If you’re serious about SEO (and you probably should be, considering it drives 51% of ALL website traffic) then you need to be serious about tracking it too. And you want to know what you’re tracking as early as possible in your ‘SEO-career’.
This will ensure you’re focusing your efforts on what has the greatest impact. Think 80/20.
You know the old adage – ‘fail to plan, then plan to fail’ – well it works for SEO too.
This post was taken from a response Kieran made to a question we had over on our Facebook Group. So if you want to make you don’t miss out on any gems like this then join here if you haven’t already. It’s completely free!
What to track when starting out in SEO
Here’s the question posed by founder Samuel Grice. It’s a super important question and hopefully one you’ve been thinking about…
“Hi guys! Do you have a checklist of things all founders should be looking out for in regards SEO. For example, 10 things we can track. We are hiring a marketing person, and as a founder, it would be good to know roughly what things we should be tracking each week and why.”
It’s a great question, and here’s a great answer…But before I show you that here’s a quick TL;DR for those in a hurry:
- Track your keyword rankings! The traditional and still most effective way to see if your SEO is working well
- But, don’t get ‘hooked’ on them as you may not be tracking all the great phrases you’re appearing for. You may fall foul to ‘false positives’ if you fixate on them too much.
- So track organic traffic (ie SEO traffic) to see if this is generally on the increase (if you have a seasonal product bear in mind the traffic may fluctuate through peaks and troughs throughout the year)
- Use a tool like Google Analytics to track traffic, It’s free and you should monitor:
- No. of visitors
- Bounce rate
- Etc (see all below)
- Backlinks! If you’re a startup and you’re looking to gain PR/media expsoure then this can really work in your favour for SEO. Track the sites that are sending traffic and look for similar opportunities, as this will give your SEO a boost
- SEO is a long term game! You might not reap the full fruits of your labour until after 6 months, so bear that in mind
Read Kieran’s full reply:
“Hey Sam, great question! In terms of tracking for SEO, one of the key metrics that people tend to track is keyword positions.
When you have decided which keywords you want to target on your website you can track where they show within Google. This is a good metric to track for SEO performance but shouldn’t be the only metric you should track.
Keywords are great but a more important metric would be traffic to the website from Google Search (also known as Organic traffic). The reason you would also look beyond keyword positions is that for every keyword you track there are probably another 20/30 variations you are not tracking. So this doesn’t give an accurate representation of performance.
Using tools like Google Analytics you can track the number of people coming to your website, how they got there and what they do when they are there. Some of the best things to track within Google Analytics would be;
– Number of visitors (Is this going up? If so what pages? Can you learn from them and apply to other pages, things like content and images? See here for tips)
– Bounce Rate (Number of people that come to your website and leave without viewing any additional pages to the one that they initially viewed – are certain pages putting people ‘off’ your website? identify the pages with the highest bounce rate, what can you change?)
– Average time on site (See how long people spend on your website – generally, the longer here the better, but look at what pages are driving your time on site, is it only some pages? Is it equal? identify pages with low time on site and look to improve based on more asuccessful pages)
– Traffic Sources (Where your visitors are coming from, examples would be Direct, Organic, Paid, Social etc – is the time you spend on each channel comparative to the traffic they generate? If not, why not? Are some channels ‘lagging behind’? Maybe you need to refocus efforts. Think Pareto’s 80/20 rule)
– Countries (See where your traffic is coming from – do you have an international audience you didn’t know about? Maybe an opportunity for growth?)
– Devices (The devices that people use when viewing your website, like Phone, Table and Desktop Computer – does your website look good on all devices? Does it look best on your most popular device?)
– Referrers (The websites that people are coming from when they get to your website – great if you have done any PR or link building)
I would look at these to check performance and compare dates from before the marketing person starts.
I’d also look at tracking the backlinks into your site. Backlinks are super important for SEO, and not only do they drive traffic but also SEO value from the linking website.
If you’re a startup then PR could be a big avenue for you. Look at the sites sending you traffic and see if there are any similar other sites you can also reach out to get traffic and SEO juice.
But don’t forget! With the majority of SEO work completed, it can take around 6 months for you to see results. It is a long-term project but well worthwhile in the end!”