Googles search ranking algorithm may be a closely guarded secret, but how to improve website SEO doesnt have to remain a mystery. In fact, the answers to improving your websites search engine rank are already right in front of you: your sites Google Analytics metrics. Improving your search engine rank is one of the first steps in your inbound marketing campaign.
From audience and traffic sources to conversions and content engagement, Google Analytics offers a wide array of site metrics. However, not all of this information is relevant to your websites SEO needs. In fact, its easy to get sidetracked by page views or audience demographics and miss out on the metrics that really matter: interaction metrics.
Interaction metrics content engagement, dwell time, in-page analytics and frequency/reach are the best indicator of your sites performance. Failure to track these metrics gives you an incomplete picture of your website and shortchanges your SEO strategy.
Want to improve your sites SEO? Keep a close eye on the following:
#1: Content engagement.
In the post-Panda, post-Penguin world, content engagement matters. Comments, tweets, likes and shares send Google a message that your websites content is fresh, relevant and meaningful. The more users engage with your content, the higher your website will rank in search engine results. Content engagement also strengthens visitor trust, which ultimately drives action whether its a product purchase or an email sign-up.
How to measure content engagement: While there is no single metric for content engagement, a combination of different analytics provide a full picture of your visitors behavior. Start with the social metrics under traffic source in your Google Analytics account. Visits via network referral indicate a social media link brought a visitor to your website. Use the plugins tab to track on-site social activity, including likes, tweets and shares.
#2: Dwell time.
Dwell time is the amount of time that users spend on your website. Ideally, when a user clicks thru from search engine results to your site, the first pages(s) he visits should answer his search query whether that's a quest for vintage Beatles records or the latest SEO tips. Dwell time is closely linked with bounce rate the more time users spend dwelling on your site, the lower your bounce rate.
How to measure dwell time: Like content engagement, there is no single metric for dwell time. However, you can get a good measurement of your visitors dwell time by evaluating bounce rate and time-on-site metrics (i.e., how long it takes for someone to return to a list of search engine results after clicking on a result). Low bounce rates and high on-site-metrics are strong indicators of a healthy dwell time.
#3: In-page analytics.
How do website visitors interact with your home page? What buttons get clicked the most? Does content below the fold ever get read? The answer to these questions (and others) can all be found with Googles In-Page Analytics.
How to measure in-page analytics: From your Google Analytics account, click on the Content option from the left menu and select In Page Analytics. This will load a mini-version of your website with click data next to each button or link. You can also see how many people click below the fold versus above the fold. See what content is most popular on a page and which links get the most clicks.
#4: Frequency and reach.
Frequency and reach metrics take you beyond page views to give you an in-depth look at how engaging your content is with each reader. For example, you can see how many first-time visitors come to your site (versus return visitors), how many pages they visit, the percentage of total views per visit, and what your visitors click on.
How to measure frequency and reach: Under the Audience tab, click on Behavior and then select Engagement. The page depth tab tells you how deep visitors go in your website (i.e., how many pages the read). Frequency and recency measure the number of visits and the length of time since the last visit; this is a great way to see how involved customers are with your website and how frequently they return to consume content. After all, the more often they come back to your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Unlike traditional marketing, inbound marketing allows you to measure the success and return on investment for every element of every inbound marketing campaign you conduct. While getting a lot of visitors coming to your website is nice, you should optimize your inbound marketing for visitor quality. In other words, your goal should be to attract qualified buyers to your website and convert them to leads with premium content offers. Measure the inbound marketing metrics mentioned above to optimize your marketing and to maximize the return on your marketing investment.