Online marketing is all about data isn’t it? Well, maybe other stuff matters too, but if you’re anything like me, you love a juicy bit of data.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by information and procrastination is always a risk. This is a big weakness of mine, so I can empathize with all you data junkies out there.
My mantra when it comes to data is:
The best data is the data that gives you clear, actionable insights. Anything else is just a health check. Sure, it’s important, but you want to minimize the time you spend on anything that doesn’t give you an effective action plan.
In this post, I am going to show you one way to set up a KPI dashboard to provide you with hopefully actionable data and at the same time minimize the time you waste.
What is a KPI Dashboard?
You have probably come across the term before, but in case you haven’t, it stands for:
Key Performance Indicator (dashboard)
What a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is for you depends on what you do, what your website looks like, and what you care about the most. So you should start right now by reflecting on which data matters the most to you.
I am an SEO, so I care about things like:
- Traffic sources
- SEO related stuff
Before you start building your dashboard, you should figure out which bits of data are most important to you and which ones you need to see on a day-to-day basis. Be wary of data that is interesting but doesn’t really need your constant attention.
Setting up a Dashboard
There are plenty of ways you can set up a dashboard. I am going to be using Cyfe, simply because that is the provider I personally use for dashboarding. This is mainly because I like their interface and they have a lot of widgets that I like.
If you happen to use a different dashboarding service, you will probably find a similar set of widgets, and of course exactly how you set it up will depend on your needs. So I apologize for any bits of the set up which are different in whichever solution you use.
That said, this post is about using a KPI dashboard for an SEO project, so let’s get started shall we?
What Does it Do?
Cyfe has loads of different Analytics widgets, and I like to use a few different ones. Some I think can be TMI – but the idea is to figure out which data matters to you on a day-to-day basis. Let’s start with the Analytics overview. Depending on your stats, it will look something like the above image.
This widget shows you your traffic over the selected date range, number of visits, page views and visitors. Simple.
Well, it’s nice to see at a glance what your traffic is doing. Having this in your dashboard means if your traffic suddenly changes, you are able to react quickly.
Your traffic might suddenly plummet, in which case you will want to be alerted quickly so that you can try to figure out why and how to fix it.
On the other hand, if you get a sudden traffic spike, seeing it early will give you the opportunity to figure out what caused it, try to keep that wave going and, of course, try to repeat that success. In essence, this keeps you in touch with the results of your marketing.
What Does it Do?
Where is your traffic coming from? This is another Analytics widget which shows your main traffic sources.
This isn’t always going to be helpful, as it often stays much the same, but it is a helpful diagnostic tool and hopefully you will see it change over time depending on the success of your SEO. I have noticed that the direct visits segment has grown over the past few months as we have gained more repeat traffic.
What Does it Do?
This is my favorite widget! It shows the top keywords that have driven traffic to the site. Of course, these days Google limits your data, but you can still gain some useful insights.
This widget is particularly useful if you set Cyfe to show your data over the past week, as it will constantly show you the latest searches that people are using to find your site. Analytics is a treasure trove of keyword ideas, and this widget keeps you constantly in touch with that.
I glance at this list every day and if I spot a new phrase that looks promising I will add it to my rank tracking. FYI, I use Microsite Masters to track rankings, but again, there are other options out there.
This is a great way to find new long-tail phrases that you are ranking for. You will regularly find new phrases where you are ranking between 2 and 10, and you can often improve those rankings very easily just by tweaking that page for the given phrase – gaining easy traffic.
What Does it Do?
This widget shows you where your traffic is coming from. Generally, this means who is linking to you, so it’s a good way to discover new links.
Again, it’s most helpful if you set your dates to “past week” as you will then see the most recent new referrers. Any time you spot a new referring URL on your list, check it out – is it a new link? A mention? What’s the context?
If it’s a new link, then you can contact the site and thank them, ask if you could work with them again maybe and nurture a new relationship. If it’s a blog post, show your appreciation by commenting and keeping the buzz going.
Above all, this is a great way to learn what’s working, because if you have a sense of why people are linking to you (and what they’re linking to) you can make sure you do more of that.
What Does it Do?
It shows you your top landing pages over the selected time period. Pretty simple really.
Ok, so viewing your top landing pages isn’t anything new. But having a landing page widget on your dashboard is surprisingly useful if you are focusing on building traffic using content (and you probably should be!).
Personally, I find most of the time the same few pages receive most of the traffic, but occasionally I notice a new page suddenly appears on the list. This is great because it’s something I wouldn’t normally notice, but knowing means I can find out why.
It could be a new piece of content that has performed well, or an old piece of content that has been linked to or featured. Either way, finding out that a piece of content is successful is an opportunity to capitalize by helping to promote it further, or even add to it and make it better.
What Does it Do?
SERP tracking is pretty standard and I must confess that I use another service (Microsite masters, because they are the most accurate option I have found to date) to track the bulk of my keywords, but one thing I love about this widget is that it gives you a rank and a graph for your most important phrases.
Tracking dozens or hundreds of keywords and looking at a list of numbers is pretty uninspiring, it’s a good thing to do. But you wouldn’t want to scan a hundred different rankings every day, would you?
I like these widgets because they plot the search position over time. As you can see in the screen shot above, I have 12 widgets to track my 12 most important phrases.
This lets me see not just how I’m ranking, but how stable those rankings are. So I can see whether my rank is improving or deteriorating for each phrase, and I can act accordingly.
Another benefit is that graphing your rankings lets you see, at a glance, when big changes have happened. If you see a big drop or rise, you can see when it happened. Was it gradual or sudden? If it was sudden, was it because of something you did? Or external? And was it all keywords or just one?
I hope this has given you some ideas. The point here is that a dashboard probably won’t contain any data that you didn’t already have available, but there is great value in having a few key stats in the same place, so that you can see them at a glance.
Are you going to check your landing pages, referring URLs, SERP positions, etc. every morning? Probably not, it’s too time consuming.
But, with a well designed dashboard you can see it all at a quick glance, so if nothing has changed you can just get back to doing your job – but when something does change, you see it straight away and can act accordingly.
That’s all! Thanks for reading.
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