In my daily conversations with our clients, potential clients, and industry peers, many questions are thrown around the conference room table. One I hear over and over that makes me smile is, “Are my analytics going up?”  While the interest in one’s Analytics activities is important, it is questions like these that confirm there needs to be more education on the topic of tracking your site’s performance. I previously defended one take on the value of Google Analytics, so I will use this space to continue the conversation on reporting. Today, I will pose two of the most common questions I hear during a review of internet marketing campaigns and answer them while providing a little insight as to why it matters and why success can’t always be measured in numbers.

Question #1: “Am I showing #1 up for keyword x?”

The problem with answering this question lies in the question itself. People search in a variety of ways: at work on a desktop (more than likely when they should be working), at home on their tablets, or on the go with a smart phone. The type of browser they use and whether or not they opt in to a personalized search setting offered by a search engine (by choice or otherwise) will all affect the results of a keyword search. Personalized search, spelling, capitalization; all of these will have a dramatic impact on the results we see. As the algorithms for the major search engines use a constantly evolving equation, you can never provide a concrete answer to this question. 

More importantly, keyword x may not be the best kind of visitor for your site. If your client sells cat food and is interested in indexing for “cat” because of the volume of traffic reported, it may be time to discuss the relevancy of visitors typing “cat” into a search bar and the propensity for their interest to commonly be keyboard-playing felines.

To get an idea of what kind of keywords you are appearing for, and more importantly, the ones delivering traffic, check your “Keywords” subcategory under “Traffic Sources.” Organize this by “Paid” or “Non-Paid” (depending on the campaign you are running) and see not only which ones are driving in the big numbers, but which ones attract quality traffic. We posted earlier on tracking website performance; give it a read for more direction on understanding your traffic’s quality.

Question #2: “How many links does my site have?”

Again, the intent here is correct but the problem is with how the question is being asked.  Anyone with experience in the SEO industry would bet that a client is referring to inbound links or back links with this question.  Often overlooked in an SEO’s efforts to answer quickly and keep up the appearances of being an “expert” is another question, “What about links other than back links?” Internal linking is a relevant part of the search engines’ algorithms and has an influence on the user’s interaction with you and your site. Links placed properly throughout your content will help a reader make the logical next step to what they are interested in whether it is more specific information or how to contact you. Furthermore, links are always not just blue-colored text; rather, links can be thumbnails of the product you want to sell or rotating banners showing happy customers enjoying your products. Consider the placement and use of these links the next time a client asks you about their links.

While these may be two of the most common questions I get, I am positive there are hundreds of other conundrums that are brought up during a website performance review. What are some that you hear? Share your favorites with me in the comments and next time I can take a crack at those!

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