Back in October, we selected PhotoTour DC (previously PhotoTour Excursions) as the winner of our first SEO makeover contest for DC small businesses.  We’ve had a lot of fun working with Lynford Morton during this process and, as we draw a close to this makeover, are happy to report some nice results.  Below is an email I sent to Lynford a few days ago capturing the results and my recommendations for next steps to keep his momentum going.

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Hi Lyn,

Hope you’re doing well and gearing up for the spring tour season.

I spent a few hours today analyzing your Google Analytics data for the last few months, to see the impact of our SEO efforts so far.

You can see the results here.  The first tab shows the results in graph form, the second tab shows the actual data.  I more or less used the SEO measurement process described here – with some adjustments for your situation.

I looked at the 9 weeks after our SEO was implemented vs. the 9 weeks before.  Not apples to apples but good enough for our purposes.

For keyword groups I’m focusing on the keywords we identified in our keyword research back in October.  Within Google Analytics I aggregate similar words together (e.g. everything with “class” or “classes” in it) which is how I end up with “keyword groups.”

By “conversions” I’m referring to the 3 goals we set up initially in Google Analytics — visits to your Signature Excursions page, visits to your Specialty Excursions page, and visits to your Calendar.  These don’t tell us whether they signed up for a tour, but it is a good indication of interest and the best conversion metric available. (I originally was trying to track clicks over to the Eventbrite page but for various reasons we haven’t been able to track those consistently.)

While the numbers aren’t huge, we have seen a nice increase on a number of our target keyword groups.  For instance, “workshop” related phrases had 0 conversions prior to SEO; after they had 36.  “Photography” went from 32 to 101, “class” from 6 to 21.  A few groups stayed flat and one – “lesson” – dropped.

Overall your conversions on SEO target keywords increased from 50 to 175 – an increase of 3.5x.  Not bad for the first couple months.

Note that I did not include “tour” related words in the analysis.  Because your brand name includes “tour” it’s too hard to tell the effect of SEO on these words vs. other marketing efforts like Groupon.  It does appear that your Google rankings on top “tour” phrases have increased.

Based on the analysis, I don’t think you need to make updates to the body content of your site at this time.  I’m confident that over time our optimization from the end of last year will continue to help improve your rankings.  I do, however, think it’s worth updating your title tags at this time based on what I saw in the results to date.  I’ve attached recommendations for updating titles on most of your main pages.

I’m marking this as the official end of our “SEO makeover.”  Of course I’m happy to answer any questions you have, now or in the future.

I’ve set up an automated report for you in Google Analytics; you’ll receive it by PDF at the beginning of each month.

As for future steps, here are my recommendations:

1. Keep the target keyword list (keyword research) doc handy anytime you make changes or additions to the website.  Integrate those keywords where possible, especially in the title tags, headings, and lead paragraphs of any new pages.

2. Ensure that the title tags remain intact anytime you make updates to the site.  Those are critical for SEO.

3. Check your Google Places listing once a quarter or so to make sure the information is still accurate.

4. Continue to try to attract links from other relevant websites.

5. Continue to post regularly on your blog.  Consider approaching photography experts to interview on your blog, to mix up the content.  And consider approaching other local bloggers offering to post tips (or be interviewed) for their blogs.

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It’s been fun working with you on this.  Keep me posted on how things are going with your biz!

John