by Laura Thieme
As April 4th approaches, I celebrate my 16th year in business and 15 years of doing SEO for retailers, and B2B lead-gen companies. In 2001, I told Danny Sullivan at a San Francisco SES conference that we had to do more than show up in the search engines, we had to measure. If we couldn’t prove that our work was paying off in terms of visibility, traffic, leads and revenue, we’d likely lose the job.
Danny said, “If you believe so strongly in this, then why don’t you come down to Dallas and speak on it?” That was at the end of August in 2001, just a couple of weeks before our Nation was attacked. In November, 2001, I spoke in Dallas on Measuring Success. I’ve spoken at over 40 SES & SMX conferences in NYC, Dallas, Chicago, San Jose, London (UK), Toronto and Stockholm. I’ve developed & taught a class at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business (2007-2008). I’ve performed SEO analyses and optimization for major brands including TOM’s Shoes, Burt’s Bees, Pier 1 Imports, a major consumer electronics retailer (NDA), and many other medium sized companies. I’ve done international SEO campaigns. I’ve developed a SEO software tool to make it easier to figure out why you’re not ranking versus why you are.
A lot has changed since 2001, from how we optimize a website to monitor performance, but mostly that we can measure far more than we could then and it’s a helluva lot harder to show up in the top 4 SEO rankings.
Fun Note: In May of 1998, my first paid SEO assignment was to get a company into the search engines for a variety of international trade related keyword phrases. It took two weeks. I had figured out an algorithm that if you repeated 3-5 keyword phrases, 3 times, in the page title, page meta description, keyword metatags and submitted those pages to the search engines – voila, within a few days, you’d have top rankings on the 1st page. I got paid $1,000 upon commencement and another $1,000 upon success. It took 10 days to get my second check. Yep, that’s how easy it was back in May of 1998.
Some companies think it’s still that cheap to buy, which is unfortunate. They should do SEO themselves and count the hours, strategy and content they must generate – they’d realize it’s not cheap to execute or get into the top 4 rankings.
Part of succeeding, or learning from failures when it comes to SEO & pay-per-click advertising has to do with detailed, time-consuming analysis. Have all the dashboards you want, but you need 4 hour crunch sessions to drill down into the data and perform a detailed SEO analysis by quite frankly, an experienced SEO expert.
Every time you look at your SEO reports, either bi-weekly or monthly, you should be looking at the following data:
- Keyword & search engine position + page number
- URL that ranks – very helpful information, especially trended URL data – good to know when Google ranks a different page for one of your target keyword phrases, and either drops or improves your ranking position
- Traffic projection, or # of searches done monthly in Google, Bing and other search engines for each of your keyword phrases
- Know whether or not your keywords resulted in visibility, traffic, leads and/or ecommerce transactions and or revenue.
- Trend the data – not just 90 days, we believe in 13 months minimum, if not much longer
- Ability to drill down in to Google Analytics keyword performance data and see organic vs paid (PPC v SEO) performance data (visits, leads, conversion rates, bounce rates, number of conversions)
Once your done looking through that data, you can compare your visibility with that of your competition.
- What keywords are they ranked for?
- How many top 5 rankings do they have, and for which keywords?
- What do their URLs look like? Can you identify their SEO strategy as a result?
Now you’re ready to hop into Google Webmaster for the SEO Technical Details.
- Check your Messages – make sure there are no alerts
- Demote any unwanted sitelinks – unfortunately you can not specific which sitelinks, but you can do this in paid search advertising with Google Adwords.
- Change of Address – in the event you’ve moved your website recently
- Health – look for crawl errors, blocked URLs, robots.txt analysis, malware alerts, anything else
- Search Queries – it’s okay for basic data, but for accurate data mining and detailed SEO analysis on how to improve your listings, you need another SEO tool and reporting software that is third party to Google
- Links to Your Site – Crucial to look for link farms or suspect inbound links
- Optimization – Sitemaps – submit a sitemap through here
- Labs – Site Performance
Basically, everything you could possibly need to know about your technical site’s SEO details is in the Google Webmaster data.
That said, you still need to mine your keyword performance data with the integration of Google’s Custom Search (organic data), Google Analytics so you can measure traffic/visits, leads/orders, conversion rates, bounce rates and number of conversions per keyword, trended 13 months at a glance.
Call 614-846-7560 or order online our SEO Performance Reports.