Is my SEO really working? How can I tell? How quickly will it work? Am I on page 1 yet? These are all questions most business owners ask themselves when integrating SEO into their marketing programs.
And while SEO is crucial to the success of your organic campaign, it’s not as tangible as some of the other advertising methods, which makes it hard to recognize progress. So, to help you get a clearer understanding of your SEO efforts and their measurable development, let’s start with the basics by first asking, how long has your SEO campaign been running? And, what's the main focus and major goals for your website?
Once you outline your goals, here the most important SEO metrics we recommend reviewing and analyzing overtime in order to track and recognize the progression of your SEO program.
First, no matter the size of your customer base, you want to know a little bit about their interests to be able to properly market to them. Customer behavior is key. Using Google Analytics to track demographic data can be the hero in determining and understanding your clientele. Using this information, you’ll be able to tell a few different things about them:
- The interests of your viewers, whether it be news, movies, books, etc.
- Specific market segments
Monitor the growth of these metrics month to month in order to narrow down your client base and aggressively target them with content that appeals directly to their needs and interests.
Second, remain consistently aware of your website traffic. This includes more than total organic visits per month. You should also be monitoring:
- Page views
- Landing page views – this goes for specific custom content you may have created in the past
- Site speed
- Amount of time spent on site
- Amount of time spent per page
- New visitors vs. returning visitors
- Referral traffic
- Bounce rate
Reviewing these metrics above and comparing them month to month will help you drill down the things you want to improve on - or continue improving on.
For example, for an automotive dealership, if you see an increasingly amount of visitors and average time spent on the New Inventory Specials page, then you may want to vamp your specials and add new content with optimized keywords to the page. You should always be recognizing and utilizing your wins to continue increasing traffic.
Another scenario to consider is in regard to your bounce rate. Is your bounce rate at an all-time high for the site? This may not always be a "loss" - consider what your prospects want to see while shopping online for a product or service like yours. Is your site easy to read and navigate so the user can immediately get what they need and leave? Or, are there any broken links that are causing them to quickly exit? User experience is what can make or break a customer’s visit to the site, and influence your bounce rate.
And don't forget to find any breakdowns by using your analytics to see which pages people are spending the most time on. Check out the design of these pages and the way the content and images are laid out. Try to keep your site design consistent, flowing and appealing to your prospects and their interests.
And finally, conversions are just as crucial as traffic and customer behavior. Conversions are the end goal of every SEO action. You work long days and nights to drive your viewers to fill out that contact form, to inquire more information about a certain product or service, and call or stop into your place of business.
You can use your analytics to measure which forms have a low conversion rate and which forms are succeeding. Utilizing your conversion wins is a surefire way to attract additional traffic to your site and even increase your total conversions.
For example, if more and more prospects are filling out the ‘schedule service’ form at your automotive dealership, then you know you need to target service-oriented prospects. Add new service specials to the page and optimize your meta tags for ‘service specials.’ Then, create custom content based on service for certain types of models. As an additional step, determine which keywords fit that content the best, and use this as an opportunity to make your site keyword rich.
Conversions, traffic, and behavior go hand in hand. Don’t lose sight of your goals and be sure to focus on what you know you can improve. Use your current metrics to determine your strategy and identify your wins and losses. Focus on keywords that you believe prospects are naturally searching for. If you’re not seeing any traffic to certain pages or keywords, re-work your strategy and do a first person brainstorming session. “What would I search for if I needed a new _____ (insert your product or service)?” Or, “What would I search for if I wanted to read a review on _____ (insert your product or service)?” These may seem like silly questions, but the answers to these questions are truly the core to your SEO foundation.
All the best,
Danielle Bartholomew is an SEO Consultant at Stream Companies, a Philadelphia area advertising agency.