As discussed in the Total Online Presence eBook , one of the keys to marketing your business online is to use metrics or analytics to measure your progress and the success of your online campaigns. The course provides a nice list of tools you can use to capture and report analytics. Because these tools provide such a large amount of data, business owners often have questions about which metrics they should focus on. In the next few posts, I will outline some of the more common metrics these tools provide along with some advice as to how and when you may want to use them.
I find it helpful to group analytics into 3 main buckets based on the type of information they provide and the types of questions they help me answer:
- Visibility or Reach – How easy is it for prospects matching your ideal customer profile to find your website?
- Actions or Engagement - What do visitors actually do once they reach your website
- Conversions or Results – How are my online marketing efforts contributing to my business goals
This post will address the first group, Visibility/Reach. I’ll address the other two in future posts. Below are some common metrics you can use to evaluate the reach of your online efforts. This list is not exhaustive, please add your favorites to the comments below.
In terms of the marketing hourglass, Reach is about getting people to Know about you. Metrics in this category help us answer questions about the visibility of a website and the traffic it receives. Here are some of the more common metrics in the visibility category:
Crawability – refers to the ability of search engines to find and crawl your website. Items in this category typically focus on the technical issues that may be blocking search engines from some or all of your content. These are the items you will typically see in a website audit, particularly in “free” audits that are used as lead generation tools. Typical issues and or metrics in this category include:
- Number of pages being blocked by your robots.txt file
- Number of pages generating 404 Page Not Found errors
- Number of pages generating other server errors
- Number of pages that are being blocked by the noindex meta attribute
- Number of pages that have redirects (or use the wrong type of redirect)
URLs Indexed – gives you an indication of the number of pages from your website that are included in the search engine’s index. This metric is commonly used to help determine if all or most of your pages are being indexed. It can also be used to help you spot duplicate content issues. If the number of URLs indexed is greater than the pages on your site, you may have duplicate content issues. Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress often generate archive pages; this could be one reason why your URLs indexed number is greater than the number of pages shown in your CMS.
NAP Citations – or Name, Address, Phone citations play an important role in local search. Chances are NAP citations already exist for your business – even if you didn’t create them. You should search, claim, and verify the accuracy of these citations for your business. I’ll cover this in greater detail in a future post, but for now you can learn more and get started by visiting GetListed.org.
Geographic Reach – metrics let you know the location of your website visitors. Depending on your business goals, you may want to focus on narrowing your reach (or increasing your percentage of local visitors) or expanding it. Business with an international focus can use these metrics to help determine if goal conversions are being hurt due to language and/or cultural barriers.
Keywords – and phrases are how visitors find us in the search engines. Keyword metrics help us identify phrases that are relevant to our business and actually used by the people searching for the products and services that we sell. If we are drawing a lot of traffic to our website but are not converting those visitors into leads, then we may want to examine and re-evaluate the keywords we are targeting in our SEO efforts.
Deep Links – refer to links from other websites that link to a page on your website – other than the homepage. Search engines try to evaluate the relevance of links. Since home pages tend to be more general in nature, links to inside pages are seen as linking to more specific information and therefore deemed to be more relevant (assuming quality content on the inside page). Having links to specific inside pages increases the chances of that page being found by people searching for the type of content on that page.
Referring Domains – the greater the number of reputable sites linking to your website, the higher the search engines value the quality of your website content – meaning you have a better chance of ranking well in the search results.
SERP Ranking – is the position your website page appears on a Search Engine Result Page. This is probably the metric most small business owners are familiar with. You probably receive several spam messages a day from people promising to get you a #1 SERP ranking. However, SERP rankings are becoming increasingly less useful due to the influence of personalization, location, search history, and social media activity on search results. Small business owners should begin moving away from relying on ranking results and focus more on keywords that lead to results – such as conversions.
Average Rank / Keyword Position – your Google Webmaster tools will show you an average keyword position in the SERP results for keywords bringing traffic to your website. See the note above about SERP rankings.
Brand vs Non-Branded Organic Keyword Traffic – “branded” keywords refer to keyword phrases that include your name, your company name, the names of the brands you sell, etc. People who search using your branded keywords already know about you and your brand. They are typically people who are in the latter stages of their buying process, or searching for information not related to a purchasing decision.
Non-branded traffic is typically visitors who are searching for information about something they want or a problem they need to solve. They may not have heard of you yet, or they may not have known you provide a solution to that particular problem. These folks are more likely to become new customers.
Separating branded from non-branded traffic can help you evaluate how well “strangers” can find you.
Click Through Rate on SERPs – being listed by the search engines is one thing, but if people don’t click through to your site you have no chance to convert them into leads. You can also use this metric to identify content with favorable click through rates and creating more content that is relevant and interesting to your prospects.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant