To gauge how your website is performing (and whether your online marketing activities are effective), it’s essential to use analytics. Google Analytics is the the most popular analytics tool because it’s free tool and it’s relatively easy to set up and use to show you just about any data you need to know. In fact, Google Analytics provides website owners with so much information that it might even be a bit overwhelming.
For SEO purposes, here are the important data points to pay attention to:
The number of visitors to a site will probably fluctuate month to month, especially if the product or service offered is a seasonal one. However, if an SEO campaign is working, there should be a gradual upward trend in visitors as the campaign moves along. It may take six months to see this trend, or it may take a year or more. SEO is a process that is built for the long term so you need to be willing to look at the trend over a significant amount of time. There are two visitor reports in Google Analytics to pull on a monthly basis:
- The “All Visitor” report tells you where every visitor came from. If you are building links in the right places, the referring sites should reflect that. You might also be able to find a site that could provide additional opportunities.
- The “Organic Visitor” report will tell you how many visitors came from organic search and will include information from all of the search engines. Typically Google is number one. This is perhaps the most significant metric to pay attention to in order to measure SEO success.
Analytics data includes a complete listing of all of the keywords that people searched for that ultimately brought them to your site. You can look at the site as a whole, or sort by each individual page of the site–which is useful when evaluating the keyword research and selection. Most website owners will find that the top keywords that deliver traffic to the site are branded keywords. But while branded keywords are important, for SEO purposes you want to see an improvement in unbranded keywords that deliver traffic. Over time, more keywords should deliver traffic as the content attracts users that search using long-tail keywords.
Analytics also allows you to set up conversion tracking by adding code to a conversion page. For example, if you are tracking visitors that fill out a lead form, the tracking code will be included on the “thank you” page that someone sees after filling out the form. By sorting, you are able to see the number and percentage of conversions that came from organic search visitors. If the SEO program is performing well, it should be bringing the correct traffic to the site, and improve conversion rates.
If you’ve been shying away from using analytics for your SEO, the time to start is yesterday.