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Analysing, Measuring, and Improving SEO

Once you can measure your SEO results, you can improve them

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Chapter #7: Analysing, Measuring, and Improving SEO

If you can’t measure your SEO results, you can’t improve them.
At Digital Estate we track every click, every call and every conversion. This helps us tweak our strategy to deliver better results for our clients. The same approach can help you grow your business and reduce your marketing spend at the same time.
If your SEO is driving monthly leads, and you know why, you can confidently reduce spending in other areas of your business. Or, go the other way and double down. Invest MORE in your marketing to double, triple or quadruple your leads.
When you know what results your SEO is driving, you stop gambling…and start investing.
In this chapter we’ll teach you how to read the language of SEO like second nature. What looks like numbers and jargon to your competitors will be the coded messages you use to place your business in front of a ‘ready to buy’ audience.
We’ll show you how to:
  • Set goals for your SEO campaign
  • Measure the crucial metrics of SEO success
  • Perform a site audit to make sure your website is healthy
  • Fix SEO problems (before they become catastrophic)
  • And much, much more
This is the last chapter in the Digital Estate’s ‘Introduction to SEO’, but it may just be the most important.
Refilled your tea? Cleared all distractions? Put your phone on silent?
Let’s learn how to analyse, measure, and improve your SEO.

Start at the Finish

It’s much easier to reach your SEO goals when you know what they are. To avoid getting distracted throughout your SEO campaign, you should have ONE very specific goal in mind.
Avoid choosing a vague goal like ‘increase website traffic’ or ‘improve rankings on Google’. Remember, if you can’t measure it you can’t improve it. The example goals above would be great outcomes for your business, but they’re not specific enough to be measurable, so let’s get granular.
Here are a few examples of specific goals for an SEO campaign:
  • Increase organic site traffic to 1,000 monthly visitors
  • Increase my conversion rate to 5%
  • Double eCommerce sales within the next 6 months
  • Build 25 backlinks from websites with a Domain Authority of 25+
  • Capture 3 featured snippets by the end of 2021
You don’t have to land on your one SEO goal right now, but start thinking about how you want to measure your success. Once you have your own SEO goal in mind, the next step is learning how to properly measure its success.
Measuring your SEO goal is crucial if you want to grow your business. The way you measure your goal will depend on your specific target. For example, if your goal is to increase organic site traffic by 20% you’ll use a different measuring criteria than if you were looking to increase sales by 20%.
The simplest breakdown is to split your SEO goals into search traffic metrics and engagement metrics.

SEO Search Traffic Metrics

When it comes to SEO, rankings are nothing without revenue. Sitting in the #1 spot on Google looks great, but unless you’re receiving quality traffic you’re wasting your time. Tracking your organic traffic (as opposed to paid traffic from Google Ads or Facebook Advertising) will help you see if you’re being picked to help users solve their problems. Some of the most common search traffic metrics include:
✘ Organic Traffic
Organic traffic refers to all traffic that comes to your site through your search engine optimisation strategies. It doesn’t include pay-per-click (PPC) traffic. Tracking organic traffic provides a clearer picture of your site’s health. For example, if you track total traffic you may be seeing a high figure, but if the majority of that traffic is coming from paid ad campaigns, your SEO could be underperforming without you realising.
✘ Traffic Over Time
Traffic over time provides a snapshot of your website’s traffic over a set period of time. This may include the total number of sessions, total number of users, and total page views. You can compare traffic between two separate periods to evaluate the success of your SEO over time. If you were receiving more traffic before your SEO campaign, this could be a clue your SEO strategies need tweaking.
✘ Page Visits
Not to be confused with pages per visit, page visits are the number of times a single page was visited over a set period. If you’ve optimised your website and your page visits are low, you’ll have clues to help you make changes and drive this figure up. Page views are best used in conjunction with other search traffic metrics as these figures can be misleading. One user refreshing a page 20 times counts as 20 page views, so don’t base the success of your SEO campaign on this figure alone.
✘ Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
Your CTR is the ratio of people who click on a specific page divided by the total number of users who viewed the page. This could be to click from Google through to your website, or to click on a download link once people get to your website. CTR is shown as a percentage, with the average CTR for the website in the #1 spot on Google at 31.7%. This means for every 100 people, roughly 31 will click through to the top ranked website. Your page title and meta description have a HUGE impact on your CTR, reinforcing how great SEO is a holistic strategy, not a one-trick pony.

SEO Engagement Metrics

You’ve got the traffic, but what are people doing once they land on your website? Are they clicking from page to page…or bouncing back to the search results to click on your competition? The way people behave on your site falls under the umbrella of engagement. Some of the most common engagement metrics include:
✘ Conversion Rate
Your conversion rate is the number of conversions (for a single goal like purchasing a product or downloading an eBook) divided by the number of unique visits. If you had 100 site visitors and 5 people signed up for your newsletter, your conversion rate is 5%. Measuring your conversion rate is crucial if your SEO goal is to increase your ROI.
✘ Time On Page
Time on page is the amount of time a person spends on your page (one of the more literal SEO terms). Google uses your time on page as part of its ranking algorithm because it’s an indicator your site is giving people a positive user experience. For example, if you have a 10,000 word blog and your average time on page is 10 seconds, it’s unlikely people are loving your content.
Don’t let your site’s time on page set off alarm bells though, as many pages are not designed to be browsed for long amounts of time, for example a ‘Contact’ page or ‘About Us’ page.
✘ Pages Per Visit
Pages per visit is the number of unique pages a site visitor browsed during each browsing session. If people click on your result from Google and spend time on one page before heading back to the SERPs, that doesn’t reflect well on you. If they move from page to page through your clear internal linking structure, and browse 10+ pages in one session, that’s great for you SEO.
Bounce Rate
Your bounce rate is calculated by the total number of one-page site visits divided by the total number of entries to your site. In simple terms, if someone opens a single page but instead of diving deeper they exit, your bounce rate will go up. This can be an indicator your site isn’t offering a great user experience. Some websites can have a high bounce rate without a problem though, for example a restaurant where people go online to find opening hours or directions and then bounce off the page.
✘ Scroll Depth
Scroll depth is how far people scrolled down an individual page on your website. If you’ve got a 10,000 word blog and your scroll depth is poor, it means people aren’t engaged and are not reading to the bottom of the page. This is a valuable engagement metric as it helps you spot pages that may need tweaking. For example, if your scroll depth is poor you may need to move the most important content up the page, or place a video at the top of your page to catch interest.

How Can I Track and Measure My SEO Goals?

If you want to track your SEO goals with accuracy, you need Google Analytics.
Google Analytics (GA) is a free web analytics service from Google that tracks and reports your website traffic. Don’t worry if this sounds too technical, this ultra-powerful software is your best friend. You’re able to set up specific goals (which you’ve chosen by now) and Google Analytics will track your progress.
At Digital Estate we’ve used Google Analytics to track and measure our own success, though it can be a little overwhelming if you plan on running your own SEO campaign. But if you plan on growing your business online, this is a tool you need to be using. Great SEO comes from data-backed decisions. With so many figures flying around it can be hard to understand what they all mean. With your own Google Analytics account you’ll be able to see which numbers are working and find the ‘story’ behind the data.
Once you’ve mastered your Google Analytics account, become a data-fiend by using Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager is another free tool that allows you to deploy marketing tags (snippets of code or tracking pixels) on your website. When people visit your site the tracking pixels you installed will let Google Analytics know. This makes it easier to track specific triggers and see if people are interacting with your site the way you want them too.
Set up your own Google Analytics account here. It’s free and you’ll start receiving web traffic insights in 24-48 hours.
OK, quick recap.
  • Step #1: Choose ONE very specific goal for your SEO campaign
  • Step #2: Create a Google Analytics account and set your goal within the platform

Bonus SEO Metrics to Boost Your Campaign

Your search traffic metrics and engagement metrics represent the core measurements for your SEO campaign. But this wouldn’t be New Zealand’s most valuable SEO guide if we didn’t dig a little deeper for you.
There are extra SEO metrics you can use to measure the strength of your website and your likelihood of ranking. These include:

✘ Domain Authority
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by the SEO software company Moz. It’s used to predict how likely a website is to rank on Google compared to their competition though it’s worth noting this is NOT a score used by Google. Rather, it’s a way for SEOs to try and calculate ranking ability based on what’s known about Google’s ranking algorithm. This score ranges between 0-100 with higher scores more likely to rank. For example, the New Zealand Herald’s website has a DA of 92.
Page Authority
Page Authority (PA) is similar to Domain Authority, but while DA refers to the strength of an entire domain, PA refers to a single page. It’s possible for your website to have a higher PA than DA, or the other way around. Again, Google does NOT use this score within their ranking algorithm, this is a way for SEOs to to gauge the comparative strength of competitors to see what changes are needed in content and backlinks to improve their own rankings.
✘ Keyword Rankings
The keywords you’re ranking for will have a direct impact on your organic traffic. 75% of people never click on the second page of Google (be honest, how often do you go past the first page?). Tracking your rankings is crucial to increase site traffic. Your keywords may be ranking for SERP features as well as organic listings, such as featured snippets and ‘People Also Ask’ boxes. Avoid the mistake the majority of New Zealand businesses make and don’t get caught up in vanity metrics. These are figures that look great, but have zero substance. For example, ranking #1 for a keyword that no one is searching for and doesn’t drive conversions.
✘ Backlinks
Backlinks can be measured as the total number of backlinks pointing to your website or the number of unique domains linking to your website. Backlinks have long been a powerful ranking factor as they’re tough to manipulate, but avoid falling into vanity metric territory by focusing on quality over quantity. A backlink from a high DA site in your niche is more valuable than low DA websites in unrelated industries, for example a local electrician linking to a website selling clothes online.

How to Run an SEO Website Audit to Test Your Site’s Health

Now you know what metrics can be used to gauge the success of your SEO campaign, it’s time to test your site’s overall health to make sure there are no cracks for potential customers to fall through. For example, if you’ve chosen an increase in conversions as your one SEO goal, you could be missing out on sales if your website loads too slowly and potential customers are bouncing away.
We’ve rounded up a list of Google tools you can use to run audits on your site and spot any holes in your armour. Some of these can be tough to use effectively without an SEO consultant, but with enough time and focus you’ll be spotting your site’s weaknesses and patching them up in no time.
Digital Estate’s recommended SEO audit tools include:
  • Google Search Console: Spot site errors and opportunities, measure user engagement
  • Google Lighthouse: Measure site performance and accessibility, includes speed insights
  • Google PageSpeed Insights: Site performance insights from real user measurements
  • Structured Data Testing Tool: Ensure your site is using schema markup properly
  • Mobile Friendly Test: Check how easily a user can navigate your site on a mobile device

5 Site Health Factors Crucial to Your SEO Success

#1 – Crawlability
Are your pages crawlable by Google’s robots or have you accidentally blocked Googlebot via a robots.txt file? An accurate and up-to-date sitemap.xml file can help direct crawlers to your most important pages and boost your SEO results.
#2 – Indexed Pages
Is your website being found by Google? You can run a ‘site:examplesite.com’ search on Google to see which pages are indexed. If you notice your important pages aren’t appearing at all, double check a meta robots=noindex tag isn’t blocking pages from being indexed.
#3 – Page Titles (and Meta Descriptions)
Are your page titles and meta descriptions compelling and enticing people to click through to your site? Your page titles and meta descriptions should be accurate, relevant, and tempting people to find out more. Check your CTR results in Google Search Console to see if improvements are needed.
#4 – Page Speed
Does your site load quickly on desktop and mobile devices? If your site isn’t loading fast enough, check your images to make sure they’ve been compressed and are not slowing your site.
#5 – Content
Does your content meet the search intent of users? If your content isn’t 10x better than your competitors, you’re not giving people a reason to choose you. Think about ways to improve your content like a more in-depth approach, videos, downloadable guides, podcasts and more. Removing thin, low-quality, or rarely visited pages can increase your content quality, as can merging content.

Quick Guide to Competitor Keyword Analysis

Running audits on your competition can unlock low-hanging keyword fruit for you to take advantage of. If you can spot your competition ranking above you, you can leverage their success to boost your own results.
Here’s a few examples of using simple competitor analysis:
  • Search for keywords relating to your business that your competitors are ranking for (but you’re not). Evaluate the type of content they’ve created then make yours 10x better.
  • Search for keywords relating to your business that you are ranking for. If there’s a featured snippet, optimise your own ranking content to mirror (and improve upon) the current featured snippet.
If you’re using more advanced SEO audit tools, or have an SEO consultant onboard, you can also see what websites are linking to your competitors. A competitor’s backlink portfolio is valuable information because it means you may be able to secure links from those same sites too (as you know they’re happy linking to quality content in your niche).
As much as your own SEO campaign matters, always keep an eye on your competition to see what’s working for them. If you spot an effective strategy, implement it within your own campaign!

Which SEO Flaws Should I Fix First?

Not all SEO problems deserve the same attention.
You want to fix every optimisation problem you run into, but prioritising smaller fixes that don’t have a great impact on your rankings can leave you feeling super productive without achieving much.
For example, if you found 10 of your images were missing alt text, and 100 of your page titles were not optimised, which would you start with?
The time-sensitive business owner might start with the smaller task, but an SEO-conscious business owner would start with the page titles because they are a more influential ranking factor and have the potential to impact click-through-rates.
At Digital Estate we recommend you prioritise your SEO fixes based on importance and urgency. Having upskilled through each chapter of the ‘Introduction to SEO’ guide you know the difference between an urgent SEO fix and an SEO problem that can wait – so it’s up to you to implement those fixes with discipline.

The #1 Rule for Successful SEO

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Great SEO comes down to planning and execution. You can’t hope for results, you need to come up with a strategy and execute it flawlessly. Even a simple Google Sheet outlining your SEO tasks to be completed each week/month is enough to give you structure, though the more in-depth your strategy is, the more likely you’ll see an increase in rankings and traffic.
Above all, the #1 rule is to stick with what works and change what doesn’t.
Using the skills you’ve picked up you’ll be able to see if your click-through-rate has dropped. If you’ve recently changed your page title this is a red flag that users don’t like the new page title. Go back to the drawing board, optimise your page title and track the results. If your CTR improves, leave those page titles alone.
On the flipside, if your SEO results aren’t knocking your socks off, make changes. A drop in rankings, organic traffic, CTR or time on page may all be indicators your SEO campaign needs a little tweaking. When you spot a problem, take the time to fix it to avoid major problems down the line.

Congratulations!!! You’ve Completed Digital Estate’s ‘Introduction to SEO’

This is a proud moment.
It’s never easy watching someone fly the nest but you’re now equipped with the full range of SEO skills and knowledge to optimise your own website and run your own SEO campaigns.
You’re free of the classroom which means there’s no more theory…and it’s time to put what you learned into practice.
If you’re serious about your own SEO there’s no better place to start than your own website. Whether it’s auditing your content, using our keyword research tools to look for low-competition queries, or using Google analytics to get a baseline of your traffic, everything you do from today on will be backed by knowledge and data.
When you started this guide we told you about the 7 foundational factors of SEO.
We’re proud to say you’re now ready to implement these 7 steps of successful SEO to grow your business.
Get out there and get started!!!

Thanks for Reading (Don’t Forget Your Free Gift)

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Digital Estate’s ‘Introduction to SEO’ and encourage you to share this guide with anyone looking to learn about SEO in a simple, accessible, kiwi-friendly way (except your competition of course, keep this away from them at all costs).
SEO is a time-consuming and skillful marketing strategy, but highly rewarding and drives proven growth across rankings, revenue and reputation.
As a thanks for reading our guide we’re including a range of free SEO options to suit your needs. From free tools to free website audits and free consultations, when you’re ready to begin your SEO journey, we’ve got a way to support you.
Explore my FREE SEO options here
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