analysis (tracking and reporting). The concept is simply obvious. Psychology studies the unhealthy. He proposed brilliantly, to instead study the successful!

In SEO we gravitate to what is wrong. We look at what is not working (unhealthy). Or we look at the keywords we DON’T RANK FOR. (everyone wants to rank for everything) Therein lies the nature of our human problem. Stop doing it backwards!

To be really successful, why not study what should work? A “healthy” approach to SEO is to start with the basic keywords/phrase that you MUST rank for. What is your Brand? What is your Business Name? What Products do you sell?

Then lets do the SHOULD RANK FOR keywords/phrase…I lost you. Wait…the SEO problem:

Let me present a small, insignificant, but simply great example. I am a mountain biker. My mountain bike needs frequent repairs. I like to fix things myself. When I need a part – and that means a very specific part (which is true for an unbelievably wide range of industries, right?) – searching online is an absolute disappointment when I’m trying to find the closest bike shop that stocks my part something. No. I dont want to buy on eBay and Im not alone! (OK this is a hyperlocal SEO story that I could have mentioned in the first sentence – but this is still a relevant method for non-local SEO as well)

A hyperlocal SEO solution in a nutshell:

Lets first organize our marketing effort in a healthy way. First we need the keywords we MUST rank for – then those keywords we SHOULD rank for. We then optimize simply and accordingly. Everything else will follow in an almost zen-like way. Well it does for me.

If you get this concept, your online marketing campaigns should become almost effortless in comparison to the “conventional method” where you start with what you “want”.

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Why Search Rank Reporting Still Matters – and why you are told it does not

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

That’s a truism. So it follows that we need to measure how our website ranks for certain keywords in order to improve our search rank. After all, the only objective of measuring our search rank is to maximize our exposure vs our marketing budget. We need a 360 view of our competitive landscape to do that. That means if you have no competition, you don’t need a marketing initiative and you sure don’t need to read any further.

We assume that keywords (or maps*) are how the world finds your business online and offline these days. If 80% of customers use the internet in someway related to your business, we need to know how your website is seen in search results by those customers.

Then why do I occasionally read that Search Rank is dead? or not so important? or obsolete? or irrelevant? (take your pick)

Here is one that captures it all. This tells us that we really should be paying attention to the following:

  • Conversion
  • Engagement
  • Social Media**
  • Traffic

This list consist only of those things you can measure from Google Analytics. (that’s really out-side-the-box ;^}

What these blog/articles all have in common – is what they do not say (the elephant in the room is…). They are not telling you that they want to avoid talking (with their clients) about search rank, because search rank is almost impossible to report accurately. Yeh, so its better not to open that can of worms with clients today! Those clients could ask inconvenient questions that can’t be answered, such as, “why do I see my competition rank higher than my website while you said we are #1?”.

Search engines have gotten so sophisticated regarding location, that rank can only be measured locally. That’s why. That means its different for everyone depending WHERE they search from. This means your “local” SEO agency (that is located in A-Far-Away-City) can’t tell how your website ranks. They can’t KNOW how your customer sees your website in search results because they are not your customer.

They CAN tell you how you rank globally – obviously. But if you are not a global brand with a global market, how do you measure your search rank?.

If you have a local target market of some sort, SearchStation is your only local search rank tracking and reporting solution.

* Maps are hyperlocal and still driven by keyword search terms.
** Social Media is not a marketing channel for most SMB’s. Social Media CAN work well for Toyota (as a BRAND), but it DOES NOT work for a LOCAL Toyota Dealer. It may work for Apple, but it does not work for real estate agents.

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Keyword Volume Accuracy Unachievable

Keyword Volume is vitally important to Internet Marketing. It may be the most important ingredient to SEO success, but finding accurate (believable) keyword volume is all but impossible.

Accuracy (un)Achievable

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