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Useful Web Analytics: Proving that SEO Works (Part 1)

December 7th, 2009 | | Analytics, Basic SEO Tips

Search engine optimization has been a hot topic among CMOs and other marketers. SEO is something that every small, medium, and large company is trying to get into, become more advanced in, or feel like a master. A common wall that most companies will hit eventually is a demand from the top of the chain to see proof that SEO is working. If you are the sole marketer working on the SEO project or are new to the SEO industry, you may feel a little pressured to find the right data to prove your SEO project’s success. You have every right to be nervous.

The Aberdeen Group reported in August 2008 that “the top two challenges around segmentation and analytics were a lack of data quality (62%) and an inability to collect or access the data needed to calculate key performance metrics (31%).” In other words, some of these people don’t think you’ll be able to prove anything. Yet the analytical data you have collected can drive some marketing initiatives.

I’d like to mention that, regardless of the items listed below, you’ve probably been given specific metrics to prove to management. If not, there are probably some common sense metrics to think of as well, depending on your market. I won’t be talking about trending e-commerce sales from search engine traffic or increase/decreases in your lead-generation totals. There are many other issues that can affect these factors, including web design, web application usability or performance, even customer incentives. I’m going to focus on two pieces of analytical data that build the base of your SEO pyramid.

Referrals

For those not aware, referrals are simply other websites that have linked to your website. Management may not consider Referrals as part of the SEO equation of success, but it should be kept in mind that a user might have had to use a search engine to find the referrer’s site also. If your company is given a positive spin by the referrer, these can be some of your best sales and strongest leads; an electronic version of word-of-mouth.

You’ll want your number of referral visitors increasing, as well as the number of sites giving your site referrals. Obviously, it’s important to show management that visitors to your site are increasing in all three areas: direct, search engine, and referral traffic. Showing that your number of referral sites is increasing shows that your popularity is spreading on the web. Each of these mean more chances to have a good recommendation made about your company, leading to more conversions.

Bounce Rate

A low bounce rate can be great news for an SEO and for a designer! Not only are users not repulsed by the look of your site, but they also are interested in your content. Above all, users are being delivered to content that they were expecting to be delivered to. They’re finding what they want to find, exactly what you want in SEO. See a spike in bounce rate on a specific page? Check the search phrases used to find that page; you may not be getting the users you’re looking for. This is a great opportunity to explain to management how SEO can be useful to them.

Next week, I’ll be explaining some additional pieces of analytical data and how to make your case for them. In the meantime, study your data to see what trends you’re having and how you can explain them. Eric also wrote a great post back in May about reviewing analytics data. Check it out!

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