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Goal-Oriented SEO Metrics

From SES New York: Avinash Kaushik's Tips for Effective Search Engine Analytics

April 8, 2010 By Thorin McGee
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Every online marketer is chasing web traffic. But sometimes it's like working in quantum physics: you can't see what visitors are actually doing on your website, only the evidence they leave behind in the form of SEO metrics. Finding meaningful business intelligence in that cluster of data is often difficult.

At the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo held March 22 to 26 in New York, Avinash KaushikGoogle's "analytics evangelist," published author and co-founder of Market Motive Inc. — made the case that looking at traffic alone is meaningless. Conversions are your real goals, and they should be the stats you track.

Focus on goals, not clicks
Page views and visits, in Kaushik's words, are "crappy metrics." They tell you there are people on your site, but not whether those people are doing things that create value for you. "A visit [to Kaushik's Occam's Razor blog] is like a one-night stand," he said, using his own blog as an example of how to evaluate your SEO. "I kind of feel good for a day [when I get a lot of visitors], and then I feel dirty. I want the long-term relationship."

The long-term relationship Kaushik's talking about are those visitors who begin to follow his RSS feed, return to his site, and interact in ways that could lead to value for him. He tracks this by setting "goals" in Google Analytics to measure where visitors are converting — i.e., filling those goals.

Identify all the jobs your site is doing
To set Google Analytics goals for your site, quantify both macro conversions — i.e., sales — and micro conversions. Micro conversions are things like signing up for your mailing list, clicking on an affiliate's ad, following your RSS feed — all of those little buy-in actions that either directly create value or get that visitor tangibly closer to creating value.

For example, Kaushik pointed to TripAdvisor.com. The macro conversion for TripAdvisor is a visitor booking a trip, but the site also has conversions in the ads visitors click, email addresses it collects, reviews and photos people contribute to the site — which drive its social media trip reviews selling proposition and are also a "fantastic way to do SEO," according to Kaushik — clicks to its affiliate networks, and offline conversions.

 

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