When you start an SEO campaign you should have a goal that you wish to reach. Whether your goal is gaining more sales, leads, or just overall more traffic/visitors on a daily basis, you should have a way of reporting this. It is very important that you know what is working and what is not working. Due to how long natural rankings and increases in natural traffic can take to get, you want to make sure you know as soon as possible if there is something you could be doing better.  So how do you measure your online success?

First let’s look at some tools you should have when you are doing reporting and measuring your success.

    A Traffic Tool – I have yet to find an analytic program that works as well as Google Analytics. For one thing it is free and for another there are so many different options available for you that you should have no trouble finding out where a person came from, what page they left your site from, how long they stayed on your site and much more. Aaron did a great write up on how to use Google Analytics that everyone should take a look at.

    A Backlink Checker – I have said it many MANY times that backlinks are very important to the overall success of your website. There are many different tools out there that will help you analyze your backlinks, Including: Yahoo Site Explorer, Link Diagnosis, and Linkscape from SEOMoz.

    A Keyword Ranking Tool – There are many of these out there, sadly most do cost some money. If you are running a small campaign a tool such as RankChecker (a Firefox Add on) is maybe something you could use. There is a risk in using that tool though because if you use it too much (in a day) it could get your IP address banned from the Search Engines for the day. So use at your own risk and be cautious if you are doing a lot of keywords.

You will need at least one tool for each of the things mentioned above to get a solid idea of how well you are doing with your campaign.  Here are some things that you should always be doing on a month to month basis when you are either working with a SEO company or doing your SEO in house:

Create a Baseline Report

This is the first thing you should do above anything else. You need to know where you stand from the get go of the campaign, that way when you make changes you can see what worked and what didn’t. You need to have something to base everything off of before you start. It is almost impossible to see if you changing your titles and tags helped your conversions for the month without this data.  With the baseline report you will see where you stand before doing any work to your site.

Date when you have made ANY kind of change to your site

It is important that you date your changes/additions to your site. This includes marking down when you did any link building. Come up with a spread sheet that will keep track of the dates of link requests or additions and changes to the site. That way, when you do your month to month report you can say “well we added titles and tags on this day, so that could explain why there was a drop in rankings or a rise in rankings.”

Month to Month Report

This will build off your baseline report that you will continually add to on a month to month basis. This will give you a good idea of whether you did better or worse from the previous month. Compare it to the date report that you created to see what you may have done to get that increase or decrease in traffic. Something that you should keep in mind is that if you made changes to your website including titles, tags and content you could see a small drop in that first month after the change. This is due to the fact that the Search Engines are re-evaluating your site and they have noticed that you have made changes. For example if you were ranking for “Super Cheap Shirts” and you had that in every single one of your titles tags and you went through and changed it to just having that keyword on one page you may see a little drop in rankings for that keyword at first, but it should even itself back out and you should also see more rankings for other keywords now as well instead of just one.

Measuring your success or failure with your online campaigns is very important when running an SEO campaign. It is also very important to have clear goals mapped out so you know what you or your client is expecting from the campaign. Capture as much data as you can and use it to your advantage.