Why every SEO must be a student of web analytics
SEO is just a method of traffic acquisition. There, I said it.
I didn’t think that it will feel this good to degrade (in a way) what I do for living. But there is more to life (and internet marketing) then chasing rankings for keywords that you believe will improve your bottom line.
There is more to life then taking the number spot for that one precious keyword that over the time you spent chasing it, became inseparable from your ego, or the ego of your company. It feels really good when you finally get it, but you soon realize that it didn’t make a huge impact. You would know that in advance if you studied your web analytics reports.
I believe that you can’t be good at SEO if you don’t spend time dealing with web analytics. On the other hand, one can be a great web analyst without knowing what Hilltop algorithm is.
That is because improved rankings don’t always bring improved bottom line. Everyone in web analytics know that, but a lot of SEOs somehow forget it.
There is a lot of reasons why we, the SEOs, should be students of web analytics, but I will name only a few:
1. Identifying missing opportunities.
Is there anything more enjoyable then finding that nicely converting keyword and finding out it only needs a little fix to bring home 50 % more sales/subscriptions/leads? It’s a rush. I know.
Importance of finding missed opportunities increases proportionally to the size of the site and more importantly, doesn’t become boring. Ever.
I am talking about somewhat low hanging fruit that your keyword generating tools didn’t spit out, or you didn’t notice.
To identify and quantify missing opportunities you need to do some segmenting, some eyeballing, search volume checking, and a bit of rank checking. To estimate the monetary value of every missed opportunity you will have to be acquainted with the priceless data about SERP click through rates leaked by AOL (God bless their hearts) and a calculator. Or a brain.
Methodology is simple:
1. Segment keywords by conversion
2. Find high converting keywords with sub par traffic
3. Calculate monetary value of the highest attainable SERP position.
4. Optimize the page to achieve better rankings.
5. Record your efforts with their monetary values.
Don’t forget to record each step.
2.Experimenting and tracking your experiments.
“Experiment or go home”
This is rule #5 of Avinash’s rules for revolutionaries.
I don’t think that Avinash had SEO in mind when he created this rule. But every SEO professional has to follow this rule religiously . With as much passion as any “data lover”, because the web (or should I said search algorithms) is an “extremely complex beast”.
You will never guess how wrong can you be until you start experimenting.
Allocate as much time to your experiments as you possibly can. Be “scientific” about it, because experiments are the only way you can get ahead in SEO, and internet marketing in general. Being an SEO means being a scientist, and not an artist.
Naturally, to maximize the value of your experiments you must have at least basic understanding of web analytics. Start with Web Analytics Demystified and Web Analytics an hour a day, and don’t stop. Web Analytics (as a skill) is the most important supplemental skill an SEO could have.
3. What is the ROI on you ?
This one is obvious. It is not right to justify disastrous internet marketing campaigns using the “branding” excuse. We should be able to calculate the ROI of our every move. Besides that, projected return of investment must be our most important guideline.
Why is this important ?
ROI is the factor that makes or brakes every internet marketing endeavor, especially the SEO ones.