The metrics that matter for SEO and social media
Written by Jon Henshaw and published
SEO has always had a rough ride when it comes to client services. Unlike paid advertising, search engine optimization can take time before any significant results can be reported. This can make SEO a difficult sell, especially when compared to PPC’s instant gratification.
Some of its difficulty has also been self-inflicted. Too many SEOs made too many promises to clients, but had absolutely no idea what they were doing. The only thing they did well was take clients’ money and leave a bad taste in their mouths. We commonly refer to these people as snake oil salesman.
To make matters worse, SEO made ranking results the main KPI. Most, if not all, of their services were based on maintaining positions for coveted terms. It took years to educate clients that SEO was worth the money, and by the time they started buying, the thing they thought was important was where they ranked for a handful of pet terms.
The metrics that SEOs typically report today no longer matter.
SEO isn’t alone. Social also suffers from the same problems. Social media management services were a hard sell for quite some time. Clients didn’t get it, and most of them saw it as something you did for fun, not for business. And much like SEO, there were many social gurus, ninjas and general rock stars who didn’t help in dispensing with that perception.
As social has matured and social media managers have grown up, businesses have come to realize they need – actually require – a social media manager to handle their social outreach and public relations. However, there’s a problem. Social media managers are currently reporting on the number of followers and who liked what as KPIs.
Just like ranking results, those kind of standalone KPIs, like followers and likes, are useless.
Focus and report on KPIs that show insights and profitability
The metrics that matter are the ones that can either provide you tactical insights or report on how your campaign helped your client make more money. The best way to do that is to use Google Analytics goals and events. Without them, you are basically flying blind.
With the exception of client websites that solely make a living on page impressions (advertising), most clients are trying to sell services and/or products. Goals and events allow you to track certain actions and conversions, and apply a value to them when applicable.
When you combine goals and events with your other site analytics, you can determine the ROI of your services with relevant KPIs. You can also find out what is and isn’t working, and make intelligent changes to your campaigns.
Get everyone on the same page
It’s easy for a team to get quickly get out of control when they start using goals and events. This is especially true for events.
The best way to set up goals and events is to decide as a group the nomenclature you’re going to use. For example, you may decide to call the Event Category for all calls-to-action, CTA. And for the Event Action, you may want to use the term click for anyone who clicks on a CTA. If your team doesn’t get on the same page, then campaign reporting may become a nightmare.
Analyze content with goals
When you use goals, you can quickly find out which content converts and which content doesn’t. Many people are surprised when they learn that some of their most popular content doesn’t convert. For example, we have an article on how to backup your Mac that gets a significant amount of traffic, but it doesn’t convert well. In the case of this article, it makes sense, because it’s not related to the service we’re offering.
Unrelated doesn’t always mean irrelevant. Similar to the backup article, we have a popular article on creating modal dialogues that appears to be unrelated to our services. However, the goal conversions for that article tell a different story. Knowing that the article converts, we can then ponder how it might be relevant to our target audience and build off those insights.
Some of the best and easiest insights come from highly relevant and high converting content. A good example is our article on the ultimate list of PPC tools. This article converts well for a few reasons:
- People like lists, period.
- PPC is relevant to Raven, because we provide research, management, monitoring and reporting tools for Google AdWords.
- Most people who are searching for lists and PPC tools are looking to buy.
So even though the list includes competitors, it’s still the perfect chance to have them try our own PPC tools. Understanding that insight, we can now replicate that content approach with our other services.
Use GWT Search Queries
When you compare it with goal or event results and related destination pages, the search query data available in Google Webmaster Tools is very valuable.
There are many different ways you can analyze the search queries data. One of my favorite things to do is to sort the top searches by clicks. Then I determine the destination pages being displayed in the SERPs and view which of those pages converts the best. Using that insight, I can then plan out new content strategies that should result in good search engine visibility and conversions.
Find sharing that converts
Goals and events can be very insightful for social media campaigns, too. The number of followers or likes does not equal success. What matters is whether or not your social activity results in making money.
There’s a simple formula to determine the value that social networks provide:
Landing Pages + Goals + Advanced Segments (Social Source) = Value
When you view your landing pages combined with goal conversions, and filter the results to only display landing pages that were viewed from social network referrals, you can then determine your social ROI. You can also get insights into what content works best on different social networks and apply that to your content marketing strategy.
Social advanced segments also work well with events. For example, you can create an event that tracks how many leads you capture. Then you can apply the advanced segment to determine how many leads were created from your social media marketing efforts. You can also see which landing pages (and the lead capture forms on those pages) performed the best.
Leverage your referrals
The only thing better than knowing which sites are sending you traffic is discovering which ones are also giving you money.
Referrals + Goals = Opportunity
When you discover referrals that convert, use them as outreach opportunities, because these are the sites that are now proven to send you targeted traffic. Research the pages that are sending traffic and conversions, and then think about how you could increase your exposure on that site. For example, you may want to request to guest blog or consider advertising on the site.
Build links smarter
Smart link building could mean a lot of things, but within the context of this post, I mean building links that convert. Historically, many SEOs would build links to influence ranking, but they wouldn’t give much thought to whether or not those links drove relevant traffic.
With the onset of social sharing and quickly changing search algorithms, it’s very important to focus on building links that are relevant – relevant to the content and relevant to the audience reading the content.
Smart link building can also make you look good to clients. For example, if you use Raven’s Link Manager, you can run our Link Referral report to automatically report the links you built that converted.
Just like in the previous section, these are referrals you can leverage.
Take it further
We’ve put together two guides to the SEO and social metrics that matter and how to measure them.
- 28 SEO Metrics That You Can Sell And Report To Clients
- 30 Social Media Metrics That Prove Real Value
Download them to take your measurement even further.