The majority of marketers today are equipped with general online knowledge and skills to get the basics done. They might not be experts in the field who can master all of the opportunities at their disposal, but they can tick enough boxes to justify their existence and build something of worth for a brand looking to compete in their niche.
The challenge for these operators and business owners alike is to truly quantify what works with their search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts. Put simply, there is no point venturing forward with a bold campaign that incorporates thousands of hours and hard-earned dollars that delivers something that cannot be understood.
The data can be neatly presented on a spreadsheet complete with graphs and impressive illustrations, yet it should explain the purpose of its existence in the first place.
This leads us to ask a series of straightforward questions:
- What is a ‘like’ or a share on social media really worth?
- Is keyword competition a good thing or a bad thing?
- Does it matter if traffic is from local sources or overseas?
- Why are we concerned about a bounce rate when our goal is to create a direct call to action (CTA) for customers?
Organisations might be fearful of asking about these issues for fear of not having their finger on the pulse, but they are the most prevalent discussion points when we talk SEO. It does not address that what but the why – giving context to the practice of optimisation.
So in that spirit, let us detail the most crucial metrics in the field of SEO today.
Think about your own personal social media experience for one moment. The videos and articles you share tend to be from sources you would value in some shape or form, wouldn’t they? There is an intrinsic trust at play when users circulate content on the social sphere and this provides validation to search engines as to the worth of a brand.
One of the key tools at your disposal in this respect is the sharing icon on the side or at the foot of your page. From Facebook to Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn – these tabs gives readers a chance to understand how viral your page is. These numbers give visitors an insight into your size and reputation, building momentum organically.
What social media enables is the chance to broadcast your message and content to a variety of channels that feature contrasting communities of people. The professionals on LinkedIn operate in completely different circles to those pages on Facebook and accounts on Twitter, allowing enterprises to have a voice across different marketplaces and pockets of the Internet.
Your domain authority (or DA for short) is a relatively new phenomenon that developed organically from a handy Moz tool. This little toy emerged from the shadows in an attempt for online users to understand just how much authority a site had. Given the spread of misinformation and fake accounts out there, never has the notion of domain authority been more prevalent than right now.
By running a URL through this software, a score out of 100 will be reached that takes into account all of the metrics that matter. This is not to be confused with page authority – an issue that differentiates the SEO value of single pages rather than the entire domain.
Your DA score will not act as a mirror to the health of your SEO standing, but there will be many themes that overlap between the pair.
Keywords are one of the founding pillars that will ultimately determine whether your SEO endeavours are a success or failure. Needing to utilise them throughout your headings, tags, titles, descriptions, links and in the actual content – it is vital that the signals you are promoting are actually being searched for online.
Search engine crawlers use these terms as a means of placing your site among the niche you are competing in, tracking your progress and efficiency in the process.
This is where a free tool like Keyword Tracker comes into play. It can quantify if your keyword is on an upward or downward trend as well as pinpointing a similar term that could accelerate optimisation.
When the topic of “bounce rate” ever emerges, it is always wise to view this through the lens of engagement. What this discussion point boils down to is whether or not the visitor clicked any links on the page once they arrived to the domain.
If a visitor found your site but ended up leaving without venturing backwards to the homepage or towards a different tab such as “contact us,” then that is considered a high bounce rate.
The Google Panda algorithm change that began in 2011 altered the landscape in the SEO world. Engagement metrics became far more important on the scale of marketing priorities as a result, elevating domains that garnered higher rates of engagement than their peers.
Google Analytics offers support for examining your bounce rate and suggestions on how to improve in this area.
Click-through rate (CTR)
The wonders of search analytics enable engines to have complete context when it comes to our search results. It is not enough just to have a brand name that can be visible to searchers – it must be enticing enough for viewers to actively click on the domain to prove that it warrants a healthy standing.
This is where the notion of the click-through rate (CTR) crops up, speaking to a different type of engagement metric. The CTR is determined on a percentage basis, taking into account the visibility of the link against the number of times that it scores that all important click.
So much of modern SEO is based on qualitative data rather than quantity. This philosophy applies across the spectrum, but it is none more apparent than via the CTR – a metric that is paramount to optimisation.
Extending the theme of quality over quantity takes us onto the topic of local search engine optimisation. Local SEO is a boom that has occurred in sync with the rise in mobile usage as smartphone users continue to require up-to-the-minute information on brands and services on the spot.
Search engines like Bing and Google have catered their platforms to meet this need, forcing companies to shift their thinking and embrace the switch to be geo-specific with all of their digital listings.
It is therefore imperative for a brand that is based in Brisbane for example to generate their traffic from the city and surrounding areas in South East Queensland. In the case that traffic is garnered from various overseas sites that has no relevance to that postcode, then an imbalance is taking place.
Before long a scenario will arise whereby a brand has to cater to that new market, or find a solution to ensure that the Brisbane market is catered to.
There is a constant theme that continues to be true for SEO marketers. Amid all of the algorithm changes that take place on a monthly basis to keep optimisers on their toes, it is the source that contains the most efficient hosting of backlinks that will win out.
Once again – this talking point does not come down to simple quantity over quality. If it did, then accelerating your search engine performance could be achieved overnight. What it speaks to is the brand naming, placement and utilisation of the backlinks that separates your domain from the competitors.
Research has been formulated on this topic to discover that there is a clear parallel between the number of quality backlinks and a site’s rank. By providing a stronger level of authority to your page, Google can validate your site as a centre that understands the niche and what sources are respected.
Should your standing in this field drop over time, there will be a necessity to update your backlink profile. Keep up to date with trends in your industry to see where the traffic is heading and what conversations are being had online and tap into that activity.
Organic traffic numbers
Long ago, search engines drew a line in the sand between generic traffic and organic traffic, i.e. traffic emanating from real, genuine sources and not automated robots or communities that had no interest in the topic.
Black-hat SEO architects have attempted for years to hoodwink the system by paying for visitors and orchestrating software programs that filter through artificial numbers. None of this works.
Before long it becomes apparent where this filtering has taken place and sites are handed strong punishments as a result.
Our very first metric under the microscope examined the process of social shares. This acts as an example of organic traffic, seeing Bing, Yahoo and Google all opening up their platforms to push for greater social media diversity. The penny suddenly dropped that conversations and communities in these environments led to higher search activity on their sites – so a win-win all round.
Google Analytics offers a graph that tracks your organic traffic progress. It will automatically take into account hits from general searches, backlink referrals, social shares and other avenues that weren’t artificially boosted.
To determine just how well oiled your machine will be for the purposes of the search engine results page (SERP), site speed has to be at an optimum level. After you have run your URL through a program such as Pingdom the results will speak for themselves.
Today search engines are ruthless on domains that flood the user with needless cookies and content that slows down the load speed of individual pages. Continuing the trend of the mobile boom, it is imperative that visitors are not waiting longer than a couple of seconds to produce your complete presentation – showcasing every tab and icon along the way.
Time is money in the SEO game and if there is on metric that can be improved immediately it is site speed.