5 SEO metrics I gotta have

Ian Lurie

I’m on #seochat tonight. I’m super-excited about it, so I’ve been scribbling notes for anticipated questions.
The topic, which I’ve actually talked about before, is SEO analytics. For me, there are five crucial SEO metrics. If you don’t have these, hang it up:

  1. Key phrase diversity. The number of unique phrases driving traffic to your site. Greater diversity means you’re probably doing better in the long tail, and that you’re less vulnerable to algorithm changes.
  2. Visitors from organic search. It’s nice to know my overall traffic from organic search, too. Hopefully this one’s a ‘duh’ for you.
  3. Visitors from non-branded organic search. This one’s subtly different from #2. Non-branded organic search are all visits from organic search, minus any brand names associated with you. So, if you’re Ford, you’d filter out ‘Ford’, ‘Mustang’, ‘Pinto’, etc..
  4. Visit quality. The data used for this metric could be average pageviews per visit from organic search, average time on site for visits from organic search, or even better, conversion rate from organic search. You could also use something like bounce rate for visitors from organic search. The idea? Figure out if you’re getting the right people to your site. If organic visit quality is really poor compared to your other channels, you need to rethink your strategy.
  5. Crawl quality indicators. This one’s a lot harder, but necessary. You need to find any pages on your site that aren’t getting crawled at all. You can do that by using GREP on your log files (my favorite method). You can also look for pages that get zero visits from organic search and try to use that as an indicator. If you have a log-based web analytics tool, then you can also check the ‘bots’ or ‘spiders’ report and see if any pages are left out.

Notice that I left out rankings and PageRank. Please don’t make me explain why here. If you need to know, post a comment and I’ll do that in another post.
Some of these ain’t easy to find, I know, but you have to try. Your boss/client/whatever will challenge SEO the same way Tea Partiers challenge global warming, so you’d better have data ready when they do.
If you want to learn more about these metrics, c’mon in to SEO chat tonight. You can follow along by using the #seochat hashtag on Twitter, or by going to the SEOChat Tweetchat room.

Related and mercenary impulses

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. You see a lot of these SEO list-type posts around the web but few of them mention keyphrase diversity. It’s a good point, and it’s a good lesson to SEO’ers out there who have their eyes set on a “trophy phrase” and forget that the majority of their traffic will actually come from long tailers.
    I actually am curious to know your thoughts on PageRank…since you asked. 😉

  2. Ok, so here’s a question:
    If I know these factors – when would I know that some of them are ok and on which one improving should I focus?
    When I’ll know that my Key phrase diversity is fine, but my Visit quality sux in some matter?
    Can you give examples? Like… if I have 40% of traffic from 3 top keywords mean that I need to improve the diversity.

  3. These are all great metrics that need to be monitored in order to ensure site visibility is optimal. Visit quality is one that I feel many clients don’t spend much time analyzing. If your visitor quality is lacking, conversion will be too!

  4. @Sky It’s not about a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ number. Better than what you have now is ‘good’. A decline or staying the same is ‘bad’. You have to start with what you’ve currently got and try to improve from there.

  5. On your “Visitors from Organic Search” vs “Visitors from Other (direct, referral, email)”, do you have a target area that you prefer the ration fall into? Or do not worry about how much is search driven vs other?

  6. Oh… ok. I was just wondering about setting up the priorities – if one would have numbers than he could set them up easily. But I think I understand now. It’s all about what’s priority to my website, and what’s in my opinion broken, not about this what’s broken from generic point of view which would fit every schema, cause each website is different and have different viewers.

  7. >>Your boss/client/whatever will challenge SEO the same way Tea Partiers challenge global warming, so you’d better have data ready when they do.
    Kind of an odd comparision. Meaning what? that the boss/client/whatever will come loaded with facts and research and the SEO will respond with name calling? Not to put a political slant on this post, but if you’re going to use an analogy, make sure it actually reflects reality. It’s the global warming people who can’t back anything up despite others (tea partiers, dems, etc.) coming at them with reams of evidence.).
    Otherwise, great post! I’m using your

  8. This was great. I have never thought about the last two that you said. The crawl visits and the number of pages per visit. I got right away how important these two things are and I’m totally going to be looking for these.

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