Now that you have implemented your SEO strategy, you need to track your progress regularly, at least once a week at first. In this chapter, you will learn how to track your various KPIs using Google Analytics. Don’t forget the objectives you set for yourself at the beginning, and focus on your KPIs!
See where your visitors are coming from
You can use Google Analytics to see where your visitors are coming from and draw conclusions from this information.
The number of unique visitors, UV
Even if your objective is conversion rather than traffic, it is important to track the number of new visitors to your website. If the number of unique visitors does not increase, then your SEO strategy is not yet bearing fruit.
You should be most interested in organic traffic, meaning visitors coming from search engines like Google!
Comparing the different acquisition channels
You can track change in your traffic in the Acquisition tab by clicking on All Traffic and then Channel.
Then click on Organic Search to only display traffic from search engines, called organic traffic. Start by checking that this traffic is indeed increasing.
When you make an important change to the website or publish new content, feel free to mark the event directly in Analytics by creating an annotation, like this:
Click on the little arrow below any detailed graph.
Then, click on Create an Annotation.
You may then select any date, add your comment (as detailed as possible), and even share it with collaborators.
Doing this will help you see the impact of your changes on your traffic a few months later.
Analyze other important data
Returning visitor rate
This is the number of visitors who return to your website, divided by the total number of visitors. The information is important: if you publish high-quality content, this rate should increase. Conversely, if your pages are returned first in Google, but the number of returning visitors declines, you need to see why:
Your content is too optimized for SEO, and hence difficult for real visitors to read.
You are not giving your visitors sufficient reason to stay on your website.
Your conversation rate
The conversion rate is the ratio between the number of visitors and the number of sales you have. If you need 100 visitors for every one order, you have a 1 percent conversion rate.
If your primary objective with SEO is to obtain more leads or customers, then this is the most important KPI alongside the number of UV.
Example of the importance of conversion rates:
Your website totaled 20,000 UV and €10,000 in revenue for the month of January. One month later, you receive 50 percent more visitors, or 30,000 UV. Nevertheless, your revenue is only €12,000 instead of the €15,000 expected. The discrepancy is due to a drop in the conversion rate: you received a larger number of lower quality visitors, and they were less interested in your products.
Bounce rate, sessions per user, average time on page
These KPIs can all be of interest when conducting an in-depth analysis of a website. Taken separately, they are of limited interest, and are much less important than your business KPIs.
Example bounce rate:
The bounce rate corresponds to the number of visitors who take no action on your website as opposed to those who do. If a visitor visits your website then closes the page, or clicks on an external link, it will count as a bounce.
The issue is that if your content is good, a visitor may find the answer to her question and leave the website. So, you cannot use this KPI alone if your content is interesting and of high-quality.
Sessions by device type
This tab shows you if your visitors were using their computer or mobile device. This is an important distinction, especially in terms of website design. Often, much less time has gone into designing the responsive version of a website. So, you should definitely check this metric.
Additionally, your content may be displayed differently for visitors on a computer or a smartphone.
Note that certain brands like Apple and Airbnb are designing their websites first and foremost for mobile users.
Act on your strengths and weaknesses
Study your website’s visits and notice which pages are performing best, and which perform worst. You can find this information by clicking on Behavior, then Site Content, and then All Pages on the left-side menu.
What are the best/worst pages? Then check the position of the keywords on these pages in the Google Search Console and see what you can improve.
Where do visitors stop? You can see this in Behavior > Behavior Flow.
If visitors always leave the website when they reach a certain page, there may be a problem. For example, a problem loading the page, or some issue with the content.
Are there traffic spikes? If so, what caused them? For example, a recently aired TV segment can generate traffic on your site. Likewise, interesting content on a new topic may have just been posted.
Asking such questions will help ensure that your SEO efforts are moving in the right direction!
Detect anomalies using Google Analytics
This tool can help you quickly detect any anomalous changes in your traffic.
Sudden loss of traffic
First, check what is causing the loss: did you uninstall GA from some pages? Have you stopped posting on social media? Is your website unavailable? If your organic traffic drops suddenly, make sure the links to your website are still working, and that it's not over-optimized.
Perhaps you attempted to use a black hat technique, like automatically creating links, and Google has penalized you!
Too much referral traffic
Check which websites send you traffic:
Are they high-quality websites?
Are they in the same language as your website?
Does the link make sense?
Foreign language traffic
As with referral spam, check to see if you are receiving a lot of foreign language traffic (languages other than your site content and translations).
High bounce rate
As you saw in the previous example, a high bounce rate is not necessarily indicative of a problem. However, it may still be worthwhile to look more closely at the reasons for the high rate. First, ensure there are no technical issues on your website, especially on the high bounce rate pages. Then, have someone (preferably) from outside the company review the content and let you know if your content matches their expectations, or if something needs improvement.
Track changes in your organic traffic regularly.
Focus on your KPIs.
Watch for any anomalies.
Now that you know how to use Google Analytics to track the progress of your KPIs let’s see how to use Google Search Console to track keyword progress.