Back to basics: Baseline Metrics

baseline measurements
Google Webmaster Tools

I’ve spent a lot of time at work the past few weeks cleaning up my baseline reports.

I’ve been there for three months, and the results of the work I did in November are starting to appear in the inbound search trends. This is gratifying, but I also know that what I measure, track and report against now will be what will make or break me going forward.

I cleaned up a lot of those reports to ensure that everything was in place to help me succeed in the project in the next quarter, by the end of the year.

One of the ways that I track my project is simply search engine result rankings for a list of 500 popular and relevant keyword phrases. Once a month, we pull this information from Hitwise, and I’ve got a snapshot of my progress. It’s a little simplistic, but it is good for tracking and trending over time.

Unfortunately about 20% of the words on my original report were things we’d never achieve rankings for, so I had to revise the list. I am pretty confident that the new list supports business goals better, and will more accurately reflect my work. But it got me thinking about baseline metrics, and how incredibly important they are for SEO consultants to prove worth and return on investment.

So much of SEO still comes across as smoke and mirrors. So much of it is guesswork. I freely admit to using my intuition almost as much as my analytical skills in my day to day work. If I’m playing hunches, then how can my boss or his boss or some EVP decide whether I’m any good at this, or just a lucky little gambler? The numbers. The results.

And now at the beginning, when I’m still building my reports, I’ve got the one-time shot to decide how to present this case. This is massively important for my success within the company and my success in my long-term career.