How to measure success in SEO

In search engine optimisation, one of the most important factors is to measure your success; so you always know where your site is, and how to improve it. Professional SEOs keep track of all the aspects from: rankings and referrals to links and their structure. In this blog post, factors such as metrics and analytics will be uncovered, and how to apply that data to to your website to become a success in SEO.

Suggested metrics to track 

Here is a list of all the different metrics that are essential to SEO universally:

Search engine share or referring visits: Keep on top of the input of each traffic connection for your site- different traffic sources such as:

  • Direct navigation- email links without tracking codes, bookmarks or typed in traffic
  • Referral traffic- when someone clicks on a hyperlink to go to a new page on website or in trackable links or email.
  • Search traffic- users who visit a website by clicking search results connecting to that particular website.

Being able to measure and track these number, the webmaster is able to track the success and find areas to improve on; this data is helpful to monitor the traffic and track your marketing strategies.

Search engine referrals: There are three main search engines that make up 95%+ of all search traffic, which is: Google, and the relationship alliance between Yahoo! and Bing. Tracking the input of your search traffic from the individual engines is helpful because:

  • You can analyse how big the input of each engine is with its estimated market share. 
  • You can discover decreases: Seeing specific contributions from each engine if your search traffic potentially drops is good because you can compare your site to others that are similar, and if there's have dropped too, it's likely that an update is taking place, but if nothing has dramatically changed for the other sites, it's likely that your site may have been given a penalty. 
  • Expose strategic value: Discovering the techniques that are proving to have success in one engine is helpful because you will know how to focus your efforts, it's likely that some efforts you create in SEO will have a more popular outcome in some engines and not others. 

Visits referred by specific search engine terms and phrases: Keywords are another crucial part of analytics. You need to track your keyword success regularly to help identify new trends in keyword demand, discover keywords that are regulating traffic that could be under optimised for and check the performance on those key phrases. Search referral counts are also important to your website, if there is a dip in the quantity in referrals it could be due to trend lines, and it is important to check that your keywords or just targeted for specific time periods. 

Conversion rate by search query term: Gives the organisation information, number and percentages about specific queries that have been searched for. You can do two things with the information provided from conversion rates:

  1. Improve positions: Check the rankings on the search engines' results, working to improve with conclude to more conversion.
  2.  Improve the experience: The analytics will show the webmaster what page visitors mainly find, so they can use their advantage by using that page as the focal point to improve. 

Conversion rate measuring is definitely an important element from keyword phrase referrals, but you should always maintain on improving the landing pages for the visitors.

Number of pages acquiring at least one visit from search engines: A crucial metric for ultimately monitoring your website's SEO performance is understanding the number of pages that receive search engine traffic. From knowing this number, the webmaster can begin to observe to the number of pages from the site the engines are maintaining in their indexes. Simple inclusions are crucial for large websites; this metric gives a trackable number that's suggestive of success or failure. Sites that are getting search traffic are the best long tail metric around because more and more pages are earning their way into the engines' results. 

So, there you go, only some of the analytics data point highlighted, not all of them, but ones that are proven to be universal and should be applied as much from your SEO campaigns as possible. 

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Analytics software

The following lists are all examples of analytics softwares; one of the most popular being Google Analytics due to its' easy guidelines and tutorials and connections to other Google products such as AdWords and Search Console. It is advised to test them all out and see which one in your opinion is your favourite, as everyone has a preference. 

Softwares you pay for: 

  • Moz Analytics
  • Omniture
  • Fireclick
  • Mint 
  • Sawmill Analytics
  • Clicktale 
  • Coremetrics 
  • Unica NetInsight 

Softwares' you don't pay for:

  • Yahoo! Web Analytics
  • Google Analytics
  • Clicky Web Analytics
  • Piwik Open Source Analytics 
  • Woopra Website Tracking
  • AWStats

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Metrics for measuring 

 It is important to develop a strategy for optimising your website. As search engines' algorithms are private, it can be hard to optimise for specific elements of search engines; but, a set of techniques and new data have been shown to be useful to help boost ranking and the variation of ranking, too. You can discover and learn these tactics and apply them to your website by using the search engines themselves to gain the upper hand by creating clever queries and by outlining the data the engines have presented. 

Google site query: It is useful to restrain your search to an individual site because you can view the number and list of pages indexed on a specific domain. You can also add value by including additional query parametres.

Google trends: By using Google trends, you can discover and analyse keyword search volume and popularity over time. 

Blog search link query: It's not always useful, but it normally holds together high-quality results that are sorted by date, range and relevance.

Bing site query: This is very similar to Google; it is helpful to restrain your search to a singular site so you can view the number and list of pages in their index from a given site. 

Bing IP query: It is useful to restrict your query to a specific IP address to identify whether a page is hosted on a shared provider- this will show pages that Microsoft's engine has found on the given IP address.

Bing Ads intelligence: Has a wide range of keyword research and audience intelligence tools, mainly targeted for search and display advertising. 

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Applying that data 

Knowing the percentages, numbers and data will be useless unless you apply them to improve your content. Here is a list of several common directional signals retrieved by tracking data points and offered suggestions on how to focus on and respond to them:

  •  Fluctuation in search engine page and link count numbers: Numbers in 'site' and 'link' queries are not something we suggest worrying or large fluctuations; due to the fact that queries are never really accurate anyway, only if they are followed by traffic drops. If your site endures drops in links or pages indexed, it may be either that your links are losing juice, or your site is losing indexation due to penalties.
  • Falling search traffic from a single engine: This basically means you have done something on your site that has stopped crawlers or block indexation. Carefully analyse your Webmaster tools accounts to search for the problem.
  • Individual ranking fluctuations: In general, increasing or decreasing rankings of terms/phrases happens every day to millions of pages, competitors will always lose and gain links. This is not necessarily a major issue, only when a large, extreme fluctuation occurs, you should review your page and accounts to search for any signals of  over-optimisation or manipulation (cloaking, keyword stuffing). Also, look at other similar websites to check if their links have decreased too, or, sometimes new websites gain a lot more links as a spike for them, meaning your website has lost the links, this is most commonly known as the 'freshness boost'.
  • Positive increases in link metrics without rankings increases: Ranking highly in search engine's results takes time, some webmasters assume as their content and on-page optimisation is such high-quality that it will immediately become popular and gain high rankings (this is not true). The metrics and rankings take days or weeks to process websites, as there are just so many out there to not just crawl, but index and process as well.  

 featured image www.topseosydney.com

Catherine Durham

Catherine Durham

Digital Marketing Manager (Dip DigM)

Digital Marketing Manager at Netmatter, Catherine Durham graduated in Press & Editorial Photography. She has since gone on to work in digital marketing and ecommerce, with experience in SEO, copywriting, design and photography.

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