Measuring the success of your SEO campaign is no easy feat. With so many metrics to consider—keyword rankings, PageRank™, number of indexed pages, traffic statistics . . . the list goes on and on—you might find yourself on overload when it comes to SEO success metrics. So where should you focus your efforts? Let’s explore the tricky world of measuring SEO and break down the facts about four of the common success metrics.
- Success Metric #1: Keyword Rankings
There’s no denying that keywords are the foundation of any SEO strategy, and businesses want to rank as high as they can in the organic results. Yet when it comes to actually measuring SEO, focusing solely on the up-and-down movement in keyword rankings no longer provides a clear picture of success. Search engines are currently personalizing search results based on a user’s search history and geographic location, and they’re integrating shopping results, social media updates, news, blog postings, and more . . . all of which are potentially skewing how a site is ranked.
- Success Metric #2: PageRank
PageRank measures the quality of incoming links to your website on a 1–10 scale, with 10 being the highest. Site owners have been watching this horizontal green bar for years, and they’ve been checking it daily for any small variance. Keep in mind, however, that PageRank is controlled by a third party (i.e., Google™), and it can change at will. So, would you base your success on a metric that’s controlled by someone (or something) else and that can change at any time, regardless of the SEO techniques you’re employing? We wouldn’t either . . . and even Google has removed PageRank as a default option from the Google Toolbar.
- Success Metric #3: Indexed Pages
Another common success metric that site owners tend to focus on is an increase in the number of pages that a search engine indexes for a website. Although site owners should strive to ensure that search engines are indexing the majority of their website pages, an increase in the number of indexed pages does not necessarily mean that the site is seeing dramatic SEO success . . . and the number can fluctuate at the will of a search engine. If a site owner sees a dramatic dip in the number of indexed pages, however, this likely signals a problem that should be investigated. But if you’re regularly adding SEO-friendly content to your site, adding to your link-building campaign, blogging, and so on, you’ll keep the search engine spiders coming back. And like PageRank, you can view indexed pages as a by-product of a successful SEO campaign.
- Success Metric #4: Organic Search Traffic and Organic Keyword Traffic
Every website owner should install a Web analytics program—such as the free Google Analytics tool—and continually track data. With Google Analytics, for example, you can view the number of visitors who are accessing your site after they’ve clicked your listing in the “nonpaid” or “organic” results, and you can view which keywords they used to find your listing. From there, you can evaluate the amount of traffic the keywords are generating each month, the bounce rate for each of them, and whether you’ve focused on any of the keywords—or their variations—in your SEO campaign. You can also compare traffic data year over year and from the start of your SEO campaign until the present.
If you’re seeing an increase in traffic, particularly if it’s from keywords that your campaign focused on . . . congratulations! Your SEO campaign is working, and you’ve focused on the success metric that matters. After all, the goal of an SEO strategy is to increase traffic to your website—and ultimately to increase conversions. So shouldn’t you focus on an SEO performance indicator that isn’t controlled by a third party? Now there’s your answer.
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