Sunday, August 31, 2008

Benchmarking website performance

So you have done a few things to your website, your ranking quite highly and now you are trying to work out whether it is worth putting in any extra effort?

The answer is benchmarking your performance against your peers. Are they doing any better than you?

You may have to reach out a bit further than those you know directly compete - perhaps you need to look at your peers in another State or country that you don't directly compete with. Perhaps a more populous or IT progressive State or country? If in Australia, the UK and the US are good spots to find organisations that might have a more competitive market than ours who can provide you with a valuable role model.

After a bit of searching I was lucky enough to find not only a competitor in an adjacent market but one who's SEO firm kindly put up what they managed to achieve. Now I know what can be achieved! While the market is not exactly the same and the organisation performs slightly different services we have a range of useful stats to think about:
  • Page 1 Google ranking for at least 5 key terms - 4 of which are directly relevant.
  • 7,000+ visits per month (we have about 1,200)
  • 95% of website traffic from organic search (remember my splits from the previous posting)
  • 4-5 page views per visit (we have 3.8)
  • and most importantly of all 85% of all new patient enquiries coming from the website. (I don't have this statistic but still working on the data collection side - anecdotally I'd say it is about 30%).
The challenge has been set. Can I learn enough to meet and exceed these metrics? If so, perhaps I should charge $4,000 a pop for my search optimisation skills.

Other benchmarking services

There are also other tools for benchmarking including in Google Analytics. See Visitors then Benchmarking. You can select your category provided you agree to share your data with Google. At the moment not too many people must be using the service because the graphs of average performance are much more peaky than you'd expect of an average - 300% growth on one day across the category on the web. Bear in mind the tool only looks at your results comparing you to similar performing websites. The advantage of this is you get a more accurate picture of your performance in your category but at the same time you don't know how well the 'big boys' are doing until you reach the lower ends of their performance category.

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  1. Thanks Ben,

    One strategy that I think works well is designing a "landing page" (a subpage of your site) that is focused a particular key word.

    For example if "Child Birth Melbourne" was a phase that lots of people typed into Google and you wanted to direct this traffic to your site what you could do is write a Child Birth Melbourne Page. The words "Child Birth Melbourne" would be repeated across the page in the Headings (h1 code), in the Meta Title/Description/Keywords, and definitely in the text of the page. But don't forget to make it easy to read and useful.

    As a result Google should see this page as highly relevant for people searching "Child Birth Melbourne", therefore it should get up the rankings.

    The down side of doing this is that you probably need to create a page for each of your primary search terms.

    Thanks Paul
    Naturally Safe Cosmetics

  2. I am not sure that you require to meet all the criteria you have laid down.
    Surely being on page 1 for a number of search terms. However your visits per month are limited to how often those search terms are used.
    Page views are not necessarily imoprtant as the page is a tool to drive people to your business. so home page to contact page then a phone call is a good thing. The other pages in the end allow you to have a number of meta data and content for search engines to work off.

    When starting off the site 95% from search is a high figure. Depending on which journals or groups I have spoken to my website will obtain 50% from direct entry to the site. In 12 months I expect that to be considerably different.



  3. Hi Robbo

    You make some good points. I agree entirely with you about the terms you rank for dictating the amount of traffic you get.

    I admit I was surprised about the stats the SEO company was claiming from organic search. Remember my statistic of 70%. Perhaps they haven't really focused on listing in directories or they don't have any other activity that directs users to their site (eg they don't list it on their business cards or refer some patients to look up their website for more information).

    A 50% direct entry to the site means one of two things to me - you either have a very good 'off web' marketing strategy or you have very high recognition of your brand that encourages repeat visits who know your website or have it bookmarked because they regularly visit it.

    Thanks for the comments.