Benchmarking For SEO5
Benchmarking is a necessary action when working on any aspect of SEO for a website. For those of you who don’t know what benchmarking is – Benchmarking is an action whereby you record specific metrics of success over periods of time. For example one of these metrics could be search engine rankings.
Without benchmarking how would you determine the success of a strategy? You need to capture results for whatever metric to be able to show how your SEO initiatives have affected your clients website.
Some examples of SEO metrics I use to assist with reporting and monitoring performance are:
1. Keyword Rankings
2. Search Engine Traffic
3. Referral Traffic
4. Direct Traffic
5. Cache Dates
6. Index Percentage Penetration
7. Time on Site
8. Page Views
9. Time of Visits
10. Day of Visit
How to perform Benchmarking?
The only accurate method of benchmarking in my eyes would be manually. Ok, this may be time consuming on resources but accuracy matters. Obviously some of the metrics I have discussed above can be captured effectively by Google Analytics which has the awesome price tag of free. However when tracking keyword positions over major search engines there are alternatives to doing the work yourself.
I have used the following three pieces of software, all with positives and negatives but in case you are unfamiliar with them I’ll give you a short piece about each.
These guys are the new kid on the block if you will – I originally picked up on this resource by Raven SEO’s blog. It’s a web based system which allows you to add domains with each of the keywords you want to benchmark for very easily. The software will even provide you with recommendations of keywords if your own keyword strategy is not available. Then every 24 hours data is updated, and will show you any increases and decreases over Google, Yahoo and MSN. A great little feature which I love is the graphical representation of keyword progress over time, you can see very easily influences that you might be implementing taking effect. They offer a free tester with limited keyword tracking and they have a tonne of features in the pipeline so I suggest you guys check it out.
Rank Checker is a Firefox extension free to download by SEO Book. This tool is great for estimates – you can add as many domains and keywords as you like and you can check over a number of different territories for Google i.e. you can see differences between Google.co.uk and Google.com. Depending on the number of keywords this tool can take a while to give results but when the checking is finished you can download a CVS format of the results which will display all data each time you have benchmarked. Like I said this tool is great for estimates, I find the ranking positions to be quite inaccurate at times, so I wouldn’t recommend using the data for reports – but for monitoring this is great!
These guys have been around for a long time and it shows with the level of detail that can be obtained by this bit of kit. It’s the most expensive (although you can take advantage of their free trial). You can enter virtually unlimited domains and keywords and get pre designed reports at a click of a button showing all kinds of keyword activity and recommendations. It’s a bit tricky to get started but once you get a complete understanding of how it works, this is a necessity for any SEO.