Meaningful SEO Metrics: Going Beyond the Numbers — SES New York 2011

There were cream puffs for dessert today. You know what there wasn’t? Bagels.

Yes, this is a thing now.

But onwards and upwards, ladies and gents. It’s time for more analytics. In case you didn’t get enough Matthew Bailey yesterday (and really, who could get enough Matt Bailey?), he’s here with moderator Mark Jackson, SEW Expert & President/CEO, VIZION Interactive and fellow speakers Ulli Muenker, Search Marketing Manager, Bloomberg / BusinessWeek and Jim Yu, Founder & CEO, BrightEdge. We’re talking SEO metrics that don’t suck.

This session is packed. Because we all know that we’re terrible, horrible people when it comes to tracking what we do.
SES Panel: Meaningful SEO Metrics

Ulli Muenker is starting us off. I’m excited because she’s the first female panelist I’ve seen so far at this conference. She’ll be presenting the redesign of as her case study today.

Challenge: Opportunity to technically optimize website for SEO but C-levels want to know the $ value before they invest resources to it.

Factors that skew results:

  • Time -when will the changes kick in?
  • Content – Are content changes/updates happening at the same time going to affect your optimization?

C-level doesn’t want to hear “we don’t know”.

Bloomberg’s Redesign:

Time: All technical changes launched at the same time

Content: No changes made

Basically a test environment and done all in a very tight 6 month timeline from 12/09 to 6/10

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session

Because of the timeline, when they wanted SEO in the project plan, they just got a blank “…uh, maybe later or as a separate project?” [Room laughs]

What do you do? Get in good with the tech team and talk them into ‘since you’re doing this anyway’. Make friends with them while they’re working so that you can incorporate SEO that way even though there’s no official time for SEO.

  1. Customized meta data for all nav pages – Worked with an SEO copywriter for this. Had an expert work on it rather than wasting time herself 
    SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session
  2. Redirected all duplicate URLs to on unique version – sometimes repeated 10 or 15 times because of JS issues and other reasons (parameter was added based on the position on the page for example). Changed to just one URL.
  3. Eliminated duplicate URLs & keyword-rich URLs
  4. Added KW-rich header tags – there were no heading tags used at all

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session

You can see a clear lift on the implementation of SEO and more on the launch of the new site.

CEOs want real numbers however, so figure out your traffic, revenue and the SEO share of it. Show the changes over time month over month to prove value. Compare your before and after.

Summary of the impact of SEO: $1M/year extra just with minimal technical changes on the site — this proves SEO value.

Results: Traffic Increase, Sustained Traffic, More Buy In internally

[The wifi is feeling the strain.]

Jim Yu is up next.

Things to know first: SEO is different than other channels

  • Touches many people across the company
  • Audiences are varied and has different needs – from C-level to directors to technical to PR
  • Varying levels of SEO sophistication requires metrics easily understood throughout the company.

5 Ways to get Meaningful SEO Metrics

Tip 1: Identify One Key Business Metric

One metric simplifies communciations. Focus on a key driver of value aligned throughout the organizational goals.  Ex: Purchases, Applications, page view (for media sites), sign-ups. Pick something that makes you money.

Tip 2: Separate out Brand and Non-Brand

They have very different SEO behaviors. Brand searches are very tied into other channels in the company.

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session

Make sure that you don’t have any leaky conversion funnels.

Tip 3: Use share of voice to compare to competition.

Figure out who in your niche has what percentage of marketshare. Share of Voice = SUM for keywords (search volume x click-through)

Tip 4: Have a Phased Approach to Share of Voice

  1. Count listings – 1 listing, 1 point
  2. Use ranking as a scoring function – more precision
  3. Combine with search volume to estimate visits (Google Keyword Tool)
  4. Combine with conversion to estimate value – ideally from your analytics data

Tip 5: Star with high impact intiatives


  • Optimize landing pages
  • Find high value keywords on page 2
  • Target keywords from upcoming PRs
  • Fix structure issues

And now Matt Bailey.

He’s a big fan of making things more complicated. Edward Tufte said “To make charts simpler, add more information.” Matt adds “But, don’t give that chart to the CEO.” Hee. Truth, Matt.

More information gives you more insights.

6 Keys to Integrating

Show Multi-variate Data

1. Show comparisons

Show Casuality — Ask Why?

Show Different Reports for Different Sorts — give them the report that they need. Give the CEO a big colorful report that he can color in.

Show the Money

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session

Get beyond Caveman SEO (it’s related to hamster analytics. hee.)

More data points = more comparison

What’s your first goal? To make more money. We’re not here for a noble goal like saving pandas. We’re all here to make more money.

People don’t get deep enough into Google Analytics. Set goals. You have to set goals.

Goal set, then by source. (Pivot tables are beautiful! If they’re not to you, add more data!) Then look at keyword and landing page. Now you’re not looking at ranking, you’re looking at money. That’s much more important than ranking.

Once you have all of that, you get goal conversion rate and per visit goal value.

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session
Better comparisons lead you to better casaulity. You can segment your acquisition channels and see what’s providing you the best value.

Look for quality over quantity. Who sends you the best visitors. Who converts, not just who sends you the most traffic. Look at where your links are coming from and figure out what makes them qualified. Include a screenshot of the source link so you know what they’re seeing.

Twitter provides links that provide zero context so it doesn’t tend to have good conversion. You don’t find out what you’re getting until you get there. Discussion forums provide highly engaged and highly informed visitors. It’s one of the most overlooked social sources. Target the most effective things first.

SES: Meaningful SEO Metrics Session

Look at the page at the same time as analytics. You’ll find things that are broken and why.

[I highly recommend combining this presentation with Matt’s presentation yesterday. If you haven’t read that one, you’re missing out. Literally, there’s a slide here I’m not recapping because he explained it yesterday.]

Tracking Analytics + CRM

Learn that high quantity leads do not equal quality leads. Learn that high quality leads die at idiot salesmen. Figure out what information the salespeople need to have on hand to close the deal and get it to them.

Outside factors

  • customer CRM
  • Email promotion
  • brand promotions
  • catalogues
  • content feeds
  • customer service


Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

See Susan's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “Meaningful SEO Metrics: Going Beyond the Numbers — SES New York 2011”

Interesting information. A little too technical for me in some places but it manages to get some good points across. Never tried discussion forums but maybe I’ll start now.


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