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The 3 Most Important Online Marketing Metrics to Monitor

August 29, 2012
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224291

While some people get too wrapped up in monitoring web analytics data such as toolbar PageRank, top 30 rankings and number of daily visitors, there are some crucial metrics to follow and act on in order to improve your website and your search engine rankings.

To get a real sense for how your website is performing, spend your time monitoring things that illustrate successes and failure, such as conversion rates, how many backlinks you've collected and how engaged you visitors are. Here's a look at the three online marketing metrics you'll want to pay close attention to:

1. Conversion rate and goal completion
If you're investing time and money in building a site and expanding your web presence, be sure you're getting something of value in return. Whether your goal is increasing online sales or simply educating website readers about a certain topic, have a method for tracking conversion rates -- the ratio of website visitors who convert from visits into desired actions, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.

In general, your best tool will be the free Google Analytics, which can track everything from website sales to whitepaper downloads. Another option is an analytics service such as KISSmetrics, which can track metrics across e-commerce, mobile apps, social games and more. Prices start at $29 per month.

Related: 5 SEO Metrics You Don't Need to Obsess Over 

2. Backlink profile
Following Google's recent Penguin algorithm update, it's clearer than ever that the quality of the links pointing at your website matters in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). If you don't know what types of links are in your backlink profile, you risk being penalized by the search engines without ever trying to remedy the situation.

To gain a better understanding of the composition of your backlink profile, consider using a service such as Majestic SEO (plans start at $49. 99/month) or the Open Site Explorer ($99/month, following a free trial). Although you can get some information from Google's and Bing's Webmaster Tools programs, you won't get the full picture unless you pay for a third-party SEO tool.

Once you've accessed your backlink profile, here are a few things you'll want to look for:

If you detect any of these low-quality backlinks pointing at your website, do your best to remove them. Be sure to keep track of your efforts. Webmasters may refuse to respond to your requests to remove their links, but at least you'll have the supporting documentation needed to file a reconsideration request should a search engine penalize you. You can detect such penalties through a loss of traffic or a decrease in your site's natural search results rankings.

In addition, make tracking your backlink profile an ongoing effort. Check in at least once a month to try to prevent penalties before they occur.

Related: 3 Secrets to Using Google Analytics for Measuring Your Website's ROI

3. Visitor engagement
This refers to how much time visitors spend on your site and how much value they see in your content. It can be tracked in a number of ways, including:

Visitor engagement is important because of the potential business gains from providing customers with an engaging on-site experience. But many of the metrics described above also increasingly figure into search engine rankings, giving your site an SEO boost.

If your visitor engagement metrics aren't as strong as they should be, isolate and improve your site's weaker areas. It may seem like extra work, but the payoff in increased conversions and higher search engine rankings can be well worth it.

Related: 5 Common SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them