Monitoring SEO Performance: Is Your SEO Working?
This past week I had the awesome experience of having my monthly weigh-in by my fitness trainer. Six months ago we sat down and developed a strategy to purge the pesky extra pounds off my body and every month since we have met up to track my progress. During this past session I got to thinking about how measurement (although most of the time not that much fun) is really the key to achieving growth and development. As uncomfortable as it is to stand there and have someone tell you how well (or poorly) you’re doing in relation to your goal, we cannot track whether what we’re doing is working or not without it.
If you’re a business owner with an online presence looking for ways to move your business listing up in the Google rankings, paying attention to your website’s search engine optimization strategy is a non-negotiable. With most businesses using search engine optimization to market their products, services or brand, determining whether or not your current approach is doing well is crucial to the long-term success of your company. When measuring the success of an SEO campaign, there are different metrics that can be used with each varying from one business to another; however, there are common key performance indicators you should always consider when monitoring SEO performance.
1) Search Engine Ranking
Search engine ranking is the position of your website in the results of a search engine query. One of the main objectives of SEO is to increase the visibility of your business to potential customers by increasing your website’s ranking in the search engine. Search engine ranking is therefore one of the easiest ways of knowing if your SEO strategy is working. If you have moved higher on the results page of a search engine after implementing your SEO campaign, then you can be sure that you are doing something right. On top of telling you if your SEO campaign is working, tracking search engine rankings for the keywords you use can help you formulate better strategy by showing you the keywords that are working and ones that require more work.
2) SEO traffic
SEO traffic is the number of visitors who visit your business through the results of search engines, after searching for keyword(s) used in your SEO campaign. It is a key performance indicator of telling you if your SEO campaign is working. While search engine rankings are a good performance indicator, they are useless if they fail to bring traffic to your website.
When measuring your SEO success, you should consider both the volume and quality of the SEO traffic. The best way of measuring traffic volume is to consider the number of searches received from organic search results (listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to advertisements). A successful SEO campaign should bring about an increase in the website traffic from organic search. Traffic quality on the other hand is measured by considering the following metrics:
a. Number of pages per visit – this is the number of pages accessed per single visit. Monitoring the number of pages per visit will tell if various SEO strategies you are using such as site structure, content, backlinks and keyword targeting are working. A high average is an indicator that the visitors to your website are satisfied with what is being offered, while a low number shows otherwise.
b. Visit duration – the amount of time visitors spend on your website is another indicator of whether your SEO is successful. Your site might receive high traffic, but it will be useless unless the visitors actually do what the SEO campaign intended them to do. If visitors are spending quality time on your website, this is an indicator that your website is satisfying their needs and that the SEO is well-targeted.
c. Bounce rate – this is the percentage of people who visit your website, but leave without browsing further the landing page. Bounce rate is an important metric that shows the quality of traffic to your website. A high bounce rate shows that the content on your website is not relevant to the visitors search query, which might indicate you are using the wrong keywords. It might also show that the content found on your web pages is not worthwhile to visitors.
3) Conversion rate
Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors arriving at your website through search engine results who perform your desired action, for example, buy a product or service, contact you, or any other website goal. It is the ultimate measure of SEO strategy success, as it shows if your SEO is effective or not – the higher the conversion rate, the more successful the SEO strategy is.
The above key performance indicators are great when it comes to monitoring SEO performance; however, if you really want to determine how effective your campaign is, deeper metrics are required.
Monitoring SEO Performance with More Advanced Techniques
1) Use Google Analytics to segment, filter and then compare your traffic
Google Analytics is an SEO metric tool that looks deeper into how your website is performing. It tracks performance of the website by analyzing specific visitors segments and then creating reports. Visitor segments can include visitors based on a specific traffic source, traffic based on a certain number of used keywords, and so on. The data provided by Google Analytics can help measure the success of your SEO campaigns, by measuring the performance of your keywords.
To measure your SEO success using Google Analytics, simply go to the Advanced Segments section on Google Analytics and select a specific segment. Compare the current traffic of the segment with that of another time period before you started your SEO. The results will tell you if your campaign is working.
2) Use Search Queries Reports from Google
Google Webmaster is another metric tool that tracks the performance of your website and provides reports – Search Queries reports. The Search Queries report from Google Webmaster contains important information on impressions, clicks, click-thru-rate and rankings. You can have this data displayed against your keywords, and even filter it by location. This will show you how effective your keywords are, and in which location they are most successful.
3) Do a cost-per-click (CPC) comparative research to determine your ROI
Tracking the monetary value of your websites conversions helps to determine the return on investment (ROI) of your SEO strategy. You can determine your SEO campaign’s ROI by comparing the cost-per-click with revenue generated from your SEO campaign. If the returns of the SEO are higher than the average cost-per-click when using pay-per-click strategy, this is an indicator that your SEO is working successfully.
4) Integrate Google Analytics and Google Webmaster
The data provided by Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools is very helpful when determining the success of your SEO campaign. Fortunately for you, you can be able to integrate the two tools and view data from both of them in the same place. Simply log into Google Analytics and go to “Acquisition>Search Engine Optimization.” From here you can be able to view data on Google Webmaster Tools on your Google Analytics.
After integrating Google Webmasters into Google Analytics, you can be able to access the “Queries” reports and track the performance of your keywords in form of ranking, impressions and clicks for a certain period of time. Tracking this performance will show you the effectiveness of your SEO.
5) Track your goals using Google Analytics
Another important way of measuring the success of your SEO strategy is to track and monitor your website’s goals. Using the “Goal Flow” report on Google Analytics, you can segment your traffic by organic search traffic and monitor the performance of specific keywords. The data from the report can be compared with that of another time period, providing you with a clear picture of how your strategy is working.
Monitoring SEO Performance: Summary
I know we just flew through a lot of info, and I’m sure your head is spinning from all the ways to measure and track your business’ SEO results. Although these measurement methods may sound tricky at first, getting used to using these tools will help you determine whether your current strategy is working or if you need to change it. Whether you need to help running a basic SEO campaign, or are looking for serious, analytical support, our SEO page can help get you started!