5 Steps to Create a Digital Measurement Plan


If you are my new SEO client, one of the first things I include in your SEO plan is ensure we have good measurement and tracking in place. In fact, before signing on as a client, you may have seen line items in your SEO Proposal under New Client Onboarding for:

  • Discovery
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Keyword Research
  • Measurement Plan
  • Tracking Plan
  • Report Design

Most of these may sound self explanatory, except Measurement Plan and possibly Tracking Plan. Though you might guess the tracking plan has to do with a Google Analytics audit and setting up additional goals, segments, etc. that will be reflected in the reporting. But you may wonder, what is a measurement plan?

What is a Measurement Plan?

A measurement plan: identifies your business objectives and determines what you need to measure, technology used, implementation and refinement.

The point of a measurement plan is to make sure your digital efforts support the overall business objectives. 

5 Steps to Define Measurement Plan

Google provides a comprehensive measurement plan training video as part of its Google Analytics Individual Qualification training series.

  1. Document business objectives
  2. Identify strategies and tactics
  3. Choose KPIs
  4. Choose segments
  5. Choose targets for KPIs

Here’s an example of what you might create for the first 4 steps. This uses a fictional outdoor sports store business.

Digital Measurement Plan example

Identify Strategies and Tactics

Common strategies for different types of businesses or websites often include selling products or services, collecting leads, generating engagement & frequent visitation, helping customers find information, and generating awareness, engagement & loyalty.

This graphic from Google shows a business type on the left and its associated strategy on the right. However, most businesses are doing a mix of efforts. So you might see the left column as your efforts and the strategy on the right.

Common digital strategies

Choose KPIs

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. These are commonly the metrics you find in Google Analytics. A metric is a number. This is where you might setup events and conversion goals. Events can be defined, like CTA button clicks, playing a video, social share clicks. Goals can be created based on events, page visits, or even triggered after a visitor views a certain number of pages.

Many SEO KPIs must be measured outside of Google Analytics. Keyword rankings, back-links, positive reviews and keywords that drive traffic must be measured in 3rd party paid tools. Google Search Console is free and can help with some of this. But realize, it does not help Google make money when your business gets organic visibility. Like most of the internet, Google search is a high quality free product that is paid via advertising. Most websites I have ever tracked get 50%+ traffic from “free” organic search. So to measure KPIs and optimize organic efforts, you need to go outside of Google’s free tools.

Choose Segments

Data segments let you break apart KPIs to help better optimize. Marketing channels and traffic sources are almost always my first go-t0 segments.

SEO is usually measured in Google Analytics by organic search traffic. But SEO includes content marketing and link building. Therefore, it will contribute to referral traffic and a little toward direct traffic. Direct traffic for the most part is a reflection of your branding efforts.

Because Google is a for-profit business, and GA is their free tool, the paid efforts are much easier to track. GA gives you default segments for paid search, display, email and social.

Google Analytics has recently improved its segment capabilities to include visitor data. You can now create segments for visitor activity going back 90 days.

Choose Targets for KPIs

Choosing targets are like setting your goals. This is not referring to GA conversion goals, but in the classic sense of goal setting.

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice:

Goals need to be obtainable, measurable (so you know if you obtain them), and set within a time limit.

You can use the same mindset in picking KPI targets.

To help you figure out your targets, you can look externally and internally.

  • Externally: you can look at industry stats, competitors or use forecast tools to get an idea of how high you want to be
  • Internally: you can look at your historic trends to get an idea of what growth is realistic

Use external tools to see how high you need to get to become a leader in your space. Forecast tools like Brightedge Search Opportunity Forecasting or Conductor Business Case Builder can model your positioning and revenue based on some assumptions. But these assumptions often make the forecast pretty high. For example, you have to plug in a conversion rate for the website. But not every keyword will convert. Many keywords you track may be intended to generate top of the funnel, awareness or consideration visits. These will probably later convert on brand terms. Therefore, temper your forecast with industry competitor data and your own historic data.


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