The problem we have as search engine optimizers in the current landscape is that our jobs are still about improving results. Our task is to incrementally increase the traffic and revenue through our clients’ website(s) – and yet, this is becoming almost impossible to actually track and measure.
How much of that (not set) traffic is generic, brought about because of excellent content-led campaigns, for example? From a retailer’s point of view in particular, how do you track what product pages have really improved as a result of improving their usefulness to users when a large part of the long-tail traffic is completely invisible?
Of course, large trends will always be visible and of course, I am over-stating the problem as it stands at the moment for most websites. But all of the issues above mean that it is much more difficult for SEOs to show a direct correlation between their work and improved results.
I don’t know how many in the industry have been in situations where a client is shown great SEO results, turns around, and says, “Yeah, but we changed the website so that probably caused most of the uplifts.” Trust me, it’s difficult to take.
There have been cases where the client has no tracking on their website since the “new” (re-skinned) website had gone live, resulting in little data to prove the effects of our SEO work. As painful as this is, I now see it potentially happening across the whole industry and want to share one way you can try to guard against these problems.
You need to show the value of SEO while also presenting the correlation between SEO activity and results.
One method of ensuring you are creating content that is relevant but also interesting is to play word games like the following:
Here, there are dead ends like ‘Gangsters and Molls’ (apparently the most popular type of fancy dress party) but there are also areas that would be worth building out further, either by simply thinking up articles now, or by extending the keyword graph that bit further and seeing what other topics it leads to.
By building the article titles into a content calendar, you can start to track the direct impact of your activity in the form of traffic uplifts across non-brand terms and ranking improvements for target keywords.
You can also use the themes to help you identify bloggers/influencers that might want to engage with your content or add their own opinions.
As a quick example, using advanced search operators with the above techniques means you can start to expand from a narrow product focus into a more rounded, but still relevant online content campaign and find a much broader range of sites to work with.
The best way to start on your own content calendar is using Excel. This allows you to plan a number of different content ‘strings’ while still keeping on top of frequency.
The illustration above is easily replicated in Excel and it allows for multiple keyword themes; a lot more than illustrated above. Indeed, if you color code the themes, you can even plan your placements on each row, with dates of publishing across the top, and theme of content using the colour coding.
The key to this is not to try and create extra content for no good reason. The goal is to make sure that you’re creating opportunities for engagement from your target market, and ensuring your brand’s voice is out there being heard.
There is no one-singular solution to effectively tracking and measuring all traffic. However, every client that has implemented this type of engagement or content outreach has seen significant uplifts in traffic to the site, both via the content hub itself (usually a blog on a sub-folder or sub-domain) but also from the main site.
Nothing happens in isolation, but the strong assertion is that this activity is increasing the authority of the domain and therefore, helping it to rank higher and for more keywords.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!