If I had a nickel for every time a marketing person, executive, or admissions rep said “we need more landings to our website,” I’d have a lot of nickels. Of course, getting traffic to your business traffic is important. But what’s more important is the quality of the traffic. Landings may not mean clients admitting to your center. These landings must convert to phone calls to your call center, and then those phone calls must be converted to admissions. If the quality of the landing is poor, meaning the user isn’t actually looking for what you’re selling, doesn’t have the resources to buy what you’re selling, or has landed for some other reason, then the landing count is misleading. Our customers face these challenges every day, and we try to help them by creating higher-quality traffic that converts.

First, however, let’s delve into the landings, or “site visits” number a little more deeply. Google Analytics provides a multitude of metrics allowing webmasters the ability to analyze site performance. The top 7, listed on the overview page of Google Analytics are:

  • Visits – total number of visits to the site
  • Unique Visitors – the total number of visits to the site by unduplicated users
  • Pageviews – the total number of pages the visitors viewed, even if they view the same page more than once
  • Pages / Visit – the average number of pages during a visit to the site
  • Avg Visit Duration – the average time a visitor spent on the site
  • Bounce Rate – the percentage of users who only viewed one page and then left the site
  • % of New Visitors – unique visitors divided by total visits

Many people focus on the first number as the most important metric. But a careful analysis of all these metrics, along with sales data from within your organization, are a more comprehensive tale of the tape. This is an area we could talk about for days, weeks, or months. This article won’t go that deep. But let’s look at some meaningful uses for these metrics as it relates to the helping professions – drug & alcohol treatment centers, etc.

First, unique landings is a more important number. This is the point of first entry. This user (or more accurately, their IP address) has never been to the site before, within the set reporting period. Setting aside the dynamics of IP address assignment, let’s just go forward on the premise that this is a new user. From a standpoint of general traffic, this is the number to focus on. Pageviews, pages/visit, average visit duration and bounce rate indicate engagement, or the attention span of the user in your site and it’s content. Now, if you are a treatment center, what should these numbers look like? Well, many people focus on volume of unique landings, high engagement metrics and low bounce rates. But do favorable numbers in these areas mean you’re admitting lots of patients? Maybe not.

A few months ago, a fairly good size treatment center with a niche product announced it was shutting it’s doors for good and filing for bankruptcy. I had some knowledge of this place, and knew it had done very well for a decade or so, and I also knew they had invested deeply in the SEO/SEM/Website platform as a central part of their marketing schema. They placed on page 1 SERP for virtually all of the search terms for their niche. Clearly, this site was a workhorse. I was interested in following the bankruptcy process to see if the site would be auctioned, and sure enough it was. I knew an insider with the company, who I also knew had access to historical data regarding the performance of the website, including analytics. Here’s what this person told me:

“The site gets around 22,000 unique landings per month, and that visitor performance has been stabile for sometime, but before we closed, we were admitting less than one patient a month on average, which had been the case the last year of operation.” I quickly pointed out that the site is page 1 for numerous niche keywords, and asked how can it be that it wasn’t equating to closed deals? “It’s fools gold,” he replied, “the bounce rate is in the 90s – most of the visitors don’t call us, and the ones that do aren’t qualified.” Shocking that a site that seemed to perform so well wasn’t performing at all. Of course, I am reliant on the statements of this individual I spoke to, who may have had an agenda to purchase the site themselves. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this kind of story in the treatment industry. I passed on bidding for the site.

So, are landings important? Sure they are, but not alone. They must be analyzed with the other metrics as well. Also, keywords that place high on SERP may not be creating quality traffic either. If they are, and bounces are unusually high, the traffic is likely unqualified and not converting to calls to the call center. Engagement is also a valuable metric for determining site performance. But let’s keep one fact in mind. Prospects searching the web for treatment (usually not the patient) are often in a crisis, and want to speak to a human being about what’s going on, rather than engage themselves in perusing and consuming the content of the website. I’ve found in my years of taking admissions calls that a alarming amount of callers referred from the website clearly didn’t even the read the big print on the front page. They just called the toll-free number. Site engagement means different things to different businesses, and I do not consider it as seriously with the treatment business.

At MaddMarketing, our service to the helping professions is unique because we are experienced in the industry. Therefore, we get involved in the ROI of the projects we provide to our customers. Just doubling or tripling the landings may not mean clients! It is but a piece of the puzzle that is competitive treatment SEO. Let us help you fill beds through our unique and proven approach. Contact us today at 800.315.0150.

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