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Using Data to Drive SEO Results

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seo-up-arrowsOne of the cornerstones of any successful SEO campaign is the ability to use data to drive SEO results. I like to divide the data analytics process into three main phases: 

  • Performance Reporting
  • Opportunity Identification
  • Prioritization

This article will define those three phases, what data is considered, and what actions result from that analysis.

Phase 1: Performance Reporting

The goals of performance reporting are two-fold. 

  • Identify if the SEO key performance indicators are mapping to goals. The most common activity would be looking at year over year, branded and non-brand traffic levels for both exact matches and long tail traffic. Additionally, it's common practice to correlate that traffic to conversions and revenue. That will give you a good overview of SEO performance. 
  • Quickly identify any major losses in traffic and/or rankings and take corrective action if possible. Obviously if the changes are due to an algorithmic shift or competitive gains, you may be limited in your ability to produce results quickly, but oftentimes those changes are due to site changes (in many cases those changes are inadvertent). Performance reporting serves as a watchdog for these types of scenarios.

Phase 2: Opportunity Identification

Using the data at hand to identify potential optimization opportunities is an ongoing process in any SEO campaign. There are seven main categories of opportunities that are most often identified:

  1. New Keyword Identification
    • New keywords that have the ability to drive significant revenue
    • New long tail keywords that map to current targeted keywords
  2. High Consideration Pages
    • Which keywords / pages ranking in the top 20 but not in top 3
    • Brand related search keywords not ranking in the top 3
  3. On Page Opportunities
    • Page Meta Data / Content not optimized around targeted keywords
    • Previously optimized pages that need re-working
    • Pages with duplicate content, page titles, meta data
    • Additional content segments that need to be added to the site
  4. Internal Links
    • Existing links that need more keyword focus
    • Potential changes to global navigation
    • Pages with small internal link counts
  5. Site Wide Opportunities (Technical Issues)
    • Pages that are 404 with considerable link connectivity
    • Elimination of 302 redirects
  6. Performance
    • Highest bounce rates / sub optimal click paths
    • Performance based on geography
    • Highest performing click paths
  7. External Link Opportunities
    • New potential links
    • Better leveraging existing link relationships

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all possible SEO opportunities, but these are the most common.

Phase 3: Prioritization

In any SEO campaign there is more work to do than there is time or resources. One of the biggest challenges is to prioritize the optimization opportunities so that all of your activities provide the best ROI possible. In order to do that, it's helpful to develop a scoring system that takes the following factors into consideration:

  1. Potential additional search traffic based on the opportunity
  2. Current conversion rates / potential revenue for the opportunity
  3. Time needed to address the opportunity
  4. Ease of implementation to address the opportunity

By standardizing a scoring model for the opportunities discovered in Phase 2, you’re able to make better decisions around prioritization in Phase 3. The more skilled you are at predicting the four factors listed in Phase 3, the more successful your SEO campaign will be.


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