The numbers say it all – 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine.
In simple terms, a majority of the leads you plan to target will run a query when beginning their purchase journey. As such, search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer a nice-to-have but rather a must-have.
However, knowing that you need to level up your SEO is one thing while learning how to gauge progress a whole other matter. What gets measured gets done, and therefore you need ways of measuring success as you deploy and tweak your SEO.
Let’s take a detailed look at seven vital metrics you need to stay on top of if your SEO investment is to pay off.
Search engine optimization is the means through which you grow the quality and quantity of traffic to your site.
With SEO, you look to zero in on organic search engine results and find ways to bring those users to your site. That’s in stark contrast to other means that still leverage search engine activity to generate paid traffic.
Quality traffic is critical for success in SEO as you can have an above-average conversion rate if those coming to your site are who you want to attract.
For example, imagine you’re a business dealing in reselling Apple electronics. If the kind of people who come to your website are looking for Samsung electronics, you’ll have a hard time convincing them to buy from you.
Yes, these are people who want to buy electronics. But they are not looking for the kind of inventory you are carrying.
Quality traffic, in this scenario, will be you drawing the attention of people looking for Apple electronic devices to your site. Converting such users to paying clients then becomes a much easier proposition.
Once you target the right audience and have them coming to your site, high-quality traffic will boost your sales.
You’ll have more people coming to your site who need what you’re offering. At the same time, SEO will also help make your site more effective in drawing such traffic in.
But all this traffic will only work for your SEO if it’s organic.
There are many ads on search engines, and in contrast to those, organic traffic is made up of people who show interest in what you offer. As long as you target the right crowd, your odds of conversion are higher as you are attracting folks to the right offer at the right time.
How SEO Works
When a user types a query (or uses their voice in the case of voice search) into a search engine, the crawlers scour the internet for relevant content.
Once these crawlers locate the information, they build an index in the search engine using the data they uncover. That index then goes through analysis by an algorithm to match all the crawled information to what the user was looking for.
Many factors direct an algorithm on what results it should show, which can either drive the user to your site or your competitor’s. To illustrate, Google alone has at least 17 other ranking factors beyond just keywords that can make your site more visible.
Effective Ways of Measuring Success of Your SEO Strategy
Having an outperforming SEO approach isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal. You need to keep up with relevant indicators to tell if you’re making any headway.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the critical SEO metrics you should use to gauge how well your approach is doing.
1. Organic Search Traffic
You’re dealing with SEO, therefore, it goes without saying that organic traffic should be a top metric to build your approach on.
Aside from the overall organic traffic number, you need to break out this metric into ways that make the data more meaningful.
Classifying organic traffic by landing page helps you crack how each part of your site is performing. For example, if you realize that some of your pages are ranking well and others poorly, it immediately tells you that you must focus on the latter pages.
Are you deploying different SEO strategies for each landing page? Then such feedback should point you to the strategies that are working and those that aren’t.
Another critical aspect of organic traffic to track is where people to your site are coming from. Having a clear view of this helps you determine whether you are hitting the target audience you desire to reach.
It may be eyebrow-raising for you to realize that your business is popular in countries you did not expect. Or that even if it’s within the United States, your site is reaching a different target audience than you intended.
You can crossmatch organic location data with the conversion information to uncover regions where you have the most profitable traffic. From there, you can have an idea of how to tweak your website marketing efforts to address that audience.
On the other hand, if you find that the traffic you’re receiving isn’t profitable, then you’ll need to figure out why that is. Here, organic traffic helps you realize the changes you end to make to ward off those who discover your site but aren’t converting to paying clients.
2. Organic Conversion Rate
Nothing else makes SEO matter if it’s not about making money. Remember, you are not looking for organic traffic for the sake of it – it’s to turn users into paying clients.
For starters, take the time to understand the aggregate organic conversion rate for your site. That will point out the degree to which you appeal to users arriving at your website.
Next, you need to assess each page’s conversion rate critically. Usually, some of your pages will draw more people into paying customers than others.
The task then is to figure out what’s making low performing pages not to convert site users. Maybe it’s because the strategy you use in these low performing pages isn’t optimized well for the audience, which you can rectify and test.
Looking at your conversion rate from the location viewpoint is necessary to help you zero in on profitable regions.
When you know where the users who end up becoming customers come from, you can dedicate more marketing dollars to reaching out to more users in these locations.
Since you are operating in a mobile-first digital market, you will need to gauge conversion based on the devices your visitors use. If the data shows you that you are drawing more desktop users than mobile users, that should sound an alarm.
Basically, such data points to how little your site is optimized to be mobile-friendly (where the bulk of most search traffic comes from nowadays).
Another conversion aspect you must investigate is browser types your visitors use. When you realize there’s one popular browser type that’s driving organic traffic to your site, it means you’re alienating users of other browser types.
Make the necessary design changes to attract more users from other popular browsers.
3. Organic Bounce Rate
Bringing the right kind of organic traffic to your site is quite an investment. However, for many websites, retaining that traffic is where they tend to drop the ball.
In light of this, bounce rate is a critical metric as it gives you the number of people who have come to your site but left after visiting only one page.
Search engines only consider a user to have interacted with your site when they visit at least one other additional page. You track bounce rate as a percentage of the total number of visitors, with a lower figure being more desirable than a higher one.
With that said, a site-wide bounce rate figure lacks context. You won’t be able to make any meaningful tweaks until you refine it. Thus, you need to break down the metric by landing page. You’ll get to identify the elements of your site that best serve visitors and spy out those that drive them away.
Other meaningful ways you can break down your bounce rate data are by gender, location, browser, new visitors, and even by device.
If you’re using Google Analytics, you can use the platform’s benchmarking feature to get an average of your industry’s bounce rate. That’s useful as it can help you compare your site’s performance with the industry average to steer your SEO better.
SEO is a long game that relies on your site becoming a trusted brand among your target audience. One of the ways you manage to drive more organic traffic to your website is by delivering high-value content.
Through content marketing, you can develop thought leadership in the area of your expertise. The more you offer your audience free but impactful material that helps them solve their problems, the more they trust you.
Once the level of trust has built up sufficiently, these leads come to your site to buy from you. They will have no qualms spending money on what you offer as they believe you know how to help them.
Nurturing all this takes time. But how do you gauge your progress even as you grow your site?
The answer is tracking your website and domain authority.
There are several online tools you can use to inspect various aspects of your site’s authority. The data you glean from these tools helps you see your website from a user’s point of view.
Consequently, you can discern which direction you need to tweak your strategy so that users can increasingly trust your brand.
Over time, as you consistently grow your authority, your website will begin to draw more relevant traffic that converts at a higher rate.
A critical element in your SEO strategy is your backlinks. A backlink is, in essence, a link that one site gives to another. In the context of site content, a backlink acts as a citation reference.
Backlinks are potent because it’s other sites acknowledging that your content is valuable. Search engine algorithms take backlinks as signals that the material on the site has a higher potential to meet a user’s need, hence displaying it more prominently.
Monitoring your link building is critical as not all sites that point traffic to you are desirable. Many spam sites can link to your content, which only hurts your ranking.
The more links you get from shady sites, the bigger the hit your site’s reputation takes.
Furthermore, if you have a spammy link stricture, search engine algorithms will penalize you for it. Thus, Google has set out some guidelines to help website owners deal with spammy link structures.
In some instances, your competitors will use bad linking to take you down. Here, such malicious actors will spam your site, and if you aren’t regularly checking your links, you risk getting de-indexed.
Keeping a regular eye on your backlinks helps you disavow any spammy backlink as soon as it crops up before the search engine takes action against you.
6. Click-Through Rates
Click-through-rate (CTR) is the measure of how many people click on your link once they see it on the search engine result page (SERP).
CTR’s a vital metric you need to continually consult as it signals the effectiveness of your ranking in SERPs. By showing you how many users click on your links, you can correctly assess how compelling your content is to users.
Armed with that info, you can then adapt your content strategy to boost your SEO further.
Break down your CTR by landing page and best performing keywords to identify how your keywords can direct traffic to your site and how effectively your landing pages then convert this traffic.
Even in this personalization age, keywords can still be useful in helping sharpen your SEO.
Tracking how well your keywords are doing can generally help you tell if your overall ranking has improved.
If, on the other hand, you notice that there’s no improvement despite employing other measures too, then it means you need to rethink your keyword selection.
Keep a Close Watch on SEO Metrics to Grow Your Reach
SEO is critical to making your site visible to a myriad of leads that can grow your business. However, it’s one thing to know you need SEO and quite another to interpret the data from it correctly.
To manage the latter, you need effective ways of measuring success or failure of your SEO so that you can know what to drop and what to maximize one.
Riserr is a search engine marketing firm obsessed with making your website more visible in search engines. Talk to us today for high-performing, out-of-the-box SEO strategies that are backed by a proven track record.