Search Engines: Success measurement

There is nothing quite like measuring what is happening with our results to understand how successful or unsuccessful our site is. Measuring results is also the key to build on that success or to come back from failure. In order to measure, we will need data. Data regarding rankings, links, referrals (and so on) is critical to analyze our strategy and define the path for a successful future.

1. Tracking visits

1. Tracking visits
Controlling traffic and what types of traffic we have on our site is very important. By types of traffic we mean the traffic we receive from Direct Navigation (those who type our address directly or that have our site bookmarked), but also Referral Traffic (links from promotional campaigns or trackable emails).

Another important type of traffic to monitor is the one that comes from search engines, from the queries generated there by users.
It’s important to review this data on a monthly basis, to know what percentages and the numbers as well in order to identify our strengths and weaknesses, we’ll keep these reports as a comparison base for the future.

For example, if low relevance referral links are increasing, that might not be a reason for a big excitement. If our traffic from search engines drops that might be a reason to worry. Data tracking is a precious tool to guide our efforts in what concerns marketing and SEO.

3. Specific Queries Referrals

What are the keywords sending traffic to our site? This is something certainly worth analyzing. Tracking down keywords regularly will help us to understand trendy keywords, optimize our site accordingly, but also know which terms are responsible for most of our traffic.
We should not only track the top queries and phrases used on search engines, even if we know that these are the most valuable.

With the continuous rise of search traffic over the past decade, if we have a decline in our referrals, this means we are in trouble.
Some keywords might be seasonal, but we need to understand if our rankings declined or if it was the search volume that declined. These and other questions are precisely the ones we should be asking ourselves, and the ones we should have an answer too.

5. Pages being visited

Tracking our SEO performance is knowing what pages are receiving traffic from the search engines. Knowing this number is important to realize which of our pages search engines are indexing.

Good SEO will earn us traffic, but if we aren’t monitoring that data we aren’t actually realizing if our SEO efforts (link acquisition, unique content, sitemaps, and so on) are giving any results. So, we do need to know if our pages are getting traffic from the search results or not.

2. Search Engine Traffic Google, Bing, and Yahoo!

They sum up to over 95% of the US search traffic, and outside the US Google alone has over 80% of the market, with the exceptions of China and Russia. Analyzing the how the main search engines work is, therefore, very important. We need to analyze how the traffic coming from search engines is working for us, namely our performance against the market share of that given search engine. Keeping track of this traffic will allow us to understand why traffic drops are happening, and in which proportion to each search engine it is happening.

This makes things easier to diagnose possible traffic drops. Let’s give some examples here; If the traffic drops equally from all search engines, we might be having an accessibility issue, but on the other hand, if just the values from Google are dropping, most likely we are being devaluated by Google for something we did. Making SEO doesn’t always give the same results, so tracking our SEO efforts along with the results we have is the best we can do to know what is working well in some search engines, and maybe not so well on others.

Let’s take keyword targeting and inclusion, this works better for Bing than with Google. On the other hand, text links give us more benefits on Google than other search engines. Identifying what brings us more success in each engine, is identifying where we should invest to get the best results.

4. Keyword Conversion Rates

What is more important than conversion rates? Not many things we suppose, so there is nothing like measuring them accurately according to search terms. Let’s say we have an online casino site, and that 7.20% of the people reaching out the site is because of the query “gambling online”.

Knowing that 7.20% is a far higher conversion rate than many other keywords on our site, we realize that “gambling online” is certainly a keyword worth working for in order to get more conversions.

Seeing the rankings for that specific keyword and understanding how to improve it is, therefore, a necessary step, but there is more to this.

Analytics also indicate the page where the users land after making the query, so optimizing that page for a better user experience is actually improving our chances to have more conversions. It’s pretty simple to see the value from something as simple as keeping track of keywords, so finding them is pretty much equivalent to finding gold, but far easier.

Analytics Software: Paid or Free?

There are quite a few analytics tools available, and if some of them are free and made by Google or Yahoo, we do recommend starting there.

Google Analytics has online tutorials and guides, and also the obvious plus of being integrated with the Google Search Console, AdSense, and other Google products.

We should know the other available solutions though, so nothing like testing them too to see which ones work better on our site in terms of improving our overall performance that leads to conversion rates.

Measuring: What are the metrics?

SEO Search engines don’t make their algorithm public, and this is why SEO is so important, to optimize our site’s performance with the engines. To guide SEO we have data about the variables that make us gain that advantage over the competition.

Google Metrics

Google has tools to help us see our metrics, namely the Google Site Query that allows us to see a list of pages of a domain that are indexed. There are other parameters that can be configured to provide us more data, like for example pages indexed in a specific section of the site with specific words. Another tool offered by Google is Google Trends, where we can see the volume for each keyword, and the corresponding popularity during a certain period.

Bing Metrics

Bing has a Site Query with similar functionalities to the Google tool, namely to analyze a site individually and seeing the indexed pages per page. Bing also offers the IP Query, something that allows us to see all pages found on a certain IP address. If we want to do more keyword and audience research we still have the Bing Ads Intelligence, a tool that gives us an insight regarding ads.

Measuring: Applying the Data

If it’s clear by now that we need to know our numbers well, it’s also equally important to know what to do with those numbers, how to interpret them and to direct our actions accordingly. Below we offer some suggestions on how to capitalize on the data we have collected.

Queries Variation
The number of queries oscillates a lot, so we should not be too concerned about them unless our traffic is decreasing too.
If the traffic from search engines referrals drops too low, we do need to check if we are having some penalties, malware or something else. Using the Google Search Console can be a good help in this particular.

Instant Results
Instant results are something that doesn’t happen often even if we are doing quality SEO. There is a lot of competition, and it takes time and effort to improve our rankings.

Earning quality links is a stepping stone, but after that search engines have to crawl all the pages, they have to index them, they have to process all of that, and for this to be reflected in the search results, it might take a few weeks. The SEO job will be done, it will be a matter of being patient to see the fruits growing.

After all, after reading through all this beginner’s guide, we are no longer beginners, and we know already what we have to do to optimize our site and improve our search results, to make ourselves more visible.

Losing Traffic
If we are losing traffic and this is not happening in all the search engines, but just one, there aren’t many possibilities that can explain the case. The more obvious option would be that we are suffering a penalty for violating some guidelines.

It could be happening also because we might have blocked out the crawlers from that search engine, so if this is the case we need to use the Webmaster Tools to check what’s happening with our bots (txt and meta) and see if there are other problems.

It can also be the case that the search engine algorithm has changed in a way that affects our ranking, and this usually is related to link devaluation. Nothing like having good quality links to avoid this problem.

If on the other hand, the loss of traffic is happening on multiple engines, most certainly we have an issue with crawling and indexing, so we need to check all the factors that have influence in the process (robots.txt, DNS issues, and so on).

Reviewing the Webmaster Tools and talking to the site administrator or host provider can also help to understand what is happening.

Individual Fluctuation
In reality, the only thing that truly matters is to be on top of the search results page. For that to happen we need to know what’s happening with or query terms.

Considering that there are millions of pages and that millions of searches happen daily, it’s just normal that some fluctuation does happen. Queries fluctuate, algorithms fluctuate, everything is permanently changing, and this is the reason why we need to have data.
Not only do we need to have data, we also need to readjust our SEO almost permanently. It’s not something we do and move on, it’s a work in progress.

Sometimes, when we have new content, we might have a high increase of traffic and visibility. This might be followed by a drop, but these are just normal oscillations that should not have us concerned.

On the other hand, and even if big drops can be worrying, we should always let some days pass before we conclude something or take action, especially if it’s a new site or if we have a lot of marketing going on.

Instant Results

Instant results are something that doesn’t happen often even if we are doing quality SEO. There is a lot of competition, and it takes time and effort to improve our rankings.

Earning quality links is a stepping stone, but after that search engines have to crawl all the pages, they have to index them, they have to process all of that, and for this to be reflected in the search results, it might take a few weeks. The SEO job will be done, it will be a matter of being patient to see the fruits growing.

After all, after reading through all this beginner’s guide, we are no longer beginners, and we know already what we have to do to optimize our site and improve our search results, to make ourselves more visible.

Skip to toolbar