It’s that time of the year when most of us would be getting ready to have a detailed tour of our Analytics and see how the business has performed this year. Google Analytics (GA) offers tons of metrics, so it’s easy to get lost in the maze of numbers and waste time, unless you know exactly which metrics to track. If you have an SEO company working for you, then you should check these factors with them.
Has Your Investment in SEO Really Paid Off?
Traffic cannot tell you whether your SEO efforts have been fruitful. In fact, spam traffic can throw your Analytics numbers widely off mark, as this recent post on MOZ describes. The fact is no single metric is enough to give you the complete picture of your SEO performance. Here are the top 10 metrics to watch if you want a quick and accurate analysis.
1. Keyword Rankings
You can use tools like SERPFox / whatsmyserp, among others, to track your ranking performance for your most important keywords. This would tell you whether your choice of keywords is correct and how you are doing compared to your competitors.
2. Organic Search Traffic
Most of us do SEO because we want free organic traffic from search engines. Go to the Audience Overview dashboard in your GA and click on the “+ Segment” button on top. Select Organic Traffic from the list that appears, and click “Apply”. Using the “Acquisition” menu on the left, you can analyze traffic by search engine.
3. Time On Page
You should analyze the time on page for each one of your pages, particularly the more important ones. Go to “Behavior” tab on the left and click on “Overview”. GA will display a list of your top pages. Click “view full report” (bottom right of the page). You’ll see all your pages ordered with respect to the number of hits. The average time on page and bounce rate are displayed with each page.
4. Pages per Visitor
Your SEO ranking would depend upon the kind of user experience you offer, and the simplest way to check your site’s usability is to track the average number of pages each visitor has viewed. You can find this info under the Audience>Overview tab. This would also give you an idea about whether your internal linking is good or bad.
5. Bounce Rate
A high bounce rate can be the worst thing for your SEO ranking. If people searching for some particular key phrase click through to your website, but bounce back to the SERP and click on a different results, this behavior is called Pogosticking. It tells the search engine that the user did not find on your website what he went looking for. Obviously, this is a bad SEO signal. You can see the bounce rate for different pages in the page analysis report you generated to track time on page.
As I mentioned in the start, spam referral traffic can cause errors in your traffic metrics. Conversions are a much better metric to track instead of traffic. Google Analytics allows you to slice and dice the conversion data in a number of ways. Conversions are more closely related to your business goals. Your SEO efforts are also aimed at getting the relevant traffic to your site, and not just any traffic. This makes conversions a must-track metric for measuring your SEO performance.
7. Page Load Time
Even a slightly longer-than-average page load speed can send your bounce rate through the roof. You can use tools such as Pingdom (and so many others) to measure the loading speed for your website and pages. In case you find that the loading times are higher, you should do something about it.
8. Returning Users
Having visitors that don’t return is like having holes in a bucket that you’re using to collect water. Returning visitors make sure that your overall traffic keeps multiplying. Having no repeat visitors means you have issues with your content. You can find the number of returning visitors in the bottom right corner of your main Audience Overview screen.
9. Incoming Links
High quality incoming links from reputable domains are an important SEO signal. A big part of your SEO effort should be focused on cultivating back-links on relevant and reputable websites. You can track your incoming links using tools such as Ahref or Majestic SEO.
10. Indexed Pages
Do you know how many of your site’s pages Google has actually indexed? Click on “Index Status” under the “Google Index” tab and click on “Advanced” tab. Here, you can check how many of your pages are indexed. You can also see the errors that are causing some of your pages to be de-indexed. Make sure that the number of your indexed pages is not dropping.