It’s 1 thing to implement an SEO strategy, but it’s another thing entirely to understand results, and what the implications of those results might be. Is your SEO working, and how can you be sure? What are the metrics saying, how can you track KPIs, are you generating leads? Fundamentally, is your SEO working?
How Long Do Results Take
The first thing to understand about SEO is that sometimes results can come super quickly, and sometimes they take time. It really depends on the work that you’re doing. On-page changes for example can be incredibly quick to deliver results, but require a lot of front heavy resources. In theory once changes are made on-page, and everything is reindexed, results can be pretty quick.
Technical changes fall in a similar boat, but are slightly less front heavy, and more consistent throughout a monitoring phase. These results again can be relatively quick but there’s also challenges that need to be monitored constantly in order to maintain those results. Every now and then Google decides to throw a spanner in the works from a technical perspective, so you’ve got to be on your toes.
Creating new content as a tactic can be quick, but entirely depends on your resources. It might take weeks for example to research, plan, write, optimise, and upload a blog, or you might be uploading 10 pieces a week. The time limit for results is generally on you, but when creating content results normally come a bit slower. Reason being most businesses can’t invest into creating the tens of pieces of new content on a monthly basis that might be required to generate significant results.
The longest term results in SEO generally come from an off page perspective. It requires building your brand and domain authority to compete from an off page perspective by garnering links, all the while building your brand awareness, authority, and credibility. Links unfortunately don’t come overnight (unless of course they do). Most of the time a PR strategy can take time to see meaningful change.
Is Your SEO Working – What Are The Results That Matter?
To a degree every campaign is different, and thus not every metric you track will be the same as the next business. There is generally however, a number of key KPIs that are significant for an SEO campaign.
An impression is when your page/site has shown up in a search result, been scrolled past, but not been clicked on. It’s basically been in someone’s peripheral vision. Impressions are important to understand because when you start an SEO strategy you’re unlikely to be on the first page for many of your keywords. As and when you start creating content and ranking slightly higher, your impression rate should improve, which highlights more people are seeing your content!
There are many free and paid tools you can use online to do this job, but Search Console will generally be your best friend in this department. Get it set up if you haven’t already!
Keywords are at the crux of your SEO strategy. These are what you base your content on, as these queries, or synonyms of them, are what people are searching for. Find a list of all your key search terms, and test how they’re ranking. Remember you need a baseline to understand where your results started, so do this before you do anything!
Again there are many tools that can pull and update rankings automatically, but generally in this instance we think it’s best to have your own data sheet here. Create a quick table and get into the habit of doing a quick check every month (maybe more frequently to begin with) to assess where you stand.
Organic Traffic Segments
You obviously need a good grasp of your organic traffic. Making sure you have the most up to date Google Analytics (GA) portfolio setup is the first step. From there you can see your organic traffic and setup segments to break results down. If you’re creating new content for example, you want to only know what impact that content alone is having. GA offers you the ability to create segments which will display data and traffic to a select number of pages. Perhaps you have several different service lines. Segments will allow you to see which service lines are drawing in the most traffic and conversions. If a landing page has high traffic but a low conversion rate, is there something on that page that can be done to improve that conversion rate?
A conversion simply means a visitor has taken an action of your choice somewhere on your site. You can create your own conversions in GA, but largely the main standard one you should be tracking is incoming contact enquiries. You could set up a few other conversion measurements depending on your goals. How many return visitors you get, if a visitor visits 10+ pages, etc.
Of course rankings, traffic, and conversions can be largely linked. You first need impressions and rankings, then traffic will follow, and finally conversions. If there isn’t a consistent journey, or the ratio of which your converting rankings to traffic, or traffic to conversions is higher or lower on certain pages, it’s important to take note. There might be something your audience is missing on that page that’s causing conversions to be lost, or it might simply be a broader market factor. The key though, is to be aware of the statistics so you can act on them accordingly.
It’s important to understand how people react when on your site. Engagement metrics cover the likes of bounce rates, time on page, pages per visit, etc. and describe how visitors behave when on your site. If your time on page is exceptionally low for example, you might have a poor UX. Consider the role of the page too when examining engagement metrics. A contact page is likely to have higher bounce rates and low time on page, whilst an informative guide should have the opposite.
Search Console Indexing
Whenever an issue arises with anything SEO related it’s likely to be flagged on Search Console. Search Console is where you can troubleshoot your SEO. Issues can be related to a variety of technical issues, like broken links, mobile optimisation, and server errors, or with things like duplicate content. All of these issues are flagged on Search Console so keeping a consistent monitor of GSC will ensure you’re not missing anything.
Backlinks, Referrals, and Domain Authority
A strong backlink portfolio is one way to build great brand and domain authority. Be aware of any and all links that come into your domain. You can monitor the domains themselves via a variety of tools like moz, or semrush. You can also monitor the referral traffic from these domains, should there be any, via your GA. If you have a particularly consistent referral source, is there something you can do to replicate those results elsewhere, or improve them internally!
Finally, whilst analytics software and tools are extremely accurate, it’s always best to double check by eye. Bot traffic and spam conversions have the ability to sway metrics considerably, so make sure that the data you’re collecting is as accurate as possible.
Is your SEO working is a pretty key question. It’s all well and good taking action, but if you don’t understand what the results of that action are, or how to act on them, the results aren’t going to be anywhere near as powerful. A reporting and monitoring setup can help cover you from those issues.