“Data is the ball and the internet is the field. You can’t score without the ball.”
Having data to make decisions to structure your natural search strategies has always been a need in SEO. Especially now with constant updates and the everyday changing world that is Google’s Algorithm, your data, your best constant, should be playing a crucial part in guiding SEO strategies. Natural search has long been considered the long game that relies on less of a wallet and more of a brain. Being able to see trends and analyze what happened and why is an essential part of being an effective SEO. SiteCatalyst is a great tool that can help you see these trends by looking at the picture as a whole and slicing it into the pieces you need.
By the whole picture, I am speaking about how natural search keyword rankings are affecting traffic, how that traffic is affecting conversions and how conversions are affecting revenue. These are the big pieces that allude you to where you can start digging into the site to see the smaller signals (bounce rates, keyword level traffic, page flows, ATOS…) that are creating the big waves you should be aboard or avoiding. Compiling these small signals helps you find the stuff that makes people’s heads turn. We drive 1 million off natural search keyword “Cracker Jacks,” and have a conversion rate of .03%. Should we be doing something? Yes!!!
SEO is a complex process that involves understanding many technical facets. Pairing data with SEO is a great way to bridge gaps of understanding between clients and agencies by providing a language everyone understands. When you are able to show clients through hard numbers how X implementation drove X increases in rankings for keywords, the traffic from those keywords increased by X, creating X million in revenue, eureka! It all seems a little clearer.
Two ways in which you can use SiteCatalyst for your own SEO dark magic is through Segmentation and Pathing Reports.
SEO & SiteCatalyst Segmentation
Segmentation is crucial in the data world when it comes to SEO. Being able to tame these beasts is an art in the bottom of every data nerd’s heart. SiteCatalyst segmentation is top notch, especially since SiteCatalyst 15 rolled out their instant segmentation, allowing you to create segments on the fly. No longer do we wait 24 hours just to get an error that something was set incorrectly. Instant rejection, what a world.
Building out SEO segments can literally give you almost any data you can dream up. For example, let’s say you wanted some insight into your recent 301 redirect strategy that was concentrated on 40 target pages. Bust out your typing fingers, you can do this through SiteCatalyst Segment Builder by adding a rule to include natural search and all 40 page ID’s . Now run some dates before and after you implemented this to see the potential lift.
Another great example of the power of segmentation is the ability to compare all organic branded vs non-branded keywords, between all the sections/pages of your site (b2b, b2c, support, home page, category, sections, products……). This can be done by creating segments that include each part or page of the site you would like to see and adding another rule that includes all branded keywords and variations (branded segment). To create the non-branded segments, copy your branded segement and change the rule from include to exclude.
How to Create a Segment
1. To start creating segments go the drop down to right of your suite and click add segment.
2. Here you will find two options in your segment definition builder: traffic variables (containers) and success events (events).
3. Choose one and drag and drop it into the segment canvas.
4. The next step is to create rules. Do this by clicking on the pen and paper icon to the right of the container or event.
5. Once you click an icon, another window will open were you can define your rules. This builder component allows you to create and edit rules by match, variables, instance and value.
Once you’re done creating every little rule your heart desires, save it off and share it with everyone in your suite. You will become an instant hit in the office as you will have provided insight people didn't know existed. Sit back and wait for that promotion, it is a coming!
SEO & Pathing Reports
SiteCatalyst Pathing Reports are a great way to get deeper insights into the pages within your website- flows, bounce rates, on-page time, ATOS, …… If you throw a natural search segment onto these reports, poof! you have natural search page performance. How might this be helpful to an SEO you ask?
Being able to see page level insights allows you to monitor things like on-page changes to titles, h1s and content about the page. Tracking and storing information on these optimizations over time allows you to measure and test updates. Did bounce rates decrease? Did new content bring in new category keywords? What types? Did title updates boost traffic for certain keyword groups?
There are many types of Pathing Reports that can help you get this information, including Pathfinder, Fallout, Summary and Flow. When it comes to breaking down page level insights, I find Pathfinder Reports the most helpful because they give you the most control over setting the foot print.
How to Create a Pathfinder Report
1. The first step in creating a Pathfinder Report is to decide between the 5 different patterns.
2. Once you have clicked on the pattern you would like to use, SiteCatalyst will take you to the Pathfinder Builder. This is where the magic happens.
3. To start building your report drag the pattern objects you would like to use into your canvas.
4. Now that you have some objects in your canvas you can start specifying the pages. To do this simply click on specific page link. This will take you to a choose page window, where you can select from a list of your pages. Once you have selected the page you would like to use, hit ok and it will take you back to the pathfinder builder.
5. Once you have your canvas completed, click run report and you now have your first pathfinder report.
Putting a bow on it all, in the ever changing world of SEO, your data should be playing a large role in shaping your strategy. Data is a great constant that not only helps you get a better understanding of your online environment, but allows you to test strategies to see impact. You can test these strategies through SiteCatalyst, a valuable tool that allows you to make sense of data through reports and functionality such as Segmentation and PathFinder reports. When using these tools effectively, you start to see trends that allude to where you should be focusing your efforts. Understanding these trends not only makes you more aware of what is affecting organic traffic, but helps you tie strategy to KPI's. In conclusion, use SiteCatalyst. It’s your ALLY. Even though sometimes it feels like it’s trying to kill you.