Measuring SEO effectiveness

26/04/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your webpages and content to rank high on a search engine. Ideally, you want your content at the top of a search engine’s results for keywords relevant to your product or services. This is why SEO is also the practice of attracting quality traffic to your website.

Whether you’re a freelance photographer or party supplier developing an e-commerce site, having a digital presence is an essential component of your inbound marketing strategy. Hence, implementing an effective SEO strategy is a strong start to boosting your website’s visibility, growing your organic traffic, and attracting new customers.

Measure SEO Success

It may seem somewhat counterintuitive to determine how successful your SEO campaign has been in hindsight if you never established any goals before the campaign started. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; if your company set a goal to improve organic traffic by 5% year over year, allocated the appropriate resources towards attaining that goal, and then achieved an organic traffic increase of 10%, you could view this campaign as extremely successful. However, if the goal had been to double organic traffic, the campaign would be perceived as a complete failure. For this reason, your SEO goals should be well established before the campaign truly begins. Without establishing these goals, you will have no baseline to grow from. Determining how much of your marketing budget should be allocated to online marketing is also nearly impossible without proper goals in place, meaning you have a very good chance at either underspending or overspending, neither of which are good for business.

On the other hand, not every company will find it simple to so readily define these goals, especially if we’re talking about a startup company or even an existing business attempting to adapt to an increasingly digital world with no idea where to begin. If that is the case, I would strongly recommend scheduling a consultation with a professional SEO agency that should be able to walk you through the basics. For a reasonable price, a reputable SEO company can perform an audit of your website, identify preexisting weaknesses in your website, analyze your competition and provide you with a high level overview of what you’d be up against. They will also be able to use their expertise to help you create realistic goals based on data and research.

There are a number of things to look at when gauging the success of your SEO campaign. To make informed decisions, you must be armed with data about your website, which can be achieved by connecting your website to an analytics software. Google Analytics is the most popular analytics software for websites since it is free and plenty powerful for most applications.

While analyzing each and every source of traffic certainly has it’s role in crafting your SEO campaigns, for the purposes of learning how to evaluate your campaign in this article, we will be focusing mainly on organic statistics. In the digital marketing world, organic search results are the results that the search engine has listed due to relevancy to a user’s query, not due to “inorganic” reasons such as paid placement. The word “organic” has transformed into a digital marketing industry adjective, which indicates that you are discussing “free” search traffic from the search engines, mainly Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Analytical Data

Organic Search Traffic

One of the most important metrics of your website is how many users visit your site. Track your organic search traffic monthly and make sure that overall it is increasing. You may have some drops once in awhile due to seasonality and other variables, but it is important that in general you see an upward trend in organic search traffic to your site. You can view this data in an number of ways, including graphically.

Organic Revenue

If you are dealing with ecommerce SEO and have properly implemented ecommerce tracking, you will have access to your organic revenue data, meaning revenue your site earned strictly from organic visits to your site. Of course, you want to make sure that revenue is increasing month to month and year to year, but don’t be discouraged by occasional dip here and there from things like seasonality. When you notice a dip that you lack an explanation for, it’s time to dig deeper into your data.

Bounce Rate

A website’s bounce rate is essentially the percentage of visitors who leave your site after only viewing one page. These users often “bounce” back to the search results page to find something they deem more relevant to their query.

A high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing as it could simply mean that users have immediately found the information they were looking for on the page they landed on and left. More often, however, a high bounce rate is an indication that your visitors are not seeing what they had hoped to see when clicking on your result, and that is a problem. This could mean that you are not targeting the right keywords, that your site doesn’t look “legitimate”, or that some other factors are at play preventing the visitor from engaging with your website.

e-Commerce Conversion Rate

Your ecommerce conversion rate is the percentage of visits to your website that resulted in an ecommerce transaction. In Google Analytics, you can hone in by traffic source to see your organic ecommerce conversion rate, which will help you understand if your organic traffic is actually converting to a sale. A good ecommerce conversion rate is hard to define, as in some industries even converting 1% of your visitors into a sale or lead could be considered terrific. Make sure that your organic ecommerce conversion rate is at least always staying the same or slightly improving, and analyze your checkout funnels for drop offs to determine what might be preventing your users from making a purchase. Sometimes, it can be as simple as adding some trust badges to your store to make users feel more confident their transaction is secure.

Time on Page by Visitors

Another important metric you can view in Google Analytics is the amount of time your visitors are spending on your pages. This is especially important on your organic landing pages as these are the pages your organic visitors will see first. This statistic is really beneficial for understanding the search intent of your visitors and how you might improve upon that. If users are arriving to a landing page and quickly navigating to another section of your website, you may want make it easier for them to find what they are looking for. The goal is to make your website as user friendly as possible.

Goal

Google Analytics allows you to define “goals” on your website, and then track their completion. Practically any action a user could take while on your website could be setup as a goal, from clicking an element on your site to submitting a contact form to making a purchase. You can also implement more abstract goals such as a user spending a predetermined amount of time on a given page. Some of the more sophisticated goals may require a bit of Javascript help from your front end developers.

Percent of Total Traffic That Comes from Organic Search

The larger the percentage of your total traffic that comes from organic, the more you are relying on organic search to drive traffic to your site. Typically, we aim to have as high a percentage of traffic come from organic, as this traffic is “free” once you have earned the rankings. Pay attention to how much of your site comes from organic and if you notice this percentage starting to drop, you may need to rethink your SEO strategy. Of course, other sources of traffic are very important too, and a shrinking organic traffic percentage may just mean you’ve been paying more attention to Social Media traffic or Pay-Per-Click traffic. Either way, you should always have a good idea of what percentage of your total traffic is coming from organic search.

Pages Per Visitor

The more pages a visitor views after arriving at your site, the more engaging your site is. At its core, Google aims to serve people the most relevant and useful websites that offer value that cannot be found elsewhere, or at least cannot be found easily. Looking at this statistic from an organic standpoint may tell you that you are targeting the right users or users who ultimately don’t have interest in your website after arrival. On the other hand, your visitors may be interested in your content, but your site may not be user-friendly enough. Remember, data is objective but your interpretations are subjective. Be sure to dig deep enough to find causation in your data, not just correlation.

Returning vs. New Users

new vs returning visitors to measure seo success The amount of visitors that return to your website can help you to understand how engaging your website is and whether or not users are identifying with your brand. Even if you convert 100% of your visitors, if none of them return to convert again in the future, you are losing out big time source of revenue! Ideally your visitors won’t just make a sale, they will share their purchase on social media, post links in online forums like Reddit, and return to make another purchase.

Crawl Errors

Search engines rely on automated programs that “crawl” your website in order to add it to their index. No matter how great your website is, if Google and the other search engines can’t understand your website, your rankings will suffer. Fortunately, Google provides a function in their Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) that allows you to check for crawl errors, and it will tell you if it is having difficulty crawling any of your pages. If you have thousands of crawl issues showing up in Search Console, odds are have some other glaring SEO problems. Here is a list of common crawl errors and how to fix them.

Traffic By Device Type

With mobile ecommerce stats showing that more and more users are accessing the web without conventional desktop computers, it’s more important than ever to be paying attention to which devices users are using to access your website. These days, the majority of online traffic comes from mobile devices, which is why it is important to know what devices your visitors use to make sure you are delivering the most user friendly view of your site to each visitor. You can check to see how “mobile-friendly” your website is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page.

Phone Tracking

You’re not getting a clear picture of your SEO campaign results unless you’re tracking phone calls from your site. This is especially true for lead generation sites and is more important for some industries than others. Depending on the industry, up to 100% of your leads can arrive via phone calls! Without call tracking implemented, you will have very little insight as to how they found you.

Call tracking provides you with customer data and information that enables you to make more informed strategic decisions and focus your efforts on the traffic sources that work for you. Some call tracking services are more robust than others, but the majority of them will allow you to see the traffic source that drove the call, the duration of the call, the search query that the customer used to find your site, and other relevant information.

Keyword Volume

Are you targeting keywords that are actually searched frequently? Ranking on the first page for hundreds of terms that nobody searches for is worthless. Imagine your business sells dogs, cats, monkeys, unicorns and lizard. All other things equal, it would be wise to focus your efforts on “dogs”, since it gets the most search volume. However, we know that all things are not equal and profit margins on unicorns are just outrageous these days.

Keyword Relevance & Search Intent

Are the keywords that you are targeting relevant to your audience? Is there a clear search intent that you are delivering what the searcher is most likely searching for? For example, if your website sells unicorns, ranking for “free unicorns” is not nearly as beneficial as ranking for “unicorns for sale”. Still, a fraction of those looking for free unicorns may be persuaded into buying some, so don’t completely write those keywords off.

Keyword Quantity

Of course, we want relevant keywords that are searched frequently ,but we also want a lot of them! Each month, you should track the amount of keywords that are ranking #1 overall, how many are on the first page of the results, as well as the second and third pages. Look for increases in these numbers each month and avoid losing rankings on keywords that have already proven successful sources of qualified traffic. Each keyword that your site ranks for will result in an increase in organic traffic, so as long as they are relevant to your operations, the more keywords the merrier.

Domain Quantity

How many separate domains link back to your site is an indication of how trustworthy you are. Generally speaking, the more domains that link to your site, the better.

Domain Quality

Links from CNN.com are likely more valuable than links from TommysAwesomeBlog.com, since CNN.com has a very strong backlink profile of its own. The quality of a domain is assessed by the search engine by using a number of metrics, including backlink profile, age of domain, and a lot of other factors.

Domain Relevancy

It’s not just the amount of domains and their quality that matters, but relevancy as well. Google’s search algorithm is capable of making many different types of associations. If you sell spaceships, a link from NASA.gov is much more beneficial than one from the NSA.gov. .

Page Quality

Similar to domain quality, but on a page basis. If your links are coming from “low quality” page(s) on strong domain(s), it will not have as big an impact as if it was coming from a high quality page on the same domain.

Anchor Text

With the recent iterations of Google’s penguin algorithm, the anchor text ratio of a websites backlink profile has become a huge point of importance for maintaining the overall “health” of your website. The short and simple explanation is that your website should have as natural of a backlink profile as possible, including the anchor text of those links. If you look at any big brand website, you will see a very natural distribution of the anchor text being used in inbound links.