measuring SEO successWe had our strongest response ever to last week’s Big Question: What are your favorite SEO tools?

Throngs of our PR and marketing peers provided insights, advice, and opinions on their experiences with the multitude of SEO marketing tools out there.

As is often the case in our business, the answers we get often generate more questions.

Let’s say, based on all the great advice we received last week that we now have the best SEO toolkit at our disposal.

Now that we have collected all this SEO data, and organized and implemented it into a five-step process to drive content marketing results

What’s next?

You need more than data collection, strategy, tactics, marketing automation, and CRM to win at PR and digital marketing.

You need to track those marketing results to fix or optimize your efforts, to test other strategies and tactics and, perhaps most importantly, to show your team and your client(s) that what you are doing is working.

Last week’s answer begets this week’s Big Question:

What software do you use to track SEO success?

Yes, Google Wins, OK?

Let’s just get one thing out of the way at the outset.

Without exception, these respondents included some form of Google product when measuring SEO success.

The G Suite aside, it’s the mix of tools to track results that are interesting.

Peter Yang has boiled it down to three:

Moz Open Site Explorer: This tool is great for checking what backlinks we have. Its database gets updated every month or so, but it also lists recently discovered links in between updates. The tool also enables us to track our competitors and compare our recent SEO results with theirs.

Google Analytics: We use this tool to analyze our website traffic and see where our visitors are coming from. We can also study which traffic sources are yielding us the most sales. This helps us understand which areas of marketing and SEO we should focus on going forward.

RankTrackr: This tool allows us to check our search rankings for all the keywords we are targeting in our SEO campaign. With local results playing a major factor in rankings these days, it helps that this tool can log our search rankings for whatever set of geographic locations we are interested in. In addition, by recording historical time series of our rankings, the software enables us to see how effective our SEO efforts have been at various points in time.

Zack Reboletti is all Google, all the time:

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is one of those tools I’m not sure what I’d do without.

While originally designed for Webmasters as a way to report on the technical aspects of a website (which it still does extremely well), it is now used by marketing professionals and business owners to track important metrics related to how people find, visit and interact with a website through organic search.

Some of my favorite metrics come from the Search Analytics section:

Search Queries: (Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Queries) specific words and phrases people are using to find your website in Google.

Landing Pages: (Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Landing Pages) individual pages people are entering your website through in Google.

Devices: (Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Devices) devices people are using when visiting your website from Google (desktop, mobile, or tablet).

These reports can be integrated into Google Analytics and tied to all of the conversion goals set-up on your site.

This allows you to see which keywords, pages, and devices are not only driving traffic to your site, but actually impacting your bottom line.

Measuring SEO Success: Does a Person Count?

Greg Mischio included an actual human being as one of his top tools for measuring SEO success!

While we remind Greg that we did stipulate “software” in the question, it’s equally important to acknowledge that an SEO software tool is only as good as the person or team using it.

Greg’s SEO tracking includes:

SEMrush, Google Analytics, and Kyle Akerman!

Remember Clicky?

Danny Brown sports a blast-from-the-past in his SEO success tracking toolkit:

Google Analytics, HubSpot, Clicky, Facebook Business Manager

Measuring SEO Success = Sales?

Most businesses are trying to sell something.

And while they are undoubtedly important, sales are just a bird’s eye view of our marketing activities.

Knowing how you landed those sales, and how to replicate them, is why we need tools to track our path to success.

Jim Mitchem, like Danny before him, includes Clicky in his mix, but he’s still all about the sales:

Sales. Seriously. Traffic = inquiries. Inquiries = sales.

Sure I use things like Google and Clicky to track traffic, but ultimately it’s sales that matter most to results.

Matija Martek agrees:

With our main objective mostly being sales, final results are seen in our CRM and/or bank account.

Though, to reach them and determine impact of our individual campaigns and website changes, we use a plethora of tools, among which are Google Analytics, ahrefs, Mediatoolkit, Hotjar, Mixpanel and analytical dashboards of every social media network we use.

Besides that, there’s also Wootric to determine our Net Promoter Score (NPS) and various surveys (usually Google Forms) we send out to make sure our customers are happy.

The Path to Success isn’t Free of Mistakes

Arguably, one of the most interesting byproducts of measuring SEO success is it illustrates that what we do as PR and marketing practitioners isn’t easy.

Sales may be the goal in many cases, but how you generated that first sale versus the last is likely very different.

It’s hard to replicate and mass-produce those results.

And we can’t rest on our laurels: How do we improve if we don’t know how we succeeded in the first place?

Measuring SEO success and the tools we use to do that isn’t just about showing our work, it’s about learning from it.

We’re going to make mistakes on our path to success.

If we don’t track our activities, if we don’t pay attention to what’s working and what’s not, we’re doomed to repeat them.

Speaking of Mistakes…

PR and marketing strategies and tactics are constantly evolving and adapting.

Mistakes inevitably occur, but once you’ve made one, it’s important to learn from it and strive to make sure it never happens again!

Sadly, that’s not always the case.

Time and time again we see people making the same mistakes in PR and marketing activities.

So, next week’s Big Question shines a light on what we’ve done wrong:

What are some of the most common marketing mistakes you see businesses make?

You can answer here, in our Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

Mike Connell

Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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