Importance of Tracking the Results of an SEO Campaign
There are nearly as many advisable metrics when considering tracking your SEO performance as there are websites telling you how to do it. While its importance is crucial, choosing your methods can be daunting. Here are a few key elements to help you stay at the top of the ranking game. Keep in mind, being a successful SEO titan doesn’t happen overnight. Stay the course, monitor these tools regularly, however, and you’ll shoot straight up in no time. The following are listed in relative order of advisability:
1. Keyword Rankings
Nearly every SEO campaign begins by making a list of target keywords and tracking their rankings. Have you chosen the right keywords? Is your list broad and yet focused enough to cover the wide spectrum of your searchers’ scope of understanding for your business? Better rankings for a single keyword might not mean much, but a large-scale movement indicates a positive trend. Consistently reevaluation of your keywords will ensure that you remain relevant and visible.
2. Organic traffic
Search engine traffic (organic traffic) is simply a measure of the number of visitors to your site through search engines. Tracking search engine traffic gives you a qualifiable and quantifiable way of gauging the number of visitors your SEO efforts are actually bringing in. If you see a consistent increase in organic traffic every month, it usually indicates that your SEO plan is effective. The traffic from organic search is free, therefore it is truly one of the greatest measures of your SEO success.
Be aware that tracking your organic traffic does not indicate traffic quality. Measuring keyword rankings alongside search engine traffic gives a better measure of traffic quality.
SEO remains largely focused on link building, despite the growing importance of on-page factors. Tracking total backlinks to your site and to specific pages (especially pages you want to rank for) is a very good indication of your SEO performance. More often than not, a large number of backlinks from quality domains is proof that your SEO campaign is bringing in results. Furthermore, it’s important that you track the backlinks pointing to your website to ensure the quality and integrity of said links.
How trustworthy is the linking domain? The more trustworthy the domain is, the more weight a link from it will have.
What type of link is it? Links can be text links, image links, or redirects. Text links, which are usually in-content, editorial links, carry the most weight. Image links (when someone links to you via an image) and redirect links (when a site redirects the URL to you) carry much less weight. You ideally want to get as many text links as possible.
The relevancy and quality of the sites linking to your matter. If Google considers these links to be spammy, they may very well penalize you for them. It is important that you disavow any bad links in order to maintain your rank.
The diversity of the referring (linking) domains matters, as does the total number of backlinks. Search engines look at both total backlinks and how many different websites link to you. 10,00 backlinks from 500 websites are typically better than 2000 backlinks from 2 websites.
4. Bounce rate
Your site’s bounce rate is a measure of the number of people who land on your site and go away without interacting with the page or performing any action. These visitors are said to have “bounced” away, either because they found what they were looking for, or (more likely), they didn’t like your page. The bounce rate is expressed as a percentage. Thus, if your site has a bounce rate of 67%, it means that 67 out of 100 visitors don’t click a single link.
Bounce rate is one of the best ways of measuring user engagement on your site. A low bounce rate typically indicates that the user has found your website useful and/or interesting. A high bounce rate on particular pages isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps the user’s search query was answered on that page and they are satisfied. That’s why setting up event tracking is key, to measuring the success of a page even if you expect it to have a high bounce rate. A poorly engaging page means a poor user experience.
Tracking bounce rates over time will tell you whether your content is actually engaging your visitors. A reduction in bounce rate month-over-month is a good sign that you are providing suitable content to your audience.
A close follow-up to the bounce rate is pages per session. The higher the number the better, as it means visitors are going to multiple pages on your website.
This element is important because it is a clear indicator of both how effective your navigation and site funnel is, as well as how engaging your content is. If your pages per session count are low it usually indicates that your content isn’t captivating enough for people to seek out further information. It may also indicate that navigation around your website is difficult to navigate or that users don’t know how to find new content.
5. Site Speed
A slow-loading site will derail even the most aggressive of SEO efforts. If your site doesn’t load in under 2 seconds, you will likely lose a few ranking spots to domains with poorer content and backlink profiles. Remember: Google wants to give its users the best possible user experience. A faster loading site is better for end-users, especially on mobile.
By keeping track of your site speed over time, you will learn:
• Performance bottlenecks that are impacting your site performance.
• Malfunctioning scripts and plugins. Tracking the site speed can show you if a script or plugin is failing periodically.
• Effects of site changes. Adding a new plugin, changing the design, switching hosts, etc. can impact your site performance. Keeping track of site speed can help you gauge the performance impact of these changes.
While you don’t have to keep a constant eye on your site speed, but it is a good practice to log into your Analytics dashboard from time to time to gauge your performance.
6. Domain Trustworthiness
How well does your website perform in search engine rankings? Your domain trustworthiness is a quantifiable measure of your domain’s authority in the eyes of Google, which measures a website’s perceived “trust” within the online community. Websites that rank higher in domain authority also have a stronger link profile, which means they are more trustworthy. This is usually expressed as a score from 1-100 with 100 being extremely authoritative and 1 being a completely new site with zero backlinks.
Tracking your domain’s trustworthiness and authority is a great way to gauge the performance of your SEO campaign. As backlinks research shows, domain rating correlates heavily with rankings. A measurable increase in domain rating, therefore, indicates that your SEO campaign is actually bearing results.
7. Crawl Errors
Google can only rank your site if it can actually read all your pages. If there are missing pages (i.e. 404 errors), dead links, and other crawl issues, your rankings might suffer despite the strength of your SEO campaign. Pay careful attention to pages with duplicate content and error pages.
Tracking crawl errors should be a part of your ongoing SEO evaluation. Routinely assessing crawl issues can give you a boost in rankings and make your site more Google-friendly.
8. Return Traffic
Visitor loyalty is what SEO is all about. While it is great to rank well for your target keywords, your end goal should always be to turn visitors into loyal customers who love and recognize your brand. These are people who come back to your site over and over again. They recognize your brand so well that they type in your URL directly into their browsers.
Mindful, regular, and intentional review of these fundamental elements is key in diligently maintaining a successful SEO profile.