Chapter 10: Measuring & Tracking Success
Measurement is crucial to success when it comes to search engine optimisation. Data is tracked by links, rankings, and referrals by professional SEOs.
Here is a list of common universal tracked metrics.
Share of Visits from Search Engines
It is important to keep track of traffic sources on your site every month by:
- Search Traffic – Any traffic that minor or major search engines sent from search queries.
- Referral Traffic – Traffic from campaign links, traceable emails, promotional, or links.
- Direct Navigation – Includes bookmarks, typed in traffic and email links that don’t have tracking codes.
Search Engine Referrals
The Yahoo!-Bing alliance and Google search engines make up almost the entire search engine traffic. It is useful to measure your traffic from search engines for these reasons:
- Get visibility into declining traffic – In the event that your search engine traffic drops anytime, knowing which engine has dropped off will help diagnose the issue. On the off chance that every one of the engines drops off, the issue is in all likelihood accessibility. If Google drops but others stay at past levels, it will probably be devaluation or a penalty due to SEO efforts.
- Compare Market Share vs. Performance – This is where you can compare the estimated market share with the volume contribution of the search engines.
- Discovering SEO tactics – If you can identify the tactics that work on particular search engines for your particular circumstances then you can better spend your SEO budget.
You will need to keep an eye on visits that were referred based on certain search engine terms, phrases or keywords. Looking at this on a regular basis can help you see which words are bringing in more traffic and whether or not you are utilising the right keywords in order to increase traffic to your site.
You will also want to look at words that might not be top terms or phrases but are relevant to your specific business. If you happen to see that your numbers are going down then you might want to re-evaluate what you are using. Search traffic has consistently been going up in the past fifteen years so if your numbers are trending down then you know there is a problem. Try to see if this might be because of a seasonality issue.
Focusing on your conversion rate very well might be one of the most important factors for your business. You will want to focus on keywords that continually send you new customers who could potentially become paying customers.
Conversion rate tracking is definitely important to your business but is not the only thing to focus on. You will also want to do even more research on different data that will be able to show how well conversion works on your site from beginning to end.
You will also want to keep track of the numbers of pages that are receiving search engine traffic. This will enable you to monitor how well SEO performance is. This metric allows you to see a little bit into indexing by giving you numbers that show you the number of pages that are receiving the search engine traffic.
While you are working on different things on your site such as link acquisition and site architecture you will be able to see your trend line. This number should be rising to show that more and more of your pages are earning their way into a search engine’s results.
There are other data points as well that are important but you should first focus on the information mentioned above so that you can get the maximum from your SEO campaigns.
Available Analytics Software
Analytic software comes in paid and free varieties. Popular paid analytics software includes MINT, Moz Analytics, Fireclick, Omniture, and many others. If you don’t want to use paid software there is free software available that does exactly the same. Some may have fewer features but being free you can’t beat them. This software includes Clicky Web Analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics, Google Analytics, AWStats, and many others that are free. Google Analytics is perhaps the best choice; because a lot of people use it you can find a bunch of guides available online. No matter the tool you use, we would strongly recommend A-B testing of your site pages.
How to Apply Your Data
So, once you have gotten the data from your Search Engine Metric Measuring you will have to be able to not only interpret the results but set up changes in your current marketing.
When there is a fluctuation in your engine page and link count numbers do not worry too much because these numbers are not necessarily precise. The only reason you might have to worry is if you see a drop in your traffic. If you see that there is a correlation between the drops in the links or pages and your traffic referrals then you might have had a real drop in your link juice meaning that you might have issues with penalties or even malware and this is why the search engine is not sending more traffic your way. If you are to do your own analysis you can help to identify what your specific problem is. You can do this by using your web analytics or Google’s Search Console.
Here are three reasons that you might experience reduced search traffic from one search engine.
- You might have violated a search engine quality or terms of service guideline.
- You somehow blocked access to that search engine’s crawler, such as through robots.txt.
- The engine changed their algorithm and because of this it no longer values your site as highly. This mostly happens if the site is doing extensive reciprocal link-building campaigns that are not very high-quality links but it can also happen if links sending people to your site have somehow been devalued.
If you have search traffic that is getting smaller on more than one engine then it is likely that you have done something to block crawlers or stop indexation. There are many reasons this could happen. For example, something in robots.txt or meta robots tags a Domain Name System (DNS) resolution issue or any number of other technical issues. To try to determine the problem you can carefully look over Webmaster Tools or talk to your system administrator, developer or hosting provider.
Individual ranking fluctuations are not necessarily something to worry about. Ranks change all the time, many times a day to many different pages. If you see a huge rank change though, you might want to thoroughly check your page to make sure you don’t have over-optimisation or some type of violation of the guidelines. You should also check your links to see if any have been recently lost or gained. Just keep in mind that with new content you are likely to see an initial boost and then a dramatic drop. This phenomenon is referred to as a “freshness boost” because of the newness of the content.
As a site owner, just keep in mind that instant results are not a reality. There is heavy competition, especially when it comes to new sites and rank improvements take time. Just keep in mind that engines have to crawl a lot of new pages as well as index and process them so the progress that you are looking for can often only come about weeks after putting in the work.