Apr 24 2012

5 Steps To Agile SEO

Category: organic seoTom Shivers


Most businesses treat SEO like a one time project – get everyone on board, do it and then it’s done, right? But…

  • Competitors for your search terms are willing to execute SEO until they outrank your site, pushing your site down in search rank
  • Search engines change regularly and new features come along which can benefit search listings and user experience
  • Missed opportunities abound when no one is skillfully monitoring keywords, landing pages and conversions

Maile Ohye of Google suggests this procedure for SEO agility:

  1. Define key performance indicators
  2. Implement improvements
  3. Measure success
  4. Create new improvements
  5. Prioritize improvements based on ROI and your marketing team’s capability

This is similar to how we at Capture Commerce tackle SEO workflow but with a lot more detail, detail, detail. Anyway, let’s go over each of these points at a somewhat high level.

1. Define key performance indicators (KPIs)

Retail site KPIs[i]:
Order Conversion Rate
Average Order Value
Average Revenue per Visit
Average Cost per Conversion
Percent Low Satisfaction Visitors
Percent High Satisfaction Visitors
Average Time to Respond to Email Inquiries (Minutes)
Ratio of New to Returning Visitors
New Visitor Conversion Rate
Returning Visitor Conversion Rate
Percent Revenue from First-Time Customers
Percent Revenue from Repeat Customers
Home Page “Stickiness”
Sample Landing Page “Stickiness”
Search-to-Purchase Conversion Rate
Percent Low Recency Visitors
Cart Completion Rate
Checkout Completion Rate
Order Conversion Rate for Campaign “X”
Order Conversion Rate for Campaign “Y”

Lead generator site KPIs[i]:
Lead Generation Conversion Rate
Average Time to Respond to Email Inquiries (Minutes)
Average Cost per Conversion
Average (Estimated) Revenue per Visit
Average Visits per Visitor
Percent Low Time Spent Visits
Percent Medium Time Spent Visits
Percent High Time Spent Visits
Percent Low Recency Visitors
Percent Medium Recency Visitors
Percent High Recency Visitors
Ratio of New to Returning Visitors
Percent Visitors in a Specific Segment
Home Page “Stickiness”
Sample Landing Page “Stickiness”
Lead Generation Rate for Campaign “X”
Lead Generation Rate for Campaign “Y”

2. Implement improvements

SEO improvements often fall into one of these categories:

  • New keywords with existing content
  • New keywords and new content
  • Keywords that convert but have fallen in search rank
  • Newly discovered keywords that convert

Improving search rank for keywords often means accurately interpreting the SEO strategy so that you know whether you are dealing with an adjustment or an addition issue, or taking advantage of a new search feature.

3. Measure success

Web analysts need the proper tools to do their job effectively and that means access to as much conversion data as possible. For some KPIs, this is as simple as having access to web analytics, but for other KPIs it can be more challenging:

  • Which traffic sources have the most impact on KPIs?
  • Which social media activities impact the KPI?
  • Which blog posts (on and off site) impact the KPI?
  • Tracking phone calls, email subscribers, business profiles, ratings, complex sales, etc. can be tricky when the data is off site, but there are tools that make it easier (i.e. CRM software)

4. Create new improvements

Web analysts then interpret the data, gain insight from it and make actionable recommendations that will increase the conversion rate and/or bring better KPI impact.

Each recommendation is a hypothesis that needs testing to prove its worth.

5. Prioritize improvements based on ROI and your marketing team’s capability

Prioritizing recommended improvements become easier if you can assign an estimated value to it in terms of ROI and/or revenue.

Another way to prioritize recommended improvements is to assign a probability score to it based on the marketing team’s capability to execute it.

For each recommendation, you want to prioritize:

  • Estimated value in terms of ROI
  • Implementation requirements
  • Who is responsible for implementation
  • Expected dependencies to implementation

Create a handy spreadsheet with these headings and sort accordingly.

[i] KPIs from Eric Peterson’s, The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators
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10 Responses to “5 Steps To Agile SEO”

  1. Myrtle says:

    Great blog. It really helps to a newly blogger like me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
    Myrtle recently posted..ChamonixMy Profile

  2. Kevin says:

    Love to see “measure response time to email request”. It’s a mantra for us around here, and fast response goes a long way towards winning business.
    Kevin recently posted..Small Business, Affiliate Marketing and Web Analytics PodcastMy Profile

  3. Tom Shivers says:

    Kevin, great point, most businesses focus on one or two of these KPIs and that’s about it. I’d say only the top 1% of businesses get to tracking response time KPIs.
    Tom Shivers recently posted..How Businesses Prepare Now for the Coming Economic SpringMy Profile

  4. Maryden25 says:

    Thanks for this great post. Your 5-steps here are really helpful and gives us more information and strategies to be more familiar and knowledgeable when it comes to SEO.

  5. Coreen says:

    I agree with your initial statements: that SEO is not a one shot deal and that there are many reasons to prove that. By keeping track of the KPIs, we can at least act before our ranking goes down.
    Coreen recently posted..learn guitar softwareMy Profile

  6. Liz says:

    It’s a mantra for us around here, and fast response goes a long way towards winning business.
    Liz recently posted..Hcg diet reviewsMy Profile

  7. Tom Shivers says:

    Ah Liz, another top 1% of businesses practice, congrats!
    Tom Shivers recently posted..Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing: 3 Findings From HubSpot’s 2012 SurveyMy Profile

  8. Jade says:

    Thanks for sharing the Steps To Agile SEO. I am new in Optimization of some search engine and when I read this post I have learned a lot.
    Jade recently posted..Chinese medicine Los AngelesMy Profile

  9. Simon Fryer says:

    Great article. In my experience dealing with clients who have been unipressed with other agencies, a lack of trackable, actionable KPI’s is one of the most common problems. I’ve also picked up some new ones here that I haven’t been using. Thanks for the article!
    Simon Fryer recently posted..Technology is changing college life, but how? [INFOGRAPHIC]My Profile

  10. Rene says:

    this is a great post.. thanks for the share man, this will help me alot! SEO needs constant improvement, because search engines always do…