Measuring your online presence
If your company is spending time and money online then you ought to measure it. Understanding how your company is performing online, what's effective, and what's not, is fundamental to your success online.
Some metrics worth measuring are listed below, however keep in mind that simply the greater the number of each measuring point is not the only factor in any respect. Assessing what your online presence is made of and which of these are effective to your business objectives is much more insightful in providing clear data for your integrated marketing strategies and plans. It's always worth thinking “How do I interporate this data into something valuable?”, because ultimately you need to know what's most effective, and what's not.
Throughout each of these points below, some guidance is mentioned on how these metrics can be quantified, but some of these metrics will need to be interpolated with company data to to assign meaningful value to your online presence report. Although some general guidance is provided within each point, this is still something that's going to be quite unique to each individual business and situation so throughout the analysis process ask yourself the right questions, and try to identify methods of quantifying the data. Alternatively you could seek an online presence consultant to layout a structured process for your business, so all analysis in the future can be accurate and insightful.
Average SERP Position
Both Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster offer this metric to verified site owners. It's a very insight full metric for many SEO and online presence factors; Knowing which keywords your site is actually displaying for, and what your average position is in the SERP is a very valuable insight for optimization, knowing what's working, and what's not. Tracking this metric overtime is highly recommended as it can offer invaluable trends insights.
Why an Average SERP Position? Well not everybody has the same search results, search results will only continue to get more specialized and differ from one user to another. Search results are more unique to each individual user than ever before. Search engines are factoring in ever more specific geo location, interests, and more historical data than ever; as a result the difference in search results from one user to another can be very different. A marketer can no longer collect a finite position of a website for each specific keyword, they now need to rely on search engine ‘webmaster tools’ to get this averaged SERP position from all searches related to that site.
This can be a harder metric to track but there are a few tools out there which will do this for you. Essential the goal is to find the number of citation online that point to your business, this maybe a reference citation pointing to a specific page on your website, or this maybe a contact citation that points to your business's physical location. This is not only important to track as an indicator how many times your being referred to online but also important from a SEO perspective, because search-bots are able to see these references to your website and values these ‘backlinks’ as an importance indicator to the relevance of your website, the more positive ‘backlinks’ your website has the higher your site or pages are valued by search engines.
The other type of citation mentioned; contact citations which refer to your business as an entity not necessarily as a website. These type of citations are important for reassuring search engines of your true contact details, if search bots come across many citations that likely point to your business but have very inconsistent contact details then the search engines can not be sure of your business's actual contact details. So measuring the number of total contact citations that point to your business then cross referencing them with each of your different contact methods will help you track down inconsistencies online and sites that don't have your complete contact details. Measuring the accuracy and number of contact citation online will prove to be a helpful relative metric when it comes to contracting the effectiveness of your online presence. Additionally Contact citation are beneficial from an SEO perspective.
How many people are talking about your business online? Number of social mentions tracked over time is one of the more important metrics for many businesses when consulting their online presence report. Knowing how many people are talking about your business online can be one of the direct metrics used for calculating campaign effectiveness. However social mentions like many metrics need to be well understood so you can be sure how your sorting and analysing the data is going to provide an accurate and clear picture of campaign performance, or online presence.
Because social mentions are not considered ‘backlinks’ by search engines, or at least not given anywhere near as much value, it's more important to track this metric by location so you can better optimize conversation to be more effective with prospects within your geographical reach. To get a single metric for all social mentions would be an almost meaningless number, however segmenting these metrics by geo-location, or other relevant segment to your business, would increase insights for not only measuring your online presence but also understanding how well your integrated social media campaigns are performing.
Number of pages listed on Google
This is a simple, but significant metric to track. Cross referencing your content inventory with number of pages Google is actually finding will help you answer such questions as:
- How much content is Google actually finding?
- Is there a fundamental SEO problem with our websites?
- How does our mass of content compared to our rankings?
- How does our mass of content compare to the effectiveness of our online presence?
- Is it more effective for us to spend time optimizing and updating existing content, compared to creating new content?
Number of backlinks
A backlink is any incoming link to your site from another public website. High quality backlinks will not only be sending users your way, but also be seen by search engines as a sign your site is relevant and of significance to this subject or demographic. These high quality back links will increase your pagerank, and domain authority with search engines and lead to an increased rank on Google. So tracking your backlinks is certainly a must.
There are two primary objectives to a backlink audit. First tracking the total number of quality backlinks to your site. Second, assess the changes from audit to audit, such as new backlinks gained and backlinks lossed: Reviewing new backlinks to ensure relevancy and overall quality will ensure your backlink efforts are only benefiting you, and be sure to catch bad backlinks early before they negatively affect your website. Check your sites total number of quality backlinks are not reducing, a loss of backlinks can have a negative effect on your websites rank.
Duplicate content probably isn't going to hurt your website's rank, or domain authority; but it’s still good to protect your content, and catch those extreme cases early. Google Webmaster Tools will notify you of any situations your site may be affected, other than that simply running your sites content through a plagiarism checker tool every now and then will help you identify copied content on your site or on other sites. After identifying duplicate content take action accordingly.
Number of Competing Pages
Competing pages is simply the number of results Google returns to a specific keyword. This metric is best used for contrasting competition with your SERP rank for each target keyword. This can provide some relative perspective to SEO efforts, in such cases you may think your efforts are resulting in worse outcomes overtime but they are actually because your competition or amount of competition is greater than the results of your SEO. In these situations you will know that your efforts are being effective however not effective enough.
Measuring this metric is very simple but organising it in a meaningful method is a whole another issue. To measure simply find each of the keywords your page is ranking for, search each of those keywords in Google and take note of the ‘About # Results’ metric.
Competitors SERP Rank
This is a general analysis of all above metrics but of your competitors. The challenge with this is most of the data points collected above came from company data, meaning it can not be collected in the same manner for another company. There are a few complex tools online such as SpyFu which enable you to get competitive data from any website, however these tools are costly and can not provide as accurate data.