Measuring Success of Medical SEO – Organic Traffic

September 6, 2016

In the last Measuring Success of Medical SEO post, we went over the most important key performance indicator for a medical SEO campaign: conversions. After conversions, website traffic from search engines is another useful way to measure success because we need to get enough potential patients to your website so they can set appointments.

That being said, traffic can be trickier to review than you’d think. If you’d like to follow along with your Google Analytics, select “Organic Traffic” in your segments:

organic traffic segment

Traffic seems like a straightforward metric on the surface. Most medical marketing agencies might be able to show your organic traffic increasing over time, which is what you’d assume is always good. Not the case!

Keywords Driving Traffic

If you are receiving traffic for keywords completely unrelated to your treatments, your website traffic will be dissatisfied and bounce off the page. For example, if a healthcare practice ranked number one for the album "Back on the Dancefloor" by German dance trio, Cascada, there would be an increase in traffic, but we doubt there would be many qualified patients making appointments.

Another issue is if those keywords are from spam traffic. Analytics has been known to include traffic from spam, which can even show up as organic traffic. Spam traffic sends keywords using unrecognizable phrases like “eu-law-traffic” or, in worse cases, phrases related to porn, pills, or poker.

While Google did away with providing most keyword data for logged in users, we still capture keyword data through Google Search Console, where we can also track click-through rates. This small amount of keyword data can provide insights into how people are finding you in the search engines and whether they are clicking on your result.

Traffic Driving Conversions

If your traffic is increasing but conversions aren’t, your SEO campaign is not driving quality traffic. It is possible to increase traffic from search engines and not see an increase in conversions. When reviewing traffic, it is important to take a long view. Search engine optimization is a snowball marketing channel that takes assets to build up over time.

Organic search traffic interacts with other marketing channels that needs to be considered. Visitors can find you on social media and later search for you in search for your healthcare practice’s brand. People use search to find things they lost or for convenience. It is important to have a holistic online presence on the web. Because of the symbiotic relationship between marketing channels, organic traffic can influence and be influenced as an “assisted conversion” – assisted conversions are conversions caused by your traffic taking multiple paths to complete a conversion. It is important to watch how organic search interacts with other channels people are using to find your website.

Traffic as a KPI

Traffic is a good measure of success for your SEO, but you have to review how the numbers were created. Without taking a step back and reviewing enough data, the numbers will not accurately represent the successes or failures of the campaign.

Instead of looking at a single tree, you want to take a high-level view of the entire forest. The best way to do that is go from daily, or even hourly, traffic and move towards weekly and monthly across longer periods of time. Long-view data analysis gives an improved scope on your SEO’s success because, with year over year data, you can eliminate seasonality.

The important points to remember when watching traffic as a KPI are:

  • Take a long view and examine the trends
  • Monitor the keyword in Google Search Console
  • Watch correlation with conversions

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Measuring Success of Medical SEO Series:

  1. Conversions
  2. Organic Traffic
  3. Engagement
  4. Rankings