I plan to cover a series of effective tools to drive immediate improvement to a search marketing campaign over the coming months. First up is an old favourite of mine that is well known to the team here at QueryClick but surprisingly scarce in commentary around SEO and action-driving reporting.
Perhaps because it prioritises that old stalwart of SEO, the unsexy, unglamerous world of effective text content. (The Joy of Text, anyone?)
But you know what: for my money, effective text content is still one of the 5 key SEO weapons in the modern SEO's armoury.*
To the report then: what's it all about?
- It shows you if you are getting higher (or lower) CTRs for your organic ranking that should be expected given your average SERP ranking for the period.
- This is useful because it allows you to identify underperforming SERP listings. Improving them will give you a direct traffic increase for two reasons:
- Freshening up the content will give a boost to general SERP performance (freshness is good for most commercial search terms)
- Improving the SERP Call To Action (CTA) will get more people clicking through. Over time, the improved CTR may even tip Google into improving the ranking of the snippet (especially if all rankings above have lower than average CTRs), further boosting traffic as CTRs go up with improved rankings.
- Also, for a domain generally to have strong CTRs for search terms a general improvement in the domain performance can be expected.
So: all good, we get short & long term immediate traffic boosts and also improved rankings. Lovely. Tie this report into seasonal updates and a rolling content strategy (step forward content managers of the world) and you have a very useful tool indeed.
Here's how you create your tool.
- Make sure you hook up Google Webmaster Tools to your client's Google Analytics profile.
- Set a date range for the period you'd like to survey. If it's the first time you've used the tool, you may want to run for a long time period - even up to a year - but bear in mind you'll have big variation in seasonal CTRs over that time so you may miss out on more recent basket case SERP CTRs.
- Go to Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries. Show 5,000 rows and export to Excel (XLSX).
- Take the data from Dataset1 tab and follow the below formulas and layout to get average & calculated CTRs (for help with determining expected CTR, consider starting with the old Leaked AOL Data until you can generate more accurate figures using historic campaign data.
- We use a bit of Macro Magic to take a list of terms and label them 'Brand' or not to allow some filtering of reports.
- Then create pivots of the different report types you'd like to create. I use three, listed below, for the most actionable insights.
Non Brand Opportunities: Outside Top 3, Within Top 10 Ranked Terms Sorted by Impressions
Anything here with a negative CTR differential warrants investigation.
What's the landing page, why is the SERP snippet not converting to clicks well? Also, everything, regardless of CTR differential represents the biggest opportunity terms for improvement to the top three positions.
Freshening up the landing page content will help.
Get everything highlighted here scheduled for a refresh and you'll see immediate traffic uplift.
Non Brand Top 3s, Sorted by Impressions
Again, tweaking the negative differential terms will deliver immediate traffic uplift and help cement top three positions by virtue of positive SERP CTR differential.
You can do further segmentation here and look at just position three terms with close to zero CTR differentials and schedule them for improvement to keep them in their prime spot. Again, freshening up the landing page body content will also reinforce ranking and allow you to match landing page content to snippet CTRs if there is a mismatch.
Brand Top Performers, Sorted by Impressions
The least useful for traffic improvement perhaps, but worth looking at negative differentials to see if there are any clangers in there - like poor URL match to term which might warrant new pages to be built.
Can also represent some of the most valuable rankings in play for your client, so give the highest impression terms special care and schedule regular content refreshes for the highest value brand terms in here and anything seasonal that's thrown up.
And that's it.
This tool is likely to throw up actionable content insights immediately that you can work through for genuine results so I'd urge every SEO to use it judiciously.
* I'll chat about the other four later in the series. :-)