With talks of the new Google Penguin update and how social media can help stabilize and improve a site’s performance online, site owners are increasingly focusing on social media marketing campaigns. The question is – how do you really know how effective your campaigns are, and how can you determine ROI?
Of course, the ultimate way to track the effectiveness of your social SEO campaign is increased revenue, but there are other forms of tracking that can be beneficial as well. After all, not everything you do is going to generate an instant increase in revenue.
In this article I will discuss how to track the effects of your social seo efforts, and the best methods and tools to add to your toolbox.
Google Analytics: Traffic, Engagement, Conversions & Growth
Watching traffic trends is an excellent way to determine the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts. For example, is your organic traffic growing, and are the increased visitors coming from Google? Are the keywords you’re targeting bringing in visitors? Is your long tail growing by increasing the amount of keywords used to find your site? How many of your visitors are coming from social media sites, and do they convert?
Using Google analytics you can set up goals and conversions, and check the performance of your visitors by their source. For example, do your Twitter visitors have a high bounce rate? Do Pinterest pinners purchase your products?
Using custom reports, segments, and dashboards you can use Google analytics to track many different aspects of your marketing efforts. Here are a few of my favorite reports that you can set up on your Google Analytics profiles.
Social Media Benchmarking
When running a social campaign, there are certain statistics and numbers you need to pay careful attention to:
Facebook friends and likes
Google Plus +1′s, Circles added
LinkedIn Connections made
Twitter followers, number of retweets
Pinterest followers, likes, repins and mentions
Keeping an eye on these numbers and tracking the rate of growth can help to measure the effects of your social SEO efforts. For example, say you launch a giveaway – how many new Twitter followers did you gain? By spending more time posting on Google Plus, are your plus 1’s increasing? What’s the rate? You can measure ROI by tracking the growth of your social channels with the amount of time spent on each of them.
I use Cyfe to benchmark many of these components. I set up a social dashboard for each of my clients, then I create widgets for each of the social profiles. I can then watch the growth of all of the profiles and correlate these with our specific marketing efforts. What I love about Cyfe is that I can easily export the results and have instant reports ready to share and evaluate.
Rankings: An oldie but goodie
Rank tracking, in 2013, you may be thinking? Yes, I still believe keyword rank tracking can be an effective part of your benchmarking arsenal, even with “Not Provided” hiding a lot of your data and Personalized results making it difficult to determine what people are REALLY seeing. It’s simply another piece of the puzzle that can give you deeper insights into the results of your marketing efforts.
Anyone with any SEO experience already knows to track rankings, but what some may not know is that it may be beneficial to track long tail terms or terms that you find in your analytics and Google Webmaster account.
For example, say you were optimizing for “Blue Widgets” but Google created a semantic relationship to the keyword “Blue Tickets.” This keyword could be bringing qualified visitors to your site. By mining your analytics and using these new keywords as ranking benchmarks, you can check to see how other keywords that you are not purposefully focusing on are performing. If people who visit your site for the term “Blue Tickets” have a high goal conversion rate, you can focus more resources on ranking better for this keyword.
After Raven Tools discontinued Rank Tracking, I switched over to AuthorityLabs and am happy with the ease of tracking.
Link Growth Velocity and Protecting your Site from Negative SEO
Tracking link growth is even more important now than ever. With Penguin penalties and negative SEO running rampant, tracking your inbound links may prove to be the difference between a Google penalty and strong organic rankings. By benchmarking the amount of links that you have, and running new reports every month, you can keep an eye on the quality of those links.
I use LinkResearchTools to run automatic recurring backlink reports. One month I noticed a marked increase in backlinks for a client that didn’t correlate with any link building efforts that were out of the ordinary. We noticed that the site had been victim of negative SEO, with a large number of low quality links pointing to it. We immediately disavowed the links and have fortunately not had a penalty affect the site’s traffic. Of course we know that Penguin hasn’t run yet so we are not out of the woods, but fortunately we now have tracking setup so if a penalty DOES occur, we have data to send to Google for a reconsideration request.
Expected growth really depends on your marketing strategy. If you run a large social media giveaway, you can expect the amount of links to increase. Then you can correlate this increase in links and social shares with an increase in organic traffic. Did the investment in the giveaway result in better organic traffic? More visitors from social media sites?
Tracking and Benchmarking is Fundamental for your Social SEO campaign
As social media and SEO become more integrated, tracking has to evolve to reflect data from various sources. It’s not enough to simply track organic traffic or rankings; looking at all these different numbers and creating relationships between marketing efforts and your growth can help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t. WIth the increase in social networks, knowing where to focus your marketing resources is more important than ever!
Have you found effective ways to track the results of your Social SEO campaigns? What are your favorite metrics to track?