Is marketing an art or a science? Based on emotion or data? Maybe a little bit of both, but the data needs to be the driving force behind decision-making, whether you are determining a budget for the next campaign or making incremental changes to your website to improve SEO.
Sometimes, incremental changes, based on analytics and data, can have a big impact on performance. Search engine optimization—SEO—is one of the area where you should have ready access to a lot of data, so it is a good place to get started.
(Side note: Marketers who know how to analyze data are actually in high demand and short supply, so if this isn’t your strong suit currently, now is a great time to look for opportunities to improve your analysis skills. (Source: Venngage)
Why does SEO matter? A few statistics that speak for themselves:
- Google gets over 100 billion searches a month. (Mashable, 2015) (Source)
- The first position on Google search results on desktop has a 34.36% clickthrough rate. (Advanced Web Ranking, 2015) (Source)
- B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to engaging on a specific brand's site. (Google, 2014) (Source)
Six of the most important metrics for you to track and use to improve SEO performance are:
1. Keyword performance and rankings
This is typically the first metric and performance marker most people think of when considering SEO performance: how does my web page rank in search engines for my desired search terms?
Of course, before you can determine rankings, you have to identify the search terms (keywords) your potential customers are most likely to be searching. You’ll want to check your performance for a variety of words and phrases, most of which will be more than a single word. Longtail keywords are those phrases that may include descriptors, location, and other terms that make a search more precise and more useful.
Statistics from WordStream back up the use of longtail keywords when optimizing, with 50 percent of search queries being four words or longer. (Source)
Ideally, you want your page to appear in the top 3 spots, and definitely on the first page, of search engine results for your chosen keyword phrases.
2. Organic search traffic
Along with determining your webpage’s ranking for keywords, you’ll want to know how much of your website traffic comes from organic search, compared to other channels, such as social media links or direct access by typing your URL into a browser or using a bookmarked link.
This can help you determine whether each channel needs more effort as you plan your budget and approach for the next quarter or year.
3. Unique search terms driving traffic
Once you know how much of your website’s traffic comes from organic search, drill down further into the metrics to determine what specific terms are driving the most traffic to your site. These might or might not be the same as the keywords you are focusing on.
If the terms that are driving traffic aren’t part of your current focus, perhaps they should be.
4. Branded vs. non-branded search traffic
Organic search traffic includes both brand-related keywords and generic keywords. As you look at the unique search terms that driving traffic, consider whether they are brand-related or generic.
Obviously, if web users are searching with your specific brand name in their query, you would want your site to come up at the top of the list. But what about when they are searching without a specific brand in mind?
According to stats from Google, 65 percent of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information. (Source)
This is one of the primary reasons for creating website content and blog content that is useful, and not simply promoting your own products, services and brand. (See Find the Blogging Balance That Is Just Right.)
5. Inbound links
As we discussed last month, inbound links are essential for SEO success. You can increase inbound links by creating content users want to share, making use of credible directory sites, and using your blog to engage others in the industry.
6. Conversion rates from organic search
While website traffic is an important metric to track, another that is often even more influential on your company’s bottom line is the conversion rate: the portion of visitors who arrived at your site through organic search and became a lead (or customer).
The impact of conversion rate is obvious for ecommerce sites, but just as important when using inbound marketing to generate leads. Your website needs to not only attract visitors, but then provide a reason for those visitors to engage with the site, becoming a lead that can be nurtured toward a sale.
Using SEO Metrics to Set Benchmarks
Improving website SEO is consistently cited as one of the primary priorities by marketers. Improvement begins by knowing where your website stands today, which is one of the key reasons for analyzing your performance and tracking metrics.
Each of the metrics listed above, once established, becomes the benchmark from which you can set your goals for improvement and identify the specific steps you need to take to improve overall SEO performance.
One tool you can use to improve your website’s SEO, one page at a time, is our On-Page SEO Planning Template. Download it to start combing through your website page by page.
Then look at how you can use metrics to work backward and find ways of improving your other inbound marketing tactics with the help our ebook, Unlock Your Marketing ROI with Analytics.