Traffic Analysis and Rank Reports
By Terry Van Horne AKA Webmaster T
Value and success evaluation for a Search
Engine Marketing Campaign can be measured in two ways: conversion or return on
investment ( ROI ) and
Rank. The simplest measurement is position or rank based on keyword choices. The
method for collecting the data for evaluation is remote querying of search
Traffic Analysis is the evaluation of referrals from search engines based
on conversion of traffic for keyword choices. The data is found in the logs
using log analysis software or a customized application to format referrer data
for the site.
Rank Report Data
Rank Report Data Uses
Position or Rank reports indicate the listing status and position of the page
the top 10-30 results, for keyword phrases, generally numbering from 50 to 1000's of
for larger sites. This indicates the pages that are positioned
to convert traffic for selected keyword phrases. Typically, the first 20-30
"non-sponsored" listings are considered to be the goal of optimization. ROI and
conversion are unknowns without using log analysis. Rank Reports provide little
useful information for choosing future content and refinement of the
and conversion strategies.
Many clients of SEOs' request or are provided these reports as part of the
service. During my review of the two methods I found many reasons to doubt the
value of a
Rank Report to an experienced SEO or marketer and question the use of
rank reports in determining campaign or optimization consultant effectiveness.
A rank report may be a fair measure for an SEO
campaign that was given keywords and
the goal of achieving certain rankings, such as top 10 on Google etc., without the option to
edit or change the site. The SEO in this case would be responsible only for positioning the site for success
and not for conversion.
The types of campaigns described above are
exceptionally hard to gauge effectiveness because most of the "legitimate"
optimization techniques the SEO can use to optimize pages have been taken away
by the client. This leaves only linking and methods I personally wouldn't
recommend to raise relevancy and visibility. At the very least the SEO should
have permission to edit:
- file and directory names ( if already
indexed it is advised a 301 be used to redirect SE to the new urls )
- titles and document structure ( if headings
aren't in the page it is recommended to add proper document structure )
- link text
I would also strongly advise an extensive link
campaign administered by an SEO or someone familiar with optimizing link
campaigns. In this scenario the SEO has little to work with and links become
more important to overall success.
Driving a lot of traffic to a site is only the first step. The second step is
converting viewers to buyers. The biggest drawback to determining campaign
effectiveness using rank is it doesn't include any conversion metrics. In my
rank reports don't measure true success -- only perceived success. It takes
for granted there are no conversion issues and the keyword research used in the
optimization strategy was targeting the right users for conversion of traffic.
Most rank reports are produced using software that does not follow instructions
found in the robots.txt files of most search engines. A similar type of
is an email harvester. The Google Terms of Service does not allow remote querying, so any
program harvesting SERPs is breaking Google's Terms of Service. Sites have
been banned for abusive remote querying. Most sites, in my opinion, wouldn't be considered
abusive enough for banning, however, this is Google's decision and should be
considered a potential risk to success.
Traffic Analysis Data
Traffic Data Uses
Once the log analysis software has produced the traffic reports, the SEO can
determine: ( indicates the service measured )
- which pages were found for which keyword terms ( optimization strategy )
- the amount of traffic that resulted from the keywords chosen ( keywords research
- whether the call to action was followed for conversion ( conversion strategy
and keywords research )
- whether the user found what they expected to find ( keywords research and
optimization strategy )
- converted traffic ( conversion & optimization strategies and keywords research
- user exit point for unconverted traffic ( conversion & optimization strategies
and keywords research )
The evaluation of number 1 from above provides information for choosing future
content development using the keywords analysis to determine keyword terms that
warrant content development. Combining analysis from numbers 2, 3 and 5 from
above indicates the effectiveness of calls to action, conversion for keyword
terms chosen, and pages chosen for optimization. Data from Number 4 indicates
conversion and/or navigation problems. Number 6 is a very important stat because
that is the precise point where either navigation broke down ( the user gave up looking for
they wanted ) or the conversion decision was made indicating that possible product or
price point problems exist.
ROI can be determined for conversion to sales, leads
taking a specific action such as requesting or reading a page, information
or service. This is evaluating the SEO based on the SEO's ability to meet the
goals or needs of the site. In other words, it measures the true value of the SEO service
One of the biggest disadvantages of traffic
analysis for an SEO vendor is first, convincing clients of its intrinsic value.
Traffic analysis is beyond understanding for most layman. A rank report is
easier to understand when evaluating services. It has been a few years since I
left the industry. One of the reasons was most clients just don't get it. They
think a few tricks is all that is needed and the sales just pour in.
Clients don't want to hear they have to remove
that flash they just love or that the copy, that you'd think was written by ole'
Willy Shakespeare himself by the way they carry on, just doesn't convert. They
ignore the SEO's suggestions for improving conversion based on factual data. But
tell the same client he's got 40 top 10 positions for some untargeted keyword
terms and he's throwing his wallet at you, for a while, then the client realizes
they are not selling anything and...............
Edited by Robert Gladstein
............... see ya at the top!
Da' Tmeister, Editor