Baseline analysis for your SEO strategy – Search Engine Land

Baseline analysis for your SEO strategy – Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land » SEO » Baseline analysis for your SEO strategy
Every campaign must begin with comprehensive research.
From making sure that your initial benchmarks are correct to performing an in-depth competitor analysis, you must make sure that your data is accurate and complete from the start. 
Launching an SEO campaign without gathering this data is like scuba diving at night without a headlamp. You will have no direction and can end up anywhere, possibly inside a shark’s mouth, instead of at the top of Google results.
This next section will go over various data points and where to get this information. For all of these data points, we use Semrush or Google products.
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If you already have Google Analytics installed and acquire data, you can get various data points by clicking on Audience Overview, Acquisition Overview and Audience Benchmarking.
There are numerous tutorials on understanding Google Analytics, and most of the data is simple to understand.
If you are a Google Data Studio user, you can create a report to track and benchmark your data using one of the available templates.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
All-in-one Search Console template

Google Analytics Acquisition overview
Once you have explored Google Analytics and Google Search Console and have created your benchmarking reports, we can start analyzing data from Semrush.
We’ll start by getting an overview of how the website is currently performing. The following screenshot shows the Domain overview report in Semrush:
This report provides a variety of data points about the site’s current health, including: 
You can click through this report to get more detailed information or export this report to get an overview of all of your initial baseline data.
Next, we’ll create an actual report to download with custom data
For this report, we’ll use the Semrush reporting feature.  
In Semrush, create a project for your site. Start by running a site audit. Once the audit data is complete, create a new report. Here’s an example of a baseline report template:  
Example report
You can use this template to create your own and use the Quick Modify to switch out the URL.
Go to Organic Research and type in your website domain. The following organic research report will be generated:
Pay close attention to the numbers under Keywords, Traffic, Traffic Cost and Branded/Non-Branded Traffic. These are great metrics to track as your campaign progresses.  
Here’s what they mean:
Next, you can look at the specific graphs, toggling between keywords and traffic. Here’s the graph for the Organic Keywords Trend box:
This example shows all the potential keywords from the top three on down, but you can select using the checkboxes which ones you want to display:
Are your organic traffic and keywords trending up or down? Are they changing over time? 
You can also click on Traffic to see the estimated traffic graph:
Notice that you can change the date range of the time to see All time or two years, one year, six months or one month.
When you click on the positions tab, you will see the following screen:
This section lets you dive deeper into your keyword rankings to determine how many of them rank for specific positions.
You can also export your keyword ranking report into a spreadsheet that will tell you metrics like the following:
Export this table and save using the date first run to use this table for your benchmarking reports.
When you click on the Position Changes tab, you should see the following:
If you briefly scan the overview of the keyword changes report, you will see the following headings: 
This data can help you figure out where to place your SEO priorities as part of benchmarking.  You can use these keyword/page combinations to focus your SEO efforts and create SEO experiments as your campaign progresses.
Next, let’s look at what pages are performing well on your site and how many keywords each page ranks for.
This section gives you specific metrics such as:
If you click on one of the pages, you’ll get more details for each specific page.
The subdomains tab of Semrush’s organic research can uncover critical subdomain information, such as making determinations in strategy based on subdomain removal (if desired), 301 redirect removal (if needed) and elements that are weighing down the domain or may need to be removed.
Now that you have a strong understanding of your site’s current status, the next step is to investigate your competitors and the competitive landscape.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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