With some of the changes that have happened from Google in recent months, I want to help make sure we all keep our eyes on the right prize. I’ve written many times about measuring the right things to make the right decisions. With recent Google algorithm updates, small and locally focused businesses may see shocking declines in some numbers. I’m not saying you should necessarily ignore this, but just make sure you prioritize which numbers matter most. Make sure you have conversion goals that most reflect your bottom line. New customers/patients/prospects are typically more important than just traffic. The playing field may have shifted a bit in the last 9 months that can cause some things to look at when comparing year-over-year numbers, which I highly recommend you do when examining performance.
Local Businesses Seem to Get Less National Exposure
One thing to point out is that many locally targeted businesses seem to be getting less broad-scope ranking success with blog posts and informational content. Over a number of clients, we have seen drop-offs of traffic in this type of content from outside of their market. Google is getting smarter at understanding geographic targeting. These same clients are seeing boosts in conversions with drop in traffic, which is partly why I thought it was important to write this post. If you are making your decisions based on just traffic totals, or a single ranking, but your conversions are up, you may make a very bad decision for the future of your business. If you aren’t measuring your “bottom line” properly, you should make sure you start. Google is rolling out GA4 in July. The current version of analytics is going away. Though it would be great if you had already taken care of this and had the data coming in already, now is a great time to make sure you are making the right decisions going forward. Please give us a call if you need help with this. Imagine if you were only making decisions based on traffic in the situation below, where the local healthcare client is seeing tremendous growth in business with a drop in traffic. The important thing is they are getting good traffic that converts. Especially in healthcare, blog posts and informational content can “age out” quickly and a post that was nationally viral a month ago may suddenly lose lots of traffic. But often those aren’t the pages that convert.
Google Business Profile (GBP) Data is Down
Another area where you may see big drops for a different reason is views of your Google Business Profile from the dashboard provided by Google. Google has recently changed its API and the data is actually calculated differently. You can learn more about the details here, but just know that a big year-over-year drop in views here is not the end of the world. Keep an eye on conversion data like calls and directions requests here as well, to see if they are also dropping significantly. If not, it is just that the data is different now and you are comparing apples to oranges. Another example is below with a local client that shows views on search, calls, and directions (not applicable here because they go to their clients) and clicks through to the website. If you made your decisions based on how “views on search” are presented by Google compared to last year, you would be in crisis mode, but in fact, you are seeing a major uptick in calls, which is their primary conversion driver.
Use the Right Data for Decision Making
As I stated before, I definitely recommend being aware of year-over-year data with digital marketing. Many businesses are seasonal and it gives a good idea of long-term progress. Even better is taking a look at a 13-month trend which shows the year, but also compares the prior year. However, this year there are some major caveats involved here. This underlines the need, even more, to make sure you are counting, and making decisions based on true conversions and your bottom line. When Google is clouding the other data, you need to make sure you get as close as you can to the data drivers for your business. These are also not susceptible to changes in the way Google defines data or collects it. If you need help getting set up, please give us a call.