In: Marketing, Search

Forget Keywords! In 2017, Measure SEO for Success

Feb 14, 2017
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The rate of change in SEO best practices is nearly impossible to keep up with. As a result, we’re still seeing many old-school ways of SEO thinking impact modern companies who are trying to improve their search engine traffic.


One of the ways this comes up time and time again is when thinking about keywords. In the early days of SEO, keywords were your golden ticket: use the phrase you wanted to rank for enough times, and you’d shoot to the top. This led to a fixed way of thinking about search engine optimization: one set of keywords, and their position in Google searches, defines your success.


There’s a problem with this thinking, when planning and optimizing a digital marketing campaign: keyword position doesn’t mean success for your website. This metric on its own just means success at search engine optimization.


If you aren’t seeing more business come in from customers finding you in search engines, then your SEO isn’t necessarily succeeding, is it?  


Any data can be valuable, if applied correctly – that is, if you started measuring the proper data in the first place, and if you connect this data to real business value.  In the era of machine learning, mobile search, and rich search engine results pages, what does SEO mean for a business trying to attract new business through search engine results?


How Businesses Can Use SEO in 2017

Define Success


Search engine success will look different for any business, but it must be defined in order to evaluate a search optimization campaign’s impact and ROI. Without a definition of success, the rest of a campaign will be in the dark.


With the wrong definition of success, a search marketing campaign’s ROI will suffer, as will the campaign, because nobody likes to put effort and capital into something that isn’t working.


We put emphasis on not defining success as certain search positions, which can lead a campaign’s focus in the wrong direction.


So, first things first: Just like creating a marketing Project Brief, at ATAK we speak with clients about what success looks like to them in a search engine optimization campaign. For most clients, success is a conversion, such as an ecommerce purchase or form fill. For a business-to-business website, a conversion could be a lead contact through a form fill inquiry. Once that has been defined, our project managers can measure and optimize toward the right goals.


Depending on the project, these conversions can be as granular or general as your business needs. Whatever that looks like, it is necessary to make the business case for the success or failure of a given campaign. Once created, they allow you to measure real indicators of success. They’re not set in stone – if you need to change what you’re measuring later, you’ll be able to make that choice with more information than you have today.


Use More of Your Data, and Do More With It


Get away from keyword list tunnel vision. A set keyword list does allow you to track important phrases for conversions and traffic. By using these keywords as a barometer, the list allows marketers to plan content development based on search traffic performance.


Once success has been defined in #1, our project managers begin working with query data. We shed light on the keywords that are truly bringing in that converting traffic, and the ones that are attracting fewer successes.


By watching and measuring for success, search engine optimization begins to blend into the idea of conversion optimization: a search campaign reveals the landing pages that aren’t serving searchers’ or a business’s needs, shown by a low conversion rate. An SEO campaign can’t succeed if searchers are landing on a website page that they don’t understand.


Not only should your campaign contain technical SEO fix time, but it should also contain marketing time – space to think critically about the experiences of users on your website pages, and how to draw a higher conversion rate from the pages that are bringing searchers into your website.  


Don’t Get Lost in the Details


Search Engine Optimization takes patience! Don’t let the data from a single month throw a campaign off-course. A rising keyword with low search volume, or a valued keyword taking a dip in position, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to change everything. Look at your data as a trend – both for a single keyword over months, and a single month’s overall keyword and traffic performance.


The name of the digital marketing game has increasingly become integration. Every campaign you create will affect your marketing results and future decisions, and SEO is no exception to this rule. By looking at your search traffic data with the right perspective, you can base marketing decisions on a foundation of sales-driven data.

Let's talk about SEO success. Tell us about your project today. 

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