You’ve been working hard on SEO (search engine optimization) for your website, but you aren’t sure whether you are doing it correctly or whether you are getting results. Different businesses will have different targets for their SEO campaign or for their website, but regardless of your end goal there are three key elements to watch for:
- Website Ranking
- Website Traffic
- Conversion Rate
You might be thinking as you read this, “All right, that’s nice. But what are those things and how do I tell if they are working?” Let’s work through each, one at a time.
Ranking refers to the algorithm or formula that a search engine uses to determine the order in which it will display web pages. Most Internet users will select a site from the first page of search results, and very few will go beyond the third page. In fact, most users will select from the first two or three results that do not say “ad” beside them. When a website turns up in the first listings after the paid ad sites, this is called an “organic” result. That is to say, it occurs more or less naturally – not because someone paid to have their product or business display first. Effective use of keywords can push your website toward the top of the list.
“If you build it, they will come,” is no longer true for Internet websites. There are so many websites, small businesses, personal interest groups and more that have websites, that attracting Internet traffic to your website is vital in terms of just getting people to click on your web address and visit. Once they arrive, you also want to evaluate their behavior – you want to know how long they stay, what pages they visit, and how they respond to various features on your website. You want to keep track of how many visitors stop at the first page, and then “bounce” off to another one. If you have a high bounce rate, it might be time to redesign your home page.
Conversion refers to the number of people who respond in the desired way. That might be making a comment, signing up for your newsletter, clicking on an ad or making a purchase. It could mean reading a short story or blog article offered on your website. One well-known author attracts beta readers for her work by offering chapters of selected works for free. Since each chapter is a cliff-hanger, readers return for the next installment. They make comments, point out typographical errors and serve as a cheering squad. You might think that this advance reading would cut down on sales. On the contrary, it can actually boost book sales. By the time the book comes out, the reader has invested his or her time in the book, and is eager to own a copy. Comments and books sold are the conversion – that is, events that happen because of activity on the website.
Results from Tracking the Three Key Metrics for SEO Success
Tracking these three metrics helps you to see your ROI – return on investment. Even though it is possible to have a website and to manage your own SEO without spending a dime in cash, you are likely to have a hefty chunk of time invested in development and in tracking before you begin to see returns. Your time has value, whether you are a small or medium business person, an author, artist or freelancer. Once you have spent time, it is not possible to get it back, but it is possible to measure the degree of success from your efforts. You can evaluate your keywords, the attractiveness of your homepage, and see which of your website pages are visited most often.
Tools for Evaluation
One of the evaluation methods used most often is Google Analytics. As an offshoot of Google’s own analytic methods, you can gain a wealth of information about your website and the frequency and behavior of visits to it. However, if you do not trust Google or if you want a second or third opinion (always a good idea) there are many other free programs that you can use to examine the three primary metrics of website performance. Three suggested web tools include Website Grader, Nibbler, or Seoptimer.
Mechanical evaluators can provide assistance in measuring your website’s vital statistics. They are, however, only an indicator. You can also use visit counters and short surveys to help test your website’s success.