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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The Domain Authority Fail

Have you gotten a proposal from an SEO firm that lists as one of the deliverable “Domain Authority Evaluation”?

If so, you should unceremoniously crumple it into a ball and shoot for the trash can. If it arrived by email, delete it.

Why do I think this is a sign that the firm is not reputable?

For one, its a term that fails to clearly explain itself. What the hell is “Domain Authority” anyway? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Backing up…

…Recently a few clients have passed along proposals they have received from Agencies or SEO Firms. There in big bullet point fashion is “Domain Authority Evaluation” or  “Domain Authority Audit” or “Domain Authority Research”.

Domain Authority was once such a simple concept that its not worth mentioning in a proposal or report. It once meant the age of your domain name and website in continuous service. “How long has your website been around?” See? Simple. A long time = “good”. Its brand-spanking new = “not great for your search rank. We’ll need to work harder to get your web pages indexed and ranking in search results.”

So its was enough to simply say in meeting “You bought your domain name in 2001, and the website has been in continuous service since 2002. That means it has solid domain authority, which means its been around long enough to have credibility with search engines, making it easier to rank in search results.” Or you would say, “I see you just bought your domain name and built a website. It probably does not have too much street-cred with the search engines. We’ll have to work harder…”

That’s the gist of it. Its not rocket science and it does not require any “research”. (and by the way, Google never-ever mentions “Domain Authority” anywhere)

Now if you are new to the business of SEO, you may have read about it at MOZ, who has redefined the term over recent years. What we once called “link authority” is now “Domain Authority” at MOZ. I’m not going into the weeds on why their definition is misleading. Read about it here https://moz.com/learn/seo/domain-authority and you decide if it should have been redefined.

Doesn’t anyone like straight-forward terminology anymore?

Well I do and I know my clients do and that’s why the term and its use in proposals is a bad sign. Too much snake oil in this business already. Lets talk (and write proposals) like business professionals and not like propeller-heads.

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Conflicted Advertising Agent?

Before the Internet, a business would never hire the same person or agency as their local competitor employs. Today its any everyday thing.

How did that happen? Since when is that OK?

Chances are if you are a local car dealer you have a website vendor (or ad agency) that has hundreds if not thousands of other dealers for clients. You do know they employ cookie-cutter programs so that you all look alike, don’t you?

Why in the world is it now considered OK to hire the same vendor as your nearest rival? It is insane to give up this competitive advantage to “be different” from your competition.

So why are you trying to look just like your rival by hiring their agent?

In the legal trade, the agent (lawyer) would have to recuse themselves from practicing with one or the other client. Its the law! Doesn’t that make sense? Well apparently to many in the local digital advertising sphere, its the land of unicorns and rainbows and anything goes. Like I said, insane!

( As always, PLEASE, Please comment if you disagree. I would love to hear how I am wrong. )

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Ad Fraud Is Off The Charts

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing

28% of Website Traffic is Non-Human…says Adobe in a Wall Street Journal article.
Fraudulent Web Traffic Continues to Plague Advertisers, Other Businesses

Adobe found that about 28% of website traffic showed strong “non-human signals,” leading the company to believe that the traffic came from bots or click farms.

Bot Traffic in Apache logs
Bot Traffic in my Apache logs

Anyone who runs a webserver would not disagree with that. It just takes a brand name company in tech to say it so that this stuff sticks to the wall.

So yes, Fraudulent Web Traffic Continues to Plague Advertisers, Other Businesses is true. Bob Hoffman says Ad Fraud Is Off The Charts. I love his stuff. Ya know, ten billion here, ten billion there…it starts to add up. Read more by Bob Hoffman.

According to another ad fraud expert, Dr. Augustine Fou, “No matter what you are hearing or reading about digital ad fraud, I can assure you it’s actually worse than you think.”

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Lies and Pretty SEO Reports

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing

What is the single most frequent concern I hear from business owners?
“I don’t know if the Internet Marketing we are doing is working?”
What they mean can be 2-fold, but the bottom line is always the same – is someone doing anything and is it having any affect?

The shortest path between the question and the answer you seek is Reporting. (and a quick test…more on that in a moment)

The only way to know you are getting what you pay for is in the reporting, because you often cannot see “the work”. And even if you are shown “the work”, its still about the bottom line – sales. But measuring online visitors converting into in-store sales is not easy. ( and don’t let them tell you it is )

I’m going to let you in on a secret you probably already suspect is true, The SEO business is more about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” than actually doing the work and honestly reporting the results of that work.

So here are my back-of-napkin statics : 90% of SEOs (including SEO agencies ) don’t actually do much “effective” work, and 90% of SEOs (including SEO agencies ) work harder on pretty reports than doing the actual Work. Work is hard. Re-reporting Google Analytics is much easier and scales better.

I have been amazed to see how often the magic tricks (pretty reporting) sells better than the hard work. But it makes sense. Pretty reports make people feel good and provides cover for the subordinates whose job it is to hire and manage the Internet Marketing portion of the business. Thats why we at HARTENSTINE would rather work directly with hard-nosed owners rather their “expert” employees. ( we welcome hard-nosed expert employees )

Here is one scenario you may be familiar with :

You hire an SEO, SEO firm or advertising agency (that also does SEO). After some time has passed you are given a report or presentation which shows all the keywords your website now ranks for and how you dominate your target market. Everything is “Green” and improvements are abundant. The problem is, you probably didn’t get a report on these keywords BEFORE you hired them. And “dominate your market” is often based on some kinda logic you can’t quiet get your head around – but it sure is a pretty report.

It dawns on you that you might have fallen victim to “lies, damned SEO lies, and pretty reports”. Now what do you do? You either continue in the relationship spending money on feel good reporting, or you tell them you are having a sales crisis and can’t afford them anymore. Both of these scenarios play out everyday. But either way, you are not happy.

It does not have to be that way (or end that way). You only need someone who does the work and who reports in a transparent and honest way.

The Test

I use this litmus test because we can get our hands on the data. If your SEO is working, your CPV should decline. (Cost Per Visitor)

Take a look at your past PPC campaign Average CPC ( Average Cost Per Click ). All things being equal, Average Cost Per Visitor should decline as your Internet Marketing initiative kicks in. A better website, et al, with better PPC campaigns will get lower-cost clicks. This is an especially useful test if you suddenly turned everything over to an agency and increased your budget at the same time – everything changed and the reporting will look pretty different – but the Average Cost Per Visitor test will cut right through that lying reporting.

You can get a little more complex (and more accurate) by taking your Total Website Visitors and dividing that by your Total Online Spend. Thats a bit more meaningful way to calculate your Cost Per Visitor. Then do some calculations integrating In-Store Sales, and you should start to see a pattern emerge. Regardless of how you go about it, if you are not seeing more efficiency ( lower cost per visitor / increased sales ), you now know what to do to make things right.

Don’t fall for the magic tricks of pretty reporting.

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How to Add Rich Snippets for Reviews and Ratings

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Like everything we do, the subject of this post is really “How to get better visibility in Google Search Results”. Isn’t that what everything is about?

Use this How To post as a way for you (business owners) to understand the scope of the subject as well. Its not just about Review snippets. Here is how Google describes it.

Integrate with Search to help grow your business > Enhance Your Presence on Search > Search is evolving beyond ten blue links to bring your content to people in much richer and faster ways. Learn how structured data markup can drive users to your content and services with rich results on the Search results page.

https://developers.google.com/search/

Here are the features you have at your disposal to accomplish that.

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/search-features

For most business we work with, this is what we want – Local Business schema

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/local-business

And finally the Rich Snippets for Reviews and Ratings

Login to your Google Search Console (GSC) >
Structured Data Testing Tool >
Fetch & Validate >
Expand Reviews Section >

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Where Can I Find the Best SEO Voice Search Advice?

Updated August 2018 – https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/speakable

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing There ya go. I just optimized my site for voice search. That is all there is to it!

Voice search SEO is actually very simple, though the daily-SEO-bloggers try to make it seem really complex (We understand – you are just making sure you get 2500 word quota into the page striving for the top spot in SERPs). There is no earth-shaking algorithm changes, no need to panic, and in the case you are an active search optimization client, there is nothing to do at all.

In fact, if you have been a client of mine, you know that I recommend blogging by answering any question any customer has ever asked. So your websites are already voice search optimized – if you blogged.

I just only made the headline of this post into a question. That was all! Otherwise I’m just applying established SEO techniques (but missing the 2500 words mark).

Think about it. Its all about QUESTIONS. When someone (just like you) is using a mobile device while driving and wants to search, how do they go about it? They speak a question into their mobile device. The search engine looks for the best match, just as it does for any other type of search.

Now one caveat to this simple art of voice search optimization is that the search engine is going to favor mobile friendly websites. If you haven’t got a responsive designed website (which means mobile friendly), you have got to upgrade if you want to be a player.

The rest of Voice Search Optimization is established SEO techniques and some common sense.

August, 2018 – Here is something new and a bit more substantial in this vein. https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/speakable Text-to-Speech schema markup is in beta. This makes sense for some circumstances, so its worth knowing about. I thought its better to pin it to the end of this older post rather than make a new one at this time.

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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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Bad SEO Habits to Leave Behind Yet Again

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing Search Engine Journal wrote a pretty good article about bad SEO practices. Really a good article – and I’m not kidding. It is good. But…

Of course the #8 bad habit is: Focusing on Keyword Rankings as the Main Measurement of Success

Yes I agree fundamentally, but the supporting rational is the problem, the 3 bullet points below are weak.

Here is the except:
———————————————-
In a world of personalization, location tracking, web history, and now voice search, keyword rankings don’t always give us a true picture of how we are doing.

People use a wide variety of queries to search for products and answers.

I’m not saying that you ignore keyword rankings, but what I am saying is that you have to start diving deeper into the data.

  • What type of traffic are you getting?
  • What are the conversions?
  • Are people engaging with your website?

These are the questions you should be answering.
———————————————
Hmmm…just those 3 THINGS, huh? Did someone forget to ask; “What if you don’t rank?” You get NO traffic.

  1. Type of traffic: if you get NO traffic, what TYPE of traffic is NON SEQUITIR!
  2. Conversion: if you get NO traffic, there is NO conversion!
  3. Engagement: if you get NO traffic, there is NO ENGAGEMENT!

Look. These articles are usually about shifting the focus from ranking to other things. But if you don’t rank, everything else if MEANINGLESS. Those OTHER 3 THINGS are always easier to handle as an agency than actually getting your client to rank in search results. Aren’t they?

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Google Adwords Revelation 98% of Business Comes From 22 Keywords

HARTENSTINE Search Engine First Marketing How would you like to cut your PPC ad spend by perhaps 90% and get the same net revenue?

This is not a cheap come-on. This tsunami is ripping through the digital marketing space as we speak. In case you have missed it, there have been three significant stories recently; Proctor & Gamble, then Restoration Hardware, now today Uber has filed a law suit against its advertising agency – all concerning waste and fraud in the Pay-Per-Click ad market.

The Restoration Hardware story summarizes the situation best; Restoration Hardware generates almost all of its Pay Per Click traffic from only 22 keywords.

“We’ve found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we’re buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it’s the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?”

I’ve been going up against agencies for years as they boast of their superior ability to manage 10,000 keywords (no kidding, 10,000). Well these revelations kind of put that selling point to rest once and for all. RIP!

You may not hear one peep about this from the usual Internet Marketing cheerleaders. Those “Internet Marketing Cheerleaders” include every agency and eZine that blogs about Search Engine Marketing daily. Not only do they seldom write anything worth reading, they never write a negative word that might impact their standing with Google. Obviously Google does not want this kind of news circulating, so 1) don’t expect the cheerleaders to blog about these high-profile corporations and their experiments cutting ad spend by 90% and 2) expect these headlines to be scrubbed from search results (or found on page 7).

The large advertising agencies are wishing these things were never published. They make too much money on the status quo (meaning the same fraudulent practices) because fees are based on a percentage of spend, and most clients are ignorant of the workings of the digital ad marketplace. Ignorant clients are good clients!

I want to plug HARTENSTINE right here because we have always charged a flat fee for our PPC services. That is so we have no incentive to spend client money recklessly.

So what may be a pivotal nail in this coffin, today Uber announced that they are the victim of not only wasted ad spend, but click fraud as well. The entire law suit filing is at that link detailing just how it is perpetrated. Its a worthy read.

Don’t be an ignorant-good client!

Obviously these are large corporations utilizing equally large ad agencies, but the percentage of waste is probably proportionate across the board. So even if you are a small business, you could be wasting 80% or more of your money on pay-per-click ads that do not impact your bottom line.

What are your 22 keywords? Lets find out and save some $

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