How To Benchmark For SEO

by : Danny Wirken

Benchmark reports in detail the current status of a particular website. It is the first step taken for an Internet market research as an integral component of most optimization service package. The analysis, as contained in the report, provides the current search engine position and rank for the keyword area of a website as well as information on the level and nature of competition in the keyword space. It also aims to examine the other factors bearing on the website's position and the weaknesses and opportunities in search result ranking.

The Optimization Project

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making a website generate traffic from relevant search term queries. In essence, the targeted traffic is drawn to a website once it has been properly optimized. No other marketing medium is able to effectively reach the people looking for a particular website and the services or products it offers.

Generally, an optimization project goes through this process:

Clients fill out the analysis form; keyword research is done; keyword phrases are narrowed down through consultation between the SEO company and the client; page adjustments are made; a site map is created and finally the global footer. This is more or less the basic structure but much has to be done at every step mentioned. Optimization is not intended to be a one time process but rather a continuous one to ensure the positioning of websites.

After a website is submitted, the SEO company monitors the ranking and compares it to the benchmark report that was initially generated before any work was done to the website. Since the report displays the existing rankings or inclusion of the site in search engines, there can be a true assessment done as improvements, if any, can readily be determined. Usually, the succeeding report is run six (6) months after search engine submission and directory registration. Web ranking reports are run as needed.

The site statistics, referrer traffic, keyword placement and ROI are all analyzed during the optimization period so that improvements that have to be made can be determined. It might take a few months before search engines can index the optimized site. The expected increased targeted traffic therefore will not be enjoyed right away. SEO companies have search engine monitoring services that provide signals when necessary changes have to be made to enable the site to cope up with major algorithm changes.

A comprehensive understanding of the whole SEO process needs to be gained to fully recognize its benefits. Ranking does not solely depend on on-page factors but on off-page factors as well. This is where link building matters most. A good number of quality incoming links considerably improves a website's page rank. This lets a site come ahead of the competitors as good ranks are attained on search engines.

Websites need to promote themselves well due to the intense competition in the Internet. Search engines have also developed very complex algorithms that seek to separate the relevant sites from the non-relevant ones. This relevance does not pertain to a single person but rather to a wide group of people that may be geographically apart but need to access the same factual information.

Benchmarking in SEO

Benchmark is defined as a standard by which something can be measured or judged. In business, to benchmark is to measure a rival's product according to specified standards in order to compare it with and improve one's own product. In comparing products or services, it is important to compare against the right benchmark to have a meaningful result.

Benchmarking in SEO is an important aspect of the process. A website does not begin and end with its creation. It needs to be maintained on a regular basis even if your website has attained the top position on search engines. The purpose of SEO is to continuously maintain the top position and to maintain this position permanently, if possible

It takes time to get high ranks in search engines and it can be very difficult to maintain it. A website's rank is continuously challenged by existing and new competitors. In addition, search engines change their algorithm continuously and the definition of spam tends to change frequently. The monthly maintenance service of SEO companies includes the provision of monthly (or bi-monthly as agreed upon) ranking report in the major search engines. The site is also checked for any internal or external broken links so that the problem is rectified the soonest possible time.

Some SEO companies provide the option of signing up for a Benchmark Tracking Web Statistics Service. This provides access to visitors' information regarding referral description, bounce rates, entry and exit page, routes taken by visitors to your site and the spider activity. Knowing such information is expected to provide ideas for additional methods that can help drive traffic to your site.

A tremendous amount of useful data can be used to compare your campaigns to the standard based on cost per click, average click rate, conversion rate, marketer's budget for research and optimization as against PPC (pay-per-click) results. Special research reports can enlighten you on how you can still improve your website. It helps to know what goes behind the players of the industry so that your actions on search marketing can be guided accordingly.

Various benchmark reports can assist you in avoiding a variety of mistakes that are possible while in the process of optimizing and promoting. A benchmark log analysis report assists in determining target phrases and to provide a benchmark for assessing progress. A benchmark search engine position report assists in determining the target phrases that require the most attention and to provide a benchmark for assessing search engine position improvement. A benchmark search engine position report with competition assesses and benchmarks search engine position compared with identified competitors within the online space.

The site to be optimized needs to be tested for ranking on major search engines and for inbound links to establish a benchmark to work from. A new site may possibly have old links or ranking related to the URL. The picture of the current effectiveness of a website can be completed through exploration of search term research and competition. The appropriate search terms and phrases are gathered from various sources. The website's rank for these terms can be seen and the relative competition identified in the process. By determining the strength of their current campaign, you will be able to determine your own strength and work on your weakness.