Updated: Feb 14
IIn the last few years, we have worked with clients in other areas of their business and then have been asked to help explain what SEO or Google Analytics reports are telling them. Before we talk about what certain metrics mean to you and your website, knowing and understanding the terminology is essential. SEO done correctly has a high return on investment, but if you are getting traffic that is not those that would be prospects of your business, the traffic is irrelevant.
INCREASE YOUR TRAFFIC
Most business owners who want to increase the traffic to their websites usually pay for SEO services. When you say increase your traffic, you mean you want more visitors to visit your site, stay for a while, read your content, and eventually become a lead or sale for your business. The key is understanding what you "really" want and what you are asking them to do for you.
Many SEO service providers my clients have used seem to work to get hits on the website whether they bounce or are relevant, as the client needs help to understand the bounce rate and to explain to the provider who their target prospect is.
Many times they are just looking at the traffic and need to look at how they got there, which is essential.
You want to get hits from the most relevant pages, so you want to optimize those pages, but if you do not understand how SEO works, all you see is your traffic going up.
Many business owners must realize that their traffic can increase from web crawlers, irrelevant keywords, or links/redirects from unrelated sites. It is imperative to understand what is needed to increase your traffic by your definition, not the SEO firm.
SEO is not the science it used to be. It is simple and is more of a marketing-related function than an IT function, which was more so in the past. Though most business owners will still need help, it is vital to make sure and hire firms that can help provide you with the right traffic, which are not usually the ones that fill your email with SPAM.
Google provides online tips for SEO and what they use to rank. As seen in one of our previous articles on mobile sites, mobility is being used as a ranking factor. Google also provides information on tricks that the SEO providers did in the past to trick Google, which could now end up blacklisting you with Google. Google publishes this information each time it performs an algorithm change.
There are many excellent SEO tools that businesses can use to help understand the issues affecting their website, including how it ranks. Most are a lot more cost-effective than using SEO firms, but you have to have some level of understanding to get the benefit from using them. It is up to you to check out an external SEO service provider firm as all firms are not created equal Check customer references as anyone can say they are an SEO firm. There are some excellent ones out there as well. Still, as a business owner, you need to perform due diligence as you would with any other provider.
GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND SEO REPORTS
There is specific terminology that is important to understand before looking at reports.
Bounce Rate: - The rate at which someone comes to your site and leaves after a few seconds. This can be because your site needed to provide the content they were looking for from the keyword they typed in, or the content they saw was inadequate.
You cannot just look at your overall bounce rate as that is not accurate. You want to look at your "target" geography. Our base bounce rate is high for the following reasons if you just look at the top level overview.
Data from irrelevant countries, regions, and even cities can be filtered to give you an accurate view of your data. We rank high on Google in other countries for our keywords, so they click the link to find out we are in Canada. Our bounce rate in Canada is where it should be and is all we care about because we only service customers in Canada.
Over the last while, many web crawlers, bots, and spammers have been hitting websites. If you look under referrals (how visitors got to your site outside organic (search terms) or direct (typing in your URL), you will most likely see listings that are not directories (that you listed your website), your social media sites, or links on partners or others you share links with, the rest are links where the traffic is most likely at 100% bounce rate. My favourite web crawler that I love to hate who uses different links is www.semalt.com. This data needs to be filtered from Google Analytics to give you an accurate picture of your Bounce Rate and Traffic. Your web provider can and should automatically be doing this for you.
Organic Search under Acquisition: - This is traffic that ends up on your website by someone searching on Google or other search engines for keywords or keyword phrases.
Within Google Analytics, if you look under Organic Search, the keywords listed are how visitors got to your website. What this means:
The website page that was landed on is optimized for that keyword phrase. If they are bouncing, then the content must not be that relevant and is not drawing them to stay, which could mean:
The content could be easier to read or understand.
The site's usability is such that they cannot read or access the content easily. For example: if they are viewing the content on a mobile device and your website needs to be mobile-friendly.
Pages and Screens under Engagement: - This section lists the pages on your website that are viewed in order of views.
If you notice that there are pages that are not showing up or have a high bounce rate, this is an area of focus:
If a page is not being read or has a high bounce rate, consider rewriting the page or determining if the page is relevant to your site.
Suppose the page is on lower navigation and is not being read. In that case, it could be that it is hard to get to, needs to be optimized, or provide relevant information. You should consider rewriting or moving the content or removing the page if it does not give value to your website.
Average Engagement Time - This metric is throughout and lets you know how engaged visitors are for the specific type of data. The longer the visitor is on your site the more engaged they are and are more apt to call or buy.
You can tell how long those coming to the site from different channels are engaged. You can tell how long visitors are staying on particular pages or how long they are staying engaged on the website overall.
A low engagement rate means that the visitor did not find the site or page engaging, and you should consider what you need to do on your website to engage potential prospects that visit.
CONTENT AND OPTIMIZATION
Content has become the most important thing on your site and needs to be fresh and up-to-date. The days are gone of a "static" website. Content can be web content, articles, blog, pictures, videos, graphics, infographics, downloads, and more. No matter what the content, ensure it is optimized correctly for your website to give you the best possible rankings with Google. You want to ensure that whatever content you have, you are using tags and keywords that are appropriate for potential leads and customers.
Most businesses think they know what their clients are searching for, but they are not being found often if you run the keywords they are using on your website. You must ensure that your keywords are relevant to the visitors you want to attract.
One way to test is to type the keywords you are thinking about using into Google and see what information emerges. Suppose you are not seeing competitors or anyone in your industry showing up. In that case, that is a good indication that this is not an appropriate keyword or keyword phrase.
Are the keywords you chose searched at a high rate of volume for your target market? If in a keyword tool, you chose a word, selected a geographic location, and found three people who searched that term a month. This is another indicator; this is not a relevant keyword or keyword phrase to use.
This is a partial list of ways to uncover if your website is really performing, but it hopefully provides you with some insight into where to start. If this is not something you understand or want to understand, you need to make sure of the following:
Make sure the firm you hire to help you with your SEO and web traffic is reputable. Make sure they want to learn about your business, your products/services, and your target market. If they are going to do the same thing for you that they do for the business next door - this company is most likely performing techniques that could end up hurting your rankings instead of helping.
It is your responsibility to sit down and understand the reports you are getting from them or Google Analytics to know if you are getting results and a return on your investment.
You know your business better than anyone else, so you need to be involved with your Web Company and SEO provider, if you just pass the baton to other people who do not have a stake in your business, you cannot be upset at the outcome. It would be best if you were involved; a reputable firm will want and need you to be.