5 Powerful SEO Metrics and Data Points You Need to Watch
Tracking your website analytics isn’t a “set it and forget it” endeavor. As an entrepreneur, it’s important you reevaluate annually what data you’re tracking -- especially important when it comes to SEO. Because Google updates its algorithm so often per year (technically over 500 times, but only three or four of which are usually significant enough to affect your website), the data that truly matters to you can drastically change. In fact, you might even be missing quite a few metrics that should be obvious.
The vast majority of your metrics will come from Google Analytics. This is not to say that Bing reports or any data your social media tools offer isn’t important, but Google has some of the most important metrics to check weekly.
The five reports below are all found on Google Analytics and are listed in order of how they should be checked for the best understanding:
1. Traffic Sources. This will tell you who’s coming to your website and how they found your website.
This should absolutely be checked once per week. What’s great about this report is it will show you all sorts of data at once so you can take a quicker look (hence why checking it once per week is so possible). For example, you can see which keywords and phrases people are using through search engines as well as links that draw in traffic. By being able to see where all of your traffic is coming from you can better determine where you should put your resources for the most success.
How to improve this report: You will often fine that one aspect of your marketing efforts will drive the most traffic, but another might give you the highest conversion rates. Both are important, so it’s a good idea to know the results each offers so you know where to put your energy. If you check this each week you can start to replicate what you’ve done in past weeks to create the strategy that works best for you. If something changes, you’ll know about it if you’re checking this metric each week and you can alter your efforts accordingly.
I also recommend using Google Analytics Intelligence Events to help you get alerts and better understand your traffic, which you can learn more about here. They’re easy to set up and can make a world of difference.
2. Impressions report. This refers to the number of times any URL from your website appears in organic search results and for what queries.
This hasn’t always been considered an important metric (certainly not top 5) because it doesn’t have to do with people clicking through your website, but now it’s important to know how many people are looking at a particular search term.
Extra: The SEO Queries report shows the Google search queries that generated the most impressions for your website URLs. You don’t necessarily need to check this everyday, but it’s an incredibly useful report for many of the same reasons the Impressions reports are so important.
How to improve this report: Look at your numbers to help you optimize your website. If a particular search term is ranking well for your site, keep targeted that term in your content and in your paid search efforts. This will change from week to week, so keeping a constant eye on it is key.
3. Conversion Goals report. This is what happens when someone completes a goal that you have created (subscribing to your blog, purchasing something, etc.).
This report is going to let you know how many people are converting and how and why they are converting. In other words, you can see if your efforts—ads, content, landing pages, etc.—are working and where they might be failing. After all, conversions are your ultimate goals and why you work so hard on your website and business in the first place.
How to improve this report: Your conversion rates and how you go about improving these numbers depends on the webpage in question. For example, a call-to-action (CTA) CTR might be different than an email CTR. Nonetheless; there are some tactics that will work across the board. When you group your pages together into similar pages (landing pages vs. blog posts vs. emails, etc.) find the ones with the highest conversion rates. Looking closely at them and find trends that you can then emulate onto your other pages. It seems obvious, but this is something that many companies only do once or twice per year -- not regularly.
4. Blog post views. This is another metric that might not come to mind for many people right off the bat, but it’s still important. Content is everything in today’s SEO world, and for most companies a blog is the biggest way that the company is displaying content. This is the text that ranks and gets people engaged in your website, so shouldn’t it be worth tracking closely each week? Tracking these numbers will help you get feedback on your articles and what your audience likes to read.
How to improve this report: Knowing which blog content performs best will help you determine what to write in the future, but don’t forget to stay creative. You should be publishing content at least three times per week on your blog, so keep trying new things. Your audience also changes as time goes on, so something that might not have been overly successful in the past might perform well just a few months later.
5. Bounce Rate reports. This calculates how long a visitors stays on your page.
This one almost didn’t make the list because bounce rate can is often so high, but that doesn’t mean that the metrics you see are irrelevant. Although your data might be higher than you’d expect, watching this week after week can help you better regulate what is working on your site. The lower the bounce rate the better your site did that week. This often correlates with your blog post metrics.
How to improve this report: Improving your bounce rate numbers is one of the harder things for Webmasters to control. However, the steps you can take to improve your data are the same as many of the others—experiment during the week and see what keeps people on your page. If you do this too infrequently this number might not help you improve, so a weekly basis is a good rule of thumb. Did you use a video last week? Chances are that will improve your bounce rate. Learn more options here or extra tips for creating a sticky website here.
For more information about the different reports found on Google Analytics, visit the Google Analytics Support page that lists all of their different features and how to get them working for your website.
Tell Us: What metrics do you find are important to constantly be watching? Let us know your thoughts and your experiences in the comment section below.
Scott Langdon is an entrepreneur with over 13 years of internet marketing experience, and currently serves as a managing partner of the nationally-recognized SEO firm HigherVisibility. Langdon and the HigherVisibility team work with clients of all sizes from across the country to offer a full range of interactive marketing services. He resides in Memphis, Tennessee.