Whether you have made an investment into using professional SEO services or have set up Google Webmaster Tools and are looking to boost your search presence yourself, one huge consideration is going to be whether you are getting a return on your investment, both in terms of finances and/or time.
Truth told there is no definitive right or wrong ways to measure SEO success. However, there are ways that we would consider â€˜best practice,' as well as those that mean you are simply wasting your energy should you choose to focus your efforts on them.
Ultimately, you will choose the metrics you want to use to measure the success of your SEO campaign, although whether they are the best ones will probably show through your balance sheet at the end of the month. Your SEO efforts do not need to consist of months of trial and error.
We have put this useful guide together that will help you to understand what you should be looking for, and why it is important. We also looked at the areas to avoid, lest you be unwittingly dooming your business to oblivion.
Just a small â€˜FYI' before you throw yourself into SEO and looking at results; SEO takes time. We are talking months rather than weeks in most cases, so if you are measuring success after two weeks of SEO activities and think it has been a waste of time; think again.
If you use an SEO company, such as Bough SEO or Bright Local, then they will recommend you use Google Webmaster Tools. If you go it alone, then it is definitely worthwhile using this great platform to your advantage.
With that out of the way, we can begin to look at the serious stuff. How can you measure your SEO success for a better idea of whether your activities are actually working?
Keyword Rankings: One to Avoid
The reasons why you should not obsess over your keyword rankings reads like a charge sheet of crimes against online marketing. Here are some of the key ones:
- Where you rank is, in many ways, irrelevant, as you might not be finding your target audience, or be ranking for keywords other than those that would bring most success to your campaign
- SEO results are personalized based on search history on an individual basis, as well as other metrics such as their geographical location and social media activity
- Ranking highly does not mean anyone is actually clicking through to your site, let alone making an enquiry or purchasing one of your products
In addition to this, you would also not believe how much time you will waste by looking at where you rank on a daily basis. Let it go, it does not matter that much.
Is Traffic a Worthwhile Metric?
Of course, the main purpose of an SEO campaign is to increase traffic to your site, but your focus needs to be a lot more specific than that. Depending on what you have done during your SEO campaign, you might find you are receiving massively increased traffic, yet your revenues are flat.
What might the reasons be for this?
- Guest posting, or commenting, on blogs not relevant to your industry or niche. People may click to your site out of curiosity, but then quickly leave once they realize you have nothing for them
- Targeting irrelevant, low competition keywords
Both of those points can be countered by carrying out thorough keyword research prior to undertaking your SEO campaign. If you are in an industry that is highly competitive, your best approach will be to commit more time to SEO and have faith that results will come. Going a different route is not going to win you any new customer, or credit in the eyes of Google, for that matter.
Keywords That Drive Traffic
This is definitely a metric that will give you a good idea of how well your SEO campaign is doing. If your carefully researched keywords are where your traffic is coming from, then you know you did a good job in selecting them.
As your prominence and visibility in search results begins to increase, you should also start to see increases in traffic coming from both branded and non-branded keywords. When you log into Google Webmaster Tools, the more places (keywords) that traffic is coming from, the better your SEO performance has been.
There are business owners who have embarked on an SEO campaign and increased their revenues massively, but at the same time have seen traffic either plateau or reduce. Those who get angry and feel that SEO is doing them no favors are missing the bigger picture.
When you are targeting specific keywords, traffic to your site may well drop off, you might even expect it to. However, this is where the actual level of traffic starts not to matter so much. If your conversion numbers are much higher, that means your keywords are relevant and reaching the audience you want.
Ask yourself what you would rather have. 1000 hits a month with 5 conversions, or 500 hits a month with 100 conversions. It is simple economics, and we all know what the answer is.
Time Spent on Site
How much time a browser spends on your site may or may not be important, depending on what you are looking to achieve with your site. If you are looking to increase enquiries, then it may not be a big deal. In contrast, if you are an information based site, you would expect people to spend a lot of time on your site, and so will want to constantly analyze this metric.
The longer people are spending on your site, the better. This will not only show that your SEO and targeted keywords are working in terms of targeting relevant customers, but that your content is strong and engaging, and that people want to stay on your site, read it, and see what else you have to offer.
Reviewing SEO Success
Auditing and reviewing the success of your SEO campaign is a â€˜must do' in terms of understanding its value. By focusing on the metrics that matter, you will be able to have a much better idea of whether what you are doing is working.
Allen Greene is an SEO consultant who works with a number of businesses to boost their SEO performance.