Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO
Measuring SEO results is crucial. Not only does it help you justify your efforts to management (or just yourself if you’re the business owner), it also lets you know if your SEO is on the right track or not. Keep in mind that SEO is a long term process so you need to give your campaign a few months to get up and running before you can start to see an real SEO results that mean something significant.
1. Increase in number of non-branded keywords driving traffic.
While a strong SEO campaign will help increase both branded and non-branded searches, when it comes to measuring SEO results you want to take a good look at the non-branded keywords. An increase in the amount of on-branded keywords driving traffic to your site is a good sign that your SEO campaign is working. Visitors who have never before heard of or interacted with your brand are finding your site in the search engines.
One way to really measure your SEO results is to compare year to year data from before and after you began your SEO campaign. What new, non-branded keywords are driving traffic to your site that you were never getting any return on from before. Even if they aren’t pulling hundreds of visitors, if only 10 new non-branded keywords sent 30 visitors each that’s 300 new visitors that found your site directly because of your SEO efforts. This data is a great way to help justify your SEO campaign to management because it’s tangible proof your SEO is working.
2. Increase in visitors overall.
The end goal of most SEO campaigns is to increase the number of visitors being sent to your site. This is one of the best ways to measure your SEO results. Keep in mind that you probably aren’t going to see obscene amounts of new traffic from one month to the next. You might notice a 1-2% increase, maybe more if you did a big PR or branding push, but don’t expect to see a 20% jump right away.
Also keep in mind that your traffic might vary from month to month. There are a lot of factors that can either help or hinder your visitor growth so it’s important to not panic if one month your traffic dips down a little bit—fluctuations happen. That’s why it’s important to look at your visitor growth as a trend (3+ months) and keep your eye on the big picture. Don’t lose the forest for the trees when measuring the results of your SEO!
The only time you should get nervous about a dip in visitors is if all your traffic vanishes overnight. That’s usually an indication that your site was whacked with a penalty. However, check to make sure the Google Analytics code is still properly installed and pulling data first. I’ve spoken with many panicked site owners who thought their site was penalized and it turned out to just be a coding error.
3. Increases in average time spent on site.
An increase in average time spent on site is a good way to measure SEO results because it tells you that your SEO campaign is pulling the right audience to your website. One of my SEO clients was getting a couple hundred visitors to their site each month from the keyword “software.” While it’s incredible that they were getting any traffic for such a broad keyword, their leads funnel wasn’t performing as well. That’s because “software” is such a broad keyword that it could mean anything. What kind of software is that user looking for? Are they looking for personal or business software? Do they want a free or paid product? Are they even looking to buy anything? As average time on site goes up, even if your traffic doesn’t increase as much as you’d like, that’s usually a pretty good sign that your SEO is targeting the right people and keeping those wasted visitors from coming to your site.