Are You Monitoring All Of The Right Metrics?
Every Thursday, I have a working lunch with a couple of friends who also work in marketing. So I could easily have opened this article with a “an SEO, a copywriter and a marketing executive walk into a bar” type of joke.
Last week, we touched on a subject dear to our hearts and heavy on our minds – what deliverables to agree on with a client when running a digital marketing campaign for them. We have all somehow gotten stuck with tracking rankings. And while increasing rankings do often also boost traffic and revenues, what if that is not the case? More importantly, you can never actually promise you will increase rankings.
Then there is the issue of links. Most agencies I know deliver X links to their clients for Y amounts of money. Yet there are also agencies that build links that will not do much in terms of either traffic or conversions, or even revenues.
With digital marketing being the complex puzzle with so many moving parts that it is – how do we know we are doing right by our client?
Let me distract you from the main part of this article just a little bit more, with a rather shameful (or egoistic) personal example.
A few months ago, I worked on a project for a productivity tool. And since the client had told me their goal for the month was having 20 people sign up for a trial, I made them one link. One link on a popular thread in a huge community, which in turn led to 22 people converting. From one link, and we had agreed I was building them 8. Had I achieved my goal, or was I now tasked with building 7 more?
What Are The Right Metrics?
Number of Backlinks and Referring Domains
Diving into my preferred list of metrics to monitor, let’s start with everyone’s favorite talking point: links.
There is no doubt in any of our minds that links are the backbone of the web. And they’re probably one of the more important ranking signals out there. The one critical thing to keep in mind about links is quality over quantity.
There will rarely be a point to creating a lot of links on non-targeted, non-relevant websites with no traffic, just for the sake of a link. Investing in one link that will actually get you somewhere (in terms of rankings, conversions, impressions, whatever) will be more worth your time.
The other important thing to remember about links is that even though you have to build some yourself, crafting content that will be picked up within the industry and attract some links on its own merit, is also preferable to running link-building campaigns with little or no targeting.
Often called the purest metric, organic traffic will be the needle on the scale that can tell you if what you are doing is right or wrong. However, the catch with organic traffic is that it can be 0 – while you may be getting a lot of referral, or even direct traffic.
If you don’t show up high enough in SERPs, this number won’t tell you much. But once you do start to actually rank on the first page, or above the fold – the time has arrived to start checking in on this guy.
There is an entire philosophy to boosting organic traffic. As RankBrain gets over its toddlerhood, pogo-sticking can be the death of your rankings. This increases the focus on matching user intent with the page you are offering as a result.
My favorite kind of traffic. Unlike organic traffic, this one can be manipulated more obviously.
You get what I mean – if you share your content and your pages where they will get the right traction, you can attract visitors who actually want to reach your site. While this is also true when someone types something in their preferred search engine, referral traffic is great when starting out a campaign from scratch. It is also super useful for judging the quality of the links you build or have someone else build for you.
The links you sow here should target communities, forums, social networks – the places where your target audience spends their online time.
CTR is the number of people who click on a link vs. the number of people who see it. This metric can tell you quite a lot about how your ideas are panning out in terms of SEO. And that’s not only in terms of PPC.
The initial response when your CTRs are low is to feel discouraged. However, a lot of impressions means that your website is getting out there, people are seeing it. They just might not trust it yet! We all want to see that 98% show up in our Analytics dashboard – but that rarely happens even to the largest sites on the web.
There are dozens of ways to improve your organic CTRs – and most revolve around crafting a better title and meta description. You can test different ones out, and see which fly best with your target audience.
Or Domain Rating. Or Trust Flow.
The reason to monitor this metric, any or all of them, is to know where you are at when compared to your competition. Naturally, different tools will give you different results. But this is where you can tell who you are up against, and come up with some of the best ideas. Simply check out what others are doing, and what may be working for them.
Don’t make the mistake of offering this metric up as a deliverable or a reporting factor to your clients. Yes, you can agree on the bare minimum – and yes, the higher this metric is, the better the website, more than likely. But you are not competing against all the other billions of websites out there – only against a few.
Social Shares and Engagement
While technically not a ranking factor, I love tracking social shares because they can really help me get to know my audience. This is especially so when I start working with a brand new client. Admittedly, I needed to turn to a social media trainer to get me going, because it turns out some of my initial deductions were quite wrong.
If your content is shared a lot, and if you manage to have an active, even if small community of followers, you will be well on your way to boosting all the other metrics I mentioned. People like to jump on the bandwagon. They like to be a part of something. Why not make that something your brand story!
What you learn on socials can also help you tweak all the other campaigns you are running simultaneously. And while not all industries are well suited to this kind of research – some can hugely benefit from a glimpse into the minds of your potential, actively sharing customers.
Whether you choose to focus on monitoring the metrics, I have just listed, or if you have your own set of preferred ones, I do hope we can agree on one thing. No, two things.
One: all of these metrics are meant to help us measure the success of our digital marketing campaigns and strategies. They are never to be taken as the goal itself. While we may often use them for client reporting as a means to show progress – even as deliverables – our goal is not metric-centered.
Two: digital marketing and SEO, in particular, are all about the synergy of all of these smaller numbers. These must only be considered together to help you achieve the goals you had in mind. Isolating one and not keeping a watchful eye on the rest will bear no fruit, or the fruit will be rather bitter.
What Do You Think?
Is there anything you’d like to add to the above? What metrics do you most closely monitor? Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments section, below.
You may also want to read: What Are Quality Metrics: How Will They Help You Convert?
Michael Deane is the editor of Qeedle, a small business magazine, and has been working as a marketing executive for nearly a decade. He manages teams with great success, aiming to facilitate better conversion rates and return on investment for his clients. You can tweet Michael @Qeedle_
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