How to track your local SEO & SEM
If you are asking us, then we can certainly say that the effective tracking is one of the main things that needs to be done in the business digital marketing stack. However, I will still tell you this even if you don’t me this question.
There is a need for an appropriate tracking setup that should be capable of solving all the queries regarding the marketing efforts. That system will tell you what is working and what isn’t working for your business?
You can find lots of digital marketing strategies that still target traffic. The majority of marketers, developers, and agencies rely on the Analytics tracking code on their website and say all the work is done. However, the truth is pretty different and the traffic is not the best way of a metric for the majority of local businesses. I can say that in the most of the cases, such as Facebook & Adwords, the spending increases with more spending without any real benefits to the results.
The main requirement of your tracking setup is to feature the number of leads (AKA conversions) your site is getting and from which source. It should be faster and easier to perform this job without any need for logging different account to bring all the information at one place.
If you are one of those people who is spending a huge amount of money or effects on Adwords, Facebook, SEO or any other type of digital marketing source and doesn’t calculate the number of leads from every source, then I would advise you to stop this now. Now, your main priority should be setting up an effective and strong tracking plan.
The main motive of this guide to tell the readers about all the key elements that they require to create simple, yet effective and flexible tracking setup.
Without any doubt, Google Analytics is the center point of all the best website tracking setup. There are many other methods for collecting web analytics (such as Facebook Pixels, Hotjar, Heap, etc.), but Google Analytics is an incredible, useful, and omnipresent equipment that is used by all the websites. This tool will work as the foundation of our approach in this article.
Analytics Setup Tips
Anyone can easily set up the Analytics. You need to follow the below-mentioned tips:
- First of all, you have to create a Google account.
- Now, create an account on Google and add your website to it.
- At last, install the tracking code in the template of your website and your work is completed.
No matter what happens, you should never let your website developer or agency to set up the Analytics website on their own account. I strongly suggest the developers and agencies to stop doing this thing. Instead of it, you should create a different Gmail account so that you can own the new Analytics account. After that, you can share the permission with the account of the agency/ developer, the personal Google account of the client and all the persons you want.
The new property creates “All Website Data” view by default. Also, don’t forget to create and utilize a separate view if you want to add filters or want to make any advanced modifications so that the default view always remain accurate.
In addition, you should ensure that the right time zone and currency is selected in the “View Settings”. A strong disagreement can be caused between the Adwords and Analytics if you choose the inaccurate currency setting and uses Adwords on your site.
After completing the basic Analytics setup, you should think about adding some objectives. It is the place where the real magic will start. In reality, the objectives of every business are presented as a goal conversion. The conversions can happen in lots of different forms, but we have some of the major ones below:
- Phone call
- Contact form submission
- Quote request form submission
- E-commerce purchase
- Appointment booking
- Text message
- Newsletter Signup
How bigger your goals will depend upon your requirement here, but we will try to tag different types of conversions into a single objective. If there are many different contact forms owned by me on a site, such as a heftier form on the contact page or an instant contact form in the sidebar, I will mention this group as a single goal. There is a need to dig down for checking out the particular breakdown but will be wonderful if you keep your goals as pure and clean as possible.
In order to create a goal in Analytics, you have to follow these steps:
- Firstly, you should navigate to the Admin screen.
- Now, go to the “appropriate view” and tap on the “Goals” option. After that, select “+ New Goal option”.
- Now, you can either select a goal template or accustom one. The majority of the goals can be easily set up by selecting custom.
- Create a name for your goal, (for e.g. Quote Request Form Submission) and then select a type. The majority of goals for the local companies will either be an Event or a Destination.
Master Tip: With the help of Analytics, you can associate a dollar value into the goal conversions. It is an effective metric for measuring performance if you are capable to tie your goals. One of the well-known methods for determining the value of a goal is taking the average value of a sale and then multiplying it by the average ending rate of internet leads. For instance, if your average sale is worth $500, and you generally close 1/10 of your leads, then the value of your goal will be $50.
The easiest method for tracking the form fills to put the form redirect to a “Thank You” page after the submission. I generally use this setup because it can be configured easily and I can utilize the Thank you page for recommending the other articles or service on my site that can help in sticking the visitor around my site. In addition, I think a dedicated “Thank You” page can offer the perfect affirmation through the form submission.
Several forms can use the similar kind of Thank You page and passes through the URL’s variables for distinguishing themselves from each other. That means, there is no need for creating lots of different Thank You pages for tracking many forms or goals. Some of the average form plugins can perform this job easily. If you ask me, my favorite ones are Ninja Forms, Gravityforms, and Contact Form 7, which are also free and popular among the users.
Another incredible option is to use the event tracking through which you will be allowed to track the click of a link or a button (if it is a web form, then the submit button). It would raise the requirement for a “Thank You” page if your wish is to not send user elsewhere while submitting a form. Also, this is one of the most advanced forms of tracking.
Check out a handy plugin for GravityForms, which will make the event tracking easy.
You have to create an Analytic goal with the corresponding value once your form redirects to a “Thank You” page.
These pages can be utilized in a similar fashion for tracking the web chats, newsletter signups, appointment booking, etc.
The majority of marketers and businesses are using form tracking because it is totally free and easy to use. That’s wonderful. However, it results in a lot of web conversions to be untracked for many major businesses.
You are misusing your budget if you have spent cash for generating traffic to your website and you are not attributing and taking the conversions through phone calls to your site.
There is a range of solutions and ideas related to the call tracking. Presently, I am using CallRail and that’s why recommends it to all the people. Over the past some years, it has become one of the top priorities in the digital marketing community due to its wonderful support, affordable price, ease of use, and complete focus on integration. Another option that you can use is the Call Tracking Metrics that have gained lots of popularity among the users.
You have to make sure that integration with the Google Analytics should be allowed by your call tracking platform and provides something extraordinary, known as “dynamic number insertion”.
The dynamic Insertion is mandatory in the local SEO through which you can keep your local and real number on your website. It also helps you in maintaining the NAP consistency with the rest of the citations in the business. Google will become capable to demonstrate your real number while crawling your site if it will be implemented properly. However, the users will receive a tracked number.
In simple words, we can say that it is purely a magic.
There are some methods for applying the dynamic number insertion. One of these two techniques will work for the majority of the businesses.
Number per source
You will become successful in creating a tracking number for all the sources for which you are looking to tracking calls with this method. These sources can be:
- Yelp Referral Traffic
- Direct Traffic
- Facebook Referral Traffic
- Vanity URL Traffic (for example, these are the visitors who come from a radio ad or radio advertisement)
- Paid Search Traffic
- Organic Search Traffic
If a visitor came to your site from one of the above mentioned predefined sources, then the corresponding number will feature instead of your real number, whenever there will its visibility. An event will pass to the Analytics if the visitor calls on that number along with the source.
This path may not be perfect but is a strong method if your website generates a large quantity of traffic, i.e. more than 5k visits per day. It can also allow you to keep the costs of call tracking as low as possible. This approach can perform an amazing job to answer the questions about the number of calls generated by your site and what are their sources.
However, it comes with some minor cons that are mentioned below:
- All the calls that come from the sources that you haven’t predefined will be missed
- Artificial sessions that aren’t tied to the real user sessions will be created by the events sent to the Analytics
- The call conversions that originate from the Adwords clicks will not be associated with the ad groups, keywords, and campaigns.
The majority of these problems has more developed workarounds. However, even a single one of them is not a deal breaker and it can be avoided with the number pools, which is the most wonderful call tracking method.
According to the CallRail, they are called Keyword Pools and known as the killer app for the call tracking. It is the ideal way to go as long as the traffic of your site doesn’t make this option costly (which is not a big deal for the majority of local business websites).
In this path, you have to develop a pool with lots of numbers (8+ with CallRail). All the concurrent visitors on your website will have its own unique number and the conversion attaches to their Analytics session if they call it. There will be no disconnected conversions or artificial sessions if you have adequate numbers for covering the website’s traffic in your pool. No matter, which is the source, you will become successful in capturing every call from your site with this approach. It is also much faster for setting up than a number in each source and it will make you better and more attractive.
For all the additional numbers, there is a need to pay your call tracking provider and it demands a number of all the concurrent visitors for keeping things running in a smooth manner. So, I can say that this is the place from where a huge amount of traffic started to get costly. According to the CallRail, you should look at the traffic that your website generates on an hourly basis in the peak times and consist of about one-fourth of the numbers in the pool. That means you should need 8 numbers if you have around 30 visitors per hour on average.
After configuring the call tracking platform, you have to apply some code on your website for allowing the dynamic number insertion to perform its duties. The majority of the platforms will offer you a code snippet and important instructions required for installation. There are many useful plugins for making things even easier if you are using WordPress and CallRail. All you need to do is install, connect and then enjoy.
In order to make sure your calls recorded in Analytics, there is a need for enabling that option through the call tracking service. You can easily enable the integration with CallRail, add your domain details and then the calls will start to send as Events to your Analytics account. These events can be added as a goal in a similar manner as for form submissions. Generally, it looks normal to make the addition of a single goal known as “Phone Calls” so that event conditions can be set as per the output from your call tracking service.
For the people who are using CallRail, the phone calls will look like the following picture:
Google Search Console
It is extremely common to forget about setting up the Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) due to its backseat role in the measurement of digital marketing. However, if you miss it and then you will precede some of the major SEO basics in the technical world, such as crawl reports, XML sitemaps, country setting, robots.txt verification, etc. In addition, you will also miss some important keyword click data that are available in the Search Analytics section.
The Search Console data also play a critical role in determining penalties and many other issues down the road, will they ever pop up.
Always ensure that your Search Console is connected with your Analytics property and Adwords account.
After setting up all the basics of your tracking account at one place, you have to bring your paid advertising data into the use.
Without any doubt, the main reason for proper tracking is Adwords. If you don’t have it, then you will surely spend a huge amount of your money on clicks without any knowledge about the results. Moreover, there is very important role played by the conversion data in Adwords to be aware of the optimizations to your ad text, keywords, campaign settings, and much more.
It is extremely simple to flow your data inaccurate directions. However, it is often overlooked by the people.
Linking with Analytics
Firstly, you should ensure your Analytics and Adwords accounts are linked. Also, don’t forget to enable the auto-tagging on your Adwords account. If you have done that, then Adwords data will start to feature in the Acquisition > Adwords area of Analytics. Now, it is important that you should ensure to set the currency accurately in Analytics. If you will not do that, then the spending in Adwords will be converted into the currency that you have set in the Analytics and it will figure out the inaccurate values of the dollar. Keep in mind that you can’t make modifications in the data that has already imported by the system.
Now, it should be your wish to get those form conversions and call from the Analytics into Adwords.
Importing conversions in Adwords
There are many Adwords management organizations or consultants who shouldn’t agree with it, but I strongly suggest an Analytics-first path for converting tracking. The call and form conversions can be dragged directly into Adwords if you install a tracking code on your website. But you should do that.
Instead of that, you need to ensure setting up your conversions as goals in Analytics. After that, it is important to import them into Adwords that will make Analytics work as your single solution to review the conversion data and offer the similar access to the data that is inside the Adwords.
Call extensions & call-only ads
It can surprise some of you. There is no doubt that your desire is to track the call extensions within Adwords. While creating call extensions in Adwords, these conversions set up on their own and selected to utilize a Google call forwarding number that comes with the default settings.
You don’t need to worry about anything as you can still receive these conversions to get tracked in Analytics if you wish for it. In order to do, you have to make a single offline tracking number in the call tracking platform so that it can be utilized as the location for the Google forwarding number.
It also assists in counteracting one of the abnormality of the call forwarding system in Google. Ideally, the Google will only begin to feature the forwarding number on desktop ads once they have got a specific amount of clicks/ week. Due to this, all the calls are not tracked. The ones on smaller campaigns are never tracked by the system. The Analytics will start to feature every call that originates from your ads with the help of this exciting trick, not just the handful ones that result once Google gets a huge amount from you every week.
Adwords makes it difficult to utilize a number of your call extensions, which is not available on your site. In case, you faced problems while verifying your number for using as a call extension, then you should ensure that your Search Console is linked to your Adwords account.
Since you have synthesized AnalyticsWhen it comes to local businesses, I believe Local Rank Tracker is a wonderful tool for this job and Adwords and as a result, your tracking regimen is looking wonderful. There is some other incredible equipment that you can utilize for taking the full benefits of your setup.
Google Tag Manager
If you think that there are lots of code snippets on your website (call tracking, Facebook Pixels, web chat, Adwords, call tracking, etc.), then the Google Tag Manager is a wonderful tool through which you can manage all of them from a single place. Also, all types of advanced slicing and dicing can be done with the help of this.
It can be defined as a bag having all your snippets in and then putting a single GTM snippet on your website. After installation, you don’t require to go to the code to the site for making modifications to your snippets. All the snippets can be managed through the GTM interface in a controlled and user-friendly environment.
You don’t need to bother about it if you just require Analytics on your site and using the CallRail Plugin. However, the people looking for fulfilling robust needs, then it is important that you should consider Google Tag Manager because of its simplicity and sheer ability.
Have a look at the great primer about making accurate utilization of Google Tag Manager:
Google Campaign URL Builder & UTM tracking URL
You might be thinking about taking things further after having conversion data that occupy your thoughts. You should be looking to track the leads and traffic coming from a business card, an email signature, an offline advertisement, etc. The tracking URLs have UTM parameters (source, medium, and campaign) can be built to find that place when the visitors are coming to your site from a particular location.
There will be no need for a tool once you get adequate knowledge about building these URLs, but the Google’s Campaign URL Builder still deserves a place in the bookmarks bar of your browser because it makes things faster.
Master Tip: You can find out the difference between the traffic coming from the organic search results and traffic/conversions that come from your listing by using a track on your Google My Business Listing.
I will strongly recommend you to use the following:
Campaign name: gmb-listing
If you follow this method, then the GMB traffic will still feature in the Analytics as normal organic traffic, but you can access gmb-listing campaign for checking out its particular performance.
Bonus Pro Tip: Using a shorter URL or a vanity domain on offline ads or print materials and point it towards tracking URL for measuring their interpretation in Analytics.
Do you think Rank Tracking is a bad thing for conversion tracking goals, isn’t it?
No, it’s not. While it is right that the rank tracking is not a good primary metric for your digital marketing work, but still it can assist in figuring out the modifications in traffic and act as a supplemental metric.
When it comes to local businesses, I believe Local Rank Tracker is a wonderful tool for this job.
Google My Business Insights
Your Google My Business Insights acts as a base for your local SEO infrastructure. It offers lots of useful data (mostly clicks or impressions for your listing). In addition, it also gives you information about the number of calls generated by your listing. However, there is one disadvantage that it doesn’t rely on tracking numbers. Instead, it uses tel: links for doing its job.
You can get exact information about the number of individuals who have clicked on your phone number with the help of this tool. But you can’t know how many of them actually made the call. In addition, it won’t offer any details about the calls that came from desktop users.
You have to do lots of work though!! So, it might just freak you a little bit.
Boost your call tracking platform again by creating an offline number and then utilizing it as your primary number on your GMB listing. However, you don’t need to panic for any reason. Your NAP consistency can be preserved by degrading your real local number where there is an additional number place on your GMB listing.
I don’t think it is mandatory as there is a strong chance that you aren’t pointing your paid clicks to your GMB listing. However, you can calculate the performance of Google My Business by combining a tracking URL that points to your site.
Disclaimer: I think it is totally safe to use this method and that’s why I have utilized it in lots of instances, but I am not 100% that it won’t have any effect on your rankings. Presently, Whitespark is testing it on a bigger level and we will tell you about our findings once they are assembled.
Taking it all in
Congratulations guys! You have become successful in creating a pure and mean tracking machine. You must now have a feeling of being 10 years younger and all the individuals are paying their attention while entering your room. But, the real question is what you are going to do with this capability?
Check out some important ways through which I used this beautiful data:
Pop into Analytics
Now, we have centralized your tracking platform in Analytics, we are capable to give solutions to all the performance questions that arise within a few simple clicks.
- A number of calls and forms filled we got from the organic rankings in the last month?
- How can it be compared to the prior month or even prior year?
- What is the amount of paid conversions we are getting? How much are we paying to them on an average basis?
- Is one of the expensive things we are doing isn’t producing adequate leads?
- Are there any leads are generated by the Facebook page on our site?
You can find a billion and seven methods for looking at your Analytics data, but I follow this path most of the times from Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. You will get a brief information of your conversions and traffic combined by the channels (direct traffic, referral, organic search, paid search, etc.). There is no doubt that it allows you to make adjustments in date ranges, checking out conversion metrics individually or whole and comparison to previous date ranges. If you ask me, I can define it as an Analytics home base.
It follows this pattern: Acquisition > All Traffic > both the source and medium can be incredible if you have used tracking URLs perfectly
Creating some wonderful SEO reports
I can relocate almost my whole standard SEO client report from the Acquisition section available in the Analytics section. Creating conversions at the beginning can assist in keeping the clients engaged in the reports on a monthly basis.
Google Analytics Dashboards
A wonderful method for putting the most appropriate metrics together on a single located is provided by the inside Analytics of Google Dashboards. They are comfortable to use, but I believe that they have a limited capability. However, there is next-generation data visualization solution released by the Google for the data junkies.
Google Data Studio
They are simply amazing. It is a user-friendly, awesome, and powerful tool. I would simply suggest you skip the Analytics Dashboards and visiting straight to Data Studio.
You will be allowed to present your data from Adwords, YouTube, DoubleClick, Analytics and some of the spreadsheets or custom databases in a beautiful manner. The available data is dynamic and live. Moreover, the users can modify the date ranges and data sources easily. It is liked by marketers, clients, and bosses because it offers all the things offered performs amazingly.
If you are looking to become more stylish and create your own custom dashboard, then you need to automate report regimen and then figure out Supermetrics. You will be allowed to pull off the data from all the sources into Excel or Google sheets with the help of it. The only limitation that you will have with it is your imagination and mastery of spreadsheet-fu.
So, we have already done lots of stuff till now. Here is some gist in point form if you want to skip the master tips, irritating jokes, and nuanced explanations:
- It is extremely important to track your digital marketing.
- You shouldn’t only track the traffic as it is really critical to track conversions.
- Using Google Analytics. Always make sure that your agency doesn’t use their account here.
- Setting up objectives for different types of lead (calls, chats, forms, bookings, etc.)
- Tracking of forms having events or destinations.
- Tracking your calls by using the CallRail.
- If there is a huge volume of traffic, then using “number per source” is perfect. Otherwise, you should use AKA keyword pools because they are better.
- Setting up Search Console and linking them to your Adwords and Analytics accounts
- Linking Analytics with Adwords
- You should think about importing the Analytics conversions to the Adwords instead of utilizing the native conversion tracking snippet of Adwords.
- Other than call extensions, you should track within Adwords and Analytics by making offline tracking number as the location for your Google forwarding numbers.
- In your GMB listing, you should use a tracked URL
- If there are more than two third-party scripts for running on your website (Analytics, call tracking, Facebook pixels, web chat, etc.), then you should use Google Tag Manager.
- In order to create tracked URLs that can track visitors from different sources, such as email signatures, offline advertising, etc., then use Google Campaign URL Builder is a perfect
- While using a tracked number as your main GMB listing number, make sure to put your original local number as a secondary number.
Please note: I think it is safe to use, but I don’t have adequate data to say so unequivocally.
- Tracking your own rankings like a king
- Using short URLs or vanity domains towards your tracking URLs for putting on TV spots, print materials, etc.
- It is your new home base for Analytics-> Acquisition> All Traffic> Channels.
- Consider about creating few Google Analytics Dashboards. However, some don’t want because Google Data Studio is much more useful and perfect. So utilize that.
- If you are looking to become extremely hardcore, then checking out Super metrics is a perfect idea.
- Make your dreams a reality.
I strongly think that this guide will help you if you are a complete beginner when it comes to tracking your digital marketing. It will give you a starting point and assists in elimination some confusions and uncertainty about the techniques for setting tracking setup perfectly.
If you are an experienced professional, then I believe it should have to tell you about some alternative techniques that you can use for improving your setup.
For getting SEM Tips and Tricks check out our recent webinar here