We spent the first 3 parts of this series getting your website to rank on search engines, but that’s only the first part. Next, we need a way to monitor progress and evaluate the outcomes.
There are a lot of things we could measure here, but at the very least we want to track traffic, engagement, lead generation and links. Of course, depending on the type of business you operate, you’ll have your own internal indicators for performance, but here is a list of some of the things we look at:
Unbiased keyword and keyphrase rankings
Conversions from organic traffic
Average time on page
Popular landing pages
Total number of indexed pages
There are different tools with different levels of complexity that can help you track and monitor these and many other variables. I’m going to show you how you can get most of this information for free using Google Analytics (which most people know about) and the Google Search Console which many people don’t know about or use. Both are free, and once you connect the two, they become a super powerful tool.
Tracking Organic Traffic
Let’s start out by tracking organic traffic, and we do this by going into Google Analytics, clicking on ACQUISITION->ALL TRAFFIC->CHANNELS
This page will show us where traffic is coming from and for the sake of this article, we are interested first at Organic Search. This is going to show us, what percentage of your traffic is generated by organic search.When we look at the Purely Branded account, we see that almost 90% of traffic comes from Organic Search – so 9 out of every 10 people that come to our website is a direct result of our SEO strategy. This is why we have never spent a single penny on Pay Per Click.
Tracking Unbiased Keyword Rankings
Moving on, the next item we want to track is unbiased keyword rankings. In part 3 of this series, How to Build an SEO Strategy, I talked about the importance of and how to conduct keyword research. Now we need to actually track and measure how our SEO is doing for each keyword – essentially, where do we rank for the keywords that are important to us. We use a paid tool for this when we implement an SEO campaign because it has built-in reporting, but I’m going to show you how to get some valuable information from the Google Search Console.
Log into your Google Webmasters account, find your property and then go to the PERFORMANCE tab and you’ll get a very powerful overview. Here we can see all of the Google queries that were performed in the last 3 months (of course you can change this date range), how many impressions there were, and how many clicks. We can also easily see the average position of our website for each query – Since there are 10 organic results per Search Engine Results Page, if we see 2.9, that means that we ranged between position 2-3 on the first page. If we were to see something like a 14, it would mean we were the forth result on the second page. Naturally we want this number to be as low as possible because it means we are closer to the top of page one.
Conversions from Organic Traffic
There are different types of conversions, ranging from purchasing a product, submitting a lead generation form, signing up for a newsletter, and a lot more – and we’ll put together another series of videos detailing how each one is tracked. What’s important here is that we use a method that will let us isolate organic traffic when we look at our conversions. For example, if we have a shopping cart and there were 100 transactions last month, we want to know how many of those transactions came from organic traffic.
Tracking Lead Generation
Next, as I mentioned a moment ago, we consider lead generation as a type of conversion. So in this case, if we have a “free quote” page which got 100 submissions last month, we want to know how many of those came from organic traffic.
Tracking Average Time on Page
Another important element to track is the average time a user is on a web page where we want to see the number increase because research shows that the longer a person stays on your website, the more likely you are to convert them. In Google analytics, go to BEHAVIOR->OVERVIEW and you’ll see in the middle Avg. time on Page. In our case, you can see it’s over 5 minutes which we consider to be excellent, and it gives our calls to action plenty of time to convert.
Tracking Bounce Rate
Next we’re going to look at bounce rate – which is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or basically the number of visits to the website where a person only viewed one page. In Google Analytics, click on BEHAVIOR->OVERVIEW, and you will see the Bounce Rate listed below the graph. When it comes to content marketing this particular metric can be a little deceiving so it’s important that you understand your objectives and expected user behavior before reacting. I’ll write another article where I explain that in more detail, so make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter.
Tracking Popular Landing Pages
The next element we want to track is popular landing pages. A landing page, in this context, is the first page the visitor lands on when the click a listing on the Search Engine Result Page. In Google Analytics, click on BEHAVIOR->SITE CONTENT->LANDING PAGES and you will get a list of pages sorted by popularity. This helps us get an overview of which of our pages are ranking well and converting impressions into click. It will also point out any gaps in our SEO strategy and implementation and can guide our ongoing campaigns.
Tracking Total Number of Indexed Pages
Another very important metric to track is the total number of index pages. After all the work you put into creating content and SEO, if a page isn’t indexed by a search engine, there is zero chance of receiving traffic from organic search. A simple way to track the number of indexed pages is by going to the Google Search Console and clicking on COVERAGE where you will see the Index Coverage Status report. This report will show you the total number of pages as well as any error pages.
Tracking Backlink Growth
The final metric we want to look at and track is backlink growth. We mentioned in part 3 of this series that backlinks are an important part of your SEO strategy. To track backlinks, log into Google Search Console, click on LINKS on the left side and then look for the Top Linking Sites section. You will see a list of websites that link to your website. This gives you a good overview of how many different sources link to your website, and you can even see which pages they link to. This might also help you identify any unsavory websites linking to your site that you may want to disavow.
Tracking and Measuring SEO for a Small Business Website
Alright, so this concludes part 4 of our Small Business Website SEO series, in part 5 we’ll cover local SEO for small businesses. I really hope I was able to give you a good overview of what you should be tracking and measuring when it comes to SEO for your small business website. If I did, please let me know by giving this video thumbs up, tweet it, share it, and if you haven’t yet, join the community by hitting the subscribe and notification buttons. If you have any questions about this video, please put them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you. For more branding, marketing, web design and seo tips and tutorials, you can find us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Good luck and see you soon.