Understanding How Your Website is Performing

In the last few years, we have worked with clients in other areas of their business and then have been asked to help explain what the SEO or Google Analytic reports really mean that they get from their Web or SEO Company. Before we talk about what certain metrics mean to you and your website, it is important to know and understand the terminology. SEO done correctly has a high return on investment, but if you are getting traffic that is not from prospects, it is really irrelevant.

INCREASE YOUR TRAFFIC Most business owners who want to increase the traffic to their website usually pay someone for those services.  The key is to understand what you "really" want you are asking them to do. When you say increase your traffic, you really mean you want more visitors to come to your site, who stay for a while, read your content, and eventually become a lead or sale for your business.

Many service providers my clients have used seem have worked to get hits on the website whether they bounce or are relevant or not, as the client doesn't understand bounce rate anyway. They will tell the client:

  • Do not worry if they got to the site through relevant keywords or they leave after looking at one page.

  • Does it matter if they are getting hits from irrelevant pages, they won’t know – it shows up as traffic. What many business owners do not realize is that their traffic has increased from web crawlers, irrelevant keywords, or links/redirects from irrelevant sites.  This is why it is very important to understand what is needed to increase your traffic by your definition.

SEO is not the science it used to be. It is actually pretty simple and is much more of a marketing related function than an IT function which it was in the past. Though most business owners will still need help, it is important to make sure and hire firms that can really help you, not the ones that fill your email with SPAM. Google themselves provide online tips for SEO and for what they are using to rank. As seen in our previous article, mobility is being used as a ranking factor. Google also provides information of tricks that the SEO providers did in the past to trick Google which could now end up blacklisting you with Google. These are published each time they perform an algorithm change.

There are a lot of good SEO tools out there that can be used by businesses to help understand the issues with their site and how it is or is not ranking, which are a lot more cost effective than using SEO firms that do not have the skills. It is up to you to check out an external firm as all firms are not created equal and many will rob your blind and your site will not move up in the rankings. Check customer references as anyone can say they are an SEO firm. There are some excellent ones out there as well.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND SEO REPORTS There is certain 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 is usually because the content is not relevant to what they are looking to find or the keyword term that they typed in is not relevant to their site. 

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.

  • 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 is Canada is where it should be and is all we really care about. Data from irrelevant countries, regions, and even cities can be filtered to give you an accurate view of your data.

  • Over the last while, there have been an increasing number of web crawlers, bots, and spammers 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 favorite who uses different links is www.semalt.com. This date needs to be filtered from Google Analytics to give you both an accurate picture of your Bounce Rate and your Traffic. Your web provider can and should automatically be doing this for you.

Organic Search: - This is the traffic that ended up on your website by searching on Google or other search engines by typing in keywords or keyword phrases. 

Within Google Analytics, if you look under organic search and the keywords that are listed have a high bounce rate and your website is optimized for those terms, this means one of the following:

  • Your website page that is optimized for that keyword phrase has content that is not relevant to the keyword phrase they typed in the search 

  • The content on the page is not drawing them into to stay, which could mean:The content is hard to read or understand.The usability of the site 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 is not mobile friendly.

Site Content: - This section under Google lists the pages on your website that have been read during the period the report is provided for.  

If you notice that there are pages that do not show or you have a high bounce rate for certain pages, this is an area that will need to be addressed.

  • If a page is not being read or has a high bounce rate, you should consider rewriting the page or determining if the page is really relevant to your site.

  • If the page is on a lower navigation and not being read, it could be that it is hard to get to, or just does not provide relevant information and you might consider moving the content or getting rid of the page.

Pages and Session Duration: - These two metrics provide you with the insight into the usefulness of your overall website. Pages are the average number of pages that your visitors have viewed while they were on the site, and the Session Duration tells you on average how long they stayed on your site.

  • If you your average pages read are greater than 2 during a session or your session duration is longer than 2 - 2.5 minutes, this means visitors are finding worthwhile content on your site. If you have a blog on your site, they will most likely stay even longer. If very short, the content is most likely not of use to them and you need to consider rewriting.

CONTENT AND OPTIMIZATION Content has truly 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, video, graphics such as infographics, downloads, and much more. No matter what the content, make sure it is optimized correctly for your website in order to give you the best possible rankings with Google. You want to make sure that whatever content you have that 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 many times if you run the keywords they are using, they are not being found. You need to make sure 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.  If you are not seeing competitors or anyone in your industry showing up, 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 choose a word and selected a geographic location and found 3 people searched that term a month.  This is another indicator, this is not a relevant keyword or keyword phrase to use.

SUMMARY This is not an exhaustive list of ways to uncover if your website is really performing, but it hopefully provides you some insight of 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 and is going to spend time to understand your business.  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 to understand if you are really getting results and you are getting 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. You need to be involved and they want and need you to be.

#webmetrics #seo #googleananlytics #seotools

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Our offices are located in Southwestern Ontario but we provide services across Canada as most of our services are performed remotely.

We provide onsite services that require at least one day onsite in Sarnia, Chatham-Kent, London, Windsor, Woodstock, Leamington, Waterloo, Cambridge, Kitchener,  Guelph, Milton, Oakville, Mississauga,  Burlington, Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Vaughan, Markham, Brampton, Richmond Hill,  Newmarket, Whitby, Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering, Uxbridge, Pickering and surrounding locations in the GTA and Southwestern Ontario.

For businesses outside our local service area in  Canada who require onsite services, please contact us to discuss your requirements as outside our outlined local service area will include travel and living fees.

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