SMX West 2009 – What are the SEO efforts from a technical standpoint? This session looks at "status report" metrics you can tap into such as link counts, page counts and more to measure value, set benchmarks and determine successes.
Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
The first presentation of the session is from Seth Besmertnik, CEO, Conductor, Inc.
He brings up a few topics and how to dispel myths including, every keyword is equally important. There is a concept that all potential keywords are accounted for and known. Movement outside the first page does not matter – so myth that must be on the 1st page of SERP.
"Lack of metrics – 86% of all traffic going through Google is search engine clicks. But, 89% of spending budgets are on PPC. Why? Metrics should bridge the gap."
Chasing page rankings is counter productive, but still provides valuable insight. Rankings are good way to measure against competitors, but much of the progress happens before getting to this metric.
Action Optimization – The values of understanding small changes can be tested and focused for better metric performance. One example is Snippet Optimization for natural listings – the snippet from meta description can be multivariate tested. Can often find improvements from running 30 day testing of snippet by ranking. Run ranking reports showing ranking for keywords and movement traffic. If traffic increases, then metric is improved without drastically changing page rank. Next, run same against competitors and understand metrics available to create your scorecard. If you are ranking well for a keyword phase, testing will not let you fall far or fast, but A/B testing can help improve CTR.
Rand Fishkin, CEO, SEOmoz on SEO Status Metrics that Matter.
Data driven metrics should remove guesswork. Do we really know how good data is from Yahoo, Google PR? No, but, we all use this data. "Quantified" from Quantcast is like Google Analytics, but public. SEOmoz took this data for actuals and ran comparison to Alexa and Compete.com. Confidence is approximately 95% by statistical correlation as follows.
Compete.com uses the "Unique People" as best estimator of traffic in the US with about 86% correlation. If estimating traffic worldwide, then Alexa "Reach" is a higher correlation with data about 80% correlated with actuals. Don't use or trust a single metric to be the key. Link popularity is still defining factor by nearly 75%, URL keywords next and content
Kelly Kochert, Assistant Vice President New Media, NSI
How well are we really doing? Ask the questions to tell your story?
Analysis of SEO Traffic can be an example of telling a story by answering questions.
How much traffic? – do you see changes month to month, Seasonality or Year over Year (YOY)
From Where? – Does it align with market share? What search engines? Not showing well on Yahoo? what opportunities are there and then to be better on Yahoo, growing the slice of the pie for a larger share of overall traffic.
What moves the needle? Document start of major updates such as a linkbuilding campaign, site redesign.
Why? Keywords – align keyword traffic with ranking, this can show opportunities, misses and help to review new terms. Look at Branded vs non-branded and work on growth in non-branded.
Where? Understand the Entry pages from your analytics and are they aligned with keywords. Where do visitors go post-landing pages – these are opportunities.
What do they do? How long do visitors stay on a site and what pages have traction. Are they staying longer on the site and where did they go when they left the site. The abandonment rate is related and valuable only if know from where they are leaving the site.
What inbound links are working?
Referral sites and links give an opportunity to change anchor text. If getting good referral from a large site, evaluate if similar sites can be built as linking referrals and update anchor text on referral site. Build landing pages around the topic area.
Where are they from? Location and seasonality
What else? What are the engines doing and how often are they visiting including penetration (pages crawled versus indexed), look at reducing errors.
Brian Klais, Executive Vice President of Search, Netconcepts provides a presentation about Natural Search opportunities.
56% of Google queries serve 0 paid ads (Comscore), but have 10 results for the search results page. Stop talking tactics. Start talking Performance Metrics.
Click-through rate – Calculate your CTR as a benchmark, divide keyword market-size by keyword traffic. Compare CTR by SERP placement.
Acquisition costs – Compare PPC cost vs natural. Use Google's average CPC for each phrase, factor in our cost or resource time and average. You spend $0.75 per click vs. …. ? Focus on reduced acquisition cost.
Landing Page Yield – Determine available landing pages (crawled by the bots), what % of those pages are indexed, and yielding traffic. Searchers per page and CTR can help identify opportunities.
Landing Page Rankings – Engine placement of trafficked pages. YOY ranking analysis with number of pages and phrases on page1, page2, and page3.
Keyword Coverage – focus on non-brand pages and look specifically at these for YOY and MoM.
Incremental Traffic and Revenue – More than just "current' minus "previous" Can; presume non-brand rankings stay constant. YoY calculation should consider delta in KW volume, placement, traffic by keyword, sales by keyword. Proper attribution is often last click, but not necessarily the same in Sales.
Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) – Incremental revenue over incremental cost. Look beyond short-term revenue. Conversion rate variance, New-to-file customers, acquisition profitability and lifetime value of searcher.