Tag Archive | "Useful"

Get a More Useful Perspective on Your Business and Content Goals

Sometimes in business, it’s a good idea to slow down and reflect on your real goals. Are you getting what…

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Why Stress Might Be More Useful than You Think: December’s Selection for the Copyblogger Book Club

It’s book club time again! Over in Copyblogger’s Killers and Poets Facebook Group, we like to get together and discuss…

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When Bounce Rate, Browse Rate (PPV), and Time-on-Site Are Useful Metrics… and When They Aren’t – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When is it right to use metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit, and time on site? When are you better off ignoring them? There are endless opinions on whether these kinds of metrics are valuable or not, and as you might suspect, the answer is found in the shades of grey. Learn what Rand has to say about the great metrics debate in today’s episode of Whiteboard Friday.

When bounce rate browse rate and ppc are useful metrics and when they suck

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about times at which bounce rate, browse rate, which is pages per visit, and time on site are terrible metrics and when they’re actually quite useful metrics.

This happens quite a bit. I see in the digital marketing world people talking about these metrics as though they are either dirty-scum, bottom-of-the-barrel metrics that no one should pay any attention to, or that they are these lofty, perfect metrics that are what we should be optimizing for. Neither of those is really accurate. As is often the case, the truth usually lies somewhere in between.

So, first off, some credit to Wil Reynolds, who brought this up during a discussion that I had with him at Siege Media’s offices, an interview that Ross Hudgens put together with us, and Sayf Sharif from Seer Interactive, their Director of Analytics, who left an awesome comment about this discussion on the LinkedIn post of that video. We’ll link to those in this Whiteboard Friday.

So Sayf and Wil were both basically arguing that these are kind of crap metrics. We don’t trust them. We don’t use them a lot. I think, a lot of the time, that makes sense.

Instances when these metrics aren’t useful

Here’s when these metrics, that bounce rate, pages per visit, and time on site kind of suck.

1. When they’re used instead of conversion actions to represent “success”

So they suck when you use them instead of conversion actions. So a conversion is someone took an action that I wanted on my website. They filled in a form. They purchased a product. They put in their credit card. Whatever it is, they got to a page that I wanted them to get to.

Bounce rate is basically the average percent of people who landed on a page and then left your website, not to continue on any other page on that site after visiting that page.

Pages per visit is essentially exactly what it sounds like, the average number of pages per visit for people who landed on that particular page. So people who came in through one of these pages, how many pages did they visit on my site.

Then time on site is essentially a very raw and rough metric. If I leave my computer to use the restroom or I basically switch to another tab or close my browser, it’s not necessarily the case that time on site ends right then. So this metric has a lot of imperfections. Now, averaged over time, it can still be directionally interesting.

But when you use these instead of conversion actions, which is what we all should be optimizing for ultimately, you can definitely get into some suckage with these metrics.

2. When they’re compared against non-relevant “competitors” and other sites

When you compare them against non-relevant competitors, so when you compare, for example, a product-focused, purchase-focused site against a media-focused site, you’re going to get big differences. First off, if your pages per visit look like a media site’s pages per visit and you’re product-focused, that is crazy. Either the media site is terrible or you’re doing something absolutely amazing in terms of keeping people’s attention and energy.

Time on site is a little bit misleading in this case too, because if you look at the time on site, again, of a media property or a news-focused, content-focused site versus one that’s very e-commerce focused, you’re going to get vastly different things. Amazon probably wants your time on site to be pretty small. Dell wants your time on site to be pretty small. Get through the purchase process, find the computer you want, buy it, get out of here. If you’re taking 10 minutes to do that or 20 minutes to do that instead of 5, we’ve failed. We haven’t provided a good enough experience to get you quickly through the purchase funnel. That can certainly be the case. So there can be warring priorities inside even one of these metrics.

3. When they’re not considered over time or with traffic sources factored in

Third, you get some suckage when they are not considered over time or against the traffic sources that brought them in. For example, if someone visits a web page via a Twitter link, chances are really good, really, really good, especially on mobile, that they’re going to have a high bounce rate, a low number of pages per visit, and a low time on site. That’s just how Twitter behavior is. Facebook is quite similar.

Now, if they’ve come via a Google search, an informational Google search and they’ve clicked on an organic listing, you should see just the reverse. You should see a relatively good bounce rate. You should see a relatively good pages per visit, well, a relatively higher pages per visit, a relatively higher time on site.

Instances when these metrics are useful

1. When they’re used as diagnostics for the conversion funnel

So there’s complexity inside these metrics for sure. What we should be using them for, when these metrics are truly useful is when they are used as a diagnostic. So when you look at a conversion funnel and you see, okay, our conversion funnel looks like this, people come in through the homepage or through our blog or news sections, they eventually, we hope, make it to our product page, our pricing page, and our conversion page.

We have these metrics for all of these. When we make changes to some of these, significant changes, minor changes, we don’t just look at how conversion performs. We also look at whether things like time on site shrank or whether people had fewer pages per visit or whether they had a higher bounce rate from some of these sections.

So perhaps, for example, we changed our pricing and we actually saw that people spent less time on the pricing page and had about the same number of pages per visit and about the same bounce rate from the pricing page. At the same time, we saw conversions dip a little bit.

Should we intuit that pricing negatively affected our conversion rate? Well, perhaps not. Perhaps we should look and see if there were other changes made or if our traffic sources were in there, because it looks like, given that bounce rate didn’t increase, given that pages per visit didn’t really change, given that time on site actually went down a little bit, it seems like people are making it just fine through the pricing page. They’re making it just fine from this pricing page to the conversion page, so let’s look at something else.

This is the type of diagnostics that you can do when you have metrics at these levels. If you’ve seen a dip in conversions or a rise, this is exactly the kind of dig into the data that smart, savvy digital marketers should and can be doing, and I think it’s a powerful, useful tool to be able to form hypotheses based on what happens.

So again, another example, did we change this product page? We saw pages per visit shrink and time on site shrink. Did it affect conversion rate? If it didn’t, but then we see that we’re getting fewer engaged visitors, and so now we can’t do as much retargeting and we’re losing email signups, maybe this did have a negative effect and we should go back to the other one, even if conversion rate itself didn’t seem to take a particular hit in this case.

2. When they’re compared over time to see if internal changes or external forces shifted behavior

Second useful way to apply these metrics is compared over time to see if your internal changes or some external forces shifted behavior. For example, we can look at the engagement rate on the blog. The blog is tough to generate as a conversion event. We could maybe look at subscriptions, but in general, pages per visit is a nice one for the blog. It tells us whether people make it past the page they landed on and into deeper sections, stick around our site, check out what we do.

So if we see that it had a dramatic fall down here in April and that was when we installed a new author and now they’re sort of recovering, we can say, “Oh, yeah, you know what? That takes a little while for a new blog author to kind of come up to speed. We’re going to give them time,” or, “Hey, we should interject here. We need to jump in and try and fix whatever is going on.”

3. When they’re benchmarked versus relevant industry competitors

Third and final useful case is when you benchmark versus truly relevant industry competitors. So if you have a direct competitor, very similar focus to you, product-focused in this case with a homepage and then some content sections and then a very focused product checkout, you could look at you versus them and their homepage and your homepage.

If you could get the data from a source like SimilarWeb or Jumpshot, if there’s enough clickstream level data, or some savvy industry surveys that collect this information, and you see that you’re significantly higher, you might then take a look at what are they doing that we’re not doing. Maybe we should use them when we do our user research and say, “Hey, what’s compelling to you about this that maybe is missing here?”

Otherwise, a lot of the time people will take direct competitors and say, “Hey, let’s look at what our competition is doing and we’ll consider that best practice.” But if you haven’t looked at how they’re performing, how people are getting through, whether they’re engaging, whether they’re spending time on that site, whether they’re making it through their different pages, you don’t know if they actually are best practices or whether you’re about to follow a laggard’s example and potentially hurt yourself.

So definitely a complex topic, definitely many, many different things that go into the uses of these metrics, and there are some bad and good ways to use them. I agree with Sayf and with Wil, but I think there are also some great ways to apply them. I would love to hear from you if you’ve got examples of those down in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Try These Useful Suggestions to Build Your Audience

Try These Useful Suggestions to Build Your Audience

On Monday, our good and wise friend Andy Crestodina showed the difference between optimizing for search engines and optimizing for social shares. He also gives us a nice piece of advice about how you can get really crafty and do both.

Proofreading might not seem exciting, until the day you publish a post with the headline Making that Shit into the Next Phase of Your Career. Don’t let that happen; read Stefanie’s Tuesday post.

On Wednesday, Brian Clark reminded us that search and social get all the attention, but it’s email that pays the bills. He explains why email is the most important content distribution platform you have … and reveals that my favorite analogy for how to treat your audience has always given him the jitters. (Do you agree with him? Let us know in the blog comments! …)

And earlier today, I posted our Content Excellence Challenge prompts for April. These are fun, creative exercises we do together as a community. Both of the prompts are practices that will make your content better, and get you making more of it.

On The Digital Entrepreneur, Bryan Eisenberg shared his insights with Sean and Jessica on how to leverage Amazon self-publishing to find new audiences and customers. If you haven’t encountered Bryan yet, he’s a bit of a marketing and persuasion guru/ninja/Jedi/grand master … but the kind who actually knows what he’s talking about. He understands Amazon on a deep level, and the conversation is filled with useful suggestions.

On Copyblogger FM, I talked about some “mindset hacks” that really will help you Do All the Things … and the popular self-help advice that could do your success more harm than good. On Unemployable, Brian and Robert shared their thoughts about building that wonderful thing: recurring revenue. And on The Showrunner, Jerod chatted with David Bain about transitioning from podcasting to hosting live digital events.

That’s it for this week … enjoy the goodies, and have a lovely weekend!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


the best content doesn’t win. the best promoted content winsHow to Optimize Content for Both Search and Social (Plus, a Headline Hack that Strikes the Balance)

by Andy Crestodina


Want to know how I find and correct errors in my own writing as well as every article we publish on Copyblogger?3 Proofreading Pointers, So Your Writing Isn’t Shared for the Wrong Reason

by Stefanie Flaxman


Not all aspects of your audience are equalA Surefire Way to Get Constant Traffic to Your Content

by Brian Clark


Content Excellence Challenge: April Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The April Prompts

by Sonia Simone


How to Use Amazon Publishing to Grow Your Online AudienceHow to Use Amazon Publishing to Grow Your Online Audience

by Sean Jackson & Jessica Frick


Kelton Reid on The Learn Podcast Production PodcastKelton Reid on The Learn Podcast Production Podcast

by Caroline Early


5 Mindset Habits that Actually Work5 Mindset Habits that Actually Work

by Sonia Simone


The Beauty of Recurring RevenueThe Beauty of Recurring Revenue

by Brian Clark


How Bestselling Author Greg Iles Writes: Part TwoHow Bestselling Author Greg Iles Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid


5 Steps to Hosting Successful Live Online Events5 Steps to Hosting Successful Live Online Events

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor


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Where to Find Useful Signal in the Noise of Content and Digital Marketing Events

content marketing signalIn the Digital Marketing and PR world, success requires a continuous effort to stay sharp and on top of what’s working and what is not. Information overload from social media has brought an exponential increase in noise, causing many marketing and PO pros to “overdose” on digital content or shut it out altogether.

I like to think that we’ve done our best to provide you with a nice, clear signal here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog and at industry events.

Speaking of events, we’re providing several options for a clear digital marketing and PR signal across 10 different conferences over the next few months. Topics include:

  • Digital & Integrated Marketing
  • Personal Branding With Content & Social Media
  • B2B Content Marketing & Blogging
  • Participation & Influencer Marketing
  • Modular Content Planning & Repurposing

In our view of digital marketing and PR, we believe in an approach that favors an integrated mix of content that is optimized for search, socialized for networks, publicized to 3rd party media and influencer activated. Content focused marketing that provides marketers (and buyers) with quality information that is easy to find is successful marketing.

The trouble is, as more companies churn out content, numerous issues emerge: A growing distance between content function and consumer need, issues with consistency of content quality and quantity, and the ability to distribute and amplify content to reach a sufficient audience.

The Solution: Consistent, Quality Content that Attracts, Engages and Converts

To help you find a clear signal that will resonate with your need for content marketing smarts, here are 10 digital marketing & PR events where you can learn more about how to make content marketing perform for customers, the media and your business. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, digital marketing or public relations focused, this series of events is certain to include advice in a location that’s just right for you.

SLC SEM Digital Marketing Conference
Sept 2, 2015
SLCSEM – Salt Lake City Search Engine Marketing Association – Salt Lake City

Presentation: Closing Keynote, Be the Best Answer:- The Role of SEO in an Integrated Marketing Mix

Learn More: Event & Presentation Info

 

PRSA Webinar
Sept 3, 2015

PRSA – Public Relations Society of America – Webinar

Presentation: Participation Marketing: Tools & Tactics for Crowdsourcing Content with Industry Influencers and Your Community

Key Takeaway: This webinar will provide you with an influencer content strategy, best practices and tools to scale the kind of content buyers and communities really want — because they had a hand in creating it.

Learn More: Event & Presentation Info

 

Content Marketing World 2015
Sept 9, 2015

Content Marketing World – Cleveland

Presentation: Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create, Optimize & Socialize Content With Influencers

Key Takeaways: How to identify, qualify and recruit influencer content partners, a modular approach to co-created content, how to optimize, socialize and repurpose co-created content.

Learn More: Event & Presentation Info

 

INBOUND 2015 Lee Odden
Sept 11, 2015

HubSpot INBOUND – Boston

Presentation: Hungry for Better Content: What the Mighty Hamburger Can Teach Us About Repurposing & Personalizing with Modular Content

Key Takeaways: In this presentation, you’ll learn how customers can “have it their way” when you take a modular approach to content marketing.

Learn More: Event & Presentation Info

 

Social Media Marketing Event
Sept 16, 2015
Social Media Rockstars – MortonPresentation: Paint by numbers or artist – How to sharpen your skills and take them to the next level (Solo: Joel Carlson)

Learn More: Event Info

 

BMA MN Workshops
Sept 22, 2015

BMAMN – Business Marketing Association Minnesota – Minneapolis
Skill Builder Workshop: Content Marketing

Presentation: Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create B2B Content with Influencers

Key Takeaways: In this half-day content marketing workshop you’ll learn the ins and outs of working with influencers, how to approach modular content and ways to amplify and repurpose co-created content.

Learn More: Event & Presentation Info

 

AMA Digital Marketing
Oct 14, 2015

AMA Digital Marketing Event – Online Conference

Presentation: Closing Keynote: What is the Future of Digital Marketing?

Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm CST

Learn More: Event Info

 

MarketingProfs B2B Forum
Oct, 21, 2015
MarketingProfs B2B Forum – Boston

Presentation: If You Want B2B Content to be Great, Ask Your Community to Participate

Key Takeaways: At the end of this session you will be able to: Identify at least 3 co-creation opportunities to start now, learn how to recruit, engage and inspire content co-creators and leverage co-created content for SEO and social media marketing.

Learn More: Event & Presentation Info

 

PRSA International Conference
Nov 9, 2015

PRSA International Conference – Atlanta

Presentations: 

  • Yes You Are a Content Machine (Panel)
  • 3 Ways to Grow Your Personal Brand Online
  • Participation Marketing: Tools & Tactics for Crowdsourcing Content with Industry Influencers and Your Community (Solo)

Learn More: Event Info

 

Minnesota Blogger Conference
Nov 14, 2015

Minnesota Blogger Conference – St. Paul

Presentation: The Marketer Abides: 3 Lessons in Creative Content Marketing from the Big Lebowski (Solo: Ashley Zeckman)

Key Takeaways: Tips for properly identifying your target blog audience, helping your readers solve a problem, incorporating storytelling, mesmerizing your audience with visual content and amplifying your message on social media.

Learn More: Event Info

 

And that should be about it. Whew! Ten events on a range of digital marketing and PR topics held in 7 different cities plus several online options should provide ample opportunity to pick just the right digital marketing signal for your marketing learning journey.

If you will be attending any of these events where TopRank Marketing team members are speaking, please let us know in the comments and be sure to say hello at the event!

Top image: Shutterstock


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The post Where to Find Useful Signal in the Noise of Content and Digital Marketing Events appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Matt Cutts: Google Trends Less Useful For Spammers

What I did not mention and forgot about was the features Google Trends had prior that were removed quietly over time. Some of the “explore” features dropped out.
Why were they removed?


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7 Useful Marketing Articles for Your Weekend

The Lede | copyblogger.com

This week on The Lede

  • Seth Godin’s simple cure for writer’s block.
  • Why David Ogilvy called himself a lousy copywriter.
  • A case study in the power of the blog.
  • 10 ways to use Pinterest for your business.

If you want more links you can use than the seven we highlight here every week, follow @copyblogger on Twitter.

//

A Stalker’s Guide to Competitive Research
If you ever wanted a shot at becoming a private detective (without the hassle of becoming a private detective), this is it. Comprehensive does not begin to describe this article from Ms. Narayanasamy. In it, she lays out an amazingly simple and incredibly thorough strategy to gain a lasting competitive advantage in your industry.

//

Seth Godin’s Simple Cure for Writer’s Block
Leave it to Mr. Godin to supply a sensible solution to a wicked problem that has plagued writers since we were etching useful content on tablets. Stone tablets, I mean. Like most good advice, you’ll likely say “Of course…” when you read this. Don’t forget to act on it.

//

I am a lousy copywriter ~ David Ogilvy
There is some kind of relief in reading a line like that from a titan of your craft. This honest, engaging little 1955 letter from Mr. Ogilvy says much about practical professionalism, struggle, and getting your work done despite the forces working against you from within and without.

//

How to Find the Time for Content Creation
Warning: do not dismiss this post for its deceptive simplicity. We’ve heard it one hundred times, and could stand to hear it one hundred more. This advice lies at the core of getting good content produced. And yes, that’s the content that can drive your business.

//

Content Marketing is a War of Attrition
Babe Ruth said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” That, along with a plan that changed and morphed along the way, is pretty much the story of Copyblogger. It can pretty much be the story of anyone who chooses to take it up.

//

The Power of a Blog
Mr. Lefsetz asks if you’re better off being written up in the major media, or on a major blog. Then he answers the question definitively. This might seem a bit like preaching to the choir, but the reminder — in this case — is a valuable one.

//

10 Ways to Use Pinterest for Business
I’ve heard it said that Pinterest is for soccer moms. I also remember hearing that Facebook was just for college kids …

Did you miss anything on Copyblogger this week?

About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s copywriter and resident recluse.

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Why Rank Checking is Still Useful

rank-tracking-matters

There’s not a complex mathematical formula that is needed for one to understand the basic math associated with SEO. It boils down to something like:

Traffic + Conversions = $

That’s a pretty easy way of looking at it, and it sort of ignores some of the variables that might go into it like:

  • targeted traffic
  • no so targeted traffic
  • conversion rate
  • volume

However, the basis of profiting via SEO mainly involves getting traffic to your website and converting (or monetizing) that traffic by whatever conversion (or monetization) methods you happen to be using on your website.

There are many means you can factor into the end game of an SEO campaign but at its most basic form it is about getting traffic and monetizing that traffic.

A Small-Minded Approach

The school of thought which postulates that ranking reports or ranking data is either essentially dead, useless, or pointless generally is a small-minded approach with respect to the various ways you can use ranking data and over-dramatizes the effect of changing search results from searcher to searcher. Small-minded simply because you can use ranking reports for more than just blindly monitoring keywords.

If the argument is that you should focus more on conversions than ranking in terms of straight revenue then I can buy that, to a degree, but the problem remains that you can’t convert if you don’t have traffic and you can’t have traffic from search engines unless you rank highly for your keywords.

perplexed-businessman

If the argument is that you shouldn’t care because of personalized search, or local search, or different data center results then I would say that you are overstating the adoption and the effect. Sure, there could be a map or products or images in your search results (or tweets or news results) but I believe the idea that search results are so radically different from person to person, so different as to render ranking reports irrelevant, is quite overstated and inaccurate (from reports I’ve been running over time). All search results start from some starting point!

Knowing where you generally rank matters, watching the trend of your rankings in conjunction with your SEO tactics matters, and watching the evolution (up and down) of competing websites matters. To simply watch analytics data leaves so many opportunities on the table if we stipulate that ranking reports are a waste of time or mostly unimportant. When major algorithm updates or penalties happen, one of the quickest ways to help analyze what happened is to track your rankings before and after for a variety of keywords. That will help you determine things like:

  • is the issue sitewide?
  • is the issue related to a singular keyword?
  • is the issue related to a group of closely related keywords?
  • is the issue primarily impacting your most competitive keywords?
  • is the issue related to a particular market?

Pattern matching is key to learning how algorithms work. Sure some of this type of data may be available in your web analytics, but rather than having to hunt and probe for it, rank checking allows you to quickly get a baseline idea of where the problem may be.

Trends & Measurable Effects

Suppose you are interested in finding out whether certain SEO tactics are working or not working for a particular site. By watching your ranking trends over a period of time, parallel to your tactic testing, you can gauge whether or not those particular tactics are working.

Perhaps you’ve targeted a keyword which doesn’t really have as much volume as you thought it did or what the keyword tools told you it did. If you ignore ranking reports then you are removing a key step in figuring out whether the word is viable or not, rather than looking at your analytics and guessing that it is viable or not based on traffic. Maybe you are ranking #4 for that term but the order goes:

  • competitor.com
  • competitor.net
  • competitor.org
  • yoursite.com

Chikita reported (based on 8+ million impressions on their network) the following percentages of search traffic distribution by rank (roughly a year or so ago):

Traffic-by-Google-Result

Chikita’s chart shows that position 2 roughly in the 15-20% traffic range with position 4 around 5% and position 1 around 35%

Here’s the leaked AOL chart from a few years ago, discussing the same topic:

traffic-by-rank

AOL’s data shows position 1 at 42%, position 2 at 11%, and position 4 at 6%.

So if you were running monthly ranking reports you could reasonably make the assumption that by increasing your rank +3 you might expect north of 25% in terms of increased traffic. If the sites were reversed and you were getting little traffic, it would be easy to see that this keyword is probably not worth continuing to spend resources on since you are ranking #1 and still getting little traffic.

In either the case of potential opportunity or no opportunity ranking reports would work nicely with your traffic reports to help you make reasonable adjustments to your SEO campaign. If you skipped the reports totally, you are kind of flying blind or more blindly than you need to be .

Sales & Marketing Tools

Everything in SEO comes down to balancing risk vs rewards. It is easy to show a short term boost while leveraging up on risk, but showing sustained performance is much harder. Snake oil salesmen *always* have a smooth sales pitch (along with ranking reports for search engines nobody uses, and some go so far as faking traffic to websites using click bots). The more lenses you can provide your clients of value delivered the more you differentiate from those who are playing games of deception.

A client may view an SEO as incompetent simply because Google changes the rules of the game mid-stream. From month to month search can change in ways that seem both uncontrollable and unpredictable. Nothing kills sales like the words “I don’t know.” The more answers you can deliver the more confidence clients will have in maintaining & growing their investment in search, even if things are a bit unstable in the short run.

Ranking reports are further evidence of proof-of-value delivered. They help take something fuzzy and make it feel more concrete, helping you show the client not only that you are pushing to build relevant traffic, and serving as a baseline to help clients see how they are doing. If the client knows they are at #3 with a $ 5,000 monthly budget they can easily see the value of increasing the budget to $ 10,000 to boost their ranking to #1.

Take it One Step Further With Analytics

Let’s say you are starting to see all these keyword variations in your analytics for a core term you are targeting. Here’s where you can (again) use analytics and ranking reports together:

  • export keywords you are seeing traffic from
  • run them through an on-demand rank checker like our free rank checker or paid solutions like Advanced Web Ranking or Rank Tracker
  • dump the keywords, current rank, and keyword volume data into an Excel spreadsheet (maybe even monkey around with entering a column for potential increase and traffc)
  • add new keywords to target in your SEO campaign

Sugarrae highlighted this tactic earlier this year during an interview with Raven SEO Tools.

The ranking tools mentioned also offer ongoing rank reporting as do the tools from Raven, SeoMoz, and Authority Labs (incidentally, Raven will be using Authority Labs’s API for ranking data in the near future as mentioned in the Raven link above).

Now you’ve got a bunch of new keywords you are already getting some traffic from, along with some predictions on what the potential increase in traffic (and conversions if you have that data from your analytics) might be.

Factoring in Universal & Local Search

Advanced Web Ranking has some interesting features which let you change up the location so you can better track those kinds of results. Google continues to take up SERP real estate so sometimes you run in to situations where you might be ranking #2 for a core keyword but given maps, news, images, and products you could be “ranking” as low as 6 given the SERP layout.

This is another situation where you can use your ranking reports and analytics together to get the most out of an SEO campaign. Perhaps you are not getting traffic, or as much as you though given your research, but you are ranking #2 according to your reports. Using ranking reports and traffic numbers together can help you determine whether to continue pursuing that keyword or maybe use some different strategies (PPC, trying to get into the “universal” search results, etc) to win back the traffic you’ve lost to universal search.

It’s the same premise with local. Can you reasonable expect to rank in whatever position(s) are above the map? Can you get into the map? Is PPC viable for your campaign? Rarely is it useful to go off of one data point. This is another example of how to you use multiple data points together, to more appropriately manage your or your client’s SEO campaign.

It’s Against Google’s Guidelines!

google-scolding

This is absurd in my opinion, more so when it’s stated by folks who sell SEO services. If you offer SEO services (which ironically promote the idea of increased rankings and visibility) and those services encompass “Link Building” then the “Google Guideline” stance is hypocritical.

In all fairness, I happen to think that the broad way Google encompasses link schemes is equally absurd (links intended to manipulate PageRank and such). Even Google recognizes the value in ranking data and they have incorporated it into Webmaster Tools.

Not a Singular Solution for Success

Ranking reports shouldn’t be used as a single source of success, at all. Simply ranking for a term is not something one should be shooting for unless you are just doing some kind of testing run on tactics.

There is value in running ranking reports and using them in conjunction with your analytics, keyword research, and SEO planning. They are also useful to watch growth patterns of competitors and keyword trends over time for a particular market you might be interested in.

In today’s SEO game you can never have enough useful data :)

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