Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals Part 9

As with any business endeavour you will want to know how successful you are. There are a number of ways to measure your search engine placement success and the first step to gauging your performance is to understand what options are available to you. Here is basic overview of the options available to you and how they can benefit your online initiatives. You can try to do everything “by hand,” but these applications will make your like much easier so you can focus your efforts on growing your business.

Web Site Traffic Analysis –

You can check the effectiveness of your keyword placement and utilization by using Web traffic analysis reports. You can use Web traffic analysis reports to determine what sites are referring people to you and how often the search engine spiders are visiting your Web site looking for new content. You can strip down this information further to view only search engine referrals. By looking at this information, you can also see exactly what keywords people are using to find you and you can alter the keywords used based on this information. Refining your keywords is one of the key elements to success—you’re letting the search engines tell you what you’re doing right and what you could be doing better.

Early in the chapter we looked at how Web traffic analysis could contribute to your master keywords list. Figure 1 illustrates how NetIQ’s WebTrends package ( show you the keyword phrases the target market is using to locate a Web site.

Figure: 1 WebTrends reports the keywords used to locate a site.

The amount of targeted traffic and the return on investment (ROI) achieved through your optimization efforts is the true measure of success. How much business you generate online ultimately depends on how well constructed your Web site is and how well targeted your marketing campaigns are.

Just because you perform well in the search rankings does not mean the target market will automatically do business with you. Once the target market reaches your Web site it is up to your Web site to sell your business. Like many popular Web traffic analysis and metrics packages, WebTrends can show you sales data as it relates to particular search engines and keywords, which can then be used to calculate your ROI.
Figure 2 again uses WebTrends as the sample tool to show the number and value of sales that resulted in a referral from a search engine.

Figure 2: WebTrends tracks sales from their point of origin.

Also look at entry pages and paths through your Web site. Since you have optimized specific pages for specific keywords then people should be entering your Web site on those pages. If the page is designed to the needs of your target market it should push them deeper into the Web site or to a point where a transaction takes place, which you can monitor by looking at paths through your Web site and entry pages. For example, say you created a Web page to address a particular special at a hotel with a goal of having the target market fill out a reservation request form. If the specials page is performing well in the engines, but people are only staying on the page a few seconds then leaving the Web site then you know it is the page itself that is not performing. Odds are the copy and imagery do not make the right appeal to the target market, so you can tweak it. The page may not require a complete redesign – it could be that the call to action to fill out the reservation form is not obvious, so make minor changes and monitor performance.

Here are several popular Web traffic reporting packages for you to consider:

Search Engine Rankings –
You can check the performance of your Web site for a particular keyword phrase by hand or through the use of an application such as WebPosition Gold ( If you are checking your results by hand then you simply need to go to the search engine you’re interested in, enter your keyword phrases, and observe where you Web site ranks. You could hire someone to do this for you as well. Using an application to check your rankings allows you to check more rankings faster by automating the process. Search engines tend to frown on this because of the added stress it puts on their system when you have many people using these automated packages to run many searches. Figure 3 shows a sample report from the WebPosition Gold software that summarizes search rankings for a series of keywords.

Figure 3: WebPosition Concise Report sample.

Paid Inclusion Accounts –
Many search engines that have paid inclusion features, such as the Lycos InSite submission program gives the customer means of tracking some search information. This includes basic information such as the keywords searched for and the number of referrals the search engine sent through to the destination Web site. See Figure 4 for an example report from the Lycos InSite program.

Figure 4: The Lycos InSite program offers basic tracking information.

Pay-to-Play (PPC) Accounts –

At the heart of all pay-to-play campaigns is the tracking functionality. You are paying for each and every click so it is important to know which search terms are working and which are not. One of the most well known pay-to-play providers is Overture. When you sign-up with Overture you can track all aspects of your campaign, including conversion rates, click-throughs, and revenue generated. Figure 5 illustrates Overture’s Marketing Console where you can monitor and adjust your marketing campaigns.

Figure 5: Overture’s Marketing Console help your monitor your success.

Search engines are one of the most important traffic generators for any Web site, and as such you will want to rank as well as possible in the top search engines. That said, not only will you want to rank well, you will want your listings and paid campaigns to convert well and drive sales. It is critical that you monitor all aspects of your search engine placement campaigns from rankings to results. In a future newsletter I will look more into the topic of Web Traffic Analysis and Metrics to discuss the types of measurements you should be evaluating.

Next Issue: A look into the world of search engine optimization and geo-targeting. Coming Soon: A wrap-up of this series with a search engine marketing resources guide. In upcoming newsletters we will review “Pay to Play” search marketing and the development of targeted landing pages for all your online advertising initiatives.


Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 1

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 2

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 3

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 4

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 5

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 6

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 7

Search Engine Marketing Fundamentals – Part 8

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