If you’re not tracking your SEO campaigns, you’ll never know if they could be doing better. And worse, you might not realize that SEO penalties are holding you back.
Let’s look at some tips for measuring success for your search engine optimization strategy.
Start With Your Goals in Mind
Before you launch your SEO campaign, you should have some goals in mind. Do you want to get more leads, sell directly to your visitors, build a reputation in your market, or something else?
There’s no point in optimizing your website in a way that doesn’t help you reach your goals. For example, if you don’t sell products on your website, getting a lot of traffic from people who are looking to buy something online isn’t very valuable.
Use the SMART technique for setting your goals. They should be:
In other words, what do you want to do, can you measure the results, is it a reasonable goal, does it matter to your business, and when do you want to reach it?
Measuring Success Through Engagement Metrics
When a visitor lands on your website after clicking a link in the search results, you want them to be engaged so they stay on your site longer and take whatever action you want them to take. There are several metrics you should be tracking to see how engaged your visitors are.
The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who end up taking the action you want. This could be clicking a link for more information, signing up for an email newsletter, calling you for more information, or buying something.
The higher the conversion rate, the more valuable your SEO efforts have been.
Pages Per Visit
Highly-engaged visitors tend to click around your site looking for more helpful information. The more pages they visit, the more engaged they are but a higher pages-per-visit number isn’t always better.
You might prefer them to visit fewer pages and take the “most wanted” action sooner. Tracking this stat will help you optimize the flow of traffic on your site.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who immediately click away from your website after getting there from the search results. In most cases, this means they didn’t like what they saw for some reason and clicked back to try a different result.
A high bounce rate not only means you’re losing visitors but can also hurt your rankings. Google tracks how many searchers click back to the results and try another option and if it happens a lot, they consider it a sign that your site isn’t giving searchers the information they want.
Tracking Your Site’s Traffic Sources
Engagement is important but you also want to know where your traffic is coming from. Are they coming from Google, another search engine, or from a link on another website? And if they are coming from Google, what keywords are searchers using to find your site?
Websites and Search Engines
Knowing where your visitors are coming from lets you optimize various things to increase the number of referrals. For Google and other search engines, this means improving your SEO (search engine optimization), whether you do that work yourself or you find an SEO provider.
If you’re getting referrals from other websites, it could be that a site linked to yours in a review, article, or other content. Once you identify those sites, you can reach out to them and see if you can partner in some way.
Keywords are the building blocks of SEO. Whenever someone searches for something on Google, they use a keyword or keyword phrase. SEO means optimizing your website in a way that helps your pages rank for the terms people are searching for.
Knowing what keywords people are searching to find your site lets you improve your SEO for those to increase your rankings. It also tells you what keywords you’re aiming for but not ranking for so you can do more optimization on that front.
On top of tracking the keywords that are referring traffic to your site, you should also be tracking where your site ranks for those keywords. The amount of traffic you’ll get changes significantly based on where you rank.
If your site doesn’t rank on the first page of Google results, you’ll get very little traffic. And even if you rank in the top 10, your position can make a big difference. Ranking in the top 3 is important to get a significant amount of traffic and ideally, you want to rank in the number 1 spot.
Tracking your rankings helps you identify which keywords to focus your SEO efforts on. And as your rankings change, you’ll see how those changes affect other things like conversion rates and clickthrough rates.
The clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of people that click on a link to your site. If 1,000 people see the link and 100 of them click on it, that’s a 10 percent CTR.
Google doesn’t give you this number explicitly but you can estimate your CTR by using the search volume for a given keyword. If it’s estimated that a particular keyword gets 1,000 searches per day and you get 50 visitors from that keyword, you can estimate your CTR at 5 percent.
How to Track This Information
Two of the most effective tools for measuring your SEO campaign are free services from Google:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
Google Analytics is a powerful analytics tool that will let you track all kinds of information. You can set up special tracking links to measure particular keywords, links from other sites, engagement in email newsletters you send, and many other things.
It gives you a bunch of helpful reports that will show you traffic trends, stats for individual pages on your site, bounce rates, and much more. You can also use its reports to identify things like potential browser issues with website traffic by combining different bits of data.
Google Search Console gives you more technical information about your website and how it ranks in the search results. You’ll see keyword information here as well as problems that could be hurting your SEO.
Track Your SEO Results So You Know What to Focus on
If you’re not measuring success, you’ll never know if you’re reaching your goals. Getting a tracking system set up takes some time and effort but your ROI will be huge. Spend the time to get your tracking in place at the beginning so you have actionable data from day one.
Then use that information to find gaps and opportunities to improve your SEO and drive more visitors to your website.
Did this post help you see the big picture of tracking your SEO? Be sure to check out the rest of our site for more helpful articles like this one.