SEO isn’t a set it and forget it system. You must constantly monitor the effectiveness of the actions you take on and around your website. Why? Because you need to know what’s working and what’s not!
If something is working really well, do more of it! Right?
If something isn’t working within a reasonable time, get rid of it or modify it and start over!
If you don’t monitor stats, you’re just costing yourself time and money. Plus, if you’re only worried about things like “keyword rankings,” when it comes to SEO, you’re not seeing the whole picture.
So, Here are 5 SEO stats you should monitor and why.
1. Where your traffic is coming from
Traffic comes in from many angles, but you can determine quite easily how much of it is from organic search, and how much is not.
If you’re using PPC, yes, study your PPC traffic. But I’m here to talk about the free traffic that search engines provide.
If you’re using Google Analytics on your pages (it has to be on every page in your site for you to get a clear picture of what’s going on), you can easily see which portion of your traffic is coming from organic search by opening your Analytics dashboard, and clicking on “Acquisition,” and then, “Channels.”
This will show you how much of your traffic is direct, from referral sources, from social media, and from, you guessed it, organic search! If this number isn’t growing, you need to figure out why.
These days, having visitors who are engaged is HUGE. I mean, you want your visitors to like what you do, right? So, they need to stay on your pages longer than about 20 seconds. If they don’t, they’re “bouncing” right off and going elsewhere. A good SEO assessment includes information about that bounce rate.
Some of your traffic is bound to reach your page and bounce away immediately. Either they’ve seen the page before and know it’s not what they’re looking for, or you haven’t grabbed their attention.
But what about the keywords people are typing into a search box? Are they typing in keywords leading to your site that have nothing to do with what you’re offering? If that’s the case, you should start finding out what keywords those are and finding them in your pages.
If you’re using them, Google is finding them. If you don’t want to waste traffic, use alternate terms to erase the effect.
Figure out what’s causing people to bounce. Is your writing boring? Are you using images to increase interest on the page? Or are you spouting the same old re-hashed stuff that everyone else is talking about all the time in your niche?
Remember, you’re trying to solve problems. Teach people something useful and you’ll have an audience for life. Or, give them important news about your niche. Just be sure you keep your writing clear and to the point. Busy people appreciate that.
Use sub-heads to break up the text, and be sure to use plenty of “white space.” Make it as easy as possible for your audience to read clearly. Three to five lines is all an Internet paragraph should be.
3. Backlink Portfolio
Backlinks are still of paramount importance when it comes to SEO. If nobody votes for your page by giving it a backlink, you’re going to lose the search engine election. You should have a steady method of obtaining backlinks, and you should do it in a “natural” fashion.
Google doesn’t really want us gathering backlinks. They hate schemes to collect them, too. So, what to do?
Gather them anyway. There are tons of ways to get backlinks, and they shouldn’t all be “do follow,” either. That wouldn’t be a “natural linking” pattern. (Kind of puts me in mind of Catch-22, eh?) Get links from sites with higher page rank than yours, anytime you can. But also have backlinks from sites with lower PageRank and authority now and then, too. That’s more “natural.”
And don’t get your backlinks all at once. That looks like you could be buying links, so don’t go out and find 3,000 links in one day. Be comfortable with it.
4. Where Are Your Visitors From?
Are your visitors coming to you from Google or another search engine? Very generally, you are good to go when it comes to other search engines, if you optimize for Google. But what if you find out that visitors are coming from Bing, Duck Duck Go, or Yandex? If that’s the case, spend some time figuring out how to please those search gods and you’ll do better.
And what country are your visitors from? Is your content in the appropriate language to accommodate those visitors, or should you look into adding translation?
5. Are Your Visitors Buying?
This won’t apply to everyone, but I’ll get to you non-ecommerce folks in a second.
What keywords are making sales for you? What’s the conversion rate? Are you constantly testing?
If you put up a bunch of sales pages for your products, that’s awesome, but if you’re not testing one element of each page all the time? You have no idea exactly what’s working and what’s not. Get rid of the stuff that isn’t bringing in the money.
For those of you without products to sell, how about your opt-in rate? That’s huge! Make sure you’re testing headlines, colors, fonts, images, etc. on your opt-in form, too. Even if it’s working well, you should want it to work better.
The Bottom Line
Certain metrics are really important to your business, not just in terms of search, but in terms of sales! If you’re not watching these 5 statistics at least every day/week/month, you’re missing a lot of traffic and a lot more business, too.
I create a spreadsheet for each of my clients to track certain stats, which helps me to see how we’re progressing every week. Try it for yourself! And when you make that extra sale, look up and say, “Thanks, Pat!” I’ll hear you. Swear I will.
Photo credits: MorgueFile