Search Engine Optimization Pre-flight – Analytics
Tom Schmitz May 16 2008
This article is part of a continuing series, From Seattle – Search Engine Optimization – To You. An easy to understand explanation of SEO.
The SEO Preflight
Before diving into a new SEO project I want to understand what challenges the web site faces and, of course, the opportunities. Call it my SEO Pre-flight for Fitness Program.
To design a custom fitness program a personal trainer will begin by testing your strength and stamina. How would you feel if that trainer asked you to bench press 300 pounds during your first visit? Unless you are an advanced or elite class weightlifter 300 pounds is not a realistic expectation. The trainer determines your abilities first then uses that knowledge to create appropriate goals.
Search Engine Optimization works the same way. A web site cannot rank #1 for an industry’s most competitive search query without the right content or without earning adequate trust from the search engines. A Search Engine Optimization Review will find you web site’s baseline and help you select the best goals to:
- Achieve higher rankings.
- Get listed for more queries.
- Prepare to rank, in the future, for keywords that are more competitive.
Start With Web Analytics
I begin my Search Engine Optimization Preflights by studying web analytics and crawl data.
Use tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools and your web analytics package to look for trends and insights. Here are some of the questions I try to answer.
- What search queries or keywords does the web site rank for?
- How high are the rankings for those keywords?
- Do the search engine listings match the web site’s objectives?
- Do people click on the search engine links?
- Which search engines drive the most traffic?
- How much traffic do search engines bring?
- After they arrive from a search engine do people explore or abandon the web site?
Which Web Analytics Package for SEO?
To make sound decisions concerning anything you need good information. To make good SEO decisions your web site needs analytics software. It’s not an option.
Personally, I find Google Analytics more than serviceable for Search Engine Optimization. The price is right too, free. (Portent Interactive just happens to be an Authorized Google Analytics Consultant so if you need help you can call us.)
Some Portent Interactive clients use premium analytics packages like Omniture HBX SiteCatalyst™. If you think you might require premium web analytics I suggest you
- List exactly what data you want to get that you cannot get from Google Analytics.
- Make sure that the premium web analytics packages you consider can produce the data you desire.
- Talk to people that use the software and ask them to share their tips and tricks.
The next two parts of the Search Engine Optimization Preflight will be competitive research and keyword research.