Benchmarking & Analytics: How to Track the Effects of your Social SEO Campaign

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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:

  1. Facebook friends and likes

  2. Google Plus +1’s, Circles added

  3. LinkedIn Connections made

  4. Twitter followers, number of retweets

  5. 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?

Marcela De Vivo
Marcela De Vivo has been an SEO since 1999, promoting thousands of sites including large corporate sites and small mom and pop businesses. She loves to connect, so don’t hesitate to reach out through her Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest or LinkedIn profiles.
Marcela De Vivo
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  • Opace

    Good post, it’s surprising hearing that some businesses are running SEO and online marketing campaigns yet not tracking them with any analytics software.

    It’s a must!

  • Jaydeep Kapadia

    Everyone who is doing social marketing should track their campaigns regularly. It is way to know that your efforts are in right direction. If one is not tracking his/her social SEO campaigns how he/she would be come to know that how much he/she is getting from it. If a person has spend lots of time for social SEO campaigns and could not be able to generate revenue or relevant traffic that I think not worth anymore.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    I think it’s important to note that not every brand is going to be a social media “darling.” For instance, I have two young children and odds are one of them will get lice someday from a kid at school or daycare. When that day comes RID is going to be my new best friend. I will read everything they promote on social media about how to get my kids lice-free as quickly as possible but I might not necessarily share their stuff, Like them, promote them, etc. It doesn’t mean their social campaign isn’t working but there is this bias built into their brand because I don’t want/need to whole world to know my kids have lice.

  • Jennifer Tay

    We LOVE Cyfe! We’ve been using them for a while now and literally can’t live without the tool. SEO, SEM, analytics, social media, and all our other internal metrics in one place. Brilliant!

  • Alexander Miklin

    I think it’s important to capitalize on various social strategies when optimizing for 2.0 Profiles. While there are many tools available to track social mentions and signals, which is great– I believe the most important aspect has to do with capitalizing on as many authoratative Vanity URLs as possible. Google also seems to like it when you use your + profile when commenting on media sites.

    Here is a 2.0 Site I bet many don’t even know exits…


    Great article, thanks for sharing,Marcela De Vivo!