Beginner’s Guide to SEO
If you want your website to be successful on an ongoing basis, it’s not enough to simply implement SEO and then wait for the results. The only way to effectively improve your efforts is by measuring the search engine optimization that has already been integrated into your website. Tracking performance involves everything from tracking conversions and rankings to identifying any lost links. Whenever you measure your efforts, you can use the results of these measurements to refine your SEO techniques, which should increase the value for your website and improve customer retention.
Identify Your Core Goals
In order to properly measure SEO, you’ll need to have goals that the optimization can be measured against. Many websites will have a variety of small and large goals that they want their website to reach. However, it’s recommended that you identify a singular end goal that all of your SEO efforts will be measured against. This goal could be the number of people who reach your website through search engines. To determine what your end goal should be, it’s important to first understand the needs and goals that your website has.
Tips for Setting Goals
In order to set goals that will help your website and company grow, there are some guidelines that you should keep in mind. For instance, the goal that you set should be 100 percent measurable. In the event that you are unable to track your efforts to reach the goal, you won’t be able to improve your website and SEO. It’s also important that you’re specific with the goal you create, which means that the wording should be clear and free from vague marketing wording. Once you have identified one or more goals, write these goals down, and share them with other people, which will help to keep you accountable as you strive to reach them.
Measuring Your SEO Efforts
Once you’ve identified and set your main goal, it’s time to determine what kinds of other metrics could be measured to help you reach your final goal. By measuring a variety of different metrics, you should gain a better understanding of how your website is performing.
Engagement Metrics to Look Out For
The search engine optimization that you perform won’t be wholly successful unless users are provided with a great experience once they enter your website. It’s also important to understand that well-designed websites perform better with search engines like Google than websites that have bugs or poor design issues. To ascertain how users are acting once they enter your website, it’s recommended that you measure some engagement metrics, which are detailed further in the following.
Time on Page
It’s important that people who enter your website engage with the content found on your site pages. Knowing how long users spent on each website page can help you identify what’s working and what isn’t with your content delivery. If users are only spending an average of 15 seconds reading a blog post of 2,500 words, this means that the content isn’t as interesting and engaging as it should be.
It’s also possible that the article is well-written but isn’t centered around a subject that your primary audience will find to be compelling. Keep in mind that not every page on your website should have a high time-on-page amount. For instance, your “Contact” page doesn’t need to be viewed for more than 5-10 seconds on average.
Conversion rate is a highly important aspect of measuring & tracking SEO success. The conversion rate is determined by dividing the total number of conversions by the amount of unique visits. Conversions can be practically any goal or action that you want them to be.
For instance, you could set conversions to occur whenever a customer purchases a product of yours. A conversion can also occur when a user signs up for your email or becomes a member on your website. By identifying what your conversion rate currently is, you can better understand how to maximize your return on investment.
The bounce rate refers to how often users enter a page on your website only to leave the site without clicking on additional pages. It’s important to understand the bounce rate of your website because it gives you insight into whether or not users find your site to be interesting and engaging.
Despite the importance of understanding the bounce rate for your site pages, there are times when you could have a high bounce rate without needing to change any facets of your website. For instance, contact pages are invariably going to have higher bounce rates than other pages. To more effectively measure the quality of your website, scroll depth should be measured alongside bounce rate.
This metric allows you to identify how long users will typically scroll down a page on your website. If you write a blog post and find that users tend to leave the page without scrolling past the initial paragraph, this indicates that the opening paragraph may not have caught the attention of your readers. To account for this issue, most of the pages on your website should have the most interesting and compelling content towards the top of the page. This particular metric can easily be measured through the Google Analytics tool.
Pages Per Visit
If your primary goal with your website is to keep users engaged long enough to go to another page on your website, then the pages per visit metric can be highly useful. Pages per visit is a key metric for eCommerce storefronts, where completing a purchase is the end goal.
Understanding Search Traffic
While obtaining high rankings on search engines like Google and Bing is very important for the ongoing success of your website, you also need to measure the organic search traffic that you bring in. If you are able to obtain high rankings but aren’t bringing in high amounts of search traffic, there are issues that will need to be addressed. To identify how much search traffic your website brings in, you can use a tool like Google Analytics.
Identifying Traffic Insights Via Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a complex but easy-to-use tool that provides site owners with an extensive amount of data about their websites and how these websites are performing. Despite being among the most effective tools for analyzing site data, Google Analytics is completely free. While there are many different types of data that can be analyzed with Google Analytics, the following are some of the more common terms for you to be aware of before using the tool.
Traffic That Reaches Your Site
You can view total page views, users, and sessions on your site over a certain period of time with Google Analytics.
This metric identifies the percentage of individuals who clicked on your website from the search results that they were provided with. The percentage that you receive will show you how well you have optimized the meta description and title for the page in question.
Focus on Organic Traffic
With Google Analytics, you can look at the traffic to your site through each specific channel, which can help you determine which channels are doing well and which should be improved. For instance, you may be gaining far more traffic through paid campaigns than with organic traffic, which means that you would need to make improvements to your SEO.
Number of Visits a Page Has Obtained
By requesting a “Site Content” report through Google Analytics, you can assess how well each page on your website is performing. If a product page is obtaining far more visits than your “Checkout” page, the product page may not be appealing enough to push visitors to purchase your product.
Extra SEO Metrics to Measure
There are several additional metrics that you should measure if you want to significantly improve your SEO techniques.
Total Amount of Backlinks
Make sure that you look at the total number of backlinks that are directed to your website. Keep in mind that the Google Search algorithm uses quality backlinks as a factor within the search rankings that they produce. If you gain backlinks from popular websites, you should be able to increase site traffic.
You should also look at keywords rankings to measure your SEO performance. This information will provide you with the ranking position of your website as it pertains to the top keywords that you’re using. Make sure that you avoid pointless metrics that only look good. For instance, the rankings for long-tail keywords are more important than the rankings for competitive keywords that are appealing yet vague.
Page Authority and Domain Authority
Some tools allow you to identify the page authority and domain authority of the pages on your website. You can compare the results that you receive against your competition.
What It Takes to Track These Metrics
There are many different and very effective tools that you can use when measuring & tracking SEO success. With these tools, you can measure your site health, link metrics, and SERP features. Consider tools like Tableau and Data Studio if you want to craft visualizations of the data you receive.
Assessing the Health of a Website Through an SEO Audit
When you want to measure the effectiveness of your SEO, you should perform an SEO audit, which will allow you to better understand the structure of your website, the quality of site content, how the website is performing, how users are interacting with your website, and the current position of your website in search rankings. With this knowledge, you can identify more potent SEO opportunities. There are many fantastic tools that you can use when you want to perform an SEO audit.
Lighthouse Audit: This automated tool is available through Google and is designed to measure the performance and accessibility of a website. The data you receive can tell you how your website is currently performing as well as changes that can be made to improve site performance.
Web.dev: This tool uses Lighthouse to provide you with insights on how to improve your website. You can also use Web.dev to track your progress.
Bing Webmaster Tools: This tool is a comprehensive program that allows users to ascertain how their website is performing on the Bing search engine. You will also receive suggestions on how to improve your SEO with Bing.
Google Search Console: GSC offers up an extensive number of reports that detail user engagement, website errors, and growth opportunities.
PageSpeed Insights: This particular tool is designed to be used alongside data from the Chrome User Experience Report as well as Lighthouse. It will provide you with insights on the performance of your website.
How quickly does your website load through Lighthouse and mobile devices? If the load times are longer than a few seconds, you can improve your SEO by compressing images and other multimedia files.
The main pages on your website must be easy to crawl through by search engines like Bing and Google. Make sure that your robots.txt file isn’t blocking Bingbot or Googlebot. It’s also important that your sitemap.xml file is directing crawlers to the right pages on your website.
Quality of Content
The content that you place on your website will need to meet the needs of your target audience if you want to rank highly with search engines like Google. Along with being geared towards your main audience, the content that you put out should include audio content, guides, multimedia, and even PDF files. Premium content is essential if you want to increase the search rankings of your website.
Meta Descriptions and Page Titles
The meta descriptions and page titles that you affix to your pages should effectively summarize the content of the page. If they don’t, it’s possible that the click-through rate to your website is low. Improving your metadata can be very beneficial for your site traffic numbers.
Can the main pages on your website be quickly found through Google? If not, it’s possible that a meta robots=noindex tag is excluding a few pages on your website.
Focus on SEO Improvements and Fixes
Once you have measured your SEO performance, you should then have a better understanding of the kinds of improvements and fixes that need to be made to enhance your SEO. Even though there are countless things that you could do to bolster SEO, you should rank the potential fixes and improvements you can make by the fixes that would provide you with the highest ROI.
You can categorize potential fixes by urgent fixes and non-urgent fixes. Keep in mind that both urgent and non-urgent fixes can be labeled as important or not important. All fixes that you label as important should be handled before any additional fixes are made.
Plan and Execute Your SEO Tasks
If you want to maintain consistency with the search engine optimization that you perform, it’s important that you plan and execute your SEO tasks on a schedule. You can map out the SEO execution for your website by using tools like Google Sheets or Google Calendar. Once your SEO tasks are mapped out, it’s essential that you begin to measure the effectiveness of the tasks immediately. If one of the changes that you’ve made is causing worse performance, you will need time to make a correction. You should also be able to make changes to your SEO before small issues become larger and costlier problems.
Communication Is Key
If you’re working with a client, any SEO fixes that you implement should be communicated immediately, which should increase the longevity of your relationship with the client in question.
Practice SEO Regularly and Consistently
Optimizing your website and the content therein for search engines isn’t just a one-time job. In order for SEO to remain effective at bringing users into your website and increasing conversion rates, you will need to upgrade and enhance your SEO on a regular basis. With practice, you should be able to improve your techniques and iron out the mistakes that you make. When you want to take the next steps towards implementing and improving SEO, some tips and guidelines that you should adhere to include:
- Learn more about the UX, design, and architecture of your website
- Test your SEO, iterate on the results, and test again
- Follow all of the steps within this beginner’s guide to SEO for measuring & tracking SEO success
- Complete more difficult SEO tasks over time, which could include comparing your website against stronger competition
- Consider learning the technical ins and outs of SEO
- Evaluate the results of your SEO to determine what worked and what didn’t, which will allow you to alter how you perform SEO in the future
Search engine optimization is the key to bringing in organic traffic to your website. While SEO might seem difficult to understand at first glance, there are many different techniques that you can perform for your website, which allows you to complete the easier tasks first while you become accustomed to the demands of optimizing your website. When tracking your progress, the measurements that you take and the data that you receive should give you everything you require to make quick and efficient changes to your SEO that will bolster the success of your website.