Want to know if your SEO is headed down the right path? Then check out this post to see which SEO metrics you should track to gauge your success.
Whether you’re taking the DIY approach to SEO or have invested in professional help, it’s important to know how successful your SEO efforts have been to this point. Otherwise, you’ll be at a loss for finding ways to make further improvements to drive organic traffic and overall sales.
But how can you tell if you scored a touchdown or dropped the ball with your campaign? Get started by following these two steps:
Step 1: Know where to find the right information
If you want to determine the effectiveness of your SEO campaign, start by finding the right data. We think Google Analytics is the best place to start*.
*If you’re new to Google Analytics, check out our Starters Guide. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed, that should be your first step. This Knowledge Base Article will help walk you through the process, or you can enlist our team to handle it.
Once you’ve implemented Google Analytics and tracked at least a month’s worth of data, visit the reporting tab within your Google Analytics profile and drill down to find organic results by clicking Acquisition > Keywords > Organic.
This is where you’ll see an overview of non-paid search engine traffic, also known as organic traffic. When a customer clicks on search engine results (as indicated in red below), that counts as organic traffic.
To see how organic traffic has changed since your optimization efforts, click on the date range in the upper right corner and check the box next to the “Compare to” drop down. Then, in the date boxes below, set the range to encompass 30 days before you started your optimization. When you hit the Apply button, you’ll be able to easily see how key metrics have changed, including visits, bounce rate, average time on page and so on.
Step 2: Check the right metrics
1. Organic traffic
Organic traffic is a strong indicator of a successful SEO campaign. Typically, better SEO means increased organic traffic and more conversions. However, if that’s not what you’re seeing, don’t panic. You can still get some useful information on how your campaign is faring.
- If organic traffic is increasing but conversions aren’t, revisit the keywords you’re targeting to see if there are others better suited for your business.
- If organic traffic isn’t increasing but conversions are, that could mean you’ve improved the quality of the traffic you’ve been reaching. This could be through search optimization or other on-page improvements in design and layout.
2. Conversions from organic traffic
The real touchdown for an ecommerce site is conversions, meaning sales. SEO can contribute to many site improvements, but an SEO campaign is only successful if your revenue increases over time.
Once you’ve found your way into the Organic Search Traffic Report in Google Analytics, click on the Ecommerce tab to see Revenue, Transaction and Ecommerce conversion rate. You can compare this data to what it was before starting your SEO campaign. If you’re not seeing an increase in conversions from SEO, this may be a sign of a fumble.
3. Assisted conversions
Some customers will make a purchase on their first visit to your store, but many will leave and come back later to purchase via a non-organic method (i.e. going directly to your website without the use of a search engine). When that happens, Google Analytics will attribute the resulting conversion to direct traffic rather than organic. Thankfully, the Assisted Conversions page allows you to identify these situations and better understand the purchasing process.
In the left nav bar in Google Analytics, click Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions. This will show the value of conversions by each traffic source. To look more into organic traffic, click Conversion Segments in the top right corner and select the option “First interaction is Organic Search.” From here you can look deeper into what further conversions have been affected by your SEO campaign.
4. Bounce rate & time on site
Bounce rate calculates how many people immediately leave your site upon arrival, suggesting they didn’t find what they were looking for, didn’t like what they saw, or got what they came for and didn’t feel a need to explore further.
If your bounce rate goes down, it likely means two things:
- More relevant traffic is coming to your site
- Visitors are moving deeper into your site, viewing multiple pages and taking time to explore
A decrease in bounce rate often comes with an increase in conversions and a possible increase in search engine rankings. If you struggle with bounce rate despite better keyword targeting, you may have a site design, architecture or usability issue that needs to be addressed.
Similar to bounce rate, if people are staying on your site longer, they’re more likely to convert. Plus, longer time on site signals that your customers are engaged and actively exploring your store.
Rankings can be a strong indication of the success of your SEO campaign. The higher your rankings in search results, the better your campaign is doing. In general, we recommend focusing on optimizing for longer tail keywords, which are keywords generally longer and more descriptive. For example, “footballs” would be considered a short tail keyword, while “buy youth footballs” or “regulation Wilson footballs” would be considered long tail. Although long tail keywords may have lower search volume, they tend to convert at a higher rate because they bring in more qualified traffic.
Keep in mind that while rankings are important, you shouldn’t solely focus on rankings. Not only are they subjective and often personalized to the individual user, but it takes focus away from improving your store in ways that will build brand loyalty, improve shopping experience and increase conversions. Also, with the increased percentage of keywords being reported as “not provided” in Google Analytics, it is becoming harder to keep track of what keywords your store is ranking for.
Overall, the goal of an SEO campaign shouldn’t be to rank for a few keyword phrases, but to increase meaningful traffic that converts into sales. SEO is a long term strategy, and it takes time to see results. But if it’s done well and done consistently, the benefits you’ll see will be well worth the wait.
-Dan Bagby, Volusion