If you’re familiar with Google Analytics or any other Web traffic stats program, you know there are a lot of ways to look at data, and a lot of data to look at. From visitors, to traffic sources, to time spent on the site, to number of pages visited, to the device that they viewed you site from to where on Earth they visited your site from, and on and on – there is a mind-numbing amount of information to sift through.
But what does it all mean? Which data points are most important?
Here are five of the most important SEO performance metrics we like to focus on, along with a brief explanation as to their importance:
1] Total Visitors from Organic Search. The overall number of visitors from organic search is perhaps the most immediately identifiable method of tracking the performance of an SEO campaign. After all, if your efforts don’t lead to an increase in the amount of organic traffic, then the campaign is a failure, right?
2] Total Pageviews. A pageview is defined as a page on a website that an individual visitor accesses. For example, if a visitor lands on your home page, then subsequently visits three more pages on your site, that would be a total of four pageviews from that visitor.
This is a tricky performance metric because more pageviews doesn’t necessarily equal a better SEO performance. If a person visits your site, then subsequently has to visit several more to find the information they’re after, it doesn’t necessarily make for the best user experience.
If a visitor finds the information they’re looking for immediately upon arriving on your site, it may drive the number of pageviews down, but it may indicate better SEO since the visitor is likely landing on an internal page of your site.
3] Landing Pages. This one is one of my favorites. A ‘landing page’ is the first page a visitors sees when they arrive on your site. The number of landing pages from organic search is an important SEO metric because it allows you to see which pages are generating SEO traffic.
This is best measured as a percentage of the site’s overall SEO traffic. For example, let’s say out of 2000 organic visitors, 1000 of them landed on the homepage of the site. That means that the other 1000, or 50% landed on internal pages.
Generally, you want a much diversity as possibly with respect to your landing pages – so the higher percentage of those that land on internal pages vs. the home page the better optimized for search your site is considered to be.
4] Number of Keyword Phrases. Due to the increased encryption of keyword data by Google, determining the number of keyword phrases is more difficult and is subsequently a less reliable performance metric than in years past. The data is still available to varying degrees through some platforms, such as Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to a lesser extent and is still useful when attainable.
The number of keyword phrases (as well as the individual phrases themselves) tells us how we’re doing from an SEO standpoint in terms of overall volume, and the phrases themselves help us to understand the types of queries people are using to search the Web.
Understanding Google Analytics data can help greatly improve your web presence.
Understanding the way people search the Web allows us to gain a better perspective of the problems to which your prospective visitors are seeking solutions to – and subsequently allows us to increase the authoritative presence of your Website, which is what SEO is all about in the first place.
5] Conversions. Ultimately, your website exists to serve some type of underlying purpose for your business or organization. When your site is designed to increase awareness of a cause, or generate leads for a service based business, or convert sales for an e-commerce operation, conversion metrics are very important to knowing how well you’re actually doing.
Traffic is nice and is better than no traffic at all – but traffic for traffic’s sake isn’t helping your organization if it doesn’t convert. Conversion metrics can include sales, email inquiries, mailing list subscriptions, phone calls, etc.