How to Implement a National Tracking Strategy

How to Implement a National Tracking Strategy

Step 1: Pick the cities that matter most to your business Google cares a lot about location and so should you. But again, we’re a make-believe business and we don’t have access to this insight, so we’re going to stick with search volume. The ultimate goal here is to track our top performing keywords in more locations than our poor performing ones, so we need to know the number of ZIP codes each keyword will require. First, we’ll calculate the total amount of search volume that all of our keywords generate. For example, our keyword [yeezy shoes] drew 165,000 searches out of a total 28.6 million, making up 0.62 percent of our traffic. Which then becomes the percent of budgeted keywords: 0.0013 x 20,000 = tracking [yeezy shoes] in 26 zip codes across our 15 cities. At this point, like us, you may be looking at keywords that need to be spread across 176 different ZIP codes and wondering how you're going to choose which ZIP codes — so let our magic spreadsheet take the wheel. We'll then add everything we have so far — ZIP codes, ZIP code weights, keywords, keyword weights, plus a few extras — to our spreadsheet and watch it randomly assign the appropriate amount of keywords to the appropriate amount of locations. Obviously, you are free to sort how you please, but we recommend at least tagging your keywords by their city and product category (so [yeezy shoes] might get tagged “Austin” and “shoes”). Go get your national tracking on Any business — yes, even an e-commerce business — can leverage a national tracking strategy.

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Google is all about serving up results based on your precise location, which means there’s no such thing as a “national” SERP anymore. So, if you wanted to get an accurate representation of how you’re performing nationally, you’d have to track every single street corner across the country.

Not only is this not feasible, it’s also a headache — and the kind of nightmare that keeps your accounting team up at night. Because we’re in the business of making things easy, we devised a happier (and cost-efficient) alternative.

Follow along and learn how to set up a statistically robust national tracking strategy in STAT, no matter your business or budget. And while we’re at it, we’ll also show you how to calculate your national ranking average.

Let’s pretend we’re a large athletic retailer. We have 30 stores across the US, a healthy online presence, and the powers-that-be have approved extra SEO spend — money for 20,000 additional keywords is burning a hole in our pocket. Ready to get started?

Step 1: Pick the cities that matter most to your business

Google cares a lot about location and so should you. Tracking a country-level SERP isn’t going to cut it anymore — you need to be hyper-local if you want to nab results.

The first step to getting more granular is deciding which cities you want to track in — and there are lots of ways to do this: The top performers? Ones that could use a boost? Best and worst of the cyber world as well as the physical world?

When it comes time for you to choose, nobody knows your business, your data, or your strategy better than you do — ain’t nothing to it but to do it.

A quick note for all our e-commerce peeps: we know it feels strange to pick a physical place when your business lives entirely online. For this, simply go with the locations that your goods and wares are distributed to most often.

Even though we’re a retail powerhouse, our SEO resources won’t allow us to manage all 30 physical locations — plus our online hotspots — across the US, so we’ll cut that number in half. And because we’re not a real business and we aren’t privy to sales data, we’ll pick at random.

From east to west, we now have a solid list of 15 US cities, primed, polished, and poised for our next step: surfacing the top performing keywords.

Step 2: Uncover your money-maker keywords

Because not all keywords are created equal, we need to determine which of the 4,465 keywords that we’re already tracking are going to be spread across the country and which are going to stay behind. In other words, we want the keywords that bring home the proverbial bacon.

Typically, we would use some combination of search volume, impressions, clicks, conversion rates, etc., from sources like STAT, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics to distinguish between the money-makers and the non-money-makers. But again, we’re a make-believe business and we don’t have access to this insight, so we’re going to stick with search volume.

A right-click anywhere in the site-level keywords table will let us export our current keyword set from STAT. We’ll then order everything from highest search volume to lowest search volume. If you have eyeballs on more of that sweet, sweet insight for your business, order your keywords from most to least money-maker.

Because we don’t want to get too crazy with our list, we’ll cap it at a nice and manageable 1,500 keywords.

Step 3: Determine the number of times each keyword should be tracked

We may have narrowed our cities down to 15, but our keywords need to be tracked plenty more times than that — and at a far more local level.

True facts: A “national” (or market-level) SERP isn’t a true SERP and neither is a city-wide SERP. The closer you can get to a searcher standing on a street corner, the better, and the more of those locations you can track, the more searchers’ SERPs you’ll sample.

We’re going to get real nitty-gritty and go as granular as ZIP…

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