To improve something, you first need to be able to measure it. So when it comes to search engine optimization, measurement is critical to success. Professional SEOs track data about rankings, etc to help analyze their SEO strategy and create road maps for success.
Recommended Metrics to Track
Although every business is unique, and every website has different metrics that matter, the following list is nearly universal. Here we’re covering metrics critical to SEO; more general metrics are not included. For a more comprehensive look at web analytics, check out best web metrics / kpis for a small, medium or large sized business by Avinash Kaushik.
This refers to a website’s position in search engine results. Firms listed on the first page of search results have more credibility in the mind of the consumer. Users are far more likely to purchase a product/service from a company who appears on the first page of search results. Further, prominence in search results heightens overall awareness of a firm’s brand. For this reason, improving website ranking, or maintaining an already high ranking, are common SEO goals and should be considered in the context of the firm’s larger brand awareness strategy and goals.
Improving a website’s ranking generally increases the amount of traffic to the website, often dramatically. SEO professionals must ensure that their websites appear prominently in user search results for common keywords and key phrases associated with the products/services they sell. For example, a local kitchen remodel and appliance retailer in Lansing, Michigan might want consumers searching for key phrases like “best refrigerators Lansing” or “Lansing affordable kitchen counter-tops” to find their brand, rather than those of their competitors. They also want to increase the number of links on third-party websites funneling traffic to their web-page, which, in addition to increasing traffic, also has the effect of increasing website ranking. Content marketing, when executed properly can increase both new and repeat visitors to the website, while social media marketing can draw in new audiences and spread marketing messages far and wide.
Increased rankings and traffic mean little if, once on a website, consumers are not impelled to perform a particular action. Most firms automatically think of conversions in pure sales terms, but depending on the firm’s inbound marketing and overall sales strategy, there can be multiple times of conversion, ultimately leading to a sale. For example, a keyword search could lead a user to a firm’s landing page to download a free whitepaper on a business topic in exchange for contact information. The number of downloads is a conversion, whether or not a purchase is eventually made. Traffic stemming from user’s keyword/phrases queries generally has higher conversion rates than traffic from referral sites because the user is already engaged and seeking to fulfill a need. Both traffic and conversions should not only be thought of in pure SEO terms but should be closely aligned with the firm’s overall marketing and sales strategies.
As with conversions, there are multiple ways to refine how one measures rankings and traffic. Firms can determine if there are particular search engines in which they wish to improve their rank, what keyword search results in which they wish to appear prominently, and more, as well as set specific targets by specific deadlines.