5 KPIs that Matter More Than Social Shares – Chalk Talk Thursday #3
Hello. This is Shaheen over at WebUpon, and this is episode number three of Chalk Talk Thursday. Today I want to do something a little bit different and talk about a point that I think is pretty important when you’re actually building out your social presence and your content marketing really. If you’re trying to execute a content marketing strategy, I think this is a very important point.
00:21 A lot of people love social share data. It’s not as available as it used to be ever since Twitter dropped it off its roster, a lot of other people have basically responded in kind by limiting the information. StumbleUpon has gone the way of the dinosaurs as has Google Plus. Right now, if you type in a URL, you’re basically left with Facebook Comments and Shares, LinkedIn Shares, Pinterest Pins, Buffer Shares, and Reddit Upvotes. Those are basically the big social networks that still give this information out. Obviously, Twitter is cool with bots but not with sharing social info, so we’re left with this. If you look at this URL here, I have 14 shares on Facebook. I don’t promote this at all so that’s completely organic, and that’s just happened recently since they don’t actually share data that’s historical anymore.
Social Shares Aren’t the Whole Story:
01:13 The point that I would really make to business owners is that even though it’s cool to know what our social share count is, and it can actually be helpful to track it down in these tools that draw from APIs because you get more information than you might be able to just see from your profile, but again, a lot of things that happen privately you can’t really see still. All that said, social share counts are cool, but to me the really big question is, what are the success metrics that you should be looking at besides social share counts?
1) How to Use Keyword Ranking Info
01:41 :Let’s hop over to SEMrush real quick. This one to me is really the biggest KPI or potential for opportunity that you can have as you’re trying to grow out your presence in search, and what I mean by that is social is nice, but given the way that the algorithms are working, and they’re highly restrictive of organic reach for any individual business on their platform. What I mean by that is if you look at a site’s overall performance, you’re not really going to see … it’s very unusual unless you’re built on the platform in the same way that a business like Upworthy is or BuzzFeed, that you’re going to consistently see the majority of your traffic happening on social.
That said, there’s obviously some very successful businesses that have based their model almost entirely on Instagram. That’s like where they actually get their search traffic from. To me, if I look at the vast majority of businesses out there, the people that I interact with, the successful businesses are making most of their traffic off of organic. I don’t think that’s necessarily a sample set thing just because I base most of my business off of SEO. I think that just tends to be an industry trend. Most people are getting the majority of their traffic every month in and month out through direct and organic. And you could spend a lot through paid and make it happen that way too, but generally speaking, you’re going to get the most traffic and the most free traffic through organic.
The first thing you should really be looking at is your keyword rankings. What I did is hop over to SEMrush. This is my favorite keyword search tool out there. There’s a million of them so you can really use whatever you want, but I would just recommend this one because you do have the benefit of historical data warehousing. We’ve only been around for a few months, so you can see the immediate bump that we have going on. But, this is just super-useful because you can see where you’re actually ranking for keywords within the algorithm, and then you can say to yourself, “All right. This is how I’m doing for my Prisoner’s Dilemma piece. What can I expand on, or what can I add to my targeting here so that I can perform even better than I currently am?” Right?
There’s also some handy tools in here where you can actually get in and filter by specific keywords, or you can just go down to include URLs that are containing, and in this sense we’re going to do ‘dilemma’ because that was the actual original social share value that I was checking out. Hop back here.
We’re going to see every keyword that’s ranking on that, and again, this is very helpful because it lets us know okay, if I’m able to rank on this page for a tit-for-tat game, maybe I can write another article about that, and that just gives me another leg to add or another spoke to add in this overall, essentially, content funnel that I’m creating on this topic. Or, if you see a bunch of rankings that are really low, and you don’t know why you’re not ranking or why you’re not getting more traffic, it’s probably a good indicator that you’re missing some core topics here that you should be posing, so what is the prisoner’s dilemma? I should probably add that question in here somewhere because as you can see, I’m able to rank for what is a very short term here. Right? ‘Prisoner’s dilemma,’ 22,000 searches. Highly competitive, but I’m not ranking for this question here, “What is the prisoner’s dilemma?” at only 590. Right there, that should just let you know that my coverage of the topic is actually pretty weak. I need to get in here, and I need to actually introduce these keywords.
The first thing that I would look at, and the first KPI you should really be looking at as a business owner, when you’re thinking about the success of your content, is whether or not you’re generating keyword rankings for your content, and whether or not those keyword rankings are actually generating consistent traffic for you. And if they’re not, you should either add and expand to the article that you’re working on, and if they are, you can just use that as a leverage point, a jumping off point, to add even more content into your ecosystem. Far and away, looking at keyword rankings is probably the best KPI for the success of content in my opinion, especially over social.
Why Social Can Be Deceiving:
05:42 That said, you can sometimes get a viral hit on social that’s not going to have any recurring search traffic on organic, and the down side of that is that you may get a million visits from a bunch of social networks, but over time you’re going to basically drop back down to zero because there aren’t these keywords with recurring traffic that are going to feed your site’s ability to perform over time.
2) The Importance of Looking at Ranking Data:
06:05 The second thing that I’ll tell you, you should look at actually is jump into a tool like Ahrefs, there’s actually a bunch of free backlink tools out there as well that actually work pretty well. Give a special shout out to Open Site Explorer from Moz, OSE, or Link Explorer Now. They still have some free capability in there. You can type in your URL, and you can see what sites are linking to your content, and this is huge for the ability of you to understand how your site is performing.
If you jump over here, type in the URL, you can see who’s linking to your site, and if you don’t have a good relationship with these people, you can actually go out and go and talk to them more, and basically figure out oh, okay. I don’t actually know this guy. I should probably reach out, build a relationship, and maybe I can get him to feature more of my content. And at a macro level, the backlinks are just useful because they enable more ranking, and just tell you that you’ve actually built something with some clout and usefulness because people are willing to link to it.
3-5) The Importance of Using Analytics for Real #s
07:07 All right. Let’s get into some hard numbers here. This is my Google Analytics. This I think is probably the most important thing that most business owners are missing, right? The keyword rankings you may or may not be aware of these, but you understand their importance. The social shares are super-obvious. You can tell when something’s taking off on social, but when it comes to the hard numbers, I think the really important work to do is just to dive into your actual Google Analytics account, and figure out what’s going on. You’ll probably see something like this.
Google is trying to make this screen more and more helpful over time, and I recommend that all business owners just jump through these so they get a sense of what’s going on. There’s some highly useful information here like where are my visitors coming from? That can answer a lot of questions you may have, especially if you wanted to just ratchet down in the US like okay, in the last week, where was the majority of my traffic coming from, and you might find something surprising like oh, I didn’t know I was blowing up in Florida. That’s the kind of information you can get from Google Analytics that I find extremely helpful.
What I’ll tell you that you should definitely do if you’re trying to evaluate whether or not you have a viral hit on social is jump into the left pane over here, and you’re going to click on ‘acquisition,’ and then you’re going to go down and click on ‘all traffic,’ and then you’re going to click on ‘referrals.’
There are a few different ways that your Google Analytics may be calibrated, but this is actually a great way to figure out whether or not you’re actually getting a serious amount of traffic from social on a recurring basis. I just posted a job for a graphic designer. We’re getting tons of visits from the local Portland Craigslist, so we’re blowing up on referrals there, some sites I haven’t heard of, and then we’re getting some Facebook search, some Pinterest search, another marketing tool site I have, some mobile Facebook search. I don’t know what Facebook is but more Facebook search. This will actually tell you if you’re doing well or not, and you can click down a level as well and see which particular pages people are visiting.
The majority of my Facebook traffic is actually people bouncing back from that page, and going onto the home page. If we look at the actual … sorry, go back to ‘all.’ I’m starting to get a little laggy here. If you click on the Portland.craigslist, we can actually see what pages people are checking out. That basically just lets you know what the referral path is looking like as people hop onto your site. I find that extremely useful. Again, if you think you have a viral hit on your hands, you want to click on ‘referrals’ and see what your breakdown is.
The other thing I’ll caution is if you have a fairly large site with a lot of traffic, you may not actually be able to see through the noise. Again, in this instance, you may just want to see, okay, what are my individual breakdowns of traffic? We’re getting tons of direct. We’re getting a good chunk of organic from Google, which is awesome. We’re getting some good referral from Pinterest and Facebook, which is exceptional as well. You really want to be able to evaluate your performance by looking at these metrics. There’s actually a social tab here as well, so under acquisition and then social, and then you can get a good sense there as well as to what’s happening on some of these social networks and how it may or may not be affecting your overall traffic.
The final thing I’ll note is hopefully you have conversion goals set up, so one thing that I’ll really caution you to … I don’t even have goals set up because it doesn’t matter yet. Just get all phone calls, but you should be able to hop in here and see whether or not people are converting and by clicking on ‘conversion goals’ and then ‘reverse goal path,’ you should actually be able to see that viral hit I have, how much traffic is it actually contributing in a meaningful sense to my site, and that’s really the most important question at the end of the day.
You should hop into Google Analytics if you think you have a viral wonder on your hand, and actually check out how much traffic it’s generating. Check out if it’s actually leading to form submissions or phone call clicks, all that good stuff because that’s really at the end of the day what defines success. These keyword rankings are also extremely helpful because I’m sorry, but if you build it, they will not come.
Viral Success Is Not Enough
11:15 If you have a social success, if you have a viral success, it’s unfortunately going to end up a pretty big spike and a flash in the pan unless you create and coin your own term. It’s not going to provide consistent traffic. What does provide consistent traffic and leads is organic rankings like these ones here, and if you know what you’re ranking for when you have a tool like this, you can figure out what to optimize for.
If you go below in the social share count checker, this URL right here, there’s actually a seven-day free trial link for SEMrush. Best company out there again, and it’s super-legit. They need credit card info, but I’ve never had an issue getting a refund with them. Wink, wink. And again, final steps to this long term. If you’ve been around, you should be in a tool like Ahrefs to see what your backlink profile’s looking like because at the end of the day, that’s still going to have the highest correlation with success in search of any other metric out there, and yeah, just circle back because at the end of the day, if it got you goals, that’s good. Search is cool, and social’s cool, but we all want leads, and we all want real eyes on our website, and that’s really what matters at the end of the day.
I hope you enjoyed this video. I hope that was helpful. Please subscribe and like. If you have any other questions or you just want to make fun of the fact that I don’t have any goals set up in my Google Analytics yet, please just add that in the comment section below. I hope you have a wonderful day. Bye Bye.