The Importance of Benchmarking Natural Search

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The Importance of Benchmarking Natural Search

Posted by Dan Malachowski, Product Marketing Manager NSO

Some marketers fail to establish clear pre-campaign natural search benchmarks.  They later realize that they are lacking the performance metrics needed to optimize their campaign, as well as show return on investment.  At the start of a Natural Search Optimization effort, it’s critical to establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are in line with your organization’s business objectives.  KPIs should be clear, quantifiable metrics such as “mission critical” keyword ranking goals, percent increase goals for traffic volume, or conversions from natural search.

Once KPIs are set, related benchmark data needs to be pulled.  Benchmarks can include baseline natural search visits, “mission critical” keyword rankings, number of incoming links, amount of pages in the search engine index, or natural search conversions.  Conversions must be clearly defined and monetized, whether a conversion is defined as a sale from natural search, a lead form that is filled out, or a registration for an offering.  It’s important that benchmarks be clearly established at the start of the campaign so that they can be tracked over time to show results, i.e. newsletter registrations increased 300% or sales volume from natural search went up 100%.  It’s also helpful to automate the benchmarks to facilitate future reporting, analysis and optimization.

Proper benchmarking will help determine if “mission critical” keywords are driving qualified traffic and if targeted landing pages are converting that traffic.  For instance, you may see a rise in keyword ranking from your baseline for an important search term, but fail to see an increase in conversions from that term.  This may mean that you have to revise your search engine results page description copy or test a new landing page for that keyword.  The point is that access to historical metrics and baselines allows you to make data-driven optimization decisions.

Marketers must be able to completely understand the performance of their natural search campaign, especially when money and resources are being allocated to the marketing initiatives that show the strongest ROI.  Proper pre-campaign benchmarking is the key to doing this.

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