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

INTERNET MARKETING

TIPS & TRICKS

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AGENCIES

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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 3 of a 3-part blog series.  (Previous: Part 1 and Part 2).

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 final set of responses:

Kevin Pike from Rank Fuse Interactive

Brief Bio:

Kevin Pike SEO Digital Marketing Expert

After 10 years of digital marketing experience Kevin Pike founded Rank Fuse Interactive in 2015. His past agency experience includes joining the Inc.500 fastest growing companies list and providing SEO services to several Fortune 500 brands.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"I love the storytelling capabilities I can present to clients by crossing lots of data from different sources. The KPI’s that I start with at the top of my dashboards are generally ROI focused (conversion metrics) to show that the strategy is working.

For example, I like using the SERP tracker, Webmaster Tools, Analytics, and Google Spreadsheets to provide details that few other dashboards would allow me to merge.

Excerpt from Kevin Pike's Cyfe dashboard merging SEO and PPC metrics

I also found a way to white label the URL and even merge other dashboards with Cyfe."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Data by itself is just data; the way to make data “actionable” is to first have a SEO strategy to measure your data against. For example, if last month’s blog posts got an above average amount of social shares and boosted organic rankings – congratulations, keep going down that path! On the other hand, if your data tells you no one cares, then pivot on that data and come up with a new hypothesis to test."
Anthony Myers from Book Primo

Brief Bio:  Anthony Myers has been involved in Digital Marketing since 2007. Anthony started his career in SEO, achieving goals such as growing a website from 0 to 10,000 visitors a day. Anthony is currently the Co-founder and head of digital marketing at http://www.BookPrimo.com, a management system and online booking tool for beauty spas & hair salons. At BookPrimo he focuses on driving traffic and converting it into leads and customers for the brand.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Historically the main things we would concentrate on our visitors common knowledge would tell you that more visitors equals more money. However in the recent times we've been focusing less on visitors and more on leads I would rather get 100 visitors a day and have 50 of them convert into a lead van have 2000 visitors in a single day and only 15 of them convert into a lead. Another thing that we keep track of closely is keyword position we spend a lot of time researching keywords that we feel will bring in targeted traffic that will convert into leads so we track the position of the keywords overtime with an end goal of ranking first on Google."
How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"I make sure that our analytics data is actionable by setting up 'goals' in Google Analytics. Right now our main goal is for someone to enter their contact information so we can follow up with them and convert them into a paying customer. What these goals allow me to do is see to see the path a website visitor took when they visited our website. Ideally that path it ends in them filling out one of our forms and converting into a lead. If they do not convert into a lead, our Analytic data will show us the 'exit point', where the visitor left the website. If we are seeing a large volume of visitors leave our website when they hit a specific page, without converting, we know that we need to work on that specific page to decrease the number of people leaving without becoming a lead."
James Rice from Wikijob

Brief Bio: 

James Rice SEO Digital Marketing Expert

James Rice is a digital marketing specialist with a particular interest in SEO, content strategy and conversion optimization. He currently works as Head of Digital Marketing at WikiJob, in London, UK.

 

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"The first thing I'd say is that it's not necessary for an SEO to track any KPI on a daily basis; doing so might cause you to panic or make a knee-jerk reaction, and it's important to remember that SEO is at heart about investment for medium- to long-term performance. Weekly reporting is fine (though I'd say monthly is best), and on that basis you should check organic traffic by landing page, as well as the contribution of organic traffic to the bottom line (however you choose best to manage that). Those two metrics (growth and profit) are ultimately the only ones that will always be under scrutiny, so focus on them above all else."
How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"Assuming you're using Google Analytics, you want to get data from all your Google products in here. So connect your Google Adsense, AdWords and Search Console reports, so you can see the performance of each in one place, and observe how they overlap (e.g. through the Assisted Conversions and Top Conversion Paths reports). Also ensure you've enabled the Demographics report, so that you can get insights into the age, gender and interests of your online audience. The recent addition of 'Search Analytics' to Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a goldmine for actionable insights. Here you can check the performance of pages and queries, e.g. by clicks or CTR, and compare that between two periods, or across countries/devices. With most keywords no longer provided in Google Analytics, this is really the only place you're going to find accurate keyword-based data. Use it to test title tags, find weak-performing pages, discover new keyword topics...there's so much you can do here."
Rob Watson from Click to Sale

Brief Bio: 

Rob Watson SEO Digital Marketing Expert

Rob Watson is an experienced Digital Marketing Consultant. He helps businesses -- mainly in the UK -- to generate leads and sales from their websites.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"The key to good web analytics is figuring out what you want to know in the first place. This sounds simple, but can often become complicated in practice. However, it's worth taking the time and effort to figure this out, and one of the biggest questions to ask yourself about any piece of data is what you will actually do with it. Even Google Analytics - which is one of the simpler tools available - offers a multitude of data. If it's useful, you can measure how many people from Brazil found your site through Google and viewed it using Chrome on a desktop device today. In reality, that won't be useful, but there will be things that you should measure. For most businesses, there are very few things - often only one or two - which they need to measure daily. The obvious area to focus on is conversions. Analytics tools - including Google Analytics - allow you to set goals, conversions and funnels. A conversion doesn't necessarily mean a sale - it just means some sort of goal which you define for a specific part of the marketing process. For example it might be enquiries, new subscribers to your email list, or people who visited a specific page on your site. When I take on new clients, the vast majority use Google Analytics, but don't have any goals set up on their account. If customers aren't converting on a regular basis, you can then analyse the reasons why not. For example if you're not getting traffic to your goal pages in the first place then you have a traffic problem and need to review each channel to see why not. If you're already getting plenty of traffic but no conversions, then you need to look at calls to action and content to test new ideas. If a business sets up some goals and tracks them daily - even if it's only one or two - they will be streets ahead of most other businesses. Far too many companies let Google gather vast amounts of data but never do anything with any of it. If you're an e-commerce site, you would also want to track your daily revenue, how this is split between specific products and your cost-per-sale if you're using any form of paid advertising."
How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"Tracking and measuring goals needs to be simple and should stay as simple as it needs to be. If you're a relatively low-traffic site, there is probably no point in creating complicated multi-step funnels, which don't yield much data. For example on a freelance consultant's site you could simply measure how many people come to the contact page and how many of those convert in to enquiries. On an established e-commerce site with a lot of traffic on the other hand, you would need more in-depth analysis to break down the steps in the sales process and see where people are dropping out. It is worth mentioning that there are other things which need monitoring regularly - even if not daily - such as the volume of traffic by channel and on-site behaviour such as pages per visit and bounce rate. These are all important, but it takes longer for meaningful amounts of data to build up, so it's important not to have knee-jerk reactions due to small short-term fluctuations. Analytics can tell you whether or not your digital marketing is being effective if you're willing to put some extra work in. The small time it takes to make sure that you're tracking the right things can easily pay dividends in the long run."
Andrew Nevelos from Vast Bridges

Brief Bio:

Andrew Nevolos SEO Digital Marketing Expert

Andrew Nevelos has been in SEO since 2003 and has worked in Agencies with SMBs and Fortune 500 companies in verticals including CPGs, Hotels, M&E Giants and Financial Sites. He has also worked in-house for Turner Broadcasting on sites such as CNN, NBA, and Cartoon Network. He has found his home with Consumer Accusation Company, Vast Bridges in Jacksonville, Florida.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Our daily KPIs include traffic, bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit and conversions. Monthly KPIs include summary of daily metrics as well as rankings. We use Google Analytics for all our sites and only look at Users which are unique visitors. Conversions include actions we want the site visitor to take such as filling out a contact form, calling our sales team, even watching a video."
How do you ensure your analytics data is actionable? 
"Actionable analytics, for us, often begins with an action. These often take the form of A/B testing. We use tools such as Optimizely to randomly serve two different versions of the page. We also test changes on two different pages or even sites and analyze the results. We are always trying to draw a correlation or better yet causation between the action we have taken or not taken and a change in the KPIs we monitor.   The analytics should be a tool to test and guide your optimization effort rather than stand-alone source information."
Tim Lavelle from US Interactive Media

Brief Bio:

Tim Lavelle SEO Digital Marketing Expert

Tim Lavelle joined the U.S. Interactive Media team in 2008, with previous experience in public relations, direct marketing and SEO. Tim, as Director of SEO & Social Media,  leads the U.S. Interactive Media SEO and Social Media marketing team from the front, developing sophisticated research, implementation and reporting strategies for each of his many campaigns within some of the most competitive verticals, including: politics, higher education, travel and hospitality, gambling, finance, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"Why Track KPIs at All?
  • KPIs are necessary for evaluating SEO success
  • But keyword rankings and organic traffic aren’t enough to tell a complete picture
  • Three KPIs (at minimum) are needed to tell the whole story of SEO results
1. Keyword Rankings
  • To be successful, SEO strategy MUST be guided by comprehensive keyword research and a sophisticated keyword targeting strategy
  • Keyword rankings must be tracked for each of the terms identified as being relevant to the campaign
  • Without tracking keyword rankings, it’s impossible to tell how well SEO is working, especially since Google Analytics’ introduction of organic keyword encryption
2. Organic Traffic Statistics

Keyword rankings themselves are only a means to an end – while they signal the first step toward SEO success, they aren’t enough to prove that SEO efforts are truly working Many campaigns have achieved excellent keyword rankings, but for the wrong terms (low volume phrases, poorly targeted phrases, non-converting phrases, etc.) Organic traffic must be measured to prove that keyword rankings have captured visibility for high-value phrases We regularly monitor:

  • Total organic visits
  • Organic visitors to high-value, revenue-generating pages of the site
  • Organic traffic engagement statistics, like:
    • Time on Site
    • Pages per Visit
    • Bounce Rate
    • Goal Conversion Rate
3. Organic Conversion Statistics
  • What’s the point of traffic if it isn’t converting?
  • At the end of the day, SEO is not about rankings or visits, it’s about revenue
  • SEO campaigns that aren’t effectively measuring conversions (including dollar-pegged conversions), can’t prove that they’re providing positive ROI
  • What do C-level executives want to get out of their SEO reports? Simple: ROI (Profit/Cost)."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Most important is ensuring that GA is configured properly (collecting data from every page on the site, etc.), and that you’re collecting the right types of data using things like: Advanced segments to separate out traffic to certain pages, from certain locations, etc. Filters to remove internal traffic (or other traffic that obscures actual performance, like referral spammers) Annotations to mark when major SEO updates are rolled out to the site (so that performance changes can be measured against actual work completed) Event tracking and goals to measure conversion behaviors at the granular level (clicks on specific buttons, form submissions, cart abandonment, purchases, etc.) From an SEO perspective – the most important Analytics data slice would be looking at organic traffic/conversions Year Over Year (in seasonally impacted campaigns), or Month Over Month (in campaigns unaffected by seasonality) Once you have this information collected, you can evaluate whether or not what you’re doing on the SEO front is working, and how well it’s working (or not working) Using this data, you can determine whether or not you’re headed the right direction, and whether or not it’s time for a strategy adjustment."
 

Brian Thackston from WebMechanix

Brief Bio:

Brian Thackston SEO Digital Marketing Expert

Brian creates exceptional content and enduring publishing strategies for WebMechanix and their clients. At night, he is grooving through law school so that he can fight for the freedom of the web. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"As digital marketers, there are countless KPIs you could try to monitor. But the single most important KP we monitor for our SEO efforts would be website traffic. Primarily, monitoring website traffic helps us determine if there's something drastically wrong with the website -- server went down, penalized by a major search engine, etc. So traffic a pretty critical indicator for us. The next most important KPI we monitor is leads. This lets us know if our SEO efforts are actually creating revenue for the client (hint: they want to know that too!). We also want to determine if there is something we did recently that is really paying off and performing well. If we can uncover this, it'll help drive strategy in the future."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Keeping daily analytics reports actionable is the tricky part. Metrics fluctuate day to day, so the KPIs we're monitoring need to clearly signal that there is a problem or opportunity. That's why we often start with website traffic -- drastic fluctuations immediately tell us that serious action is needed. Typically, we can also break it down into different device, browser, and other technology types so we can further isolate the problem or opportunity. Leads is very similar -- by keeping our daily KPIs at a high level, substantial increases or decreases clearly tell us that there is something we either need to fix or capitalize upon."
Marcus Miller from Bowler Hat

Brief Bio:

Marcus Miller SEO Digital Marketing Expert

Marcus Miller is the Head of Search and Digital Marketing at Bowler Hat, a UK-based digital marketing company. Marcus Miller has been working in search and digital for over twenty years and he frequently contributes to industry studies and has a column on Search Engine Land.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"General questions like this are always tough to answer in a way that I am happy with. Certainly, at Bowler Hat we use KPIs to help map meaning against the tactics we undertake for a given client. That is, we are trying to pick meaningful ways to show progress towards the underlying goal. We want these to have meaning to the client so they can understand how our SEO, PPC, Social or whatever campaign we are undertaking on their behalf is actually helping them get where they want to be. From a pure SEO perspective we have three main KPIs and a few supporting actors to round out the piece. We will want to track keyword ranking, traffic, engagement of traffic from this channel and then hopefully we have a conversion we can easily measure. We want to show that progress in ranking increases traffic, which in turn increases goal conversions. Looking at this every day though will drive you quickly mad. We may see sales up one day and down the next. Does this map to our other KPIs? Has rank slumped taking traffic and conversions with it? It can be useful to measure these KPIs every day and use them to spot trends. This is even more important in paid channels where changes can happen quickly - is there a new competitor? Are they taking a bite of our traffic pie? Are sales affected?  In big money or short window opportunities staying dialled into the data is the only way you can react quickly and effectively before it is too late."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"There is really only one way to ensure Analytics data is actionable and that is to ensure you start with the clients business goals. What are the goals? How do we make progress towards these? What KPIs can we track to make progress? If we understand the clients goals and ensure we are reporting on all major and micro goals in Google analytics we can ensure we have the data to analyse across each step of the buying cycle. Off the shelf Analytics data is useful but it is only when we start to report events and capture goals that we can truly understand the value of different channels and campaigns. With this granularity at a campaign and channel level we can derive insights to improve our sales process and concentrate our efforts where they have the most positive effects. KPIs are really important here as they are tangible and map closely to the clients goals. This allows us as an agency to provide meaningful reporting and strategic advice that the client can understand and get behind."
Bryce Liggins from Brolik

Brief Bio:

Bryce Liggins SEO Digital Marketing Expert

Bryce Liggins is a Senior Marketing Strategist at Brolik. He has implemented SEO strategies for both B2B and B2C businesses across a wide span of industries.

Which KPIs do you track every day and why?

"The only KPI that is worth tracking every day is a revenue driving conversion point, whether that's an ecommerce transaction or an inbound lead."
How do you ensure your Analytics data is actionable? 
"Inherently, analytics data is not actionable, it is up to the SEO to identify how metrics like keyword rank, click through rate, bounce rate and visit duration impact conversion rate and then develop actionable steps to achieve favorable results."
Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to our SEO and Digital Marketing experts who took the time to share their thoughts with everyone!