Data measurement is crucial for SEO success. Without the proper metrics, a business owner will never truly understand how a site is performing, let alone how to improve it. As technology continues to become more advanced, so does the data that people have access to. The issue then becomes sifting through the information to determine which points are useful, and which are essentially worthless. Since every business is different, this is a personal decision for all business owners.
SEO experts track a myriad of different data points such as rankings, links, referrals, and more to gain a clear awareness of how well a site is operating. This, of course, in tandem, helps to map out the next phase of a client’s ranking strategy. If you don’t use a SEO firm, you still have access to the same data and can do it yourself; it just takes a bit of education and analysis.
While each business is unique and has various metrics that matter most to them, there are certain data metrics that are universal and should be analyzed by all. Here is the most critical data to be studied for obtaining increased SEO rankings:
Data Point 1: Shares of Referring Visits
Referring visits show how visitors ultimately found your site. It is vital to keep track of where these leads come from to gain leverage over traffic acquisition efforts. Each month, record contributions of each source for your site, including:
- Direct Traffic: This refers to traffic received from bookmarks, typing in the URL directly, e-mail links without tracking codes, etc.
- Search Traffic: This comes from search queries conducted in any major or minor search engine that ultimately led a person to your site.
- Referral Traffic: This is derived from branding campaign links, promotional materials, trackable e-mails, or links across the Web.
Possessing this information is vital because the percentages and exact numbers will assist in identifying weaknesses and provide a basis for comparison over time. Use this data to track your marketing efforts and refine your acquisition plan for increased SEO benefits.
Data Point 2: Search Engine Referrals
In the United States, three major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) make up 95 percent of all search traffic. For most other countries, more than 80% of search traffic comes strictly from Google. Measuring how much of your traffic each of these engines sends your way is useful for several reasons:
- It allows you to compare the volume contributed from each engine in correlation with its market share
- It will provide key insights if your site experiences a drop; this is fundamental information for diagnosing the issue. If all engines drop equally, you can likely attribute the issue to accessibility. If it is only Google that sinks, you have likely been penalized and will need to dig deeper into updates like Panda and Penguin to see where the infraction occurred.
- Certain SEO efforts will have a greater impact than others. On Google, gaining specific anchor text links from various domains have more effect than on other engines. Identifying certain tactics that work best on certain engines will help you to focus your efforts.
Data Point 3: Referrals by Terms and Phrases
Keywords always have been a critical factor to SEO. These are highly important to keep track of to gauge performance, identify terms that reign in significant volumes of traffic, and analyze new trends in keyword appeal.
Over the past 15 years, search traffic across the globe has risen consistently so to see a drop in referral quantity can be concerning. Check your keywords to determine if there has been a recent decline or if there is an issue with seasonal keywords – those that are most heavily used during certain times of the year. Your keyword strategy will most likely need to be dynamic; knowing exactly how your customers are searching for you is integral, and this often changes over time. Many businesses make the mistake of sticking with antiquated keywords, so don’t let this happen to you.
Data Point 4: Conversion Rates by Search Query
Conversions are the ultimate goal of any business; that is the entire point of the SEO game. Few metrics matter as much as conversions do. Your analytics tool will tell you what page a visitor lands on after conducting a search query; this will allow you to focus your efforts on optimizing those pages for a prime user experience and guide visitors through the conversion funnel to maximize potential.
The most valuable element to this, however, is establishing the keywords that consistently send visitors to your site that convert. This will allow you to focus your energy on ranking for these words to magnify your conversion capabilities. But this should only be the beginning of your keyword phrase referral study; dig deeper to uncover applicable data on how the conversation process matures throughout a consumer’s visit to your site.
Data and metrics are the key to understanding your SEO efforts and optimizations. If you are not tracking this vital informational, you have no way of knowing what is and is not working. By establishing a tracking schedule and making mindful decisions to elevate each metric over time, you have an astronomically better chance at SEO success.
What is the most valuable data point you track for your website?