If you are a marketing manager in a small or medium company, you are responsible for the website performance. The website should rank well, have perfect click-through record, and generate solid revenue. And you are supposed to make it happen on a small budget, allocated primarily for PPC, because SEO is free, obviously.
The question is, can you be this All-powerful Internet Search Overlord, spearheading your company's search domination? Yes!! Well, not really. But what you can do is, make your website relevant to all the important queries, bring qualified traffic, improve conversions and revenue. Understandably, it is not as glamorous as being The King of Search, but it is still the next best thing.
In this post I am going to show what is important for your online visibility and website revenue so you can focus on what matters. This topic is quite broad. Therefore, I will mainly guide you through the overall strategy and metrics and link to resources on specific subjects as well.
Where is the search going?
As a marketing manager and an SEO, you always need to be very aware of the trends in SEO. Search engines are always changing. As we all know by now, Google updates their search algorithm over 500 times a year. The good news is that the general direction does not change that often.
As of late, the future is in quality and great user experience. At the last SMX Advanced conference in Seattle (June, 2013) Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan discussed spam, penalties, and ranking. In addition, Matt gave an excellent overview of what to expect in SEO in the coming months. Website quality should be your website goal. If you succeed, your site will perform very well. Therefore, your measurement of success needs to ultimately measure site quality and user experience.
When measuring website performance you need to focus on two things: search engines (online visibility) and visitors (conversions and revenue).
Optimizing for Search Engines
The more visible you are in Search engines' results (SERPs), the more traffic you will drive to your website from organic search. The more relevant the traffic is to what your company does or sells, the more revenue you will get from the visitors.
Ranking is one of the metrics you need to measure. It is becoming very tricky to do because of personalization and localization of the search results. However, ranking numbers do not need to be precise. All you need to know is if your website is present as an option when people are looking for relevant content.
Use tools like SEMRush (some free data), Authority Labs (paid), Moz Rank tracker (paid) to track ranking. Most importantly, evaluate your landing pages in your favorite analytics tool and work on improving conversions on those pages.
The main focus on your website should be good, relevant content. Develop a content marketing strategy that allows you to produce high quality content that turns visitors into prospects.
If you are a local business, you absolutely have to optimize for local search. There are many factors that contribute to your local web presence. The most important factor of all local search factors is consistent name, address, phone number, and URL accross all data providers. If you cannot reach all of them - focus on Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual. Next, track and improve the 10 likely elements that influence your local search visibility.
Various social signals also of great importance for ranking and relevancy. If you have a blog, discover your most important pages and track their performance after you optimized them for conversions.
Links to your site are still important, but the emphasis has shifted to Quality links. Track your existing links and modify your link building strategy accordingly. Focus on quality, not quantity.
Of course, we cannot forget about social signals and social promotion. The best social channel with SEO benefits at this moment is Google Plus. If you are a local business, make sure your Google Plus Local profile and Page is merged. Then, start posting and interacting with people. Utilize other social channels - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Have a plan and then track social performance.
Optimizing for Visitors
In the end, all this work is for your customers and prospects. To no one's surprise, Google and other search engines care very deeply about excellent user experience when searchers land on your website. And you should too.
What constitutes a great user experience is a fast-loading site where the searcher can find an answer to their question quickly. One of the metrics you need to be concerned about is your site loading speed. Pay special attention to your mobile traffic as well because now we know for sure that your website will receive lower mobile rankings if it is slow and not optimized for mobile devices.
In addition, measure conversions and revenue, of course. If you have a blog, measure engagement - comments and shares. Notice where people share the most and make those channels stronger. Manage your online reputation.
It is difficult to measure and track all of the important metrics separately. That is why we have dashboards to give us an executive overview of the overall performance. Now you know how to decide what needs to be featured on your dashboard. The metrics you track should help you craft your action list for improvement.
A great starting point is the overview of best web metrics KPIs for small, medium and large business. Before creating a dashboard, understand what makes a dashboard actionable. As an example, use these downloadable custom reports that target your report audience.
Before you can measure your website performance, you need to know what good performance looks like. Spend some time on your site and specify how it should perform. Identify metrics that would help you monitor the performance. Your metrics should cover the most impactful factors and give you clues about what to improve.
Your website goal should define what you measure. Pick critical few metrics, evaluate them frequently and act on the reports. Adjust metrics when necessary to industry changes or to a different goal. Do not just look at numbers - act on them. Tracking is useless unless it is actionable.
As a business, what are your challenges in measuring your website performance?