Summary: Analytics Driven SEO with Hugo Guzman (@hugoguzman) #seochat

Guest: @hugoguzman. @hugoguzman is a marketing agency executive with nearly a decade of experience working with enterprise-level brands. He writes about the online marketing industry on his personal blog, www.hugoguzman.com . @hugoguzman is also an avid guest poster that has been featured on sites like seobook.com and techipedia.com.

Tonight we’re going to be talking about Analytics Driven SEO. So let’s get the real party started and jump in to the questions.

What are the most important SEO insights you can get from web analytics?

For me it’s the ability to prioritize efforts by identifying keywords that are already driving traffic and/or conversion even though the site or page in question isn’t currently occupying the top position in search results pages. I call these “on the cusp” or “money” keywords.

@dan_patterson Do you look at individual keywords, or more keyword sets?
@hugoguzman Both, though I tend to lean towards drilling down to individual keywords when feasible.
@matt_storms I think the vertical and then the lateral.

@ashbuckles What is your preferred criteria for current visitor count? Anything 1+ or greater volume?
@hugoguzman I prefer conversion data over visit data when possible. If visits are all I have I start with the highest & work down.
@jeypandian I look at the best converting keywords in addition to volume, volume data on its own doesnt do much.
@ashbuckles Agreed on the volume-only data. However, it uncovers long tail possibilities.
@jeypandian @ashbuckles that is true – long tail = gold in terms of kw research.

@dan_patterson Do you have any examples you can share of a great ‘money keyword’ that you’ve found this way?
@hugoguzman @dan_patterson I try to make this a cornerstone of all client campaigns, so there are many.

@Chris_Stocker When identifying these “money” keywords, do you look more are traffic or conversions, or a mixture of both?
@hugoguzman I know you know my answer to that, Chris ; )
@JadedTLC Conversion. That’s what it’s all about. You put your right keywords in, you take the wrong ones out, you put your right words in…
@SearchExchange also need to look at the actual return on investment for ‘money keywords’ – traffic, conversions, and actual money made.

How can you use analytics to shape a campaign before it goes live?

Again, the idea is to identify a group of keywords that already have a proven track record (e.g. revenue, leads, etc) and then mapping those keywords against the specific URLs that are are showing up in the SERPs. You can also do the opposite which is identify URLs or sections of a site that are generating little or no natural search traffic or conversion. Another aspect worth mentioning is the value of analyzing referring site data to influence link building campaigns. By tracking referring URLs and looking for new referring sites, you can proactively identify sites that worth reaching out to develop a relationship that could lead to more inbound links in the future because a site that has already linked to unsolicited is very likely to entertain ideas that could lead to future links!

@AnnieCushing @hugoguzman And with keywords that have been impacted by localization, segmenting by region/city.

@jeypandian Chiming in – analytics prior to a campaign helps lay the foundation of a successful search campaign by tapping into existing demand.

@ashbuckles When you don’t have historical/conversion data on a new site?
@hugoguzman There are techniques for dealing with clients that have no data, like traditional keyword research.
@dan_patterson I’d also go 4 running some PPC campaigns to really test and see what you should go after in that situation.
@aknecht Love doing PPC as well to test different keywords when no quality historical data exists.

@Thos003 How do you determine which sites are linking to them “naturally”?
@hugoguzman If they’re a client (or employer) you’d hope they would just tell you about any “unnatural” ones.

@jeypandian You say traditional keyword research – is there something that’s termed modern kw research?
@hugoguzman The technique I described in A1 could theoretically be referred to as modern keyword research. Sure there are others.

@aknecht I like to correlate organic search terms to conversion & then locate content sites that are focus on those terms for links.

What are some possible ‘false signals’ to watch out for when looking at your analytics?

Interesting question. One “false signal” is aggregate SEO traffic that doesn’t filter out branded keywords. This usually only a concern for larger brands (small brands don’t typically generate many branded searches). The problem with branded SEO traffic is that it isn’t really a function of SEO since 99% of the time the brand already ranks No. 1 for said term. This branded traffic is really more a function of brand recognition.

@dan_patterson I love the idea of data mining ur analytics for kw ideas. I do it all the time. Bet @anniecushing has some tricks 4 it

@AnnieCushing Bounce rate can be “off” if you’re tracking virtual pageviews or events. Interactions = hits & ergo not a bounce.
@jeypandian Another one I’m guessing is internal office traffic

@dan_patterson Good call. I think it’s important to filter out common misspellings of brand terms in that as well.
@hugoguzman Yes, mispelled brand mentions should also be filtered out.

@lyena I work with local businesses and most of their searches are branded (from directory & review sites)
@hugoguzman No doubt. Local businesses can be “big brands” in their own right.

@jeypandian Does branded traffic spill over to a client’s social media accounts?
@hugoguzman I’m sure some of those brand searches lead users to social profiles (or even competitor or review sites)
@jeypandian How do you attribute the sources correctly when the two are mixed together? if too complex can save for another day :)
@hugoguzman Attribution modeling (Omniture & now Google Analytics) can help to a certain extent but it will prob never be perfect.
@Thos003 Do you use any cookie monitoring to help with attribution?
@hugoguzman Cookies can be useful at times for sure.

@aknecht I like to look at branded terms as well, this is helpful info when running radio/tv spots where users may not remember the URL
@kmullett Agreed and don’t forget about Direct Mail campaigns location of run + branded search.
@aknecht Yes but direct mail generally has the URL (frequently a vanity one) so need to keep that traffic in mind as well.

@BarryBirkett Do you ever borrow data from work with another client or is that considered bad form — or worse?
@hugoguzman In my experience, if leveraging data from client A helps client B make more money, they won’t complain. Especially if you’re keeping that data secure and not sharing it or making it public somehow.

@dan_patterson Here’s an awesome Regex to put in GA to identify great 2-3 words terms. Got this from #convcon ^s*[^s]+(s+[^s]+){1,2}s*$ . To be more specific, that regex for 2-3 word terms was from @inflatemouse at #convcon.

@Thos003 But doesn’t branded search happen lower in the buying funnel? ( per @vanessafox )
@hugoguzman @vanessafox said that? That might sometimes be the case, but typically, brand terms are close to the end of the cycle.
@aknecht I’d say branded searches can happen at the end. When the buyer has decided on which brand as well.
@dan_patterson I agree (and have shown it in my own analytics), brand terms are usually the end of the visit chain.

@aknecht Ever use clearsaleing.com for attribution modelling & tracking. #justCurious. Only sat through their demo, never had a opportunity to use it.
@hugoguzman Nope, can’t say that I have. May have to check them out. Thanks for the tip!

@LoisMarketing Yes, battling with aggregate data in SEO. Not sure small biz should be so focused. Instead focus on content and message.
@JadedTLC I’m not sure that’s true. Keywords are even MORE important to small biz. You can’t have a small biz without a strong internet presence. Your competitors will eat you alive.
@LoisMarketing Too much importance placed? Keep in mind the “mix” that’s crucial to small biz success.
@dan_patterson Exactly, the mix is completely crucial. It’s why I hate phrases like “content is king.” It only considers part of it.
@Thos003 Small businesses should be interested. But yes, data comes with time so start with the baby steps.

@hugoguzman Data visualization can be a powerful tool in an SEO’s arsenal. Helps persuade decision makers.
@Thos003 Visualzation helps persuade decisions period.

Do you use any analytics tools outside of the main platforms to better optimize your campaigns?

I’m a meat & potatoes kind of guy so I mostly stick to the standard platforms (GA, Omniture, Google Webmaster Tools) and also mix in niche platforms like Raventools from time to time. That said, one thing that a lot of folks forget to do is leverage paid search analytics data. They can be a great source of analytics insight as far as which keywords perform well in terms of conversion.

@AnnieCushing Have you checked out @statdash yet? Looks really cool.
@hugoguzman Nope, can’t say that I have. Will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

@LoisMarketing I don’t focus on measuring the traffic. I measure the message. Content is king (queen)!
@dan_patterson But if no one sees your content it doesn’t do you any good. You still have to market the message.
@JadedTLC Content is dead if no one can find it. Keyword discovery will help you write what people want.
@AnnieCushing But your analytics is a powerful tool to garner ideas for content. And will show you what’s working.
@hugoguzman When it comes to SEO (and most other interactive marketing) raw empirical data is the foundation.
@LoisMarketing Analytics are key but I’m scared for many who depend on the web for their success and are hanging on every number. I’m afraid that many — large and small — have a distorted view of their web presence. Here I go adding spice!
@hugoguzman Just keep in mind that soon, it will all be “online” and “web” based. Everything will be interactive. Everything.
@LoisMarketing @hugoguzman Totally disagree. I predict most will abandon web — or gain a healthy use of it — craving 1:1.
@hugoguzman Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Just remember that technology expands exponentially. #thesingularityisnear
@LoisMarketing Thank you for entitling me to my opinion. ;)

@MediaCollective Outside analytics also utilize “listening platforms” what terms do live customers use, frequency& integrate those.

@aknecht Treat C level managers like 8 year olds – Draw them a picture they can understand.

@ashbuckles @hugoguzman I’ve found PPC data to inaccurately relate to SEO so it should be a starting point. Always test.

@jeypandian Also as the Critchlows said – if you go looking for a pattern in numbers, there will be one. Solid seo campaigns have solid analytics as their foundation imho.
@dan_patterson Totally agree. Otherwise you’re playing the game blind.

@dan_patterson So do you use any special tools to measure paid search so you can apply it to SEO?
@hugoguzman I try to keep it simple e.g. what keywords and groups of keywords generate conversion.

@ashbuckles Some interesting insights this week about content usage after something @AlanBleiweiss said in favor of content over links.

Can you get different insights from different analytics platforms? Examples?

I would have said yes in the past, particularly in terms of attributing SEO conversions to prior visits. Visits that may have come in via different marketing channels or via different keywords. This was something a platform like Omniture could do but Google Analytics could not. But Google remedied that gap in one of their most recent updates to Google Analytics. It’s also worth pointing out that there are definitely things in Google Webmaster Tools. Like detailed data on inbound links or data on which URLs have the most inbound links from external/internal pages that you won’t find in conventional analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Omniture.

@ashbuckles When a new product/brand is introduced, content is what associates it’s purpose. Links, however, drive buyers.

@ChavaRisa Online is already moving offline. Think Grouping, foursquare, zimride.
@AlanBleiweiss wow to people who actually believe online marketing is not the future reality. wow. just wow.
@dan_patterson I wouldn’t consider FourSquare an example of online moving offline. It’s an example of mobile integration.

@lyena When is first attribution important and when is the last one?
@hugoguzman Depends on the client and their goals. Attribution can be a sticky subject.

@dan_patterson Google Webmaster Tools really should be looked at as a supplemental analytics platform.

@LoisMarketing I’m afraid my SM friends can’t see the forest for the trees. SM/web will be with us from now on but don’t negate 1:1. If we lose 1:1 we lose it all. Tech, Twitter and SM make me want to scream.
@aknecht Does using the phone make you want to scream as well? That’s technology that replaced face to face?
@ashbuckles I don’t understand how a 1:1 ratio is possible for our children.
@AlanBleiweiss Change away from 1:1 is inevitable. A new model. Adapt or die.
@hugoguzman @LoisMarketing what if I told u that 1:1 will be done telepathically via nano circuitry within the next few decades if not sooner?
@LoisMarketing @hugoguzman I’d unfollow you ;)
@hugoguzman @LoisMarketing I agree that 1:1 will always exist. People just don’t realize how fast technology advances. If someone from 1911 witnessed what us humans do today they would think it was sorcery. That pattern will continue… Phones won’t be around for long. Communication will happen at the quantum scale. #electrotelepathy For those interested in how future technology might shape marketing (and life and being “human”) read this http://amzn.to/13fb3k
@dan_patterson The only way the internet would get abandoned is if something better/newer came along. New technology kills old.
@jeypandian @dan_patterson not necessarily, it’s more like new technology + mainstream adoption which kills the old tech lol
@dan_patterson @jeypandian yes, and mainstream adoption usually happens with whichever technology is better. Not always, but usually.

@dan_patterson I was actually able to set up a ‘multi-touch’ report in Ominture. Really helps me see the bigger picture. But of course, we had to pay Omniture $$$ to develop the script for it ;)
@hugoguzman Omniture can be the bomb digidity when properly configured
@dan_patterson It’s funny cause now it’s really about the only thing I use Omniture for. Just need to find a way to do it in GA :)
@AnnieCushing “When properly configured” is what’s rare, in my experience.
@aknecht Too many think Omniture is a simple GA replacement/upgrade – Explains all the bad implementations.

@AlanBleiweiss As marketers, it’s our responsibility to embrace the new model mentality. If not, we don’t deserve to be hired.

@hugoguzman Oh and one last thing. Don’t believe everything you read. Test and observe for yourself. That’s key when it comes to SEO.

@LoisMarketing Along the way I make very interesting friends — and write amazing business.
@dan_patterson And there’s nothing wrong with that. 1:1 has it’s place, so does web/tv/radio/print/etc. Who ever said that 1 negates all others?
@hugoguzman @ashbuckles most of my marketing colleagues were met online, not in person. It’s probably like 10 to 1 ratio.

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  1. [...] past week, I had the honor of serving as a guest for the weekly Twitter #SEOchat gathering. It was great to have an opportunity to react with a variety of marketers and discuss [...]

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