How to Measure SEO Performance Metrics
So you’ve put a bunch of work in to develop an SEO strategy for you site. You’ve started putting alt tags on all the images, started backlinking from one or two high quality sites, and re-written all the on-page content to optimize it for your niche. Maybe you’ve even gone through and tweaked the URL structure of all your pages, just to get better on page optimization.
That’s great. You’re on the right track. But now what happens? How do you measure the improvements that all your work might bring? How can you see for yourself that SEO work is one of the most vital steps to small business success?
I know what you’re probably thinking. Do I have to check and monitor all the content, all the time? The answer is No.
Luckily there are a few key metrics that, if monitored consistently, will help keep your site strong in the targeted niche.
The great thing about SEO is that if something is not working out quite right, you have the power to change it right away. For example, perhaps you’ve chosen some generic keywords that are not driving much traffic directly to your site. Don’t be scared to try a group of long-tail keywords – the kind of question phrases that people type into Google all the time. Working with long-tail keywords is more affordable and drives high-quality hits to you site.
Measure SEO Performance Month-by-Month
But let’s get back to measurement. Now that you have some of the basics of SEO down, it’s important to develop a measurement routine to gauge the performance of key metrics. Not all metrics – only the most important ones.
The first thing to know about measuring performance is that it should not be done every single day. Nor should it be done once a year.
Measuring SEO performance should be a monthly endeavor. Presuming that you are working with Google Analytics (the free measurement software offered by Google), a great place to start is just to monitor organic traffic rates over the first few weeks and see which sites do best, and why.
Specific SEO Metric Measurement Tactics
Here are a few strategies and tools to help you measure and tweak your SEO work so that your site can remain top of the heap over the long-term. So break open an Excel sheet and get ready to take down some numbers. Any good SEO consultant knows that SEO campaign success metrics always include these 3 important factors:
1. Search Engine Traffic
Give a monthly check in Google Analytics to the sources of your traffic.
There are three kind of sources: direct navigation (which is any traffic from non-linked sources); referral traffic (gained from links to other sites); and search traffic (searches types into a search engine like Google or Bing).
Track the monthly changes to each of these metrics and focus efforts on the most important source for your niche. Referral traffic and direct navigation might take some time to build-up, while search traffic should always represent the highest volume.
2. Always Monitor Keywords
Keywords are a great source of free traffic. They are essentially a free tool you can use to connect your site with interested consumers. A proper strategy would be to make a small list of primary keywords and phrases that fit right into your niche. Combine them with a longer list of more general keywords, and place them strategically on each page of your site.
The hard part is monitoring the changes in keyword volume and deciding when to replace one of your chosen keywords or phrases. Rapid fluctuation is bound to happen no matter what, so a smart bet would be to monitor over 2-3 months to get a more accurate idea if a keyword is going to pull traffic or not.
3. Conversion Rates Matter Most
Conversation rates affect the bottom line of your business more than any other metric. They should rise in accordance with better search engine traffic and more precise keyword selection, but it’s far from a guarantee.
One of the best ways to understand conversion rates is to see what page on your site has the highest conversion rate. You can then devote some time to optimizing that one page even more, safe in the understanding that it will probably drive conversion rates even higher.
Measuring Metrics Takes Patience and Strategy
These are three of the most important SEO metrics to measure on a monthly basis. Don’t get discouraged if things have not turned around in three months. If you are optimizing your pages and diligently monitoring the performance metrics, it’s only a matter of time before search volume will increase and conversion rates will improve.