How to Track Your Local SEO & SEM

Posted by nickpierno

If you asked me, I’d tell you that proper tracking is the single most important element in your local business digital marketing stack. I’d also tell you that even if you didn’t ask, apparently.

A decent tracking setup allows you to answer the most important questions about your marketing efforts. What’s working and what isn’t?

Many digital marketing strategies today still focus on traffic. Lots of agencies/developers/marketers will slap an Analytics tracking code on your site and call it a day. For most local businesses, though, traffic isn’t all that meaningful of a metric. And in many cases (e.g. Adwords & Facebook), more traffic just means more spending, without any real relationship to results.

What you really need your tracking setup to tell you is how many leads (AKA conversions) you’re getting, and from where. It also needs to do so quickly and easily, without you having to log into multiple accounts to piece everything together.

If you’re spending money or energy on SEO, Adwords, Facebook, or any other kind of digital traffic stream and you’re not measuring how many leads you get from each source, stop what you’re doing right now and make setting up a solid tracking plan your next priority.

This guide is intended to fill you in on all the basic elements you’ll need to assemble a simple, yet flexible and robust tracking setup.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is at the center of virtually every good web tracking setup. There are other supplemental ways to collect web analytics (like Heap, Hotjar, Facebook Pixels, etc), but Google Analytics is the free, powerful, and omnipresent tool that virtually every website should use. It will be the foundation of our approach in this guide.

Analytics setup tips

Analytics is super easy to set up. Create (or sign into) a Google account, add your Account and Property (website), and install the tracking code in your website’s template.

Whatever happens, don’t let your agency or developer set up your Analytics property on their own Account. Agencies and developers: STOP DOING THIS! Create a separate Google/Gmail account and let this be the “owner” of a new Analytics Account, then share permission with the agency/developer’s account, the client’s personal Google account, and so on.

The “All Website Data” view will be created by default for a new property. If you’re going to add filters or make any other advanced changes, be sure to create and use a separate View, keeping the default view clean and pure.

Also be sure to set the appropriate currency and time zone in the “View Settings.” If you ever use Adwords, using the wrong currency setting will result in a major disagreement between Adwords and Analytics.

Goals

Once your basic Analytics setup is in place, you should add some goals. This is where the magic happens. Ideally, every business objective your website can achieve should be represented as a goal conversion. Conversions can come in many forms, but here are some of the most common ones:

  • Contact form submission
  • Quote request form submission
  • Phone call
  • Text message
  • Chat
  • Appointment booking
  • Newsletter signup
  • E-commerce purchase

How you slice up your goals will vary with your needs, but I generally try to group similar “types” of conversions into a single goal. If I have several different contact forms on a site (like a quick contact form in the sidebar, and a heftier one on the contact page), I might group those as a single goal. You can always dig deeper to see the specific breakdown, but it’s nice to keep goals as neat and tidy as possible.

To create a goal in Analytics:

  1. Navigate to the Admin screen.
  2. Under the appropriate View, select Goals and then + New Goal.
  3. You can either choose between a goal Template, or Custom. Most goals are easiest to set up choosing Custom.
  4. Give your goal a name (ex. Contact Form Submission) and choose a type. Most goals for local businesses will either be a Destination or an Event.

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