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Author Archive

SEO Measurement Mistakes Part 2: 10 Google Analytics Gaffes

Author’s Note: This is Part 2 of a multi-part series titled SEO Measurement Mistakes. Links to the rest of series are below:
Part 1: 5 Huge SEO Measurement Mistakes
Part 3: Crawling and Indexation Metrics
Part 4: Links

In my last article, I discussed 5 ways people stifle SEO campaigns at the macro level by focusing on the wrong KPIs.

Today, I’d like to discuss a few common Google Analytics pitfalls we see when it comes to SEO. (more…)

5 Huge SEO Measurement Mistakes

Author’s Note: This is Part 1 of a multi-part series titled SEO Measurement Mistakes. Links to the rest of series are below:
Part 2: 10 Google Analytics Gaffes
Part 3: Crawling and Indexation Metrics
Part 4: Links

 

Last week, I sent an email to my fellow LunaMetricians asking one question, “what’s some big mistakes you see when it comes to SEO and measurement/Google Analytics?”

The measurement masters came up with some good stuff, and I’ll discuss five high-level screw-ups people make when it comes to analyzing SEO metrics.

Let’s start from the top.

1. Obsessing over Rankings

Ever Google the term “SEO definition“? The results have been getting better, but there’s still some severely outdated definitions ranking highly. Here’s a taste of the bad stuff:

“Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.”

“Stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” Just about every Webmaster wants his or her site to appear in the top listings of all the major search engines…”

The second excerpt comes from a 400 word entry that seriously talks about Meta Keywords and directory submissions as viable SEO tactics. But I digress.

What the outdated and crappy definitions how SEO all have in common is they paint a verbal picture that high rankings are the goal of SEO. That is false.

The goal od SEO is to improve rankings. False. The goal of SEO is to increase the value generated by organic search traffic.

(more…)

4 SEO Terms Driving Me Crazy

You know what really grinds my gearsThis is an unusual post for me. I tend to stick to “how-to” articles because I realized a while back that no one really cares about my opinion.

But in an industry where words must be so carefully dissected and examined, we’ve gotten downright silly with some of our favorite jargon. And it’s my time to whine.

4. “Keywords”

I know it sounds crazy to call this one out. I spend many hours every week studying users search queries to influence our clients’ content creation endeavors.

But does it not irk you that people call a 3 word phrase a “keyword”? So “just call it a key phrase fussypants,” you say.

Beyond nitpicking, the real problem is that all this obsession over “keyword research” and “keyword use” betrays the real goal of all that analysis – to figure out what content people you want on your site want to find. And that comes to down to more than the particular string of characters user types in the search box, which is unfortunately the connotation that comes with keyword.

How about geographic location? Am I necessarily looking for general plumber info when I search for “plumber?” Chances are my IP address let’s Google know that I probably want to see some Pittsburgh plumber in my search results page. (more…)

7 Big Content/Site Migration Tips A Layman Can Understand

A lot of folks come to us asking us to help them restore a decline in website traffic that occurred after a site migration or major update. Typically, most – if not all – of the traffic loss was preventable. There’s a lot of different update and migration scenarios and a lot of different things that can go wrong, but we keep seeing many of the same underlying issues.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a migration as anytime a large amount of pages or content move from old URLs to new URLs  whether it be migrating an entire site to a new domain, a subdomain to a subdirectory, merging a small site into a bigger one, or what have you.

And I’ll assert that most potential problems with any migration can be prevented by following 7 fundamental pieces of advice so simple that even a CEO should understand.

  1. Understand the Stakes
  2. Make Sure No Content is Missing
  3. (Properly) Redirect Every URL
  4. You Need a (Cross-Functional) Migration Team
  5. You Need a Pre-Launch Plan
  6. You Need a Post-Launch Plan
  7. Use Tools (more…)

My Fifteen Minute Weekly SEO Health Check

Every Monday, I run through a checklist for each of my SEO clients. The goal is to discover issues that don’t warrant same-day response time, but should still be addressed in a timely manner. There’s slight variations from client to client, and I sometimes use paid tools, but below is the basic template, featuring my 3 favorite free SEO tools: Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics.

SEO Health Checklist

  1. Google Webmaster Tools: Check Crawl Errors, Index Status, and Messages.
  2. Bing Webmaster Tools: Check Site Activity Screen, Crawl Information, and SEO Reports.
  3. Google Analytics Reports: Review Keywords, Landing Pages, Sources, SEO traffic numbers and engagement.
  4. Google Analytics Alerts: Review Custom Alerts and Automatic Alerts. Review other reports as needed.

A disclaimer: This checklist is best used in proper scope in conjunction with other intelligence-gathering methods. Other recommended methods include: Google Custom Alerts, Webmaster Tools notifications, and Daily peaks at Google Analytics Dashboard.

The main purpose of this checklist is to fill as much remaining insight as possible in fifteen minutes. It helps me catch SEO problems and opportunities earlier, and informs me on how I need to adjust weekly SEO workflow. It really makes my job easier.

It might take a bit of time to set things up and get used to finding everything, but once you have it down, and you know what your metrics should look like, you’ll soon be gettin’ her down to 10-15 minutes on average.

Below are details on each step. (more…)

What Makes a Good Backlink Prospect? A Prospect Evaluation Framework for Link Building

In SEO, sometimes you need to go out there and directly contact bloggers and webmasters and win links one-by-one. There are 6 steps in direct link building:

  1. Needs analysis. How much direct link building is needed (if any)? Which pages and keywords need supported?
  2. Figuring out where to look. Examples: Google searches for blogs in a specific area, a list of your Twitter followers that have websites, competitor link profiles, etc…
  3. Pulling prospect lists. Examples: performing the Google searches, retrieving Followerwonk data, retrieving Open Site Explorer link data, etc…
  4. Qualifying prospects
  5. Pitching. For example, emailing or calling qualified prospects.
  6. Follow-ups.

This article pertains to qualifying prospects – that is, going through a list of websites and deciding which sites deserve the significant time required to try to obtain a link from them.

It’s one of the most time-consuming steps in the direct link-building process, and many full-time SEOs like myself have spent hundreds of hours of their life checking out thousands of sites. Thus, there is a need to do it as efficiently as possible, without missing quality link targets. Last week, I was scouring hundreds of sites in a Followerwonk download, and I realized 3 things:

  1. I was sick of doing this, and I wished could get an intern to do it.
  2. For that to happen, I’d have to figure out a simple, repeatable process that could be easily taught.
  3. There was indeed a simple framework, and the reason things had gotten so tedious for me that day is that I wasn’t following it.

Here’s the framework: (more…)

11 Keyword Targeting Mistakes

BIG NUMBERS!!

I’ve been putting off an article on SEO keywords for months now. I’m a keyword research junkie, and I was afraid I’d get myself sucked into a 20 page manifesto. When it comes to SEO, figuring out which words you should use and what pages they should go on is so important and so nuanced that 20 pages wouldn’t cover everything.

Today, we’ll just focus on some of the common big mistakes the LunaMetrics team sees when it comes to keyword targeting.

1. Overemphasizing Volume

“Big numbers — YAY!” (more…)

SEO for PDFs

As my partner in crime Travis recently pointed out, misconceptions abound in the SEO industry. Here’s another misconception: “PDF pages are so SEO-unfriendly that you can’t rank for any halfway competitive keywords with them“.

Some SEOs are still so set against the Portable Document Format pages that they don’t feel they should even be landing pages. Some such SEOs recommend replacing all PDFs with HTML pages or building additional HTML landing pages targeting the same keywords as the PDFs.

The truth is: the biggest reason PDF pages often rank so horribly is that they are rarely properly optimized.

(more…)

Building the Ultimate XML Sitemap

mapAn XML Sitemap is a sitemap created for search engines. The XML Sitemap is a listing of all the URLs on your site that you want search engines to crawl and index. The Sitemap also provides information on when pages get updated and how important they are. Search engines do not guarantee they will fully abide by the sitemap, but search engines do use XML Sitemaps for assistance in crawling the web.

Many webmasters and SEOs have reported improved traffic simply from submitting the Sitemap. In addition, the Sitemap can greatly assist in diagnosing indexation shortcomings. Submitting a proper, up-to-date XML sitemap, therefore, is an SEO best practice.
(more…)

SEO KPI’s for Lead Generation

Goals help get things done. Goals tied to specific, measurable, results will result in even more getting done. In the rapidly-changing world of search engine optimization, it’s important to measure the right stuff — indicators that are relevant and reliable despite changes in the game. For lead gen sites, measuring performance is different, and more difficult, than for advertising or e-commerce sites. In a lead generation site, the ultimate conversion of a potential customer to an actual customer occurs offline, but the website assists the sale by snagging qualified leads. Close-up-metal-ruler

Some websites exist solely for the purpose of generating leads, but many sites that generate leads may also serve additional functions such as generating online sales, assisting customer service by providing information, or branding. This piece focuses on KPIs for the lead generation component that can gauge the performance of the entire SEO campaign on a macro-level.

Below we review the top key performance indicators for lead gen. Since the expertise of LunaMetrics lays largely in Google Analytics in terms of specific web analytics packages, readers may note a tendency to utilize specific Analytics verbiage and examples. However, I have made an attempt to state general principles that can apply to any lead gen site that has access to decent web metrics data. Also, please note that these are top-level performance metrics for use in determining overall SEO goals and ROI; these are not metrics for tactical-level analysis.

All lead gen sites should use the following 3 KPIs for SEO.
1. SEO Traffic (best metric = targeted non-branded organic traffic)
2. Leads (best metric = estimated total value of leads from SEO traffic)
3. Return on Investment

Properly measuring, attributing, and weighting these 3 SEO key performance indicators is where most companies fall short. (more…)