When I read Jennifer Cario's post here on Search Engine Guide about Coca-Cola and social media sales the other day I was struck by one paragraph in particular;
What you CAN do however is leverage that uber-popularity into a communications channel that allows you to introduce new products and track the impact social media marketing has on THOSE products. Drilling down into the Coca-Cola family and identifying the engagement and sales impact of those brands is going to be a far better judge of social media's impact on the brand.
I thought she made a great point. At a certain point, a brand can get so large that any social win, no matter how big it would be to another company, is like pennies in a bucket. That's when it becomes important to start niching down your social media metrics and seeing where the real results are happening. The parent brand might only get a little boost, but one of those product lines/side brands could see enormous growth thanks to social media. I feel like the same often holds true for SEO.
Of course every site owner is looking for the big jump in organic traffic as a way to justify their SEO investment. If 1,500 organic visitors in January jumps to 3,500 organic visitors by June there is no denying that SEO is doing its job. But when the jump isn't that big does that automatically mean your SEO program has failed? Not necessarily. Sometimes, in order to gauge the real impact of your SEO program, you have to look at the little SEO wins and how they feed into your success overall.
Organic Traffic Overall Might Be Down But...
While I love Google Analytics, you have to be careful to not let the data tell the wrong story. For instance, let's say organic traffic overall was down 10% from one month to the next. I can hear the alarm bells going off in your mind already! But if you drill down even just one step further you might find that the reason organic traffic is down is because branded search is also down across the board. If fewer people are searching for your brand or products by name in the search engines it stands to reason Google Analytics will show dip down in organic traffic. This doesn't mean that you SEO has failed; it's just a change in search behavior. Branded traffic might be down but what about non-branded? Perhaps some of your "big" keywords are doing better than last month. Or maybe there are some new long-tails sending traffic your way. There could be a myriad of little SEO wins that tell you things are working in your favor, but that one data point is blinding you to them!
I've also seen scenarios where organic traffic from Bing and Yahoo is down, even though traffic from Google stayed the same or even went up a little bit, but because the organic traffic sources data is an aggregate of the three it looks like things are worse than they actually are. It's important to not let high level numbers run the show because sometimes they hide your SEO successes.
How Is Your Evergreen Content Performing?
One of my favorite little SEO wins to pull up for clients is to show them how well their evergreen content is performing organically and socially. Next time you are in your Google Analytics account drill down to your blog's content (provided you are tracking it) and see how a post from 3 months back is faring. Chances are you'll see a spike of activity when it first went live but in the following months there might be several more, smaller peaks of organic and social activity. That's because evergreen content will naturally attract visitors, links and social shares long after its initial publication and promotion.
Even if an evergreen blog post only pulled in 15 extra organic visitors each month, that's 15 extra visitors each month that you had to do absolutely nothing to drive to your site! The simple fact that you invested in a piece of content three months ago means your site got an additional 45 well-targeted visitors from the SERPs. Now multiple that by 10 blog posts--450 unique visitors from social or organic traffic sources sounds like a pretty solid SEO win, right? But again, you might have missed that SEO win if you only looked at the high-level metrics.
Check Out These Referral Links!
One of my former B2B SEO clients was a software developer training company and as part of their link building strategy my team was looking for and building profiles on all kind of forums and community sites where developers got together to share projects, problems, coding tips and so forth. Not being a developer myself, I was blown away at how many sites there were out there for developers and programmers and how active the members were! They were goldmines to my client--a direct line right into the heart of their target audience where they could get involved, build up their authority and interact directly with their customer base.
My team created profiles on a bunch of sites like this and even with minimal activity the links from their profiles started sending traffic their way almost instantly. I'm not saying they got 1,000s of visitors from one community site, but 5 here and 5 there starts to add up. For instance, one forum thread on one site drove 10 visitors in a month with average visit duration of over 3 minutes! Now 10 unique visitors aren't going to blow the doors off anyone, but that wasn't the only thread my client got involved in. All told, by the end of the month their activity on that site had sent over 200 unique, highly-targeted visitors to their site. Once again, those little SEO wins amounted to something much more impressive.
The point I've been trying to make is that sometimes, when it comes to measuring the success of your SEO, the sum of the parts is actually greater than the whole when you start drilling deeper into it! Just because things on the surface level look "just okay" that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of little SEO wins worth celebrating just a few clicks deeper in your analytics.
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, one of the premier full service SEO firms in the United States. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.
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