Most businesses who engage in digital marketing have at least a fleeting familiarity with search engine optimization. If you want to successfully reach your audience online, a systematic effort to take advantage Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines is absolutely essential.
Plenty of techniques exist to help you increase your rankings, optimize your website for keywords, and find keywords and phrases relevant to your target audience. You might have heard about keyword research, content marketing, link building, and on-page optimization. In reality, though, none of these tactics can be reliably successful if you don’t know how to track their success.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex topic, to say the least. But with the right metrics, you can build and improve your presence on Google, Yahoo, and Bing over time to increase your search traffic and conversions. To get to that point, here are 9 SEO insights you must monitor for sustainable search success.
1) Search Traffic By Channel
First, the obvious: you need to know where your traffic is coming from. This metric breaks down the visitors to your website based on variables such as search, social media, direct (by typing in your website URL), individual, tagged marketing campaigns, and more.
You can also break down your search traffic further. Most analytics solutions, for instance, track what portion of your SEO-related visitors originates from Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The insights gained can be used for adjustments that account for the different requirements and variables for each search engine.
It’s very important to monitor the sources of your website traffic in order to understand who is visiting, what they’re interested in, and what kind of content is resulting in click through.
2) Search Traffic By Keyword
Of course, the keywords your audience searches for before visiting your website is also vital. More specifically, you should try to track exactly what proportion of search traffic originates from which of the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
The insights resulting from this metric are especially significant as they relate to strategy. Anytime a keyword makes up a disproportionate amount of search traffic to your website, it might make sense to pay closer attention to it, and revise your SEO strategy to highlight it better.
It’s been quite some time since Google removed the ability to track keyword traffic, but by tagging and tracking campaigns and even using other software tools such as SpyFu, you can get a better idea of where your traffic is coming from when you’re looking at your organic traffic.
3) Keyword Rankings
Speaking of increasing keyword rankings. for lasting success in SEO, it is absolutely vital to track individual keywords for which you are looking to optimize your online presence. Tracking current keyword rankings helps you not just determine the success of your search engine optimization efforts, but also make adjustments as needed.
For instance, you may find that part of your efforts are paying off, while others aren’t. One keyword may have finally made it to page one of search results, while the other dropped off to page 5. Now, you can use that insight to determine whether to focus your energy on bringing the dropping keyword back up, or further enhancing the rising keyword and leverage the power of top results.
4) Search Traffic By Device
Increasingly, audiences across industries and demographics are using mobile devices to search and browse the web. In fact, Google has reported that there are now more searches done on mobile devices than desktops! Tracking the devices your visitors use helps you make adjustments that optimize your experience for the biggest chunks of your audience.
This metric will only gain in importance as mobile devices shape the future of search engine optimization. Google’s upcoming Mobile First Index, for instance, will make mobile optimization absolutely essential for any SEO access. If you track your traffic by devices now, you can anticipate that switch by creating a more relevant, user-friendly online presence.
5) Engagement Per Search Visit
Getting traffic to your website, of course, is only part of the equation. The quality and interest level of your visitors matters at least as much in converting visits to leads and customers. You can measure the engagement of your visitors once they land on your site through a variety of metrics. The three most popular include:
Bounce rate, or what percentage of visitors leave your website without navigating to another page beyond the first they land on.
Time on page, measuring the estimated time the average visitor spends on your website.
Pages per visit, similar to time on page except broken down by how many individual pages your average visitors actually view.
6) Search Traffic Micro and Macro Conversions
Just as traffic means little without measuring its quality, engagement matters little without conversions. Tracking conversions means measuring whether your search engine traffic takes the actions you want them to take upon visiting your website.
Here, most web analytics systems distinguish between micro and macro conversions. Macro conversions measure actual success, such as sales transactions and customer conversions. Micro conversions measure steps on the way to your ultimate goal, such as visiting your pricing page, staying on your website for a certain amount of time, or becoming a lead.
Measuring both micro and macro conversions as they relate to search traffic (and its various channels, devices, and keywords) helps you better understand which efforts work, and which don’t.
7) New vs. Returning Users
The perfect member of your target audience doesn’t just visit your website once – they come back. Tracking this insight helps you understand just how large of a proportion is made up of new vs. returning users, which can inform both your SEO and web strategy as a whole.
A high portion of new users from search traffic, for instance, means your attention attracting keywords are working well. However, your content may need to be revised to attract more returns. High proportions of returning traffic may require more of an emphasis on more keywords that seek to put your online presence in front of audiences that have never heard about your brand.
8) Backlink Quality and Quantity
Links play a crucial role in any SEO strategy. The more high quality external links pointing to your website, the more credible your online presence becomes in the eyes of search engines. Low quality links from shady websites, on the other hand, can actually decrease your credibility and rankings.
In other words, when it comes to backlinks, quality and quantity matter equally. Track both to understand where you can improve. A lack of quantity, for instance, can lead to a more focused link building strategy that includes working with influencers, guest blogging, and an effective social media presence. Meanwhile, lagging quality may be improved by disavowing bad backlinks. One thing is sure, not all backlinks are created equal.
9) Broken Links and Errors
You might notice that the above insights tend to be based on qualitative, marketing related data. At the same time, technical considerations matter just as much in any sustainable search engine optimization effort. As you track your insights, be sure to include:
Broken links on your website, both internal and external.
Errors experienced by users who enter the dreaded redirect loop.
404 errors encountered by users who come across missing pages.
Crawl errors encountered by Google when going through your site.
All of these can be directly responsible for a negative impact on your search engine optimization. Tracking them helps you fix problems before they turn into major issues.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Optimization and increased rankings occur over months, not overnight. In the meantime, competitors look to rank for the same keywords, while search engine algorithms receive regular updates. The only way to achieve sustainable success is to track your SEO insights and efforts over time.
When approaching SEO strategically, even small businesses can achieve a prominent presence on the search engine results pages (SERPs) of their audience. A customized data dashboard specifically geared towards your search engine optimization campaign can help you keep track of each metric and make adjustments and improvements where needed.
The right SEO insights are the key to your success. Track the right metrics to make the right adjustments, and you can leverage your search strategy to increase search traffic, build on-site conversions, and grow your business.
Want to learn more about what each of your SEO insights and Moz rankings actually mean? Check out our Understanding Your Moz Analytics & SEO Insights blog post now!
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