Advanced Analytics for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

October 17, 2009

As I mentioned in my Omniture Summit 2009 recap, I was fortunate enough to be a co-presenter for a breakout session – ‘Makin’ Gold Records: Turning your SEO team into Rock stars.’ One of the most difficult things to do is track SEO and to determine how successful the SEO efforts have been. I am not going to talk about tips about how to optimize your site for search engines. There are already quite a few blogs and forums that talk about how to do this. What I am going to talk about are reports and analysis that can be set up to help determine how successful the SEO efforts have been. I am going to borrow from one of the slides in the presentation that really helps with this point, ‘43% of marketers don’t or can’t accurately measure ROI from SEO. To be successful with SEO, you must accurately measure success to drive value and action. In the end, it is not about driving traffic to the site, it is about making money.’ The question now becomes where to begin? To borrow another quote from the presentation, ‘With so much data available…the most important metric is that which helps improve your site.’

This is really good advice, but before I get into some of the reports that can set up to help analyze SEO, you need to make sure to get some of the basics down first. No matter which tool you use, you need to make sure you use tracking codes for your paid search marketing campaigns. This is a small, but very important thing that needs to be done. Depending on which web analytics tool you use, will depend on how this get accomplished. To accomplish this for Omniture specifically, you will need to go to the admin console to the Paid Search Detection area and enter which query string tracking code(s) that is going to be used for your paid search campaigns. For example, you will enter ‘cid’ into the text box next to Query String field. For the Search Engines, I would leave the setting to ‘-Any-‘, unless you want to add the tracking code to a specific Search Engine.

The last thing that needs to be decided, before you start to set up reports for tracking SEO, is determining which KPI’s are the most important that will help you improve your site. The KPI’s that will be the most important to you will depend on the vertical of your site. Here are some examples of some SEO KPI’s:
• Keyword Conversion Rate – Revenue Per Search
• Entry Page Conversion Rate – Leads Per Search
• Conversions – Leads, Orders, Subscriptions
• Bounce Rate – Keyword or Entry Page
• Average Time on Site – Keyword or Entry Page
• Keyword Conversion Rate – Page Views / Search
• Conversions – Page Views
• Conversions- Video Plays
• Keyword Conversion Rate – Video Plays / Search
• Keyword Conversion Rate – Sweepstakes Entries / Search

SiteCatalyst has a couple of Natural Search reports out of the box that do a pretty good job of analyzing most of the KPI’s above, but you can go one step further. There are two ways that will allow you to create additional natural search reports. The first way is through a Unified Sources Vista Rule and the second way is through the Channel Manager Plug-in. These are two different ways to help you crate marketing reports. Each one has its good points and bad points. The biggest difference between the two is the Unified Sources Vista rule is created through Engineering Services, while the Channel Manager Plug-in is created through Consulting Services. The Channel Manager Plug-in does allow you a little more flexibility, but with some good planning you can accomplish the same reports with either option.

Here are a few of the reports that you can have create with either option.

Natural Search Keywords – This report might seem a little strange to put on this list since it is an out of the box report. Even though there is an out of the box report for Natural Search Keywords, there is one metric that I would like to this report and the only way to get it is to pass the keywords into an eVar. The metric that I would like to add to this report is Visits. By adding visits to this report, will give you a slightly different view of the keywords report and allow you to create calculated metrics that are visit based. You can use this report to quickly see which keywords are performing the best for different metrics or KPIs. You have the ability to easily sort by each column to see which keyword drove the most engagement or conversions (ex. Page Views/Visit or Video Plays/Visit)

Natural Search Entry Page – This report can be very valuable by itself or in combination with the Natural Search Keywords report, which is another reason to pass Natural Search Keywords into an eVar. You can enable full sub-relations for both of these reports and you can drill down from the keywords report to the entry page report to see the top entry pages for different natural search keywords. The report by itself can help you see what the pages visitors are entering your site on, which can help you discover gaps in your keyword strategy by identifying entry pages that drive the most engagement or conversion from natural search. You can see how deep into the site visitors are landing and do those pages drive more engagement or conversion than the home page or a section front page. You can create a calculated metric for bounce rate and see which entry page has a higher bounce rate. You can then go to your SEO team and let them know which entry page is not performing as well as you would like it to, you then can do some testing on a new design to see if a new design might drive more engagement or conversion.

Classifiy Natural Search Keywords – Classifications is another reason why it is a good idea to pass the Natural Search Keywords into an eVar. It will allow you to classify the keywords, which helps you to logically group your keywords into different buckets that make analysis more effective and actionable. One of the questions that I have been constantly for a SEO team is how well branded and non-branded keywords perform. When you classify the keywords, there is not a need to download the Natural Search Keywords report each time and then try to go through each keyword to find branded and non-brand keywords. The classification will allow you to easily see this information in a single report. Classifications also an easy way to breakout Natural Search keywords by any dimension that is needed, besides just branded or non-branded. Classifications are set up in the admin console through the SAINT upload.

Backlinks Report – This report is another valuable report to give you information on which site that is linking your site is driving more engagement or conversions. The backlinks report is based on filtered referrals and can give you insight into your existing link popularity strategy. If you have a linking strategy that involves blogs, facebook, twitter, or some other site this report will allow you to quickly see which linking strategy is working the best in driving engagement or conversion.

Another good report that you can utilize to help you with your SEO strategy is an internal site search report, which can help to identify additional SEO keywords to optimize your site. Though this report is not specifically tied to the Unified Sources Vista Rule or the Channel Manager Plug-in, it can be very helpful in finding SEO keywords. You might not want to just look at internal keywords that drives success, but also at keywords where users did not find what they were looking for. You can go to the search team and the SEO team to talk about how you can leverage that information by building content on the site that is SEO friendly. Some additional tools you can use to help you research which Natural Search keywords to focus on are: Hitwise, Google Trends, and Webposition. These tools will help you look at natural search keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors.

SEO Forum and Blog
Highrankings Forum

Jordan LeBaron – Omniture SEO Consultant

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11 Responses to “Advanced Analytics for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”


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  3. […] Advanced Analytics for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) « Web Analytics Guy’s Blog webanalyticsguy.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/advanced-analytics-for-search-engine-optimization-seo – view page – cached As I mentioned in my Omniture Summit 2009 recap, I was fortunate enough to be a co-presenter for a breakout session – ‘Makin’ Gold Records: Turning your SEO team into Rock stars.’ One of the… (Read more)As I mentioned in my Omniture Summit 2009 recap, I was fortunate enough to be a co-presenter for a breakout session – ‘Makin’ Gold Records: Turning your SEO team into Rock stars.’ One of the most difficult things to do is track SEO and to determine how successful the SEO efforts have been. I am not going to talk about tips about how to optimize your site for search engines. There are already quite a few blogs and forums that talk about how to do this. What I am going to talk about are reports and analysis that can be set up to help determine how successful the SEO efforts have been. I am going to borrow from one of the slides in the presentation that really helps with this point, ‘43% of marketers don’t or can’t accurately measure ROI from SEO. To be successful with SEO, you must accurately measure success to drive value and action. In the end, it is not about driving traffic to the site, it is about making money.’ The question now becomes where to begin? To borrow another quote from the presentation, ‘With so much data available…the most important metric is that which helps improve your site.’ This is really good advice, but before I get into some of the reports that can set up to help analyze SEO, you need to make sure to get some of the basics down first. No matter which tool you use, you need to make sure you use tracking codes for your paid search marketing campaigns. This is a small, but very important thing that needs to be done. Depending on which web analytics tool you use, will depend on how this get accomplished. To accomplish this for Omniture specifically, you will need to go to the admin console to the Paid Search Detection area and enter which query string tracking code(s) that is going to be used for your paid search campaigns. (Read less) — From the page […]


  4. […] Advanced Analytics for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) « Web …4 hours ago by webanalyticsguy  As I mentioned in my Omniture Summit 2009 recap, I was fortunate enough to be a co-presenter for a breakout session – 'Makin' Gold Records: Turning your SEO team into Rock stars.' One of the most difficult things to do is track SEO and … – […]


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  7. […] Advanced Analytics for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) « Web …12 hours ago by webanalyticsguy  I am not going to talk about tips about how to optimize your site for search engines. There are already quite a few blogs and forums that talk about how to do this. What I am going to talk about are reports and analysis that can be set … – […]

  8. analytics Says:

    “you must accurately measure success to drive value and action” I agree 100% with you on this, but I prefer another tool to get the data.

    • webanalyticsguy Says:

      There are certainly several tools that can help with measuring SEO. I chose one tool as an example of what needs to be set up for the paid campaigns, so natural search can be more accurately measured.

  9. SEM Sensei Says:

    Interesting comments, thanks. In addition to analytics for SEO, I also see an urgent need for greater emphasis on the analytics of visitor behavior *after* they arrive at a website – how and why they do what they do. In my experience, it’s understanding visitor behavior within a website (and improving the number of successful conversions) which is the key driver to measurable success for a site – in particular incremental revenue.

    SEM Sensei.

    • webanalyticsguy Says:

      I completely agree. An understanding of how the user go the site, which this post focuses on SEO (though it can be for any channel), can be of great value and allow better segmentation of the different marketing channels so an analysis can be preformed on where the user went in the site and what success the user had by marketing channel. They why is also very important and to tie that back to analytics data can drive some great business decisions.


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