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SEO Benchmarks and KPI

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 26 April 2010 13:16

How to measure SEO success

Recently we learned that most SEOs still consider that rankings are a performance indicator, just less of a value than in the past. Or at least according to a recent poll we held. This all begged the question, what ARE the metrics of measuring SEO success?

Well, in short, there is no cookie cutter approach that is going to work in all situations. What follows are some notes that we (Dojo warriors) put together over some forum threads and chat sessions.  And the question was….

What benchmarks and key performance indicators are worth watching?

As we made our way through the various potential benchmarks and KPI metrics, it became clear; all is not at it first would seem. Right away you should understand that each website, each business model and market creates new challenges. This is where the art of SEO comes into play. What is a key metric in one situation may be of secondary value on another.

What is are KPI and benchmarks

To get things started we need to go backwards quickly and ask; what is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?

  • A metric that an organization measures to help determine its progress towards a goal;
  • A reflection of the tactical performance of an organization;
  • Is used to substantiate an organization’s objectives.

Essentially, for our purposes, they are a metric to aid in gauging performance of the SEO program. They are signals that tell us how well we’re accomplishing a given set of goals (and how). Obviously this is going to vary from site to site dependent on the business model, but we should be able to at least get a feel of what should be looked at.

And a benchmark? For the sake of this discussion these would be secondary metrics. In many cases the benchmarks can be items that give substance to the larger goals/data. The names aren’t as important as the concepts as far as I am concerned. It really doesn’t matter as much what we call them. Understanding that there are core and secondary metrics is the important part of the exercise.

And so where does one start? Simple… define success.

SEO KPI and Benchmarks

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Search geeks don't trust Analytics?

Written by David Harry   
Thursday, 03 September 2009 16:52

Boy, am I ever glad to hear that.

Over the years, being the data geek that I am, analytics have been nearly as fascinating as SEO. One of th emore problematic things though is that many Analytics geeks tend to talk about analytics and the proverbial 'grain of salt'. You see, there is no perfect solution and most of the ones that are commoly used can be spotty at times.

A few weeks back we were doing some anecdotal head-to-head testing and it seems not a lot has changed. This means, to me at least, that there needs to be a more tempered faith in them and historical data can be the real importance. It would seem the readership agreed...

Here's the results;

  • 38.6% - Not really, they're all somewhat inaccurate
  • 29.5% - No, I use them as a guide only
  • 13.6% - Yes I find them accurate
  • 11.4% - I do, but prefer log file analysis
  • 6.8% - Yes I do, but prefer tagged solutions

What is also kind of interesting, beyond the fact that most peeps didn't trust them, is that the tagged solutions (you know, Google Analytics?) were the bottom of the bunch. Makes for another interesting question; if so many of us don't trust them, nor tagged... AND use Google Analytics - what does that say for GA? hehe....

Local SEO factors

Sure, I know this one has been done to death - but a few peeps and I were talking about it once more the other day... So be sure to check out this week's poll - What are the most important Local SEO factors? (see results and take the poll if U could please... it's appreciated)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Content Overview Analysis in Google Analytics

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 08:06

S3 - Search, Social and Syndication

It’s been a while since we played with some analytics and when looking at some reporting it seemed to me this simple approach might be useful to pass along for looking at traffic data trends. While we’re going to compare some simple data types, it can be adapted in many ways. For this exercise we’ll create an easy way to analyze content and the traffic being driven to it (search, social and syndication)

We’re going to, once again, be working with some custom segments and so I’d be sure to brush up if need be with; Google Analytics Custom Segments for SEO


Creating the Advanced Segments

We’re going to create 2 new segments for this one… pretty easy really. The new segments will be;

  • Social Traffic; All – which will measure the social traffic coming to a given piece of content.
  • Email and Reader – which will capture the traffic coming from syndication sources

We can then use those, along with the standard ‘Search Engines’ segment and do some content analysis that can help for creating future content (and distribution) programs. We could also cross-reference the data with ranking and link profile data to see which types of content are most effective…


Google Analytics Custom Segments



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Analytics tips for All Occasions

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 02:59

How do YOU measure up?

Over the last 6 months of writing the SEO Geeks newsletter I’ve been collecting a wide variety of posts dealing with web analytics… Just for fun, I thought to wrap them all up, with some that didn’t make it into the newsletter (gotta’ spread the luv, oui mon ami?) and post them in one place for everyone…

Analytics have always been important and personally, always been fascinating (even before my SEO addiction). Like playing an instrument, it can seem cumbersome at first. But once you become one with the instrument, more beauty emerges. So for me there is a real sense of intimacy to be had with site visitors by looking at the analytics.

Anyway…rambling… away we go...


Getting started;

Google Analytics – for starters, you should consider attending Conversion University: and the when yer ready - take the test


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SEO and analytics; A chat with Marshall Sponder

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 02 February 2009 07:55

Over the last while there has been a great deal of talk in the SEO world about a more prominent roll for web analytics - we've even covered some Google Analytics tips here on the Trail. Given all this interest I wanted to sit down and talk with a fellow I've been reading for some time now - Marshall Sponder of Web Metrics Guru - let's saddle up and see what we can learn from one of the top minds in the game shall we?


Getting to know the Web Metrics Guru

Dave; I’m not sure how familiar with the world of SEO you may be, but over the last few years analytics are playing an ever increasing role. Have you had much opportunity to apply your considerable skill set to analysis of organic search traffic?

Marshall;  I'm pretty familiar with Search Engine Optimization; first, getting my feet wet and experimenting with SEO in 2002 when I picked up a book by Robin Nobles on Search Engine Optimization; I found it very much like the Unix System Admin work though most of the 1990's.  I was pulling myself up by my bootstraps from the last Recession (mild compared to what is happening to us now) and 9/11 (as described by a two part interview I did with my fellow web analyst blogger, Anil Batra, late in 2007, part 1 and part 2) and was looking to reinvent myself and found SEO.

Soon after, in 2003, I got a job at doing SEO and Analytics reporting and met Bill Hunt, who became a good friend and mentor to me; Bill opened some doors to me and I also subsisted on SEO freelance work outside of IBM, which a series of sites in a variety of verticals such as architecture, entertainment, along with the enterprise SEO work I did at IBM.  I also met Mike Moran, who was one of my first bosses at IBM and, certainly, one of the best bosses one could have at IBM.  Mike Moran and Bill Hunt wrote Search Engine Marketing, Inc.  which is now in it's second edition - I read the manuscripts and was a technical reviewer of the first edition.   

Also, early in 2004, I began my association with Robin Nobles and John Alexander as Advanced SEO Chat Moderator for Search Engine Workshops, an association I still maintain (though I haven’t conducted many chat sessions lately – too busy).    In addition I am a frequent attendee of Search Engine Strategies (New York and San Jose – see day 2 and day 3 agendas), often covering SES as a Blogger and speaker.  Same holds true for Emetrics Summit (both San Francisco and DC) where I’m often invited to Blog or Speak. As a result, I have met or personally know many of the influentials both in Search Marketing and Web Analytics (conversely, they know me).

Analytics and Art - the Marshall Sponder experience

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