2010 – another year, and another round of changes expected to come in the new year. From Googles pending dance that could shake up the Search space, to a foreseen boom in mobile advertising (likely in 2011), to some who tout conversion rate optimization being the big thing in 2010 (IMHO was covered in 2008/09). Unfortunately I don’t get to write on here as much as I’d like due to demanding clients ;-), though I thought it would be timely to cover a few points that touches on what the crystal ball holds for 2010.
And with Google dance around the corner, and the push on conversion optimization, what better time than to touch on some of the essential metrics that SEO (search engine optimization) specialists, marketers and business owners should be tracking and reporting. Its essential to know these metrics so you know your SEO ROI is being attained, or at least paying back some dividends. And yes, there are a number of important metrics to benchmark and that provide valuable insight…but these are the areas I see as ‘essential’ in you business intelligence SEO tool box, especially if our crystal ball vision is true with Google’s dance and conversion rate optimization.
- Sales and Lead Conversions
Yes the most obvious, but neglected. Most will, or should, track sales, leads and conversion “overall”, but neglect to measure this by channel. Where the primary channels you market through is Email, Search, Affiliate, or a specific campaign or promotion, benchmarking where the leads and sales conversions are most beneficial, provides excellent insight where your marketing dollars should be invested. For those performing channels – focus on optimization to squeeze more blood from the stone, and generate learnings from what works and doesn’t for your business and industry. For those channels that don’t work, don’t write them off yet…again, optimize and test.
Increasing sales for your business is your goal at the end. And for SEO, measuring this primary essential goal should be done in both the short term, and long term. Rewards come over time with SEO.
- Natural Search Visitors
The organic, natural visitors to your website who arrive from Search. Search is one of the strongest acquisition marketing channels today, and organic/natural visitors from Search are a direct factor on increasing conversion rates. The metric here is the volume of organic visitors over time arriving to your website, and converting. Optimization on-site, and off-site, can help drive more of this natural Search traffic, and increase existing traffic conversions upon their arrival. Again, SEO is a long term commitment and the rewards of the SEO efforts will come over time.
The keywords you’ve selected and optimized within your website and search strategy, how are these paying off? Do they attain good Search results positioning, are they driving ‘quality’ traffic, is the keyword converting down the sales funnel on the site. All of these points are factors to measure for understanding the results of your SEO.
Knowing the time you invest, or dollars you spend on SEO, versus the return on sales you obtain from it will give you a decent indicator, however in most times SEO pays off on economies of scale. Most work is done up front to lay the foundation, then committed too over time. Over time, the results should improve in organic Search, and the sales will be the result.
A simple ROI comparison that you can also use is if you’re seeking immediate short term results and paying $2 per click in a PPC campaign, yet your organic pays $0.10 per click and pays out long term…well, the costs speak for themselves.
Lastly, do remember as much of a best effort a SEO specialist puts into your Search strategy, its one major effort to get the organic visitors to your websites door from Search, its another that the rest of your website plays the same tune to attract, nurture and compliment the strategy to guide the visitor down your sales paths and convert. This can be one of the biggest barriers to SEO efforts paying off.
- Keyword Rankings
This one is simple. The organic / natural Search ranking by keyword(s) for each page you’ve optimized for that keyword. Keyword optimization should not be diluted throughout your website, so a focussed effort per page by keyword to attain the natural search results for that page is essential.
- Web Pages Index
The total number of pages indexed with Search by network is important. If some of the core Search engines are missing a volume of pages…why? For example, Bing indexed 30, yet Google only 10. This could indicate a major problem with the site structure, or those specific pages. Lack of exposure of these pages results in less online market share, less visitors and less sales. Watch this metrics ensure your pages are getting indexed with your target Search engines and networks.
- Quality Inbound Links
Yes, your Search reputation as I like to call it. Quality over quantity and a tactic that pays off long term. I guide clients on 10 essential ‘good’ ways to produce quality links. Whatever your link strategy is, this metric should be evaluated to determine the volume of relevant, quality inbound links to your site, and which pages they point too.