Guestpost: Richard Baxter on how we measure success

Thu 7 January 2010 12:00, Bas van den Beld

Guestpost: Richard Baxter on how we measure success

Richard Baxter really wants to rank number one on "UK SEO", he's got some impressive competition on that though, and it might not even get him the traffic you would hope for, but the way he works for it and shows his determination shows the kind of guy Richard is: he will not stop before he succeeds. A talent to admire.

I've gotten to know Richard on conferences as a very nice guy, but also someone who knows his business. He is a very well informed SEO who does excellent work. His blog SEOGadget I read with much pleasure. In this guestpost series he looks forward to 2010 and talks, among other things, about measurement through analytics.

Richard Baxter looking forward to 2010

As 2009 concludes as one of the most eventful years in SEO so far, we all begin to focus on the coming months and begin to wonder, what’s in store for 2010? Rather than write a post covering straight “predictions” for the SEO industry, I thought I’d focus more on the skills and experience we should be developing and tools we’ll need to make the New Year a very successful one for our agencies and clients.

Web Analytics

Beyond the “primitive” traffic figures we’re all used to, some of us are yet to fully master the science of web analytics. We’ve already seen search results and technologies offered by search engines evolve rapidly in late 2009. In 2010, perhaps we’ll see some of these changes begin to mature and add much more value to the search experience. To that end, a savvy web marketer will already be developing their skills in analytics driven decision making, particularly in a time where Google is far from the only high value source of traffic. Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics 2.0: “The Art of Online Accountability & the Science of Customer Centricity” is an important read to ready yourself for the challenges your clients may pose in 2010. I also strongly recommend watching this short Analytics for SEO Whiteboard Friday at for a solid primer in metrics useful to an SEO practitioner. Of course, a hand with the Google Analytics product offerings and API support would be greatly appreciated. For one, “out of the box” Google Local search tracking from Google Analytics would be highly desirable, as would better Feedburner feed tracking. Sadly, Google’s URI shortening service, introduces a raft of non canonical tracking parameters during the redirect from a Feedburner URI, much to the distaste of some SEOs. I’d also love to see more products made available via the API route. Trakken’s excellent Trakkboard (below) is one of the best Google Analytics API tools out there, but it currently lacks date range comparison, as do several others. I asked a few of my friends on Twitter: Google analytics features: What would you have in 2010 and why? And received some excellent answers including: average rankings data, a simpler way to change the conversion attribution from last click, better visitor path analysis / visualisation and a whole list of other features.

"Technical" SEO

Social Media changed the face of Search Engine Optimisation drastically in 2009, perhaps at times to the detriment of SEO Practitioners finding time to develop their “classic” technical, front end SEO skills. As new technologies in front end web development are emerging so rapidly now, each of us should continue to devote time to developing our awareness of the technical aspect of front end SEO. Having an understanding of what’s round the corner, (HTML5 is a great example of this) makes us more able to work with development teams and mutually devise search engine savvy strategies.

Link Analysis Tools and General Analysis Skills

Learning some analysis techniques, perhaps in Excel, will be an important step for us all in 2010. Understanding Pivot tables and charts, if you haven’t done this already, is an extremely powerful tool to have in your skills arsenal. For some useful links to all the right primers on the subject, try starting here. Sadly, all the Excel skills under the sun won’t matter one jot of you don’t have the data to work with in the first place. I mentioned “Link Analysis Tools” in the heading of this section as a perfect example of the need for more data. Currently there are few Link Analysis tools on the market (think: Linkscape, Majestic, Link Research Tools). I’d expect to see more data and more value analysis from each of these tools in 2010, perhaps with better cross tool and Analytics API integration too.

The Demand for the SEO Skill Set

Fortunately for good SEO’s, there’s no sign of a reduced demand for people with a strong all round SEO skill set. In 2010 it would be wise to develop your skills in SEO management, strategy and leadership by working closely with the people around you and helping them develop. With such strong demand comes high staff turnover and a good chance of internal promotion as you become the most senior SEO in the business.

Local SEO

Local SEO shows every sign of growing in 2010 and to be prepared, read up on Local Search Ranking factors (if you haven’t already) and be ready to suggest a Local search campaign to your clients where appropriate. Many 2010 predictions have mentioned the growth of mobile search, which is one of many good reasons to get smart at Local. David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors continues to be the authority on all things Local, but keep an eye out for the good work of Tom Critchlow in Local Search, who’s been playing around with a lot of data on the subject recently. That's a total of 5 different focus areas for 2010, so over to you. What tools and skills will you need in 2010? Answer and win a copy of The Art of SEO - Simply give an SEO tip of your own for 2010 over at – it can be based on what you feel is important to SEO in the coming year, a subject you’d like to improve on, something you’re interested in, a prediction, a link building tip or anything that takes your fancy. Good luck!

About Richard Baxter:

Richard Baxter is Founder and Director at - a UK SEO (ed: see the anchor text ;) ) blog written with a passion for helping people and organisations to succeed in search.

Richard can be found:

On Twitter
On his blog
On Google

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