SEO Web Site Stats – 5 Search Engine Optimization Metrics
Search engine optimization involves improving and optimizing off-site and on-site content in order to drive more traffic derived from organic (non-paid) searches for specific keywords.
Conducting an SEO campaign that provides a strong positive return on investment requires creating new, original content on a regular basis and posting it to your website. It also requires building lots of quality, off-site content and posting backlinks from that content to your pages.
Once you have a search engine optimization program in place, you need to develop an equally-robust reporting system to track your progress. This involves accessing and getting to know your SEO web site stats. However, where to start? If you use software like Google Analytics, you know that there are dozens of data points to review and analyze. But, doing so will lead to analysis paralysis: that state of having so much data that you can no longer make meaningful decisions. Good data is coherently-arranged, clean and actionable.
Below is an overview of the most useful SEO web site stats for your SEO campaign reporting. We suggest accessing and recording these metrics at least once per month; you can do this by selecting the date range as “past 30 days” or just select the previous calendar month. But first, a brief definition that applies to #1 and #2 below, before we get started: a “session” is defined as a set of website interactions by a given user on a given day; it ends when the user leaves your site; a session will also expire automatically after 30 minutes of inactivity or at midnight, whichever comes first; a session is like a visit but is not identical.
And how, here are the key metrics we suggest you track.
1. Number of natural search sessions: in Google Analytics and most other major web analytics packages, you can filter out various types of traffic sources that you temporarily don’t want to look at. The natural search sessions metric is a filter that lets you focus only on how many people are finding your site via unpaid search in a search engine (e.g., Google or Bing) after searching for a particular keyword and clicking on your site. The natural search session metric is useful to compare month-on-month and annual trends, especially when expressed as a percentage change. For example, “Last month our site experienced 742 natural search sessions, which was a 4% increase over the prior month.”
2. Referral sessions: similar to the way you can filter most analytics packages for natural search sessions, you can also filter by referral sessions. This metric shows you how many sessions were recorded by somebody who clicked on a backlink to your site from another website (but not including search engine sites). Referral sites can be any other website, including commercial/corporate sites, personal blog sites, or articles sites. Good SEO should boost your referral visit counts, so you should see a positive monthly trend over time.
3. Google and Bing rankings: one of the best signs that your SEO is paying off is through periodic rankings checks for major search engines like Google and Bing. Start by choosing 10-15 of your most important keywords (since every ranking for a given site must necessarily be tied to a particular keyword). Then, run a rankings check each month to see how you are improving for top search sites. Of course, improving in this case means that the average ranking is going DOWN; it’s like golf scores in that lower is better.
4. Top visitor geographies: run a report to find out where your customers live. Track this monthly, as well, since you may see trends over time. This is especially important if your business caters to a particular geographical area, like a city, state or region. You obviously want more visits (or sessions) from these areas.
5. Bounce rate by top search keyword: this is a specialized type of analysis called a “cross-tab.” In this case, you want to cross-tabulate or cross-reference two metrics: your top keywords and bounce rate. (definition: a page’s “bounce rate” is defined as the percentage of single-page sessions – meaning, users who visited that page and then left the site without exploring further). A lower bounce rate is almost always favorable, since it usually means that more people are finding your content interesting and want to read more. Notably that some analytics packages, like Google Analytics, have recently been much more limited in their ability to yield keyword-related analyses. If you find that most of your keyword data is not available, then we suggest just running the bounce rate analysis without cross-tabulating keywords.
Mastering the acquisition, recording, reporting and analysis of these SEO web statistics is a smart way to gauge your SEO progress. Contact MindEcology to find out how to get started on a new SEO support campaign today.