Which SEO Metrics Are The Most Important to Track?
If you know much about inbound marketing, you know that metrics are the key factor that differentiates this arm of marketing from all the others. Tracking metrics allows inbound marketers to make wise, informed decisions about how they’ll promote a product, rather than simply taking a swing at what feels right. When you track metrics, you can determine exactly why some projects succeed and others fail.
In the world of SEO, tracking your metrics is also a huge factor in determining why some strategies work and others don’t. But since search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, it can be hard to SEOs to keep up with which metrics to track. For example, while keyword ranking and domain authority used to be extremely important metrics to track, their significance has decreased quite a bit with the launch of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm.
So which SEO metrics are the most important at this moment? If you’re going to keep your eye on any, these are the ones to watch:
1. Bounce Rate
If your website pages have high bounce rate, then your search engine optimization is not doing its job. Ideally, ranking high for a specific keyword or topic should mean that your page is exactly what searchers were looking for. If you have a page or two with a high ranking but high bounce rate, you might be optimizing for the wrong keywords and subjects. Look closely at the content of your pages and consider rewording your title tags and headers for more relevant long-tail keywords. This will help you optimize better for actual people, which is really the most important goal in SEO.
2. Organic Traffic (and Where Its Being Driven)
One obvious goal of SEO is to drive organic traffic to your site. While it’s important to keep track of your general organic traffic numbers when embarking on a new SEO path, what’s more important is to track which pages are getting that organic traffic. When you know where your organic traffic is going, you can analyze why it might be going there.
You might be saying to yourself what seems like the obvious point here: organic traffic rates would increase because you’ve correctly optimized a page for the right keywords. Right? Not necessarily.
Because of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, keyword content and context means a lot more than it once did. Because of this, when you track your organic traffic metrics, you need to pay a lot of attention to the content of the pages that receives the most traffic. While you might be tempted to correlate high organic traffic with good keyword choices, because of a smarter search engine algorithm, you should really correlate it with popular page content.
Use your organic search metrics to determine which content does the best for your website, and then determine the best keywords to optimize for that subject.
3. New Visitor Growth
Optimizing your site properly should lead to more visitors, but when tracking for this metric, you want to make certain that you’re only tracking new visitors. When you simply track visitors as a whole, you end up attributing visits by current leads and customers to new SEO tactics.
Why is that such a huge concern? Because you can’t properly tell how well your SEO is working if your metrics aren’t exact. If you track leads and customers along with new site visitors, your numbers might tell you that your SEO is boosting site visits far more than it actually is. That’s important because it might make you believe that your ineffective SEO is working when really you need a big change.
4. Conversion Rate
So you’ve been optimizing your site on a regular basis; your rankings and new visitors have increased, but the conversion rate of your landing pages is stagnant. What does that mean? It might mean you are ranking for the wrong keywords and content.
Optimizing properly allows you to reach the people who are searching for what you have to offer, which means that if your SEO is working, your landing page conversion rates should increase. Similarly to your bounce rate metrics, if your conversion rate metrics are low, try ranking your pages for alternate keywords or subjects. You might just be hitting the wrong audience.
Ultimately, if you’re going to track only one SEO metric, profit should be it. At the end of the day, if your SEO isn’t raising your company’s profit, then it’s just not worth it!
Now, tracking the profit of your SEO can be easier said than done. Sure, company profit may rise, fall, or remain stagnant several months into your SEO plan, but how can you tell that your optimization strategy is the root cause? In order to track your SEO’s effect on your profit, you’ve got to be very scientific in the way that your implement your optimization plan.
Now, if you own a company and you’ve simply hired on an SEO firm to do some work to your website, then your profit metric tracking is pretty much done. Ask yourself, “did my profits raise after hiring that SEO firm?” If the answer is yes, then they’ve done their job and you can move onto bigger things. If the answer is no, then you might need to look into hiring a better firm. However, if you’ve got an SEO team working on your site, a web designer fixing things up, eBooks deploying every week, and new Google ads going up during the next month, then you’ve got some serious strategizing to do.
Rather than updating and publicizing every element of your site all at once, take things slowly. When you implement one measure of promotion or optimization at a time, it gives you the chance to trace profit changes back to one clear source. Think back to your high school science classes – when you’re doing an experiment, you only want to have one independent variable at a time, otherwise your results will be way too difficult to track.