Eight Benchmarks to Measure Online Progress

Tracking both Traffic and Engagement

As public relations expands into the three key areas of social media, search engine marketing and web site development, and, as many clients become overwhelmed by the fast-paced changes in all these areas, the measurement of progress has become imperative to tailor online PR programs to individual company needs and reassure executives about the wisdom of your approach.

Here are the key benchmarks I have found the most useful for tracking purposes.

1) Inbound links

Inbound links, clickable text on other web sites pointing to your own, represent the primary tool used by the Google algorithm to determine search engine ranking. In addition to the overall number of inbound links, the quality of the links and their relevance to your business field are also taken into account. The best source for this measurement is www.majesticseo.com.

2) Deep link ratio

Deep links are inbound links pointing to an interior page of your web site instead of the home page. The Google algorithm prioritizes deep links as an indication of the overall breadth of a web site and therefore its quality. The best source for this measurement is www.searchenginenews.com/ssitool.

3) Unique web site visitors

Unique visitors to your site are best measured by installing Google Analytics. This can be done by accessing the program from your Google account and then inserting the supplied coding on your home page in the proper location. The unique aspect is important so one person visiting your site 50 times will only register as one hit.

You can set up Google Analytics to send you an email every week with a complete report including this statistic.

4) Google PageRank

Google PageRank is widely over-rated as a measurement of web site strength; remember, Google uses more than 200 ranking signals before assigning search engine results. Still, this one-to-ten scale is useful in determining the quality of your inbound links. Google PageRank can be retrieved from a wide variety of measuring sites.

5) Search engine percentage

As your web site gets stronger, you will be tracking more and more visitors through search engines as opposed to direct visits. Google Analytics provides a pie chart showing this percentage.

6) Website grader

Hubspot.com offers a great website grader program with a variety of measurements. They include a percentile ranking of your web site’s strength, a Moz rank (similar to PageRank) and an Alexa traffic rank.

7) Twitter followers

One of the easiest benchmarks to obtain, the number of your Twitter followers provides an essential indicator of your strength on social media. There seem to be two major groups, those with a handful of followers and those with 1,000 or more. I would shoot for the latter and then let your account maintain itself, perhaps by automatically tweeting out blog headlines, unless you have vast amounts of time to conduct a social media marketing campaign.

8) Blog readers

The program feedcat.net provides coding that can be inserted as a widget into your blog’s sidebar. It will measure the number of subscribers to your blog and, if you have an adequate number, may actually encourage more people to sign up.

The above benchmarks taken together will provide an accurate picture of your online visibility and web site strength.