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28 SEO and Marketing Experts Share Their Thoughts On Actionable Data & Analytics (Part 2 of 3)

INTERNET MARKETING

TIPS & TRICKS

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BRAND MONITORING

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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 2 of a 3-part blog series.  (Others: Part 1 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 second series of responses:

Orun Bhuiyan from Seocial

Brief Bio: 

Orun SEO Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Orun's the marketing technologist at SEOcial. He's a savvy programmer, designer and marketer with an academic background in the sciences.  His current special interest areas include captology, big data, machine learning, UX personalization and various other emerging technologies.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"I run a medium-sized SEO agency and my background is in data science and computer science. These are the top KPIs I monitor:
  1. Monthly organic traffic (with all bots and internal traffic filtered for clean data)
  2. Percentage of drop-offs at every stage of the goal funnel
  3. Weekly percentage increase or decrease in search traffic.
  4. Weekly percentage increase or decrease in goal completion. This tells me if there's a sudden issue
#1 keeps me in the loop on raw traffic data. #2 facilitates monitoring of conversions. #3 and 4 report on any issues: these would tell me if a site were hit with a penalty, is receiving an influx of attention from a media sources (virality), etc."
How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"Nothing's worse than reading the analytics of a site and discovering an issue that began occurring some time ago. Weeks or even months go by with many issues lurking in the background, undiscovered. Unfortunately, this is the norm in most companies' analytics suites.

This can be resolved by setting up alerts. Google Analytics alerts can be triggered when a particular KPI changes drastically and unexpectedly. And the best part is you can configure these alerts to send to emails, notifying you of changes in real time."

Mae Demdam from SEOWorks

Brief Bio: 

Mae Demdam SEO Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Mae Demdam is a digital analyst for seoWorks and a creative writer. Her background is in marketing, hospitality, and project management. She loves to travel and try new cuisines.  Based in Sydney, Australia Mae lives a very active life, you will most likely find her at the beach; surfing and running or doing yoga and pilates.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Sessions/Visits- it is important to know how much traffic is coming from a specific dimension and from a specific source. It helps you measure what branded and non-branded keywords are driving the most valuable traffic which will in turn help create a content optimization plan to certain sections of the website.

Goal Completions- for e-commerce, as well as, non-e-commerce clients it is important to see what percentage of visits result in a goal conversion, such as a newsletter sign up, subscription, or purchase. This helps SEOs create tangible data for their clients to prove that their strategy is working."

How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"Make sure that what's being measured is in line with the client's business objectives and their overall goals and be willing to change it when necessary.

Also use analytics to create insights on how you can change the data so it has context and meaning and make that actionable, i.e. Bounce Rate is high on a particular landing page with little to no content, analyse the landing page and see where improvements can be made. Create more content, add images or interesting information and monitor that landing page in analytics to watch for improvements."

Brian Stumbaugh from Barefoot Solutions

Brief Bio: 

Brian Stumbaugh is the Digital Marketing Manager for Barefoot Solutions, a web and mobile app development company in San Diego, CA.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Here's a list of KPIs that I track daily and the reasoning behind them:

Conversions

This is a no-brainer. I want to know exactly how much money we're making and where those leads are coming from down to a keyword level. This helps us make budget decisions, informs our marketing strategy, and is the groundwork for almost all decisions that are made by my team and me.

Referral Traffic

We have a fairly extensive content marketing strategy with several different campaigns in order to drive traffic to the site. I like to know exactly where that traffic is coming from, how that campaign is performing compared to others, and if that traffic is converting. This enables us to gauge how influential and beneficial each campaign is and saves us money monthly as we fine tune our content strategy.

Organic Rankings

We don't make money if no one can find us online so it's extremely important for us to keep track of our positions in the SERPs for our most important keywords. Our organic rankings inform our link building decisions and other marketing strategy as we decide which pages need the most help."

How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"We ensure our analytics data is actionable by always comparing it to conversions and sales. We use advanced CRM systems to track exactly where every lead comes from to determine ROI for each marketing vertical. If something isn't working, then we're able to scrap it with complete confidence that we're making a profitable decision."
Curtis Boyd from Future Solutions Media

Brief Bio:

Curtis Boyd SEO Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Curtis Boyd is CEO and Founder of Future Solutions Media; a Los Angeles-based Online Reputation Management Company. Future Solutions Media services over 900 clients nationwide and specializes in Online Reputation Management and Digital Marketing Services.

 

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Some KPI's when analyzing Google Analytics Data:
  1. Conversion Score
  2. Acquisition
  3. Behavior
  4. Bounce Rate "
How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"1. Conversion Goals Score - Actionable to me means lead capture. I count my lead captures on a daily basis, by setting my conversion goals to a static thank you page. It is a simple yet effective way to calculate conversion rate based on a simple formula - Total Traffic/Total Conversions = Conversion Rate. I am happy when that percentage is above 5%. Every website should set different conversion rate goals depending on the type of conversion and target audience.

2. Acquisition - I look at acquisition daily because I am spending time and money bringing people to my site. I need to see where I am getting the highest ROI. I like to see which websites bring in high quality traffic who are engaged in my content. I like to look for trends or waves of traffic from various sources.

3. Behavior - I look everyday at browsing trends and time spent on particular pages I am trying to enhance. I know some of my pages are better than others and need more attention. I record the time spent and watch for increases as I enhance the content on that particular page. Depending on the topic of the page, I generally want visitors to read at least 200+ words, which for an average reader that takes about 2-2.5 minutes. The longer the better!

4. Bounce Rate - I love bounce rate. It really shows me that my web pages' presentation is off. Depending on which keyword or paid source brought visitors to the page, their expectations are always different. Looking at Bounce Rate I can effectively tailor landing pages and my service offering pages in hopes of enhancing my sales conversion goals."

Joel Stein from Code Computer Love

Brief Bio:

Joel Stein SEO Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Joel Stein is Search & Media Manager at award-winning Manchester agency Code Computerlove. He is also Editor & Co-Founder at ManchesterLaLaLa.com.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"This is dependent on the nature of the client to some extent, but for any SEO campaign, on a day-to-day basis, we'll be tracking:
  • Organic visits
  • Top organic landing pages
  • Key conversions (e.g. e-commerce transactions)
  • Basic engagement metrics like bounce rate
  • Session duration and pages/visit.
This data is all tracked using Google Analytics. We also do a lot of custom tracking in GA, ranging from 404 errors tracking to content metrics like social interactions, page scroll depth etc. Our main focus is to measure the impact of our SEO activity and demonstrate this to the client.

Our tracking also ensures we can spot any site issues early and fix them before they cause problems. With page-level content engagement metrics, we use these to test and learn about the effectiveness of different content formats, different methods of promotion etc. For example, if we see that traffic from a Facebook ads campaign is generating more shares and longer sessions on a content piece than paid traffic from Twitter, then we'll shift more budget to Facebook."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"This is the biggest challenge, but there's little point tracking data if you can't get some actions out of it. Often, the data itself isn't immediately actionable, but it highlights something that needs investigating, and then an action emerges from that.

For example, if bounce rate has suddenly increased on a specific page, I'd be testing the load speed of the page and looking for other potential issues that could have caused this.

If traffic isn't increasing as fast as predicted, what are the causes for this? Do we need to ramp up our content production? Are there some quick wins we can make with page title improvements and other SEO basics?

On the other hand, if a landing page or content piece is performing better than expected, I'll be digging deeper into that to see whether there's anything unique we've implemented there that we can replicate elsewhere on the site. Ensuring we have good context for the data is also important; are their seasonal trends we need to be aware of? Has the client been doing some offline marketing we need to know about? Has a new competitor just arrived on the scene?

Reporting isn't just about churning out some numbers - it's about spotting opportunities for improvement, learning from successes, and mapping out a list of actions off the back of this."

Sam Raife from Blueclaw

Brief Bio:

Saim Raife Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Blueclaw is a search marketing agency that provides data-driven SEO, PPC and content marketing solutions for mid to large sized businesses in travel, finance and iGaming as well as a number of other sectors that spans both the creative and technical aspects of online marketing. Sam Raife is the Offsite Strategy Manager at the company and has been working in search for 5 years, spending half of that time at Blueclaw.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"For Blueclaw, it really depends on the client and what is important to them, everyday KPIs are mainly the monitoring of rankings, traffic, incoming links and if relevant client revenue. But with such a short term view, you can't really get a full picture of the effect of your marketing campaigns.

For this reason, we utilise a number of tools on top of analytics to make sure that we get a fuller picture on the effect our campaigns are having on the client’s website.

We tend to compare on a month on month, year on year and quarterly basis. These are the main points during a campaign that we do deeper analysis on the effect we are having.

By comparing month vs. month...

You get a better picture of the ongoing status of the site performance, this way you can monitor the increase of traffic, revenue and rankings as the campaign is being delivered.

Any changes you need to make can be identified with enough time to make small but positive increases. This might be something small like adjusting the target niche slightly or focusing on specific products because they are performing better. Anything less than a month on month comparison and you run the risk of reading too quickly into data that is being affected by external factors you can't control, such as when Pay Day traditionally is, or if the weather is having an effect on sales.

Quarter Vs Quarter

Allows us to review how successful a campaign was, it is still affected by seasonal & external factors, but is better for identifying increases in rankings, shifts in traffic growth and if the revenue is following the trends you expected. This is the time to make larger changes and plan for new seasons.

Year on year comparisons

Allow you to remove the "external factors" from your analysis, allowing you to focus on how well your marketing campaign this year is having an effect against the marketing campaigns you ran in the same time last year. These sort of comparisons can help you define stronger strategies for each month, identifying peak interest months and also lead to identifying past successes."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Because of the wide range of data available to you it can be hard to understand, which specific bits apply to your business, but the starting point is always the same question; what are you trying to achieve from the Data?

It is easier to create actionable data once you have defined what you are trying to get out of it. So for example you may be thinking about making your site more mobile friendly.

From here your analysis would lead you into understanding the devices and the browsers that are most used on your site, identifying things like bounce rates, time on site etc. This should provide you with the direction you need to take to make the right changes.

Another example might be you want to make buying decisions around certain products, so understanding the pages that are ranked higher and getting the most traffic will help to identify the products to start with. Figure out what you did with these pages, the content, the pictures, the user experience and the competition in the market and this will help to identify similar product opportunities.

The main thing is to understand the key-points during the year you are going to do deep analysis, then know what goals you are trying to achieve with the analysis. From here you will be able to create actionable objectives that have a real positive effect on the campaign."

Martin Milanov from Fair Point

Brief Bio:

Martin Milanov SEO Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Martin Milanov is the Digital Marketing Lead at Fair Point, one of the leading B2B accommodation providers in Europe during trade shows and events. Martin is in charge of On and Off Page SEO as well as monitoring all Digital Marketing efforts the company employs online.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"On a daily basis we track our core keywords and keyword phrases performance, visitor bounce rate per channel, and time on page.

The reason is simple, the better we can inform our website visitors to our services, the higher the chance these visitors will use them.

So naturally, we need to answer the question, how many of our website visitors bounce from our website and how many of those who stay; engage with our content and service.

On the other hand, if we look at the customer journey, it usually starts with a Google search, so making sure we can provide relevant high quality content and unique business proposition for each stack of keywords will not only provide better user experience, it is the main way (par quality backlinks) to achieve higher trust and by proxy ranking on the big search engines."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"We use two separate ways to track our visitors behavior. Google Analytics is the main tool we use to do our day-to-day monitoring, while Google Webmaster Tools takes care of our keywords and landing page data. Both tools are incredibly robust and if used correctly can provide daily reports automatically, which in turn are saved in Excel datasheet.

This datasheet is then compared with our proprietary monitoring tools we developed for our website. We then crosscheck this data with our in-house monitoring system, developed for our website to ensure that what we see is what we get.

To make sure that the keyword positions are also kept in check data-wise we use a neat keyword monitoring tool called Serplab to make sure the Google Webmaster Tools data is as correct as it can be. Tracking all visitors behavior is of upmost importance to us, as we learned that information and trust are the main factors when converting a visitor in to customer."

Daniw de Leon from Azeus Convene

Brief Bio:

daniwdeleon

Daniw de Leon is the Senior Marketing Lead and SEO Specialist of Azeus Convene, a paperless board meeting application.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"We track the number of content published, link power (a proprietary metric for the quality of leads that we generate), our rank in the regions we are targeting, click through rate, and lead conversion rate.

We don't count the number of links because we've found that simply getting links doesn't correlate well with rank increases. Instead, we came up with a total ‚Äúlink power‚ÄĚ for the backlinks we generate. That way, even if we only built 1 link but with high authority, then we get a high link power, which means that our link building is in a healthy state.

We count the number of content published to ensure that we keep our website's freshness rating high.

Using a tool to monitor our own and our competitor's ranks in different regions for multiple keywords helps us determine if our SEO activities are working and also lets us isolate if the rank increase or decrease was caused by a specific activity or if it is a global change over which we have no control.

Tracking click through rates lets us know whether the meta description in the SERPs are effective while the lead conversion rate helps us identify if there are problems with the landing pages that we can improve upon."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"One way to ensure that analytics data is actionable is by understanding what aspect of the marketing maps to the corresponding data point.

For example, the organic click-through rate data point (accessible from Google Webmaster Tools) maps to the quality of the description that appears in the search results. If you see that click-through rate is low, then there is an opportunity to improve the meta description."

Dan from Evolving SEO

Brief Bio:

Dan Shure SEO Expert on Cyfe Blog - Actionable Data and Analytics

Dan is the co-owner of Evolving SEO with his wife Sarah, a boutique search marketing agency in Worcester, MA. Evolving SEO has been helping clients grow their businesses with organic search since 2010, focusing on clientele that target national and global customers in both the B2B and B2C spaces.

Dan regularly publishes articles in the SEO industry on his own blog, and industry blogs such as Moz where he has also been a Moz Associate since 2012. You can learn more about Dan and his company at www.evolvingseo.com and follow him on Twitter @dan_shure.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Rankings for commercial/transactional keywords (source: any daily rank tracking tool). First I want to be clear that I believe rankings are more of a technical metric than a marketing metric. They're not a result but rather indicative of a potential result.

We carefully track daily rankings of commercial keywords to gauge how Google is responding to their on-site SEO, off-site SEO and the ecosystem around that keyword. If we see patterns emerging that indicate an issue, we can address them right away.

Rankings for article/informational keywords (source: any daily rank tracking tool). Often when we recommend our clients content (blog posts, articles, videos, guides, etc), a goal is to rank that content in search for keywords we see opportunity around. It's critical to track daily rankings for these keywords after the content is launched to monitor its visibility in search.

Competitor Rankings (source: any daily rank tracking tool). We like to keep an eye on how competitors are doing in search. If our client slips, but competitors slip as well, we know maybe it's turbulence in that keywords space in general. If we see competitors slowly gaining in the ranks, it can alert us to something they are doing we may want to know about and stay on top off.

Pages trafficked from Google per day (source: Google Analytics). Say you have a 10,000 page website, but only 2,000 of those pages bring traffic on a daily basis. This means something might be wrong with those other 8,000. Maybe they are duplicates, or poor quality, or users aren't clicking on them. This is lost traffic and also a poor quality signal from Google's standpoint.

PageSpeed (source: Google Analytics). Page load time is not only a key factor for conversions, but also can affect your site's ranking. Site speed is a tiny ranking factor (if your site is stupidly slow, like 10+ seconds, you might get knocked down). But also, it can cause poor user metrics, which can then impact your rankings (user metrics are a ranking signal in Google).

Impressions In Search (source: Google Search Console). An impression means a page ranked, even if it may not have been clicked. This is important to know, because if your impressions are trending down (and it's not due to seasonal reasons) it could indicate an issue with ranking. Conversely, impressions are a great positive KPI to show clients as early traction.

Pages crawled by Google every day (source: Google Search Console). This metric is important, because "crawl budget" and efficiency impact how well your site ranks. The more easily and efficiently Google crawls your site, the better it may rank. It's similar to pages indexed vs. trafficked. You want as many of these pages crawled on a daily basis as possible for optimum site health."

How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Simple. In two words: reverse engineer. Reverse engineer the common actions traced back to metrics that usually suggest taking those actions. And ignore the other metrics that don't matter.

For example, a common action is to delete old or bad content. Like a web site's 'spring cleaning'. What metrics help determine this? Impressions (lack thereof), or pages trafficked from Google (lack thereof). This is because zero impressions for a page (it never ranks in Google) and no traffic - means there must be something bad about that page. Therefore, in many cases, it's a page that can be deleted. It's not providing value.

Here's another example: updating existing content. Updating existing content is a great way to keep it fresh, current and ahead of your competitors. If you're tracking daily rankings for the top keywords for that content and see the rankings slipping, you can take action and update/improve that content.

So the best way to make the data actionable is to understand the possible actions, and then trace them back to the relevant metrics. Part of it is measuring the right metrics (and ignoring the wrong ones). If you're measuring the metrics that actually lead to good decisions and effective actions, you're already 95% on your way to tracking the best KPIs!"

And check out Part 3, featuring additional insights about data & analytics from another strong collection of SEO and Marketing experts!