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CustomInk.com CustomInk is an online retail company that enables customers to design and order custom apparel such as T-shirts and sweatshirts.www.customink.com


What’s your role at CustomInk?

I lead all search marketing efforts – paid and natural – for CustomInk. I am responsible for monitoring, maintaining and improving traffic, revenue and customer experience from both channels.

What’s your day to day work look like?

My typical day involves a couple of hours of early-morning intensive health monitoring:

  • Analyzing overnight orders/sales numbers vs. our forecast and the previous year
  • Checking status of MVKs (Most Valuable Keywords) – This includes rankings and conversion rate data.
  • Hand check of SERPs for top 5 MVKs, noting key changes (e.g. competition, Google display features, etc.)
  • Analyzing overnight and weekly phrase trends for new opportunities or issues.
  • Webmaster Tools health checks in Bing and Google

Remainder of the day involves overseeing execution of SEO best practices, content strategy, keyword strategy/discovery and dealing with ad hoc questions/issues for a variety of company initiatives.

Before using SERPs, what were you using to track SEO progress?

Prior to SERPs, way back in the Stone Age of the internet, we used SEOBook’s rank checker to check rankings monthly on about 100 key phrases, that is if Google didn’t block our IP address for doing automated querying.

In 2010, we finally switched to SEOmoz to track our rankings. It was a dramatic improvement to have weekly ranking updates, but it still felt like a waste to wait as much as 6 days to find out that we had dropped for sometimes several dozen phrases. I knew we were losing customers by not learning about ranking issues sooner, but there was little we could do about it. Our true list of MVKs is well over 100 phrases and we simply could not gauge the level of movement on that many phrases daily. So we would check as many as we could, but it was always haphazard. In most cases, we would have to wait until the reports updated once a week.

Are you able to be more productive with a tool like SERPs?

We are infinitely more productive. Since using SERPs, we have increased productivity more than 50% over an already healthy non-brand presence in search engines.

First and foremost, we’ve eliminated 4 to 5 hours a week we would spend hand-checking SERPs (and then cross-checking that with orders/sales) as part of frequent discovery or recovery efforts across various MVK subcategories.

As a result of being able to track rankings on a daily basis, we are better able to diagnose issues quickly and prioritize our efforts to address the most valuable opportunities.

For example, we recently had a product request drop off a cliff compared to the rest of our business. We weren’t sure if it was a new trend, a site problem, a search issue or what.

About 15 of our MVKs drive traffic for this product request. A look at our weekly ranking reports did not reveal an issue, as the rankings for these 15 phrases was only slightly lower: with about five phrases flat, five phrases up 1-2 rankings, and five phrases down 1-2 rankings.

However, a quick look at our daily rankings over the prior 2 weeks using the 30-day view in SERPs showed wild fluctuations daily on ALL of the phrases, with several dropping 3-4 spots every other day. We were losing significant sales as a direct result of these dips.

Prior to using SERPs, we would not have been able to diagnose the cause because we would have been essentially blind to the ranking dips and would have looked elsewhere for the problem. We would have then gone on to waste several hours with page-level analysis to determine whether there was a conversion issue, (which we would not discover and then we would move on to another level of analysis and … well, you get the idea).

But with SERPs, we were able to discover that it was a search issue within 30 minutes.

Would you recommend SERPs to other SEO or marketing professionals? (besides your competitors of course!)

Without hesitation. If you’re not keeping track of daily rankings, you’re missing dozens of opportunities to save time and improve rankings.