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How to Track and Measure Your SEO Work

Nov 15, 2021
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In this video, we're going to be looking at how we can track and measure our SEO efforts. We want to make sure that the work that we're doing and the time that we're putting in is actually delivering the results we want. So in order to do that, we need to understand, first, how to track and what we want to track. And two, how do we measure those results and then make the shifts we need in order to see the results we want.

 

Video Transcript: 

Here's a really powerful quote from Yankee great, Yogi Berra. While I'm not a Yankees fan, I do really like this quote and he said;

"If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up someplace else."

And that's totally true.

If you don't have an idea of what you want, you're just coasting out there. And you're just going to end up someplace, but really, without any direction. We need to know what we want, how we're going to get there, and also an idea of how to map where we are in relationship to that goal.

Define Your KPIs

So the first thing we have to do is define our KPIs. Now a KPI is a key performance indicator, and they tell us whether or not the project we're working on is a success. Now, a lot of people when they're defining KPIs, they just look at tons and tons and tons of different metrics. I've seen some quote, unquote KPI boards with so many metrics on it, and it's so confusing that you really don't know what's going on. So when you're defining your KPIs, they have to be tied to the overall goal of the project, as well as the impact of the work you're doing on the business itself.

And when we're talking about KPIs, it needs to be able to be measured with hard data. We need to be able to look at data and go, yes, we achieved our results. Or no, we didn't. And we can only have five to seven, at the most. Anything more than seven, you're just crowding your efforts. And honestly, I think the closer you get to the five number, the better you're going to be, because it's going to keep you really focused and directed.

The Difference between a KPI and a Performance Indicator

Now there's a difference, like I said before, between a KPI and a performance indicator. So KPIs, they're limited, they're extremely focused. But a performance indicator will support your KPIs, but they don't necessarily determine the success of the project itself. So for example, if you have a KPI to increase organic traffic by 30%, you may also be tracking some performance indicators like the increase in traffic to a specific page or specific keyword rankings. While those performance indicators tell a little bit of the story or more of the details behind the KPI, they themselves aren't the main goal. The main goal is to drive organic traffic up by 30% site wide.

So you want to make sure that you're focusing on the big ones, and then you can use performance indicators to look underneath the KPIs and get more details. The biggest difference is, is you're going to be sharing KPIs with stakeholders, right? The people in your business that need to see these positive numbers, usually like C-level managers. And if you're the business owner yourself, KPIs are going to help you keep an idea on the big vision and the performance indicators help you get into the details. Performance indicators are extremely helpful, but they're not your primary goals, per se.

Good SEO KPI Metrics

So what are some good KPIs for SEO? Now, the goal of your SEO efforts is really going to change depending on the business or the industry that you're in. But below is a common list of some good SEO KPIs. We've got things like:

  • organic users
  • organic sessions
  • organic page views
  • organic conversions - this is a big one for us. We really look a lot at organic conversions to see, is the SEO effort we're making delivering business? Is it delivering leads for our clients?
  • impressions
  • clicks
  • average click-through rate
  • average rank
  • rank of specific terms, or groups of terms as our KPI.

We have clients that, that is something that's really important to them. They want to be visible for specific queries to their end users. So all of these can be KPIs. Now, we don't want every single one of them here, that's a little bit more than that five to seven that we're looking for. But we want to narrow this list down and make it really focused so we have an idea of the things that we want to hit.

Leverage a Scorecard

So how do you track these? Well, typically we use something called either a dashboard or a scorecard. Now there's a lot of data available when it comes to SEO. We've got Google Analytics and Search Console and all of our SEO tools that we can pump in. And sometimes it can be really confusing when we're creating scorecards or dashboards where we give the clients, or even sometimes we give ourselves too much information on one page. So when you're creating a dashboard or you're creating a scorecard, you want to follow these best practices.

You want to keep it simple. You want to make sure that it's easy to read. And one of the last ones here is make it scannable. You should be able to look at it really quick and see whether you're doing good or you got some area to improve.

Only put on the relevant KPIs and metrics. Now, you may want to put something on there that looks cool, but if it's not going to help you tell your story and it's not going to help lead you in the right direction, then you probably should leave it off.

And it's always good to compare against historical data. That way you can see where your trends are. Are you going up, or are you going down? I can quickly look at this scorecard or this dashboard, whatever you want to call it here to the right, and see very quickly how we're performing just by scanning it and go, okay, yeah. We're trending in the right direction in some areas. And these are a few areas that we can change or try to improve upon.

So our KPIs are typically goals, or they're a number of metrics that actually help us achieve an overall goal that really lead us to what we want to achieve. So we need to have firm goals for all the work that we're doing, to make sure, again, that we're headed in the right direction.

SMART Goals

So that we have something to use as a benchmark. Now, we like to use the SMART framework when creating these goals, because it helps us to make our goals clear and measurable. And it really helps us to clarify our thinking and make sure that we're tracking things that actually matter.

the SMART framework uses specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.

Now, the SMART framework uses specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. So let's look really quickly at what these mean.

So a specific goal is one that you can share with anybody within 10 seconds, and it would clearly explain what you're trying to improve. So a specific goal would be like, I want to increase the number of leads to my website, right?

A measurable goal is a goal that you've attached a number to, and allows you to track how far you've come since you've actually set that goal. So an example of that would be, I want to increase leads by 30%. Or I want to get 10 more leads this month than I did last month.

Now, attainable, this is making sure that you're setting goals that are actually realistic and that you can hit. There's nothing wrong with setting stretch goals, but you also need to have that you actually can achieve. There's no faster way to demoralize your team than to set goals they can't hit. So when you're looking at your goals, you want to make sure you keep it realistic. And you say, okay, last month we saw a 10% increase from the previous month. So this month let's shoot for 15%. If that's realistic within your business. You really need to think through these to make sure that you're not saying, well, I want a 400% increase by next week. That would just be crazy. And it's really not going to be helpful.

Relevancy is extremely important when we're talking about building goals. You need to ask yourself, why is this goal important? Is this goal tied to the overall business and what we're trying to achieve as a business? And if not, you need to consider changing that goal and adjusting it. Sometimes we get distracted by what I like to call vanity metrics. Metrics that maybe make us feel good, but they actually don't have any ROI. It's really important to ask ourselves if these goals are relevant before we set them in concrete and share them with our teams.

And then time-bound, you need to make sure that you have a timeline. You need to have an end date to when this goal needs to be met. And you can also set smaller dates within the middle of that so you can hit increments along the way. But without having a time-bound goal, it never ends. And honestly, it can get really demoralizing. And it can also just be really confusing to the team if they never know when they're supposed to hit something.

So a really good SMART goal would be something like this. I want to increase the number of leads to my website by 30% over the next 30 days, so that we can increase the number of new clients as well. Something like that. So it's specific. We can measure that. It's attainable. It's relevant because we want to tie it to a business goal. And it's time-bound because we only have 30 days to achieve it.

Now, once you have goals, you need to also take time to go back and see if the work you did worked. Are you hitting your goals? And taking that time to reflect and shift your strategy so that you can improve the next time you go around.

Reviewing Your Results

And this is where we go into reviewing our results. You've done the work, you've tracked it, and now we need to see how we've performed. And this is where I talk a lot to our team about making two millimeter shifts.

Oftentimes, you don't need to change everything, you just need to make little shifts along the way. And as you begin to do the work, it compounds and you get better and better and better.

So after you've run maybe a campaign, or maybe it's the end of the quarter, you want to ask yourself these questions;

One, did you hit your goals? Then you want to look at what went well. Because I'm sure even if you didn't hit your goals, something still performed well. And then you want to look at what didn't go well. What did you think was going to work, but it didn't? Then you can look at what's missing. What should you have added that you didn't add this time? And if you had to start over again, what would you do different?

That's a really good framing question. And it gets you in a good mindset to look at things and say, okay, if I had to start this over, knowing what I know now, what would I put into play? What are those things that I can you use ... that I learned over this project or this campaign that I can use as I start a new one?

And then you want to give yourself three actions that you can take to improve your results next time. Maybe you need to optimize your content better. Maybe you need to look at your title tags. Maybe you need to invest a little bit more on speed. All of those different factors that you can put back into your strategy, and actually test and see if they're going to work. And you keep doing this quarter over quarter or project after project, and you begin to see massive changes in your growth over time. SEO is a long tail game. It's not something that you're going to see wins overnight.

Of course, there are things that you can do to get quick wins. But the reality is, is if you want to build long-term sustainable growth leveraging search engines, you need to play long game. You need to be setting goals. You need to be tracking your results. And you need to be reviewing them to make sure that you can make those shifts necessary in order to continue that growth over time.

Well, thank you so much for watching this video. If you have any questions about what we talked about here today, or maybe if you've got some other best practices that you'd like to share with our community, please comment below. We'd love to continue that conversation with you. Don't forget to subscribe. And until next time, happy marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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