Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools and more general web analytics solutions are both critically important for site analysis, but they don’t often work well together. This is a how-to guide for integrating SEO ranking tools with analytics tools.
The main benefits of integrating SEO ranking tools with tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Marketing Cloud include:
In this article, I aim to address critical considerations and common pitfalls when integrating an SEO tool such as BrightEdge, Conductor, or Searchmetrics with an analytics tool such as Adobe Marketing Cloud or Google Analytics. (If you are integrating your SEO tool with Adobe Marketing Cloud, this is also referred to as a “Genesis Integration.”)
Whether you are integrating your SEO tools within your analytics tools for the first time or you have already integrated both platforms, it is worthwhile to revisit some basics around how your attribution modeling is configured within your existing solution.
Tip: It is a best practice to use attribution models that reflect your advertising goals and business models.
For example, from a search marketing tools integration perspective, if you group your keywords within your SEO tool of choice into categories such as branded keywords and non-branded keywords, then given the fact that these keyword groups generally serve differing marketing objectives such as driving awareness versus driving conversions, then it makes sense to use different attribution models to measure the performance of different keyword groups. If you’re scratching your head at this, let’s explore it further.
While it is important to be aware of the many attribution models one can consider for multi-channel marketing ROI analysis and budget planning, for the purpose of this article, I will focus on the only two that matter with respect to correctly integrating your analytics platform with your SEO tools provider.
Last-touch attribution, aka last-click attribution, means that 100% of the conversion value goes to the last marketing channel with which the customer interacted before buying or converting.
For example, if a customer types in a non-branded keyword into a search engine and finds your website for the first time, then signs up for an email and visits your website a few days later, then clicks on a paid search ad the next day, and finally comes back to your site later from a branded natural search keyword, then the full attribution value of the conversion goes to the branded natural search visit.
First-touch or first-click attribution is a model that attributes 100% of the conversion value to the first marketing channel or traffic source with which the customer interacted.
For example, if a customer types in a non-branded keyword into a search engine and then discovers your website, then subsequently receives an email and several display ads before clicking through the website from the email, the attribution still goes toward the initial non-branded natural search visit.
It is very important to note that many people incorrectly assume that the default setting for their analytics tools is set to last-click attribution. Did you know that if you are using “Paid search detection” settings in Adobe (my former employer), also known as the “paid search equals natural segment” to segment out your natural search traffic, then, by default conversion is set to first-click.
The “paid search detection” plugin provided by Adobe is a powerful and popular tool, but it is important to be aware of the drawbacks of this tool from a marketing tools integration perspective.
Fortunately, Adobe offers a much more suitable method for integrating SEO data into your SEO tool of choice. If you are an Adobe customer and are setting up an integration with an SEO tools provider, I recommend that you consider leveraging an EVAR approach to segmenting your SEO data before sending it to the SEO tools platform.
Benefits of the EVAR integration approach include:
The only drawback to be aware of is that the EVAR approach requires some ongoing maintenance. Specifically, every landing page needs to be specified in the settings, which means that if you create new content, then you need to update the EVAR to reflect the pages that you want included.
If your analytics tool of choice happens to be Google Analytics and you plan to send your Google Analytics data to another SEO tools platform, then, as with the EVAR approach from Adobe, do note that you are able to leverage several attribution model settings. Again, I highly recommend aligning both first-touch and last-touch settings to measure the overall performance of each keyword group based on the general objectives of each keyword group.
Both first-touch attribution and last-touch attribution settings are important to utilize when you integrate your SEO tools with your analytics tools.
If you have keyword groups in your SEO tool that are designed to attract people at the moment of purchase, or if you have a business model that is mostly transactional with a sales cycle that does not involve a consideration phase, then you may want to consider linking these keyword groups to data within your analytics tool that is configured toward last-touch attribution.
If you have keyword groups in your SEO tools that are designed for creating an initial awareness of your brand, then you may want to consider linking these keyword groups to data within your analytics tool that is configured towards first-touch attribution.
Tip: If you are integrating your SEO tools with your reporting tools and are only using one attribution setting, or you do not know which attribution setting applies to your data in your SEO toolkit, then you have integrated your SEO tools with your analytics tools incorrectly.