How a quick look at existing data at the beginning helps us get a handle on measuring future performance.
As a part of our initial discovery for SEO marketing, we like to get an idea of what kind of results a client has been getting from current and past digital marketing efforts. Reviewing their historical data in Google Analytics and recording a few metrics allows us to set benchmarks to measure our progress against. It’s important to note that there are a few things we aren’t able to research at such an early stage, like keyword rankings, as we haven’t performed formal research. However, once the later, more formal research is complete, we can include any additional data in the benchmarking document.
UNDERSTANDING TRAFFIC SOURCES
After gaining access to the client’s Google Analytics account, one of the first steps we take is to set up a filtered view that excludes certain data, like traffic from employees or traffic from outside the US (if appropriate). This allows us to make sure we are reviewing data that matches real traffic and activity on the site as closely as possible. Once this filtered view is set up, we start to look at the data. Reviewing Unique Sessions and Unique Sessions by Channel, including Organic (Google & Bing), Social, Referral, and Direct traffic gives us an idea of how much traffic the site is receiving and where it is coming from.
USER BEHAVIOR & OFF-SITE MARKETING
Knowing where our client’s site users are coming from is valuable information we can use to measure any future successes, but how the user interacts with the site once they get there gives us even more insight. A quick look at Time on Site, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate, and which pages users are entering on can give us clues regarding UX issues and what content is getting the most attention. We also review conversions and goals to see if and how tracking has been set up.
Additionally, it can be helpful to log into Webmaster Tools to look at clickthrough rates. To fill out our knowledge of the client’s digital marketing efforts, we also review their backlink profile to evaluate the quality of linking root domains, and scan the number of followers and engagement rate on any active social platforms.
HOW MUCH DATA SHOULD YOU REVIEW?
We find it useful to pull data over the course of the previous year and then also look at monthly numbers. This allows us to check for evidence of seasonality and adjust the time periods we look at accordingly. Obviously, if the analytics don’t go back a full year or have other issues, we have to adjust our approach.
Again, taking the time to review our client’s data allows us to get an idea of how their site is performing before we do any work, which gives us a benchmark to measure our efforts against. However, we also find there is an added benefit of being able to find out if there are any trends from different audience segments we should take into account before work starts.