The SEO Metrics That Matter More Than Keyword Rankings
Although no longer as integral to Google’s algorithms as they once were, keywords and targeted phrasings remain an important part of search engine optimization (SEO) attempts. However, it is a mistake—one commonly made by those new to SEO—to see keyword rankings as the only metric of importance. You can see this on pages that desperately try to cram phrases like “auto repair in Washington” into as many paragraphs as possible. Although good SEO does take keywords into account, it also values a number of other metrics more and uses them to create a holistic view of how content can be designed and implemented.
Most of these SEO metrics can be tracked using Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other common SEO tools.
Time on Page
How long a viewer stays on a page of your web site tells you a lot about how much they are making use of it. If you have written content on the page, you can use the amount of time spent on the page to get a sense of whether the visitor has read the content in full, in part, or has skipped out after the first few lines. The same applies to any video content you may have as well. Pay attention to how long people stay on your page, whether they leave afterwards, or whether they move on to other parts of your web site instead. This can help give a sense of how engaging your content is.
A “bounce” in SEO is when someone opens your web site and leaves within a few seconds. Generally speaking, a bounce means that something about your web site has caused the visitor to immediately turn away. Common reasons for bouncing include insufficient content, content that is arranged in a way that the visitor quickly discarded, or having the wrong kind of content than what the visitor was looking for. By paying attention to your bounce rate as you adjust and create content, you can end up with more visitor conversions, even if the overall click rate remains steady. Every industry has its own average bounce rates that you can look up and compare against your own metrics.
Page Views per Session
The exact value of page views is going to vary depending on the kind of web site you run, but it should give a sense of how engaged a visitor is with your web site. Pay attention to not only how many different pages a visitor views but also which ones and for how long. Spending a few seconds on one page but over a minute on another, for instance, could mean that their initial landing didn’t provide what they were after.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular and this means mobile traffic is going to become an even more important part of SEO. This is especially true for industries like restaurants, theatres, services, or hotels that are looked up on the go. Pay attention to the amount of mobile traffic your site receives and consider how you can improve it. Often, mobile traffic can be increased by making your site more mobile-friendly and having a responsive layout.
Social Media Traffic
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ are all capable of driving user engagement and content promotion. Not all companies choose to involve themselves in social media, but those that do must take more than basic lip-service actions to get the full benefit of these varied and popular platforms. Social media traffic can also give a sense of how well your company is able to interact with the public. One of the benefits of Twitter, for instance, is that it lets brands be more casual and talk to individuals as people instead of as logos. Social media traffic is sometimes as much about being talked about as it is talking to others.
Organic Search Traffic
Quality of responses is sometimes better than quantity of results, but it’s still important to know how many people find your site through searching versus by clicking on ads. Pay attention to the search terms that bring users to your site. Are they in line with what you have been targeting? Do they suggest certain intents among visitors towards which you can better tailor your content? How do the organic search results compare between different search engines? All of these can help identify ways to better attract people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Pay attention to any traffic that comes from links placed on other sites. This is a good way to learn more about your audience’s habits as well as other influential web sites in your niche. Take a gander at the sites from which referred visitors are coming and in what context the link is presented. A web site may be citing an article of yours to make a point, responding to an opinion you have expressed, or even outright listing you in directory of suggested sites. Since a referral link means that some element of interest is present, you should also consider what cross-promotional opportunities these other web sites can offer.
Most Popular Landing Page
You likely have some idea of how popular you expect certain pages on your site to be, so it pays to make sure your assumptions are correct. Look at the pages that get the most direct traffic. Are these the ones you expected to be the most popular? If not, then does that mean your other content is somehow lacking? Or does it suggest you have made a mistake in what you assume visitors are looking for? There are many different reasons why visitors end up landing on one page and not another; by parsing the most landed-on content and tracking some of the metrics listed above—bounces, visit time, other page views, etc.—you can get a broader sense of their intentions and motivations.
Reviews on Google, Bing, and other similar sites are important for any business, but especially so for an operation with a brick-and-mortar site and local targeting. Search algorithms—when used for local searches like restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, and the like—take customer reviews into account when forming their rankings. Look up and read over your business’s reviews and make a note of your scores, how often or how recently you were reviewed, any specific points and commonalities among customer comments, and how your competition is doing. Try not to dismiss negative reviews without taking a hard look at what is said and seeing if there is room for improvement.
At the end of the day, all of your SEO attempts are done in order to earn conversions. The exact form of that conversion (purchases, sign-ups, downloads, etc.) will inevitably vary but the fact remains that you want people viewing your content to take some form of action. Look at how your conversion rate matches up against the number of visitors and try to find trends. Perhaps there is a page that has an unusually high or low conversion rate compared to others. Also, look at what sources or searches are bringing in most of your converts; this can help further assess what differences exist between those who follow through and those who do not.
Numero Uno is a Toronto-based provider of search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and mobile optimization solutions for startups and small companies from all industries and fields. As a trusted Google partner, we stay on the pulse of industry changes and adapt our practices to produce quality SEO and mobile optimization plans to fuel the growth of businesses across communities. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 905-856-2012 to learn how we can help improve your search profile across all platforms.