Author's Note: This is a technical post on how to use visitor intelligence data to analyze SEO performance. The concepts in this article can be transferred to most marketing and CRM solutions but require basic understanding of SEO and CRM.
In order to understand the impact your SEO efforts have on your business, you first need to make sure you are collecting the right data and attributing it to the right sources. This is why it's important to use visitor intelligence to analyze your SEO performance and ensure your SEO efforts are producing the right results.
How your data is structured is critical to enable accurate analysis and reporting. It will allow you to build five advanced, but simple, SEO analyses that you can perform with visitor intelligence.
Laying the Groundwork – Choosing the Right Systems
Almost every SEO solution will give you search volumes, keyword ranks and even traffic volumes, but are these the metrics that matter to you?
Most B2B marketers care about leads and opportunities, while every business cares about revenue. What are your KPI’s (key performance indicators) and more importantly, what are they being measured by? Is it leads, opportunities, ROI, annual revenue or LTV (life time value)? Whatever it is, make sure your SEO plan has a clear path focusing on how to bring you there.
When you select a marketing software solution, make sure it can provide you with the metrics that align with your company’s goals. This doesn’t have to be a native feature of the software, as it can be delivered through integrations, but you do want to make sure it’s possible. Otherwise, you will spend hours every month building Excel spreadsheets and trying to align data from different source to connect the dots.
The right system will provide a comprehensive solution, giving you the ability to report and analyze your data in one place. It might take some upfront work to set up the systems and customize them to your liking, but every minute you spend upfront will save you hours of work later.
Building Your Analyses – Start from the End & Work Your Way Back
It’s often easier to plan and build your analysis if you first look at the final product – the recommendations.
It might sound counterintuitive to think about analysis from the recommendation aspect, since you run an analysis to come up with a recommendation, but most studies start with a hypothesis, so a simple SEO analysis should follow the same logic. This exercise will also help you rationalize some of the metrics and KPI’s you initially thought were important, and uncover a few you might have overlooked.
Start by writing down what type of recommendations you’d like to be able to state after you conclude your analysis. For example, “The Keyword ‘Online Marketing’ drove 300 leads in April but only 3 opportunities (1 percent conversion rate) at a total over $30,000 annual contract value.”
Using this recommendation, you know that the data points you want to have in your analysis are leads, opportunities and revenue. Those will give you the ability to calculate ratios and conversion rates. You also know that you want to be able to look at them as they relate to a specific keyword and to a specific time frame.
After you have the list of data points you want to collect, think about naming convention. A lot of analyses and data models fall apart due to the most mundane reasons; naming is a major one. Make sure you keep a legend or a coding directory that will help anyone make sense out of your naming convention.
Analysis 1 – Funnel/Goal
This is the most important analysis you should do after connecting SEO, visitor intelligence and sales data. At the heart of this analysis is the question “what keyword drove the most revenue for my business?”
You want to be able to look at all your referring keywords and directly connect them to revenue. To do this you will need your SEO, traffic and sales data to reside in the same system.
Looking at your marketing-sales funnel from the perspective of referring keywords will pinpoint any issues you might be having with your marketing-sales process.
If your top-of-the-funnel numbers are healthy (traffic, leads, conversion rates) but something breaks between leads and opportunities, you might have an issue with your inside sales team or with your messaging.
If you’re driving enough traffic but visitors are not converting, you might have issues with your website performance and need to look at your landing pages.
If you’ve set your marketing solution provides more SEO data than just referring keyword, you can apply this analysis to that metric as well – search engines, geo-location, browsers, devices, you name it.
Analysis 2 – Audience
Visitor intelligence data lets you analyze elements of your audience per keyword, search engine, geo-location and other SEO metrics. Are your keywords driving the right audience?
Look at company size, industry, titles, and other visitor profiles your system collects to determine if your SEO efforts are driving your target audience or if you need to readjust your target keyword list.
If your marketing solution provides lead scoring, you can use it to assign a single score to a keyword based on the average lead score of all the leads/visitors that came from that keyword. You can use that single score to rank your target keywords and evaluate their effectiveness.
Analysis 3 – Engagement
Page views, time on site, number of visits, and other behavioral data that your marketing solution collects from your visitors and leads will allow you to analyze how your SEO results translate into engagement.
Similarly to the Audience Analysis, if your marketing solution offers lead scoring, you can use it to assign a single score to keywords based on the engagement levels they exhibit and rank you keywords to reveal the most engaging keywords. Combine this with the audience analysis to learn if your most engaging keywords are also driving the right audience and vice versa.
Analysis 4 – ROI
This is a simple analysis to measure the return (in revenue) on a referring keyword or any other SEO metric you want to measure (keyword group, search engine, geo-location, etc.). You can apply this analysis to organic or paid traffic, but in essence it will tell you if you’re targeting and ranking for the right keywords and where you should concentrate your efforts.
Analysis 5 – Correlation
This is the most sophisticated analysis out of the five. It will be based on all the above analyses and will also give you the most insight into your visits and leads. This will be most likely done in Excel or a different statistics software, but you need to make sure that the marketing software you use allows you to export the data or has an API you can use.
The basic concept is to examine a keyword group by ranking its various terms for each of the above analyses in addition to their rank on the SERP, and then run a correlation analysis to learn about the relationships between each attribution. You might learn that this keyword group has a low correlation between engagement and ROI, which means that you need to optimize for faster conversion and quick touch.
For the marketing-scientist, visitor and lead intelligence provides an analysis paradise, but be aware of the infamous analysis-paralysis. At the end of the day, remember what’s important for your business and optimize for it.