KPIs

1000 666 JBH - The Digital PR Agency

Good link/bad link: The KPIs you should really care about to get a return on investment

Why are we doing digital PR and outreach? What is the purpose of link building? Some in the industry would say that they do it for SEO, for link juice or to achieve a higher DA figure or increase the number of referring domains. Whilst metrics such as DA, DR or TF and the number of referring domains are a good indication, they are not all that matters. The big misunderstanding often lies in a confusion over what the goal really is. The end goal of any digital PR campaign are not the links, it is an increase in sales for your business.

What KPIs should you set for outreach and how do you measure ROI?

Rankings and organic traffic

When you do SEO for your website, what you want is an increase in rankings in the search engines and more visitors. You want your business to be seen on the internet. When doing digital PR for SEO, the goal should be the same. You want to improve ranking positions for highly relevant keywords and as a result an increased number of visitors, hence organic traffic.

The caveat though is that better rankings and higher numbers of visitors are difficult to attribute to digital PR only. Any other SEO related activity on your website could have contributed to the improvements too. What can be said with certainty is that your number should be going up over time. If they are not, you might not be doing the right things for SEO and digital PR and should dig a bit deeper into what is working for your business and what is not.

This is how steady growth looks like (screenshot taken from Ahrefs.com):

Graph in Ahrefs that shows rankings improvements over time.

Referral traffic

There is another traffic figure that you should be looking at and this one can directly by attributed to your digital PR efforts: Referral traffic. Those are the visitors that come to your site by clicking on a backlink. You can get those numbers in Google Analytics:

Screenshot of the different acquisition channels in Google Analytics

The second row in the above table shows the referral traffic your website got within the specified time period. You could drill down further and see the traffic from each backlink individually. This will help you identify which links bring visitors to your site.

The above screenshot shows some more metrics that you should be looking at when evaluating the value of a backlink: bounce rate and session duration. Those figures are a strong indicator of the relevance of a link. If a user clicks on a link, gets to your site but immediately clicks back, the content was not relevant to them. Relevance also matters to Google and has an impact on the value of a backlink for SEO. When researching websites to outreach to, keep the topic and the target audience in mind to determine how relevant a link from that site would be.

When reporting on digital PR results you probably already include the domain name and the respective DA, DR or TF. Maybe add the following KPIs: referral traffic for each link, time referral visitors spent on your site, how many pages they visit and the bounce rate. With correct goal setups in Google Analytics according to your attribution model, you could also add conversion figures.

Conversions

This brings us back to the original question: What are you doing it for? SEO and digital PR should not only result in better rankings and more traffic to your site. For a lasting impact, you want to increase sales. This means you should track conversions and attribute those accordingly to each of your marketing efforts.

What counts as a conversion depends on your business model and business goals. It can be a newsletter signup, a price enquiry, or a purchase amongst many others. If you can, include those numbers in your link building reports – for each link individually and for your overall organic traffic.

Brand awareness

There is one other KPI that often is forgotten because all we seem to care about are links, links, links. If we look back at what traditional PR aims to achieve, it seems almost obvious that we should also account for it in digital PR. That is brand awareness.

It is another goal that is difficult to measure in numbers, but there are a few indicators for increased brand awareness that you can measure: unlinked mentions of your brand, social media signs and branded searches in Google.

How to measure ROI

We have now seen a mix of link building KPIs. Some of them are easily measurable, others are harder to put into numbers. What you can put into numbers though is the cost of your digital PR efforts – no matter if you are doing it in-house or with the help an agency like JBH. You always can tell exactly how much time the team has spent on a campaign from ideation through creation and outreach to the final reporting. Those hours come with a price and the day will come where the main stakeholders in your business ask for the ROI.

The formula seems straightforward: (PR Revenue – Cost of digital PR)/Cost of digital PR.

Formula to calculate digital PR ROI

The cost of digital PR only depends on a quick look into your books. The PR Revenue however requires some thought. You should include the conversions from organic traffic and the referral traffic, but also a certain percentage of social and direct traffic could be attributed to digital PR. All you have to do is decide on an attribution model for your overall business reporting.

 

 

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Avoid the link confusion: DA, DR and TF – What they really mean for link quality

Link building is an important part of any SEO strategy. Backlinks are (still) a strong ranking signal and can push your rankings up. But are all links equal? The answer is: “No”. Some links are better than others, some links will not have much impact on your SEO, some others could even harm your rankings. If you are wondering how to recognise good or bad, we understand. One thing we need to get out immediately is that there is no single figure you could look at to judge the quality of a link. There are multiple things to take into account such as the authority of the donor site, the topical relevance of the link, the way how the link is embedded in the content, the backlink profile of the donor site and so on… One metric link builders and outreach agencies that run digital PR campaigns like to refer to is DA, for others it is DR or TF – but what are those?

What DA, DR and TF mean

All three are measures for the authority of a website based on its backlink profile. The reason why they are called differently is simple: they come from different tools:

  • DA stands for Domain Authority and is a metric in Moz
  • DR stands for Domain Rating and is a metric from Ahrefs
  • TF stands for Trust Flow and is a metric from Majestic

All three tools are constantly crawling the web to discover new websites and links. They report on those links and update the numbers regularly. What is important to know is that none of these tools has crawled the whole web and their algorithms work differently. If you compare the referring domains they have listed for any given website, you will always notice some differences.

Moz highlights that DA is evaluated by multiple factors such as the referring domains and the total number of backlinks to a domain. They would not give it all away, of course. It is highlighted that DA is not a ranking signal nor a Google metric, but merely meant to compare websites to each other. You can see the DA by creating a (free) account on Moz and adding the toolbar to your browser extensions:

Moz tool bar for theguardian.com

Ahref’s DR looks similar if we look at how their documentation explains the calculations: “ […] metric that shows the strength of a target website’s total backlink profile (in terms of its size and quality).” To see the DR of a domain, you need to create a (paid) account in Ahrefs:

Ahrefs DR screenshot for theguardian.com

The TF in Majestic, however, is calculated differently: The tool has manually selected seed sites that were chosen on the web and are trusted by Majestic. The scores that you can see under TF are dependent on how far away a website is from a seed site through links. To see the TF in Majestic, you need to create a (paid) account:

Majestic TF screenshot for theguardian.com

The figures are also accessible via a browser extension:

Majestic browser extension for theguardian.com

Comparing the numbers

Because of the different ways of calculation, those numbers are not meant to be compared to each other, but just for fun, here are some comparisons of popular websites:

Domain

DA (Moz) DR (Ahrefs)

TF (Majestic)

Theguardian.com 95 93 84
Bbc.com 95 92 79
Youtube.com 100 98 99
Foxnews.com 94 91 83
Asos.com 90 87 78
Amazon.co.uk 94 93 83
Gov.uk 94 80 93
Asda.com 75 81 52
Tesco.com 91 86 70
Sainsburys.co.uk 73 82 60

If one thing has become evident by looking at those numbers, it is that the figures cannot be compared. DA and DR seem to be generally higher than TF (not for all of the above websites though), but there is no clear tendency that would make them comparable. The figures are close to each other amongst the top players, but for websites with less authority (and let’s face, it most websites will not be able to compete with the above brands), the numbers are far apart from each other.

Interestingly, YouTube – the Google product, scored the highest possible with Moz, but not in Ahrefs and Majestic. For the Guardian and the BBC, the numbers are similar in Moz and Ahrefs, but noticeably different in Majestic. The UK government website forms the exception in our comparison by scoring higher in TF than in DR; for all other websites, TF is generally the lowest figure.

If you are looking at those numbers, do not try to compare them to each other, but rather choose one of those metrics that seems logical to you and compare that metric across different websites to decide which domain makes a good target for link building.