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28 SEO and Marketing Experts Share Their Thoughts On Actionable Data & Analytics (Part 1 of 3)

INTERNET MARKETING

TIPS & TRICKS

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GOOGLE ANALYTICS

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INTERNET MARKETING

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SEO

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WEB TRAFFIC

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WEBSITE ANALYTICS

Whatever your industry or role, tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), analytics, and data is a crucial component to success.  We asked experts in SEO and Marketing to share their thoughts & opinions on this topic.  This is part 1 of a 3-part blog series. (Others: Part 2 and Part 3).

We asked them, "Which KPIs do you track every day and why?" and "How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? "

Here's the first series of responses:

Randy Milanovic from Kayak Online Marketing

Brief Bio:

Randy Milanovic Expert on Actionable Data

Randy Milanovic is an entrepreneur, author of several books, and blogger of online marketing, SEO & social engagement topics. He leads the team at KAYAK Online Marketing, serving clients across North America and parts of Europe.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"As a leading indicator to topic interest, I keep an eye on conversations and engagement on both social platforms and websites.

I use Google Alerts and HubSpot Social Monitoring for company and personnel mentions and respond ASAP and when strategic to both commenting opportunities and to assess sentiment.

Additionally, I coach on segmenting information seekers from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL); prior to forwarding those leads form sales qualification and readiness."

How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"We know that competitors run campaigns and improve their sites regularly. We also know that Google and Bing update their Algorithms constantly. And, people change their search patterns.

As a result, no matter how well a site ranked yesterday, nothing will keep it top search more easily than maintaining activity and monitoring rankings weekly. To achieve this, we keep an eye on keyword rankings, tweak content to leverage changing search patterns, and are continuously deploying new blogs and offers on topic to grow authority and attract new prospects."

Vinny La Barbera from imFORZA

Brief Bio:

Vinny LaBarbera SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Vinny La Barbera is the Founder / CEO of imFORZA, a full service agency based out of El Segundo, CA. He has been working in the online marketing and web development space since 2000 and has helped thousands of businesses of all shapes and sizes to improve their online presence.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"I personally track a lot of different metrics on a daily basis, but the ones that I prioritize above everything else are Conversion Rate and Top Sources / Mediums for Conversions.

These two KPIs tell me the most and they affect my company's bottom line (and my customers') more than anything else. I even have specific alerts setup on these KPIs so that I'm notified whenever there's any type of unusual delta. Doing so has helped me to recognize and spot trends almost before they happen and plan for future ones more proactively."

How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"By focusing more on metrics that actually grow my business (i.e. conversions) and not chasing vanity metrics (i.e. rankings) I always have something to act on from my website's data. For example, one piece of data I like to track is the effectiveness of my top landing pages.

By consistently reviewing this information I can spot opportunities or deficiencies in the pages that garner most of my visitors' attention. A specific use case for this would be to analyze your top landing pages, sort by sessions and then see which of those top visited pages are having trouble producing conversions. Once those are identified you can then revisit those pages and perform some conversion optimization tests to give them new life."

Steve from TechWyse

Brief Bio:

Steve TechWyse SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Steve is the Internet Marketing Director at TechWyse. His true passion lies in the fusion of great content, social media, organic link-building, and its influence on search engine results.  He loves headphones and all things Internet marketing. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter @StrategyInventr.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"We regularly track the following KPIs:
  • Unique visits from organic search.
  • Conversions
  • Keyword rankings
  • Bounce Rate
Unique visits from search are probably the best metric we have for measuring the effectiveness and overall health of our SEO efforts. We also look to see where the traffic is coming from. Obviously, we prefer our SEO traffic from Toronto (where we’re from).

We obviously miss keyword data, but we can see branded searches in Analytics and if we want to dig further we use Google Search Console (though we don’t rely on that data as a true reflection how people are actually finding our site).

We also get a lot of traffic to our blog, so we’ve created a separate Google Analytics account in order to not skew our data for traffic to our actual website and not just our blog.

We track conversions using our proprietary tool AdLuge. It pulls in all leads from phone, forms, and tags it by medium using Analytics API and call tracking. This lets us put a dollar value on all lead sources: paid, organic, social, and direct.

Our tool AdLuge also runs keyword ranking reports using WebCEO API. This lets us monitor keyword increases and drops, though it doesn’t tell the complete picture of the overall health of our SEO campaign. Tracking competitors is also useful.

We kept a close watch on Bounce Rate, especially when we redesigned our site a year ago. We also watch it closely any time we make a UI/UX change to our blog and during any A/B tests."

How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"We look at the performance of our content over time. If we notice that a piece of content did really well, but begins to taper off we might look at adding more content or enhancing the content using Backlino’s Skyscraper technique.

We also make a lot of annotations, for example any time we make a design change, or any time Google releases a major update. This way we can pinpoint the cause of any traffic changes and respond accordingly.

We also set automated rules where if organic traffic drops 20% vs. the previous month we get a notification. This allows us to see how all of clients are performing and alerts us if there have been any major traffic changes. There are some flaws with this as it doesn’t account for the seasonality of some businesses, but it’s a pretty good indication of organic health."

Rebecca Stickler from Webpage FX

Brief Bio:

Becca Stickler SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Rebecca Stickler is a content marketer at WebpageFX who loves to write and drinks way too much coffee. Follow her on Twitter @becca_stickler.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"As someone who focuses primarily on content, I’m most interested in monitoring which pages on our site perform the best. I have a custom dashboard that shows our top blog posts and articles in terms of traffic, along with their bounce rates.

By looking at the topics and formats that generate the highest results, I can make more informed decisions about the content I produce going forward. Plus, if I notice that a page with particularly high amounts of traffic also has a high bounce rate, that’s a great opportunity to go back and revise it to keep more people on our site."

How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"The best way to get actionable data from Analytics is to set up goals based on what your site needs to accomplish. These goals will depend on your business model (ex. ecommerce sites should focus on sales, while B2B companies should focus on new leads), but should give you a clear picture of how well your site is performing overall.

Using these goals, you can determine which channels are the most effective at generating new leads, sales, and revenue. You can also see which pages on your site are the most valuable in terms of driving conversions, along with the ones that have room for improvement. And as you shift your marketing budget towards these high-ROI efforts, you can continue to make data-backed decisions about your Internet marketing strategy."

Josh Ledgard from KickoffLabs

Brief Bio:

Josh Ledgard SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Josh Ledgard is co-founder at KickoffLabs.com, a smarter lead generation platform.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"KickoffLabs helps companies run smarter marketing lead generation campaigns. We’re an online SaaS business, so we collect a lot of data on how customers are interacting with our site and content.

Being able to measure how the business if performing at all times is vital to our success. Here’s a quick listing of our KPI’s...

Site Traffic

Driving traffic is one of the most important goals. With no brick-and-mortar storefront, we rely on external sources for reaching new audiences. Site traffic allows us to measure our inbound and paid marketing efforts.

Conversion Rate

Page views are nice to have, but conversions are what matter most. Whether that's getting people to sign up for a free trial or an email newsletter, the goal is getting people to take action.

Daily Upgrades

Any SaaS is dead in the water without real customers. We offer an unlimited free trial that works great for attracting users. However the goal is to get these people to convert into paying customers.

We also use this as a support tool for reaching out directly to new high-profile clients.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

Because not all customers are created equal, it’s beneficial to build long-term relationships with high value customers. Especially since we offer a tiered pricing model, our push is to get more customers upgrading their accounts.

Although we really like when a customer upgrades to our highest level plan, we still offer amazing support to each and every customer.

Customer Churn

You'll spend way less retaining current customers than acquiring new ones. Subscription businesses are great; it's far easier to track cash flow with a constant stream of paying customers. However, customer churn can slowly kill a business.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

We're a bootstrapped company, so most of our traffic comes from free sources. Knowing the overall costs in acquiring new customers helps optimize our marketing and messaging across the site.

Customer Satisfaction & Retention

There’s always the uphill battle of keeping customers engaged. We try to guide and educate them towards becoming power users. If someone loves what the platform does, they will keep using it for long term."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Some metrics are more important than others. We ensure our data is actionable by asking one simple question:

Can we use that data now?

If a metric is not attached to an immediate marketing or business goal, there’s no point wasting hours looking at analytics.

Tools like KISSmetrics and Google Analytics are good for deep dives, but using a dashboard, daily updates, system alerts or a combination of can be a time-saver and help make your most important metrics more accessible to you and your team."

Kumail Hemani

Brief Bio:

Kumail Hemani SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Kumail Hemani works at Centric DXB, a multi-cultured Digital Agency, in Dubai as an SEO Manager. You will find him writing on his blog, offering SEO consultancy or sometimes spending the day at the beach with friends playing volleyball and sipping cold drinks during the hot weather of Dubai.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"KPIs depend on the type of website and the end goals. Let's categorize them in 2 types:
  1. Products
  2. Services
Products:

For products related websites, I am more concerned about the revenue, number of transactions and daily traffic. We can go as in-depth based on the project importance to check daily.

Also, I do check what are the main assisted sources of conversions, and which are the top pages gaining traffic from search so we can utilize them for more sales.

Services:

For services related websites, I am more concerned about the traffic and engagement metrics. Checking user-behavior and bounce rate to get more goals completion and improve the landing pages of the main services."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"To streamline the SEO reports I make the goals for each form present on the website. It can be contact us, newsletter subscription, eBook download, booking engine or an e-commerce shopping cart.

For product related websites, it is usually the value of the product being sold.

For the services related websites, I set a goal value to make the SEO efforts valuable for client. The best thing is to discuss with client about the average value of each query they receive."

Brett Bastello from Inseev Interactive

Brief Bio:

Brett Bastello SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Brett Bastello is an SEO Manager with Inseev Interactive, a San Diego based SEO company.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Since business owners generally tend only care about one KPI - their bottom line - one metric that we like to put emphasis on is Conversions. These goals are initially hashed out between our team and the client prior to campaign initiation to ensure both stakeholders are in alignment as to what the ultimate goal(s) should be."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"After Conversions, another KPI we like to track are keyword ranking positions, both the number of keywords ranking and at what position. This is important because based off historical conversion rate data from the client we are about to loosely gauge how much profit or loss is obtainable with a shift in ranking positions."
Anna Daugherty from Annadaugherty.net

Brief Bio:

Anna Daugherty SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Anna is an inbound marketing specialist in Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you would like to work with Anna you can find her website at annadaugherty.net.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"When tracking SEO results daily, I first look at Google Analytics to see traffic, which pages are getting the most hits, which need more work, etc.

Then I check SERPs.com to see where my chosen keywords are ranking. These rankings help me determine which keywords need more attention through content or outreach.

I also check out Google webmaster tools to see my organic traffic in action and look for keyword opportunities.

I use SEOprofiler.com to check for any new backlinks and look for backlink opportunities."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"With all of the information I've collected, the next step is determining which action will affect which data. If I'm looking at traffic, I determine how my PPC ads are performing and whether or not I need to raise a keyword bid or ad additional keywords.

If I want more organic traffic for a certain keyword, I will devise a content plan for that keyword. This involves establishing a few pieces of content around that keyword (blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, etc.), create those pieces, publish them over a few weeks' time, and perform outreach and distribution."

Drew Brinckerhoff from Marcel Digital

Brief Bio:

drewbrinckerhoff

Drew has been working in some facet of online marketing since late 2009. His specialties include SEO, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, paid advertising strategy & execution.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"The KPIs I choose to follow are typically around the process of SEO. For example one path I might follow is:

Check to see that content was published, check to see if links / mentions were acquired:

  • Do link acquisitions / mentions correlate to a positive change in rankings?
  • Is ranking creating better click throughs?
  • Are click throughs sending more users who execute conversions?
While we check these things daily, we know that there are some delays in reporting and even in effect. These are the real key indications that I've found things are going to move or not."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Actionable Data is kind of a funny buzzword to me, because data isn't actionable. The interpretation of the data creates action. Therefore, you're not changing the actual data that comes in, rather you're customizing your implementation so that an analyst can understand what is happening from your efforts and can build a decision tree.

It is absolutely essential to then customize the way you fire hits to Google analytics, to import custom data to pivot against your standard data, and to create custom assets in each view to help interpret.

Analysts working off of a "vanilla" installation will always be at a disadvantage. Why? Because the system hasn't been customized for the way users engage with their site or application. That tagging & set up strategy is the most important thing you can do to help analysts create actionability out of the data they look at."

Aaron Watters from Leadhub

Brief Bio:

Aaron Watters SEO Expert on Actionable Data

Aaron Watters, Vice President and co-owner of Leadhub in San Antonio, TX, has worked with local and national SMBs for over seven years to meet client goals via their internet presence.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"As you know, the KPIs vary depending on the account and client goals. A client site I'm currently working on is a Texas art website whose main goal is selling prints.

In reviewing the site, a KPI I've been targeting is their Exit percentage (the number of page views divided by the number of exits on a page). We're in the process of updating the product pages due to an insanely high Exit percentage.

In this scenario, a typical KPI is sales, but we believe lowering the product page Exit percentages will greatly improve sales."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"We know that these analytics have practical value for many reasons. In this specific instance, the main value is that it tells us at which point in their visit that a user abandons the website. If this Exit percentage is higher on one page more than the others, that tell us that the user experience is lacking. We then take action by making front-end changes designed to keep the user on the website longer and promote sales.

We're improving Exit percentages through adding similar products on the page, restructuring the layout and adding information we feel is more relevant to the prospective buyer. All of these changes were researched and agreed upon based on analytics."

Be sure to read Part 2 and Part 3, featuring additional insights about data & analytics from our next set of SEO and Marketing experts!