One of the most critical aspects of any problem-focused intervention is in the evaluation of its outcome; whether the action did result in the elimination of the problem. The same is true in search engine optimization activities. It would be safe to assume that businesses or organizations that engage in search engine optimization activities have several problems in the beginning which SEO was clearly one of the answers. Given that all businesses with an internet presence engage in search engine optimization, they must be able to have very clear answers as to the effectiveness of their SEO strategies. And while keyword ranking can provide a clue as to the effectiveness of SEO efforts, it fails to provide a complete picture of how the whole SEO marketing program is bringing the much-needed revenues and profits to the organization. This is where Google Analytics – an SEO measurement tool that is freely available and is already well-embedded in your website – can be of help.
Here are 5 very simple ways on how you can utilize Google Analytics to evaluate whether your SEO strategies are bringing home the bacon or not. Of course, there will be other metrics that will serve an entirely different purpose. At the very basic level however, all organizations with an online presence simply have to have Google Analytics.
Focus on Organic Search Traffic
One of the many pitfalls of many organizations when analyzing website traffic is the presumption that a decrease in the total number of visitors to your website is the result of a decline in organic search traffic. You do have to understand that organic searches are not the only means people land on your website. If you have PPC ads or even social media and blog post integration, all of these can be factored into your website’s overall traffic as well. You simply have to make sure that the number of people arriving at your website through organic searches is really on a decline and not because of other avenues or channels.
To do this you need to open your Acquisition menu on your Google Analytics sidebar and click on All Traffic then select Channels. This will present you with a window that reflects your channel grouping which can include Organic Search, Direct, Referral, Paid Search, Social, and Email, just to name a few. Selecting Organic Search will present you with a very detailed and graphic report about the different parameters or metrics related to your organic search traffic. Here, you can then figure out how well your website is performing base on bounce rates, average duration of page sessions, and number of pages visited per session, among other things. It also tells you about the keywords that have been driving the most number of visitors to your site, the top landing pages for organic search traffic, and the search engines that are sending you the most number of visitors to your website. Of course, there are plenty of other information you can use to determine whether you are doing the correct SEO or not.
Measure the Quality Indicators of Your SEO Traffic
While it is true that you cannot measure quality, you can nevertheless assign numerical values to certain concepts that are deemed qualitative in nature giving them a roughly measurable value. This is the same with measuring the quality of SEO traffic.
Click on Conversions and the select Multi-Channel Funnels. From here you can then select Assisted Conversions. For purposes of discussion, we shall try to set the date range of the report to Last month and compare the data with the Previous period. This gives you a month-to-month comparison of conversions whether they are directly from organic searches or where the organic search played a key role in indirect conversion such as what usually happens when a visitor lands on a page then returns directly to the URL to initiate the conversion.
This chart will give you an idea of the movement of search traffic, whether it is improving or declining. If you observe a general downward trend in the number of conversions generated by organic searches yet your website’s overall search traffic shows a steady, stable state, then it is highly possible that the traffic generated from organic searches is not of an excellent quality. On the other hand, if there is a general upward trend in your conversions, then you can say that you have a really improving quality of SEO traffic.
SEO quality therefore is indicated by the number of conversions that your website is able to generate within a certain time period.
Determine the Dollar Value of Your Organic Traffic
Most businesses only understand improvements in terms of the dollar sign. The more digits following a dollar sign, the better it is. And since we are talking about SEO putting value in businesses, it must be able to show, in terms easy enough to understand, that the SEO activities are indeed bringing in the bottom line of the company.
For this to work, you need to connect you Google Analytics account with your Google AdWords account. What you will be doing is to assign a dollar value to the results of organic search traffic and then comparing these to how much it would cost you to purchase certain keywords using AdWords.
Open your Queries on Analytics via Search Engine
Optimization under Acquisition. Open Tools then Keyword Planner on your AdWords account and get the search volume data and trends. Use the top keywords generated by your Analytics’Queries and hit the Get search volume button on AdWords. Click on Keyword Ideas on the next screen to show you the suggested bid amount for each of the keywords that you have entered. Copy or encode this information on a spreadsheet for easier processing. You may want to focus on all the known keywords that are driving traffic to your website, the number of clicks per keyword, and the cost per click.
This is an excellent way of visualizing the savings a business can generate if its SEO strategy is implemented in the way it should be carried out.
Determine Speed of Page Loading
No matter how valuable or visually-appealing your website can be if it does not load properly or if it is taking too long to load the different elements, chances are you will never really be able to capitalize on your SEO efforts. While ranking high on search engines may be a great idea, a better metric will be the impact of slow-loading pages on your conversion rates. We are not going to show you how to increase your page loading speeds, however. What we are going to show you is how to identify slow-loading page times.
Click on Behavior and the select Site Speed. From here, choose Page Timings and try to set the parameters to Average Page Load Time and % Exit. You may also want to add other parameters to your report. For example you may want to show only results generated by organic search traffic. What you would like to see is the average time a single page takes to load fully as well as the average number or percentage of visitors who leaves the website after a given time frame and based on page by page. If you see that the average loading time for a single page already surpasses the loading time for the entire website and that the exit percentages are moving on an upward trend, it is best to have a talk with your webmaster so they can do something to optimize your page loading times.
Design and Develop Your Own Dashboard Specifically for Your SEO
How you present your data matters. SEOs and decision-makers don’t have the time to read through voluminous data. What they would like to see is the bottom line and a few more important details in bullet points. You can minimize miscommunication if you can present them factual data in pie charts and bar graphs as well as other less-intimidating measurement presentations. This is where customizing your very own Dashboard Interface built-in into Google Analytics will be of tremendous help. These are a collection of widgets which you can use to create all pertinent and relevant reports into a single output which can be easily accessed, printed, and shared.
You can create your own widget specifically for total organic visits, keyword phrases, top SEO landing pages, most successful keywords based on goal completions, and total number of pages per visit generated by organic keyword searches as well as other useful metrics. The point is that you can ultimately decide how you can make your SEO measurements really efficient.
One of the most challenging aspects of being in SEO is communicating the value of SEO activities to the bottom line of the business. If the organization’s key decision-makers simply cannot see the value in the things that you are doing, then it is not unusual they will find other ways. For them, SEO simply is a waste of money. It is therefore very important to quantify your SEO activities in terms that are easily understood and appreciated by the management.
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