Soylent SEO Metrics Are Made of People!

In SEO, we’ve got a lot of different metrics we’re using to measure success and diagnose problems.  However, reporting on a lot of different metrics can make it easy for the people involved to forget what these numbers mean.  Your metrics aren’t just cold hard pieces of data.   They’re like Soylent Green.  (Warning: spoiler alert for the end of Soylent Green)


Behind each impression, each click, each bounce, is a real live person with eyeballs and a brain and all, making decisions.  To make effective changes you can’t use plain old SEO metrics – you need soylent metrics.  When you use soylent metrics you’re solving problems for your customers, not for your reports.

Here are some common problems and solutions – knee-jerk solutions to fix the data, or soylent metric solutions to fix the problem.

Problem: Visitors coming to the site on a certain search term have a high bounce rate.

  • Knee-jerk solution: That keyword isn’t working for us.  We should re-optimize to target a different term.
  • Soylent solution: Look at the page that users land on when they enter the site from that term.  Does the message on the page match the intent of the search?  If the search term is “chocolate chip cookie recipe” and you’re sending users to a page where they can buy chocolate chip cookies, those visitors aren’t going to stick around.  Don’t have content that matches the intent of your target term?  Sounds like a fine occasion for a blog post!

Problem: Page views on the Video section are much lower than the rest of the site.

  • Knee-jerk solution: Put a link to the video section on every page! Heck, put a video on every page!  That’ll get page views up!
  • Soylent solution: Instead of trying to force more users to the Video page, dig in to what it is about the Video page that they don’t find enticing in the first place.  Do some eye-tracking studies.  Is the Video section difficult to find or navigate to?  Worse, is it obnoxious?  Dig down into your analytics.  Are visitors using a specific browser less likely to visit the Video section?  Try looking at the page with Java and Flash disabled.  What does it look like?  See the section through your users’ eyes, and you’ll find the problem.

Problem: No one is converting on your PPC landing page.

  • Knee-jerk solution: PPC doesn’t work! Turn it off.
  • Soylent solution: Get your boyfriend or your neighbor or your BFF to look at the landing page and watch what they do (hey look, you just conducted a teeny tiny usability study).  Do they find the conversion path easily, or wander off into the rest of the site?  Talk to them about the page copy.  Do they understand what it is you do and why they should convert?  What seems like a clear call to action to you might not mean much to someone outside your company.

Thinking about people instead of just numbers is hard.  It requires more resources and more time, and it also requires you to give up your easy-answer responses to site problems.  However, it will make your site better for your users, and your users are your customers.  And that’s what success is made of: PEOPLE!

Point It About the author
  • Great article Ruth. What a concept; it’s the people stupid!

    September 30, 2010 at 2:44 am

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