McPartland has created huge opportunities through a coherent SEO and analytics strategy.

Online data, the ability to collect it and, more importantly, analyze it for strategic gain, has become a huge opportunity for publishers over the last couple of years.

Yet many publishers, while proactive in collecting data on visitors and brand engagement, are slow to take the next step and actually form strategic initiatives around analytics. Alison McPartland, search manager at b-to-b publisher Questex, is not part of that group.

Using analytics from the company’s Web products, McPartland has drawn each group—from publishers to editors to techies—into understanding the key tactics to growing the Web sites, down to assigning specific responsibilities to each. “The way the CMS was set up, a lot of editors created content then shipped it off to someone else rather than being hands-on with the site itself,” she says.

McPartland created a Search Engine Optimization Task List with more than 100 functions but narrowed the list to five key responsibilities—indexability, linking, accessibility, keywords and meta tags—that can be weighed via an SEO Scorecard.

“Hundreds of factors go into a search engine’s algorithms but we’re looking at five main factors that can be tied to a specific role, whether that’s editorial or the site manager or someone else,” she says.

McPartland also started running reports against editorial identifying Web performance trends such as the Top 25 articles across all Questex sites, specific keywords that drove traffic and the author that the story is tied to. McPartland then makes sure to share the details with the editors. “It gets them competitive with each other and makes them proactive, rather than waiting to see what works.”

This allows editors to adjust on the fly. “SEO results can take two or three months and by that time the ranking and indexing has lost the editor’s interest. Now we’re going to run quarterly SEO Scorecards for each site but also generate monthly reports on the top articles for that site, indicating who the author was and what keywords brought readers to that article.”

VITAL STATS: McPartland has created an SEO task list that details 100 functions under five key responsibilities.