Live From SMX East: Actionable Metrics and Diagnostics

By Evan Levy | Oct 5, 2010
More Articles by Evan

This afternoon I’m sitting in on the Actionable Metrics and Diagnostics session.  Speakers included: Vicki BlairMaile Ohye, and Conrad Saam.  Here are some important points from the session.

Something everyone should be doing with webmaster tools is email forwarding.  This will enable you to receive site alerts from Google straight to your inbox.  Information in the emails can include malware updates, and alerts for crawl errors.

To make the most of search queries, highlight/star the terms for which you want to rank.  De-prioritize queries that are unlikely to help your conversions.  To improve your query in search results, check for appealing titles and snippets and learn from other results in the query.

In webmaster tools, make sure the content pulled is relevant to the keywords.  Also, check for duplicate/near duplicate pages; it may be possible to consolidate this content.  To further reduce duplicate content: check the search queries, review HTML suggestions, use 301 permanent redirects where possible, implement the “rel=canonical,” and URL parameter handling.

To improve crawl efficiency, be sure to recommend behavior to Googlebot through URL parameter handling.

Improved rank can be accomplished by prioritizing content.  This helps users and engines quickly find your important pages.  Also, make sure you’re linking as expected.  Check out your internal links page and make sure all the pages are pointing where they should be.

To make text/links accessible you should “fetch as googlebot.”  Links and text should be clearly visible and URL rewriting/redirect issues can be uncovered.  JS loaded text is a common issue with video even with video site maps.

The site performance section offers improvements for slow pages.  This section of webmaster tools gives you some metrics on load times and activity on page.


How do I find out how much SEO traffic I really have?  First, make sure you filter out any branded terms.  Next, make sure Google thinks your site is about what you think it’s about.  To be authoritative, pick one metric and stick with it.  Open site explorer is a good tool to use.  Pick a metric like domain authority, and track this metric over time.  Also, check the number of times your page is crawled.  Sometimes if the page is crawled more often, it can translate to more authority.

Domain diversity when linking to your site is a very important metric.  Be sure to maintain a pretty diverse collection of domain’s linking to you.

Be careful of your data.  It can be difficult relying too much on specific data, because it can often be incomplete/wrong.  The data, overtime, can be inconsistent.  You should focus on long term trends to monitor improvements.

Be a good link builder.  Use webmaster tools to find out what percentage of links go to your homepage.  Keep as many of them in different parts of your site as you can.  Additionally, try to make sure you stick to valuable links (one that gives you traffic).  If you’re dealing with a third party link builder, look at the traffic you’re getting from those links.  If it’s bad traffic, they’re bad links.

Check to see if you’ve lost links.  Use webmaster tools to check for crawl errors, and make sure you don’t have any lost links because of page renames or other practices.

Own the long tail.  Look at the number of keywords driving traffic to your site.  Then look at the content and the number of pages that are driving traffic.  Try to raise traffic to the pages with the most valuable content.

For larger sites, make sure to check the crawl and index ratio.  You want to try and get all of your pages indexed and crawled regularly.  Templated pages can be skipped when it comes time to index the site because of similar content issues.

Make sure your site is running quickly to help users and search engines find your content as fast as possible.  “Yslow” is a great tool to check and make sure that your site is running as fast as it can.

Social Media Metrics That Count

Goals ensure that metrics are aimed at the right targets. It’s imperative that clients have a direction and know what they want to accomplish with the campaigns.  Four questions to consider are: 1. what business questions are we trying to have answered?  2. What are we planning/willing to do with the findings?  3. What are the short term goals for the social media program (Increase brand awareness, decrease customer attrition, uncover valuable market insights, etc)?  4.  What are the long term goals for the social media program?  More questions to answer include: what is the brand value of the competition, who are the key influencers of my brand, what are people actually saying about my brand, etc?

Key components of tracking social media include: brand awareness, audience sentiment, corporate engagement, and outcomes and findings.

Brand awareness metrics are pretty straight forward.  Evaluate the volumes of conversation around your brand and your competitor’s brands.  Define the affinity groups and influencers and the sites where your brand conversation happens.

Audience sentiment is similar to brand awareness.  Try to evaluate sentiment around your brand and your competitor’s brand.  It’s important to evaluate if the sentiment on a site you’re advertising on is positive to your brand.  If it’s not, you either need to engage the users, or take your advertising dollars elsewhere.

That’s it for this session.  Next I’ll be in “Industrial Strength SEO.”  Check back later for the update!

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