But this does seem to be a common thread among
some site owners. They had an idea for a product or service and
they wanted to promote it online. So they had a website built,
and may have initially had it optimized. But that is as far as
their experience goes.
They have no idea on how to track progress or
improvements. All to often the numbers they do look at are not
the best results to view.
There are two perspectives on analytics ≠ SEO and
With my client today, we were trying to nail down
what should have been important numbers. And it was a very
similar case ≠ they had invested in this super-duper analytics
package that was collecting and displaying data upteen different
ways, yet they had no idea how to interpret the numbers.
They thought their traffic was increasing, but
they had on idea why, really, nor did they have any idea what
their customers were doing once they hit the website. And, as
sometimes happens, we fell into the trap of telling them what
they should be looking for.
ďYou want to see search engine referrals going
up. That means itís workingĒ or ďincreased page views is a good
thing.Ē But this really isnít solving their problem is it?
Sometimes as search marketers, we need to step back and say ďI
know what I need for numbers, but what does my client need to
So this was the approach we took today ≠ letís
have a discussion with the client and focus on what they want to
see, not what we need to show them to prove our value as search
When we were done, we had not only shortened
their monthly analytics report to a few key metrics (down from
pages and pages of statistical analysis) but we had also
decreased the time required to complete this analysis. Sure we
still will do some of the analysis for our own purposes, but
does the client really care how many backlinks or pages indexed
they have? Not likely. Nope, more often than not, the client
wants to know that they are making money. Pure and simple.
So, if you can show them that they are making money,
thatís all they really care about. You can add value as a
search engine marketer by showing areas of improvement (ďdid you
know that your Google referrals went up by 15% this month? That
proves the value of our services, yada yada yada...Ē) As long as
you can illustrate the bottom line to the client in terms they
understand, at that it is improving, then you as a search
marketer have done your job.
Keep the pages indexed, backlinks, referrals by
keyword and other non-client related data to yourself and
present a concise simple report that even the CEO (who has 25
hours per day of work) can look at and understand that the SEO
program is paying for itself.
Now letís look at analytics from the clientís
perspective. If you are a client of an SEO firm, or just want to
get a better idea of just how your site is doing online, first
you must decide what it is you want to see. Do you want to see
sales figures? Or would you rather just look at the aggregate
numbers like total visitors and search engine referrals?
What has more value to you ≠ reams and reams of
data, or a simple, one page summary of overall performance? As a
recommendation, Iíd say you only need enough data to make your
In other words, if your website is e-commerce
based, all you really need initially are the sales numbers over
time. You should also understand how the sales cycle works, and
perhaps look at your conversion funnel to see where people are
dropping off. Most good analytics packages offer some sort of
Understanding your sales funnel can also help you
improve your sales. Sometimes an analysis of the sales funnel
can help you determine where the drop offs occur. By modifying
the funnel you can improve your drop off rate, increasing your
sales. And really, this has less to do with SEO and more to do
with traditional business marketing.
For example, letís say your site gets 2000
visitors per month. Letís also assume your site has a 3 step
sales process, and your average sale is $11 per item.
If half of your siteís visitors start down the
sales path, that means 1000 start (a 50% drop off rate at the
first step ≠ this could be due by a requirement to sign up to
browse your site). If 40% of that total drop off at the second
step, and 30% of that group complete the sale, that equates to
$495 in sales, about a 2.25% conversion rate as only 45 of the
original 2000 people purchased.
Now letís experiment with the sales funnel:
If you can improve the final step of the sale by
just 10% - that equates to an additional $165 in sales, a 3%
conversion rate. However if you can improve the first step of
the conversion, reducing that 50% bounce rate to 25%, you can
increase your sales by $247.50 ≠ a 3.38% conversion rate.
Further, if you shorten the conversion funnel by
1 step ≠ making a 2 step sale, rather than a 3 step sale, you
can increase your sales by over $330 ≠ a 3.75% conversion rate.
Thatís still assuming the same number of monthly visitors start
down the conversion path.
However, if you donít or canít find this data in
your analytics package you wouldnít be able to perform such
analysis. And this is where, if you are dealing with an SEO
firm, you must get the data you need. Simply knowing how
many referrals you got from Google or Yahoo! wonít help you make
the business decisions you need to make.
So whether you are an SEO firm or professional,
or employ one, be sure that the metrics you see are the ones you
need to make your decisions.
As a client, donít be afraid to ask ≠ what does
this do for me? Because unless youíve discussed your needs with
your SEO, they will likely provide you with the numbers they
deem as the best. That is, the ones that illustrate their value
to you. Thatís not to say that those numbers are invalid, its
just that they donít do you as much good as those you need to
make your business decisions.
Similarly, as an SEO, if you donít know what your
client needs to see, in terms of numbers, how can you justify
your income from them. If search engine referrals have gone up,
but conversion havenít then there is no immediate value to the
Sure you can say ďbut we got you all these top
rankingsĒ but unless they are turning into sales, your contract
with that client wonít last that long. So be sure as you
work with your SEO firm or client that you nail those metrics
early, so there is no misunderstanding, and everyone knows what
successes are measured by.