Isn’t it a little daunting when you’re new to SEO? You’re putting in the time and effort, making changes left, right, and center, and you don’t actually know whether it’s working or not.
Don’t worry, you are not alone. This writer is still learning more and more about SEO performance. The most recent thing I learned about is metrics. Metrics are a method of measuring something or the results that you get from them. But not all metrics were created equal. There are vanity metrics, which you can read about in my blog “Getting Rid of Vanity Metrics”, and there are actionable metrics. These are the metrics that matter and are the ones that allow you to make business decisions (actions) that relate to the goals you set. By analyzing your SEO performance metrics, you’ll be able to tweak or make the right changes that will help you with the success of your SEO, client retention, perceived value, and most importantly ROI.
SEO Performance Metrics
There’s no clear distinction between what metrics are considered actionable or vain. The key is the goal. If your goals are to increase brand awareness or website ranking, then you’ll track your performance on that front. If your goal is to increase your ROI, then you’ll track conversions.
Let’s look at some of the most important metrics you should be tracking:
When it comes to SEO, content is king. And, keyword rankings tell you if you’re targeting the right, you guessed it, keywords. If your website isn’t showing up for your targeted keywords, then you might want to find less competitive keywords to temporarily aim for. As your rankings improve, the number of keywords your site ranks for will increase as well. This tells you that your website has gained authority.
These are links that point back to your website from other sites. The goal is to get high quality backlinks as well as a large quantity of them. This helps to improve trust in your website, and improves the overall SEO performance. By tracking your backlinks you’ll be able to tell how effective your link building strategy is. You’ll be able to tell if the links that are point back to you are relevant, and also how cost-effective your strategy is. Why should you bother with backlinks? Read about it in my blog “Why Bother With Backlinks?” to find out.
But what about engagement metrics? Keyword rankings and backlinks tell the story of SEO performance, but it’s not the whole story. Engagement metrics tell the story of how people behave after they get to your website, also known as the user experience.
Here are a few of the metrics you can measure for engagement:
Bounce Rate and Scroll Depth
Like bouncing on a trampoline, this indicates that someone visited your page and left without looking at any other pages on it. The story it tells is possibly just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe someone popped into your website to look for your address or phone number. Once they got it, from where it usually is at the bottom of most home pages, they left the site. So don’t be discouraged if the bounce rate is high, maybe take a look at scroll depth. This is just how deep people scroll down a page before leaving.
The simple definition of this is the number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors to your website. This isn’t just about sales though. It can be applied to email signups, sales/purchases, or even account creation. It all depends on what you’re measuring and tracking. Websites usually have numerous conversion goals.
Pages Per Visit and Time On Page
About goals again. If you set the goal of engaging visitors to your website and taking them to a next step, then this is a valuable engagement metric. It’s almost self explanatory. Visitor enters the website, looks at it, clicks on a page, reads, and so on and so forth. Again, it depends on the goal you set. This also relates to another metric called Time On Page. Are visitors spending the appropriate, or matching, amount of time on your page? If they visit your blog and only spend an average of 15 to 20 seconds on it, it’s highly unlikely that they’re reading it. Again, it all depends on your goals and the intent of the page.
SEO Performance Tools
So, you’ve got all the above data measured and tracked. What’s next? Traffic is next! The only time traffic is a good thing is here. You want more people to be visiting your website. How do you find out how much traffic you’re getting? One of the easiest, and most accurate, ways to do this is with Google Analytics. One of the most important things GA can tell you is which channels drive the most traffic to your website. With that information you can even calculate the ROI of your digital marketing campaigns.
Shall we take a look at some other tools that will help you better understand how to make sure of the SEO data you’re measuring? It’s like doing an audit, a SEO website audit.
Google Search Console – Probably one of the most well-known tools, GSC is free and provides reports that can be used to find engagement, errors, and opportunities on your website.
Lighthouse Audit – This is an automated tool that google provides to measure a website’s accessibility, performance, and more!
PageSpeed Insights – Okay, this one is pretty cool. It isn’t just measuring or tracking something. It gives you insights that it gains from using the data provided from Lighthouse as well as Chrome User Experience Report.
Structured Data Testing Tool – This is a tool many of us overlook when we’re new to the technical side of SEO. It tests to see if the code on your website is structured in the way that Google likes to read it.
Mobile-Friendly Test – Exactly what it sounds like. Tells you if your website is mobile friendly. What does that mean? It lets you know if it’s easy for a user to navigate your website on their mobile phones or tablets. Does it resize? Does it show you the full desktop version? That kind of thing.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Finally, there are just a few more things to look at and we’re done. If you’re going to do a full SEO audit, there are few things you should keep in mind. Crawlability and content quality. They aren’t exactly related but I think they sound good together. Crawlability is how “crawlable” your website is by search engines. It has to do with an accurate sitemap and also making sure you aren’t blocking Googlebot. Content quality is basically how good is the stuff on your site. Does it meet the needs of your target audience? Is it better than your competitors? Does it have good keyword focus? Are your Page Titles & Meta Descriptions summarizing the content on each page correctly? This doesn’t have to be just written content, it can be any form of media out there.
The list goes on and it’s a long list. The main takeaway here is that when you regularly measure and track your SEO performance, you’ll know what you need to focus on. You’ll know which part of your strategy you need to tweak or improve on. If you would like more information or would like to consult with us, contact us and talk with our team of Enablers.