A couple years ago I got some advice that led to me starting a bit of an unusual habit. Every night, after I’ve plugged in my smartphone and before I start dreaming of sugarplums, I lay in bed and ask myself two questions. (If I could insert a drum-roll into a blog post, this is where I would put it.)
My first question: “How was today?” The second: “How do I want tomorrow to be?”
This little exercise sometimes takes 30 seconds, and other times leads to me thinking deeply about the events of the day. I put off a few minutes of my well-anticipated sleep so that I can reflect on what things are going well in my life and what I hope to improve.
While this digital marketing blogger is not here to give you life advice or build your nightly routine, I am here to tell you that you will most likely never improve your marketing techniques, especially your search engine optimization, if you are not taking the time to review and analyze how things are going.
With 2017 coming to an end, now is the perfect time for you to take a look back at your SEO progress.
In this article we will look at how to analyze your SEO, and will mostly refer to Google Analytics to do so. You may be using a tool other than Google Analytics for your SEO stats. No problem. Site navigation may be different for you, but the basics of what you should be looking for won’t change.
Look at overall traffic.
Let’s start easy to show you that SEO analysis is nothing you have to be afraid of. Overall traffic doesn’t tell you which part of that traffic results from your SEO efforts but it is your starting point to know where you are at with site views. To do this, simply look in the Audience section for an overview.
Then, it’s time to get more detailed.
Look at your “organic traffic.”
This will show the traffic coming from search engines. Go to Acquisition > All Traffic and you’ll see a list of sources where your traffic comes from. Find the search engines you want to know the volume of traffic for and select those boxes. The “Plot Rows” button will give you a fancy little graph showing you the total traffic and traffic from the search engines you’ve selected.
What that information will mean: If you’re not getting a lot of traffic from search engines, or if that traffic is declining, then that tells you that you need to work on your SEO. You may be missing tons of potential customers who are searching for your business, but aren’t able to find you!
Have you been analyzing SEO for awhile now? Compare the numbers from your organic search traffic with your last SEO audit. You can do this by selecting to view ‘Organic Search’ and in the right-hand corner and choosing the dates you want to compare. Obviously, you want those numbers to be going up. And if you’ve been actively working on your SEO over an extended period of time, they should be.
Find out what is and isn’t working.
You want to know which of your SEO strategies are bringing you the most leads, so that you can know where to continue focusing and know how you may need to shift your other strategies.
Here are a few places to start.
For starters, look into bounce rate. This is when people click on your site, but quickly click back to the search engine without actually doing anything on your site. These little teases can hurt, but you can learn from them.
If you have a high bounce rate you typically need better content page and quality. These have an indirect effect on your SEO rankings.
You will rank poorly if your website isn’t optimized for mobile usage. You can see how many people are viewing your site on a mobile phone by going to Audience > Mobile > Overview. Just click on the pie chart icon and you’ll get an easy to read dataset. In general you should make sure your website looks good and works fine on a mobile phone, but that is especially true if the mobile views account for more than 10%.
Also, (going back to bounce rate) if your bounce rate on mobile is significantly higher than on desktop then your site probably isn’t very mobile-friendly.
You can have Google test for faulty redirects and blocked URLs on mobile. Change intentionally-blocked pages by switching “robots.txt” to allow access. Other tips include changing image size, simplifying code and reducing page redirects.
Keywords are usually what everyone first thinks of when talking about SEO. They are the words that consumers are typing into their search engines to find something.
There is another place where people search with keywords however. That is within your own website. Checking your internal site search data for frequently searched terms will show you what is popular within your audience. You can find this on Google Analytics with Behavior > Site Search > Overview. If any of the recurring keywords don’t match the keywords you are using, add them! You may even consider creating a page just for that keyword, if it doesn’t already exist.
Use the AdWords > Keywords report to better understand which keywords generate conversions for your business. Certain keywords will lead to different types of micro-conversions (email signups, adding to cart, store locator, etc) which add to overall increased revenue. So, this tool will especially reveal what is working well for you.
Have you ever heard of dark social? Dark social refers to when people share content on private, rather than public, platforms. These platforms include email, private messaging (Whatsapp, Messenger), mobile apps (Facebook, Instagram) and secure browsing.
People sharing your content- great! People sharing your content via dark social- still great, but difficult for analytical purposes because those shares/views can’t be easily tracked.
Unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn’t have any one-step “dark traffic” button for you to measure these kind of site views. But, there are ways around it through limiting your “direct traffic” results and excluding your mainstream URL’s. For a more detailed description of how to account for dark social in your SEO analysis check out this article: (Reference: Dark Social: Why The Internet Isn’t What You Thought It Was)
Remember my two questions at the beginning? You just answered the first, “How was today?” Or in marketing terms, “How was my SEO this year?” Now, it’s time for you to answer the second; “How do I want tomorrow [next year] to be?”
Set goals, and go get your results.