By Chris Longo, Natural Search Supervisor, Content Solutions
Tracking SEO successes and failures can be a tricky thing to quantify. Every site has their own KPI’s and expectations when implementing a campaign, however success to the client and the agency might vary tremendously. When reporting on SEO Metrics the following variables are always brought into the discussion:
Traffic – Keep in mind there are many variables that occur when monitoring traffic such as PPC, Social Media, PR, and Traditional Media. From there one would also have to take into account seasonable or other external factors (economy, environmental). Traditionally, most reporting is done solely on visits and page views for a site, but focusing on KPI’s (conversions, goals) can be a better barometer of success. It is important to look for sustainable growth and overall long term value when monitoring traditional metrics. One of the most important things to monitor using metrics is to understand if you are growing in market share or if the market as a whole is growing. There are several 3rd party sites that can help you monitor this with traffic estimates such as comScore.com, Compete.com, and Quantcast.com.
Rankings – In the past, rankings were the end all be all of SEO success in the eyes of the client but, in reality it is flawed due to the personal and local aspects of the search engines algorithm. Before results show up in a search engine result page (SERP) the search engine categorizes the queried search by personalization and localization. Personalization is based off past behavior in the SERPS. Sites that a visitor has a previous history with rank higher and conversely, sites that the visitor bounces off of frequently rank lower. Localization is based on a visitor’s proximity to a specific query. Different results show up if you are looking for a limo company in NYC than Mobile, Alabama. Reporting on rankings consistently is flawed due to the variable nature of search engines (algorithm changes).
Visibility – Constant monitoring of visits and page views for specific keyword phrases tells the real story of what pages are underperforming. This is key to really finding out where the site is having its successes in the organic space. It is also important to know what the competition is doing. In order to be a player in the space and properly conduct a comparison to the competition of your online marketing efforts do research on what keywords, links, and cumulative rankings they have. It is also important to monitor visibility factors accordingly to maximize potential. Monitor index count, link popularity, and Page rank to ensure that the site is performing up to par.
Metrics Best Practices
- Set baselines to track progress
- Keep track of changes made to the site to monitor spikes
- Monitor implementation over time
- Keep track of when the search engines cache the site
- Track all micro-conversions
- Know where all website equity lives online
- Monitor the engagement of visitors (time on site, bounce rate, path)
- Analyze converting keywords
Most importantly use metrics to tell a story of the site activities not as a medium to simply quantify data.