I often say that the SEO pro­fes­sional (and most busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als for that mat­ter) have three pri­mary roles: doing the work, mon­i­tor­ing progress based on the work, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing the process and progress of the work to those who care. In the case of met­rics, they increase one’s influ­ence and cred­i­bil­ity by reg­u­larly mon­i­tor­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing about them. How­ever, met­rics are inher­ently an enigma. The mys­tery that sur­rounds them is always a tough nut to crack in the com­mon per­cep­tion of most peo­ple. All that most see is a bunch of num­bers in neatly stacked columns that have very lit­tle con­text. Let’s put this into per­spec­tive so we both have a com­mon under­stand­ing of the value in talk­ing about tech­ni­cal SEO met­rics. Met­rics are the spe­cific mea­sure­ments, data if you will, that in them­selves mean lit­tle until eval­u­ated and inter­preted. What this data will tell you is where your web­site is achiev­ing what you expect by enabling suc­cess in your business.

I like to use a base­ball anal­ogy to make that point more plainly by bor­row­ing a quote from the book Mon­ey­ball by Michael Lewis:

When the num­bers acquire the sig­nif­i­cance of lan­guage, they acquire the power to do all the things which lan­guage can do … and it is vic­tory and defeat which is all that the sub-conscious really understands.”

The abil­ity to turn data into lan­guage that peo­ple can under­stand, at all lev­els in your orga­ni­za­tion, is the dif­fer­ence between hit­ting home runs and con­tin­u­ally foul­ing off pitch after pitch because your swing is wrong. Tech­ni­cal SEO met­rics are the power of the swing. Even if your results are great, if you can’t tell a clear story based on them, your stake­hold­ers will be under­whelmed and your value will be min­i­mized. The abil­ity to show results, using solid data analy­sis, is the dif­fer­ence maker between vic­tory and defeat when it comes to build­ing a web­site the pro­duces results. If you want the S.C.O.R.E. to be in your favor at the end of the day, make sure your SEO met­rics are telling the story your team needs to hear in lan­guage they can understand—and this lan­guage (and met­rics) will vary whether they’re an exec­u­tive, from a busi­ness unit, in Web strat­egy, or on a tech­ni­cal or IT team.

There­fore, this requires think­ing through a solid foun­da­tion for your tech­ni­cal met­rics and mak­ing sure the resources are in place to under­stand the story your data is telling you. Also, have con­tin­gency plans as part of over­all strat­egy if some of your stan­dard met­rics vary greatly. This could include fac­tors related to algo­rithm changes (think Pen­guin, Panda, and Hum­ming­bird); an increase in error codes, 404 pages, or bounce rates (sec­ondary met­rics really); or a drop in rank, vis­its, or your top pur­chase or con­ver­sion met­rics (pri­mary met­rics). Our friends at Search Engine Watch pro­vide excel­lent insight on what the con­se­quences might be if your web­site isn’t on solid tech­ni­cal foot­ing. The worst part is that you prob­a­bly won’t even know you have the prob­lem, unless either search engines penal­ties or your results tell you oth­er­wise. These prepara­tory steps cre­ate the envi­ron­ment at Adobe for our tech­ni­cal met­rics to live and thrive in so they can tell us in plain lan­guage when things aren’t going quite right.

S – Stan­dard­ize on a set of met­rics so that the event can be recon­structed if it goes wrong.
C — Com­mit to a set of SEO tools and track­ing meth­ods and teach key stake­hold­ers to use them.
O – Orga­ni­za­tional align­ment with the cor­po­rate needs, goals, and objec­tives.
R – Reports and dash­boards must tell the story of the data in lan­guage all can under­stand.
E – Exe­cute the cam­paign with con­sis­tent and repeat­able meth­ods so results can be compared.

If the global team is to deliver organic and site search strate­gies that pro­duce results, then the search team must deliver excep­tional indus­try best prac­tices and KPI-focused data rel­e­vant to cor­po­rate goals and objec­tives to align best with prod­uct mar­ket­ing efforts.


 Hello Dave!

I love your baseball analogy. I believe that tech­ni­cal SEO met­rics are really the power of the swing. I think that even if our results are good, if we really can’t tell a clear story based on them, then our colleague will be dissapointed and our value will diminished.