Measuring the success of SEO campaigns – Email interview with Enquisite’s Exquisite Richard Zwicky

Posted by in Search Marketing (SEO), Training, Working In Search on February 16th, 2009 2 Comments

Richard Zwicky has been involved in search marketing for a decade, starting in the late 90s. In 2000 he co-founded Metamend, a leading search marketing firm with a very large client base in 60 countries around the world, including managing campaigns for top Fortune 500 sites.

In 2006 he founded Enquisite, a software company which develops advanced search analytics packages, offering SEO and SEMs in depth insight into search page ranking and visitor behaviour, from organic and pay-per-click search traffic.

At the Search Engine Strategies conference in London next week, Richard is participating on an Orion panel session ‘Measuring success in a 2.0 World’, which promises to explore classic and cutting-edge techniques for measuring search engine marketing campaigns, and assess which statistical information is important when evaluating a website and its optimisation.

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Richard kindly agreed to answer a few questions for Apple Pie & Custard, and here are his responses.

1) What is the best way to judge the success of an online marketing campaign?

By whether or not you achieved your goals!  Goal driven achievements, depending on if you are looking at conversions, referrals, time-on-site, page views, branding.  You can’t have success without goals, nor can you set expectations, strategy or tactics, so really the only way to judge success is to have goals, and measure against them.

2) What is Web 2.0 and how does it affect how marketers can measure the success of a website?

Web 2.0 is a leap forward. There’s lots of great definitions out there with regards to Web 2.0, but the single biggest change that strikes me is how interaction with Internet users has changed.

1.0 applications forced users to modify their intuitive behaviours to make the systems work.  Web 2.0 is more about the applications / interfaces between a user and the systems modifying to meet user expectations of function and behaviour.  It’s about how “I” want to work, not how the systems wants me to work.

From a measuring success perspective, measurement is no longer simply linear, but rather across a multitude of events, platforms and sources.  This makes it more challenging than ever to measure and understand the various elements contributing to a campaign, but also presents opportunities.

3) In your ten years’ experience, what has been the biggest change in SEO reporting?

In hindsight, even a few years ago, reporting for SEO really consisted overwhelmingly of almost meaningless information being banded about.

A lot of meaningless data points were quoted: “My hits went up 300%!” -  Useless.  You quadrupled the number of items on the page, so server recognized hits went up 4x, meaning your real traffic went down.

Another example:  “My site’s rank is moving up!”  Useless.  Your rank went up based on the location you were searching from, not where your customers are located. Yet, people clung to these “metrics”

Of course, I can’t deny that Enquisite represents the biggest change in SEO reporting in the last 10 years, but full disclosure rules applying, I’m not completely objective on the matter.  Even subjectively speaking though, I think the innovations found in Enquisite are extremely meaningful for SEO’s and PPC specialists.

Having reports tailored to a search marketers needs which accurately reflect customer acquisition rates and patterns and which is presented as actionable data is a massive change, and definitely the most meaningful in the last ten years.  Traditional analytics just aren’t built for search marketers; they don’t provide us the information that we need to do our jobs.  Even three years ago there weren’t any analytics reports specifically designed for search marketers.

Even today, most analytics are useful for PPC campaigns, but organic has not been properly recognized.  Yet, organic represents more traffic overall.  The fact that there now are analytics tailored to SEO needs is incredibly important.

Why organic reporting had fallen so far behind is no mystery however.  Companies have had a much harder time measuring and thus monetizing organic search.  Conversely, Google and Yahoo naturally provided much more information on activity back to analytics reporting for paid search, making it much simpler to understand the contribution of the channel.  With the economic upheaval circling the globe, companies are recognizing that organic drives more overall traffic than paid, and needs to be measured, and its contribution valued.

4) What is to be gained from events like SES and how important is it for Search Engine Optimisers to attend these types of events?

It’s extremely important to attend events like SES, because without it we operate in a vacuum.  SES isn’t just a conference where you sit down and listen to speakers. It’s very interactive.  When working in any field, one of the challenges anyone faces is that we lose the ability to see the forest because we’re always looking at the trees, trying to prune individual branches, etc.  We get lost in the details of what we’re doing.That may be fine in traditional industries, but not in IT.

In this industry where the rate of change is phenomenally fast is that it’s far too easy to fall behind quickly, and that’s unacceptable for client success rates. These conferences offer attendees the opportunity to brush up on all the latest changes and advances, to review best practices, and to learn about the experiences and missteps of others.  It makes us all better at our jobs, and that means we’re more valuable to our companies

5) What will SEOs be able to learn from your presentation?

Lots!  I’m fortunate enough to be presenting on more than one subject during the conference, so I get a couple of chances to share some ideas.  The most important take-aways I always hope to share at conferences are practical ways you can apply; lessons learned, how-to-do-things, and real world examples.  From a broader perspective, I hope to show attendees that there are better ways to monetize our efforts, and that these ways will help both advertisers and agencies during the current economic uncertainty.

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