posted on June 15th, 2011

How to Measure SEO Success Using Google Analytics?

Is my SEO working? This is a question that most businesses ask themselves and find no clear way of tracking just how much SEO is really working for their business. Most of the organizations are trapped in a unilateral way of measuring SEO success – by monitoring their rankings. While rankings are the primary metrics which tell you about the effort that you or your SEO company is putting in, rankings cannot be taken as a true reflection of your online presence. Here is why:

  • High ranking for keywords that no one searches for is like opening a shop in a remote location, far from the city where traffic is.

  • Google personalizes search results through web history, geographic locations and bookmark history; hence you may see results which others are not seeing.

  • High rankings have a bigger goal – a quality traffic stream. If high Google rankings do not send you inquiries, they probably do not matter a lot.

  • SEO is like fishing – the wider your net, the better your catch. Too much obsession with limited keywords means your daily, weekly and monthly traffic number may still remain low.

SEO is much more than just high keyword ranking. The success of any SEO campaign is primarily tied with what the high rankings are doing for your business. If you really want to know the effectiveness of your search engine optimization campaign – try web analytics and the simplest tool is Google Analytics –clean, crisp, easy to understand and moreover – FREE. 

Tracking your SEO Campaign

When you sign-up with Google Analytics, you get a Javascript-snippet which should be pasted on ALL pages of your website. Google Analytics tracks the visitors, traffic sources, content performance and goal conversions through this Javascript code. While the interface is simple and clean, we won’t go into the basics of the Google Analytics terminology. Here are some of the metrics that you should care about while trying to estimate what you are getting from your SEO services.

Non-branded traffic

 Within Traffic from search engines (image needed), you need to exclude the traffic from keywords that include your company/product name.

non branded search traffic in Google Analytics

When you look at this traffic stream, you are watching how your SEO traffic (real keywords based traffic) has improved over a period of time. You can set-up the timeline as you require.

  • Traffic Percentage from Search Engines – Advertising costs money and whether it is done online or offline, you have to invest something in it regularly to get traffic. This is true for keyword buying systems like Google Adwords too where the pricing can be anywhere from $.5 to $100 per click depending on the market you serve. Moreover, online advertising is only effective for the period you are investing in it. Once you stop advertising, your return on investment diminishes.

    Conversely, with a strong organic SEO presence, compared to PPC, your business is able to lower its customer acquisition cost. If your search engine traffic share is improving month after month, you can safely bet that the advertising costs can be kept at a minimum without the risk of losing continued traffic.

  • User Engagement Improvements – Like most things in marketing, rankings and traffic are dependent on each other. Let’s look at this more closely.

    You understand that high rankings bear the potential of bringing in traffic to your website. However, what you may not know is that Google gives a ranking boost to sites where users interact favorably. By “favorably”, we mean that the users do not bounce off a web page (leave immediately after entering), stay for a longer time and see multiple other pages on the site. This is perceived as a positive experience for the search engine visitor and this is what all search engines strive for, isn’t it?

    If your SEO company is not monitoring bounce rate, average time on the website, pageviews and % exit figures, you need to ask them why? If you do not get a satisfactory answer, you have every reason to move to a better SEO company.

  • Goal Conversions – While most SEO companies focus on rankings, there are few who tie SEO to performance and business goals. The reason a business invests in online marketing is to make profits generate revenues or to increase their brand awareness. If that is not happening, it is time to think about SEO again.

  • A good SEO company will always track the goal conversions on your website. These goals can range from online purchases and subscriptions to signing-up for newsletters or even calling your company. Goal conversions are a way by which you can tell if SEO is working for your website or not.

Setting up a Google Analytics account is easy and should be done if you are serious about your business online. There is a surprising amount of intelligence in these reports and you will be much more educated about your own business website once you start tracking and analyzing.


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