Technical Blog Post
Driving Organizational Action: Part 1 – Basic SEO Reporting
Perhaps most loaded question everyone has when scouring through digital analytics data is:
"Where do I begin?!?!?"
You'll excuse my extra question marks and exclamation points, but this is important . There are so many neat reports, sweet graphs and insightful applications at your disposal. But, as an analyst, you are asked to improve your company's position on the web quickly. For those analysts in that position, I recommend starting with improving SEO.
I don't want to presume that everyone is super savvy about every little thing to do with digital marketing all things digital marketing and how the web works so let's start at the top and discuss what SEO is. SEO stands for search engine optimization: basically how you optimize your web entities (sites, apps, videos, etc.) to appear in a search engine's organic (unpaid/natural/earned) search results. If you couldn't tell by the definition that SEO is important to your business, check out these statistics from Hubspot.
Here are the things that the most basic person working on improving SEO must know:
Meta tags are a start but not an end
Keyword Meta tag is a detriment, don't use it
Who is linking to you matters as much as how many sites list you
Understand how well you are indexed on various search engines
Broken URLS/Links on your site are a huge negative. Fix them
Content is, above all else, king
I don't want to get too far into the weeds, but I think you get the picture, SEO is kind of a big deal. The good news is basic SEO work can be done on the cheap, which your boss will love, and you can start your journey into effectively using your Digital Analytics tool. So let's get to the reports!
The Top 5 Basic SEO Reports to use in IBM Digital Analytics
I know the above description about SEO and what I discussed in the bullets are basic, but I implore you that these are necessary elements to focus on. These six reports from IBM Digital Analytics will help you spur action in your company.
1) Marketing Channels Report
Essentially, Marketing Channels Report is your 10,000 foot view of your website, and covers information about how people enter it. The report gives you information on campaign traffic; but the keys to focus on for basic SEO are the referring sites, natural search and social (which you can get in referring sites to) versus your direct load traffic. We all would love if people bookmark your site the minute they land on it and never forget to land on it, but people aren't like that. There are plenty of people who always rely on a search engine to get to the site they need, good SEO will help you lead them to your site. Once someone becomes "loyal" to your site (which is another post altogether), then you can expect your direct traffic to increase based on bookmarking and site recognition.
2) Marketing Channels Attribution Report
Marketing Channels Attribution gives you the same look and feel the Marketing Channels Report provides, but breaks down the sales from those channels into a timeline whereas the channels report breaks down the traffic and visitors. This is really important for your executives to know because this is what they care about -they are going to want to know how you can increase these channels based on the data you are presenting. Again, we're starting with another 10,000 foot view but this time adding sales/conversions information to report on.
3) Referring Sites Report
There are plenty of SEO services that will scour search engines and deliver to you the sites and their URLs that have linked to you, such as backlinkwatch.com (the advertising is annoying, but it's free), but what about which links/sites drive traffic to your site. The Referring Sites report will give you the information of which sites referred a visitor to your site. The report breaks down your visitors into unique and new visitor segments as well as provides you bounce rate and buying percentage based on those sites. So you get information about traffic, if that traffic converted, and insights into that segment of traffic using bounce rate information. The list of sites that link to you coupled with what the Referring Sites Report can give you a dangerously awesome 1-2 combination for SEO improvements.
4) Entry Pages Report
So we know our channels, channel sales performance and the sites that refer people to the site. Logically, the next question would be "well what page did they land on?" The entry pages report is what we're looking for here. It's a basic a report that details the top pages that people first land on when starting a visit with your site. The next question after that should be "Do I want people to land here or not?" That is something for you to decide, but at least now you can easily see if the top pages match what you think they should be or not. If they do not match your expectations, then the pages you want to perform well need to be examined: perhaps there is a specific question or difficulty that people are having on a search or referring site that lead to this page.
You can also take a report like this and add a zoom to it to so you can show both the entry pages and the referring sites to those entry pages in one screen. This will make it easier for you to understand where your traffic is coming from for those pages.
5) Natural Search by Keyword/Search Engine Report
It wouldn't be much of a post about SEO if we didn't talk about keywords or search engines. Keyword stuffing in your content and using the keywords tag is a thing of the past; don't bother trying to do it. What is important is that your meta description and your page titles are keyword-relevant to the page and are succinct for search engines to read them. The Natural Search by Keyword or Search Engine report provides you information on the top organic search keywords used to get to your site. Our recommendation would be to review this report and edit your descriptions and page titles to follow suit.
This post discussed the basics for how a digital analyst can focus on SEO because it is very actionable yet inexpensive to execute. I recommend the following tasks to get started:
Create a workbook of these reports and label it Basic SEO Workbook
Send it to yourself, monthly, using our email scheduler
Take action no more frequently than quarterly. Most SEO is a slow burn and requires time for the web and search engines to index your site . Don't try and change things daily/weekly/monthly.
If you aren't using our tool, I'm sorry. Just joking. Your analytics tools I'm sure have the same type of reports or can be created easily. I have no doubts you can do the same with them.
-IBM Digital Analytics Team
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