Every business that wants to generate business online must invest in an SEO strategy in order to generate organic traffic from search engine rankings. However, with all of the available data, it can be a daunting task to identify the most important metrics to track in order to determine the effectiveness of your program, as well as provide strategic direction.
Here are a few metrics you will want to keep a close eye on as you strive to improve your online presence:
Your online marketing strategy should start by identifying keywords. As the campaign progresses, you can track how keyword rankings change.
At the outset of any SEO campaign, you should perform keyword research to determine what keywords your potential audience is searching for when looking for a business like yours. Understanding the major keywords will help you or your SEO professional craft the rest of the search engine marketing strategy.
Once you’ve established a core set of 5-10 important keywords, you’ll want to track those words throughout the course of the campaign. You can easily do this through a number of tracking platforms, each of which approaches data gathering a little differently. Work with your team to find, what is going to work for you based on your budget for tools and the accuracy and frequency you need these reports.
We like using Pro Rank Tracker because of the ease of setting up incremental (daily, weekly, monthly) reporting. Plans range anywhere from $17-$808/month, but most businesses can get by with a plan on the lower end of the scale. In addition to Pro Rank Tracker, there are several other platforms to consider, including Moz, Rank Ranger, and Link Assistant.
Like ranking, links are a hotly contested factor in SEO. The latest reports on the factors that influence search engine rankings indicate that inbound links are still a very important component of the search algorithm. Rather than just tracking raw links, however, you will want to track their quality and relevance to your site as well. You will also want to keep an eye on do follow links versus do not follow links, as the former provides more weight in the search algorithm.
Many websites fail to link out to other sites, thinking it will damage their position in the search results. On the contrary, outbound links are an important factor for the search engines to help determine the relevance of your website. When the search engines crawl the content of your site, and then look at the few authoritative sites you have linked to, it helps further develop the relevance for your search terms.
Inbound and outbound link building are an important part of any SEO campaign.
Bounce rates continue to be a very important factor for SEO, as well as for converting your traffic into business. In short, “bouncing” occurs when a visitor just briefly visits a site without interacting with the page or navigating to a page other than the homepage. When you have a high percentage of your website visitors leaving immediately, there is either something wrong with either the source of your traffic (it wasn’t what users were looking for) or with the content and design of your website. Search engines want to provide the best user experience for their searchers. Sites with higher bounce rates suggest poor user experience, and are therefore viewed less favorably by search engine algorithms.
While we are talking about user experience, loading speed is also an important factor. Now you have to consider not only desktop loading speed, but also mobile and tablet loading speeds on both high-speed connections as well as cellular connections. You can test your site’s loading speed for free here. When a loading speed is too slow, a user will generally not wait for the site to load, but will go find another site that loads more quickly. This is why the search engines pay very close attention to this metric.
As you continue on your path toward search engine optimization dominance, be sure not to get distracted by the many different data sets available. Rather, keep focused on what is going to provide a quick picture of the health of your SEO program and how your site is actually performing.
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We are a digital marketing company with a focus on helping our customers achieve great results across several key areas.