Investing in search engine optimization (SEO) is a wise move for any business with an online presence. The benefits of optimizing your website to yield better results in search are well known. When it comes to tracking your SEO metrics to determine the success of your efforts, however, choosing the proper benchmarks can be overwhelming. SEO consists of many elements, so it’s important to know which metrics are most worth your careful analysis.
The Best SEO Metrics to Track
Tracking your SEO metrics during an active campaign is critical to evaluate the work you are doing. Without frequent check-ins to verify that your efforts are bearing fruit, there is little hope for future improvement. Also known as benchmarking, this tracking of your SEO work will help you tweak your future efforts.
For instance, if you can identify which SEO techniques are bringing in the most traffic, you can determine where to put most of your energy in future campaigns. Tactics that are effective but yielding smaller percentages of the traffic you bring in might be worth putting on a back burner, or at least allocating fewer resources to. Those that generate most of your traffic, however, should probably become an SEO focal point.
BrightEdge, a best-in-breed resource for SEO, recommends that you keep an eye on the number of your site’s pages that have been indexed by Google. Every page you have on your site should be indexed by Google, as this is what allows them to be found by users searching relevant keywords.
If your content is poorly written or duplicates something seen elsewhere on your site (or even on another site), it might take longer to be indexed. Improperly coded websites might also fail to be indexed.
Fortunately, it’s fairly straightforward to verify that your site pages have been indexed. To do this, you can type “site:yourwebsitename.com” into the Google search bar. This will reveal every page on your site that has been indexed.
BrightEdge recommends that you track not only the number of your site’s pages that have been indexed, but also your landing pages. Landing pages are the places on your website where users are entering through their Google searches. The more points of entry you have, the better. As your SEO efforts heat up, you should start to see more landing pages—this means your content is easier to find, since it is optimized.
More SEO Metrics to Track
Other SEO metrics that should be benchmarked to ensure your efforts are effective include keywords. While it’s never recommended to keyword stuff or produce fluff content in an effort to publish keywords across your site, it really does matter if you include the keywords users are searching for. High-quality content that includes keywords based on a good deal of research and strategy will tend to yield the best results.
Not sure which keywords you should be using, or even which ones your site is currently ranking for? You can use tools like BrightEdge or Google’s Webmaster Tools to check. Google’s suite of tools can also clue you in to what the search volume is like for the keywords you are ranking for. This will give you an idea of what to focus on going forward.
For instance, perhaps your Manhattan hotel wants to target luxury travelers. The keyword “Manhattan five-star hotel” could be one you rank well for, but perhaps “luxury hotels in Manhattan” is one with a higher search volume. You might wish to refocus your SEO efforts to bring in the higher levels of traffic that the second keyword can offer.
Authority-Boosting SEO Techniques
Something else to consider when it comes to your SEO strategy is how authoritative your website seems. Different SEO tools will offer an estimated authority score, but Google has its own that is both proprietary and rather secretive. One thing that SEO experts do know, however, is that the number of backlinks you have impacts how Google ranks you in search.
The more other websites link to your site, the more trustworthy and useful Google deems your content. You can easily track your backlinks over time using a number of SEO services both free and paid, like Majestic or SEM Rush. See if your backlinks are trending upward or downward for a good sense of what might be happening with your search rankings.
While it can be difficult to build backlinks without a good deal of effort, don’t ever attempt to buy backlinks. Google penalizes black-hat backlinking strategies, so you may actually hurt your SEO rankings if you don’t come by your backlinks in an above-board manner.
Another important authority-boosting SEO metric is your organic vs. referral traffic. Organic traffic refers to users who find your site through search. They may have typed, for instance, “luxury Manhattan hotels” and come across your brand. Referral traffic, on the other hand, could come from a recent news article done about your hotel, or a review done by a local travel authority.
The more organic traffic you have, the better. This shows search engines that what your site has to offer is worth the time of those searching for it. Referral traffic is great and certainly may help you to close sales. However, since it comes more from time-sensitive articles and isn’t necessarily related to how well you’ve optimized your site, Google won’t pay as much mind.
Don’t forget about your social media channels when it comes to building trust online. You can get good quality leads from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and a host of other social media platforms. If you’re linking from your social media posts to your site’s top landing pages and have good content to offer, you can achieve low bounce rates and high visitation numbers.
It’s a good idea to keep track of your overall bounce rate. If you see this number decreasing over time, it’s a solid indicator that those brought to your site are finding its content increasingly helpful and more suited to their needs. If, however, bounce rates increase during your SEO benchmarking, it may be a sign you need to revisit your content strategy.
Galileo Tech Media offers SEO strategy and tactics for a wide variety of businesses and industries, and can assist with SEO metrics and benchmarking. Contact us today to learn more about our SEO services and how we can help you improve your search engine optimization efforts.