Determining and recording SEO baselines

The next step I often take in working to create a successful SEO campaign is often a fun one for me.  The purpose of this step is to take inventory of what you have to begin with.  You’re likely to fall in or near one of the two following groupings:  You are fortunate enough to have a site ranking for some decent phrases, already have some traffic coming in from those rankings, and you might even have some conversions from SEO.  Or, you have a site but not much else…yet!  Either way, this step gets you to look at where you’re starting from and even if you’re starting with nearly nothing, the fun comes from knowing you will be able to improve.

What baselines are important to record early on?

Your first instinct may lead you to start by noting where your site ranks for certain keywords.  While this is an important metric that you can (and should) easily compare with over time, I would encourage you to spend your time finding where your starting point is from a web analytics perspective and save setting keyword ranking baselines until you are doing keyword research.

Whether you’re using a free web analytics platform (such as Google Analytics) or you’re using a paid option, you will have a lot of information available to you.  Starting out, dig up at least enough information to answer the following questions:

  • how much traffic do you receive from organic, non-paid traffic
  • what keywords drive your natural search traffic
  • how much referral traffic do you receive now
  • what sites refer traffic to you
  • what are your typical bounce rates
  • how long do visitors typically spend on your main pages
  • how many conversions come from natural search traffic

Feel free to give us a call if you have trouble gathering any of this information!

Note:  this information can typically be referenced in your analytics account at any time but I see a lot of benefit from pulling this information early on.  There are a lot of ways to manipulate this data to give you the information that you need.  For instance, you may want to compare data from December 2009 to December 2008.

Dig into your data early on and establish your baselines to get a better idea of where you’re starting and what you need to focus on to improve.

The next step in this SEO gameplan discusses what considerations you should move through when choosing what keywords to pursue with Search Engine Optimization.