The most important thing to keep in mind when first launching an SEO campaign is that SEO is a long term process. Unlike other marketing campaigns, there is no such thing as overnight SEO success. Once a site has been optimized it can take many months of link building, content marketing, and social media activity to begin to see some improvement. However, many businesses take the wrong approach in the way that they determine SEO campaign success. All that they seem to care about is ranking even though ranking doesn’t portray an accurate picture. Rankings fluctuate based on personalized factors like locations, search history, and social activity.
Instead of rankings, focus on these 3 metrics to measure SEO success:
Increase in visitors
This is perhaps the most important metric to pay attention to. You shouldn’t expect to see a huge increase in visitors after only one or two months, but as you continue to build your brand online through SEO efforts there should be a gradual increase. In addition to an increase in organic traffic coming directly from the search engines, you should also start to see an increase in the number of referring sites. This is due to your link building efforts. The best links to obtain are the ones that will provide SEO “link juice” and will also be seen by target audience members to generate traffic to the site. While a steady improvement is important, it’s also necessary to keep in mind that traffic can vary month to month. If things move slightly up and down there is no need to panic. Instead, look at the trend over multiple months and compare the data to the months before the SEO campaign was active.
Increase in non-branded keywords generating traffic
If you haven’t done any SEO in the past it’s likely that the majority of the keywords that are bringing traffic to your site are branded keywords, meaning that the name of the brand or company is included. For example, Company X, Company X website, and Company X hours are all branded keywords. There is nothing wrong with branded search traffic. It’s actually great because it means that you are marketing the business well in other ways and people are recognizing and remembering your brand. SEO works to increase visits from people that haven’t yet heard of your business and that are using non-branded search terms to look for a product or a service that you provide. As an SEO campaign is implemented and evolves there should be a steady increase in non-branded keywords that are generating traffic to the site.
Increase in time spent on the site
Visitor growth is important, but what’s even more important is growth from the right kind of visitor. This is why the keyword research process is so important. Selecting the wrong keywords to target can result in the wrong traffic coming to the site that will probably leave just as quickly as they came without converting. If the time spent on the site is improving, it means that the SEO campaign is targeting the correct keywords and bringing in the right kind of traffic.
What do you think? What SEO metrics do you focus on?