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Measuring SEO Success: An Alternative to the WebPosition Visibility Score

Aug 17, 2007
Once you've undertaken an SEO project, you'll want to monitor your rankings at certain time intervals to track your progress. Many SEO professionals use WebPosition, software available from WebTrends that can automatically track and record your rankings on most search engines for selected keywords. WebPosition saves SEO professionals the effort of checking rankings manually in the search engines and can be set up, using its WebPosition Scheduler, to run at certain time intervals, such as daily, weekly, or monthly.

One statistic that I do not recommend in the WebPosition software, however, is the "visibility score". Visibility score is defined by WebPosition as:

The Visibility Score table and graph provide composite scores that can help you assess how well your site ranked overall on the queried search engines as well as how well it ranked.

Visibility Score is calculated by assigning a point value to the highest position achieved on each engine. A point value is only awarded to the positions 1 through 30, with a position of 1 being awarded 30 points, position 2 is worth 29 points, 3 is 28 points and so on through 30 which is given 1 point. The points are then summed for all engines queried in the mission.

This statistic, however, assumes that all keywords are created equal. In other words, the visibility score treats all keywords as having the same ultimate value, and, therefore, no matter what the keyword, the emphasis is put on the rank of each keyword. For instance, a number one ranked keyword that receives 1000 impressions per month is considered equal in visibility score to a number one ranked keyword that receives only 10 impressions per month.

But not all keywords are created equal - some keywords have greater importance than others. Ranking high on a more frequently searched term is typically more advantageous that ranking high on a less searched term. So how can you develop a true measurement?

Search Mojo developed a search engine optimization scorecard for our measurement purposes. Using a simple Excel spreadsheet, we've found a way to include the number of impressions for each word into a visibility calculation.

In column A, we list our keywords. In column B, we list the number of impressions recorded by Yahoo in the previous month for each corresponding keyword. In column C, we list the rank for each respective keyword as provided by WebPosition. Because Google is the most used search engine today, we use Google rankings as our main measure of success. We list the Google rank for each keyword in column C.

Then, in column D, we created an equation that multiplies the number of impressions in column B by the rank in column C: (Impressions) x (Rank)

However, in order to give higher ranking terms more weight, we have to also "reverse" the equation to allow terms ranked at position #1 more weight than those ranked at #10. If you are tracking the top 100 rankings for words, the equation would look like this: (Impressions) x (101-Rank)

The revised equation will "reverse" the value of the rank, making a rank of #1 have a value of 100, and a rank at #100 have a value of 1.

We then run these scores for each keyword and for each competitor's ranks on the same keywords to see how, overall, we compare with our industry competitors.

We've found the scorecard method to be a more true predictor of our success - a more results-driven measurement.
About the Author
Janet Driscoll Miller is the CEO of Search Mojo. With over 10 years of Internet marketing experience, Driscoll Miller is an expert in search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. She can be reached via Email at jmiller@search-mojo.com.
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